Earlier this week, we looked at the top single quarterback seasons as measured by Total Adjusted Yards per Play (and New TAY/P) Index Scores.1 Today, we’ll take it a step further and look at career Total Adjusted Yards per Play Index Scores. For a full explanation of how I calculated the Index Scores, check out the previous article. The method I used to arrive at career numbers was simple and straightforward:
- Find the Index Scores for each season
- Multiply each quarterback’s season score by his number of plays in the season
- Divide the sum of the QB’s products from step two by the sum of his plays
That’s it. Not complicated at all. Now that you know the methodology, let’s look at the results.
Career Total Adjusted Yards per Play Index Scores
The following table contains TAY/P and New TAY/P Index Scores for every quarterback with at least 750 plays since 1992 (146 QBs in all). It is sorted by NTAYP+, but you can sort and search as you wish. Read the table thus: Steve Young had 3722 plays at a rate of 9.76 TAY/P and 8.19 NTAYP. After accounting for his era, that comes to Index Scores of 124 for TAY/P and 123 for NTAYP.
|Billy Joe Tolliver||1189||6.22||5.12||92||92|
I think the list speaks for itself, but I’ll speak for it anyway.
Young has an enormous lead on every other player, but that comes with a caveat. Yes, he was arguably the most dominant quarterback in history at his peak, but he also benefits from having his sub par performances in Tampa Bay excluded from the metrics. With them, he’d still probably be in the lead, but it wouldn’t be quite as stark as it currently appears.
Peyton Manning sits in second place, well behind Young and well ahead of Aaron Rodgers. The primary reasons Manning rates so much better than Rodgers (who tends to be neck and neck with him by most other measures) are his ability to avoid sacks and pick up first downs. Manning picks moved the chains at a nearly unprecedented rate throughout his career, and he is second only to Dan Marino in sack avoidance.
Rodgers is the last of only three quarterbacks to maintain a career NTAYP a full standard deviation ahead of the rest of the league. His numbers are hurt by his output in 2015, as well as his spotty play prior to taking over as Green Bay’s starter.
Russell Wilson has incredible efficiency metrics and a title ring on his finger. It’s safe to say that, barring injury, he’ well on his way to a bust in Canton after he calls it quits. His Index Score will likely decrease once he plays out the down slope of his career, but he will have probably built up enough capital prior to that to skate into the Hall of Fame.
Tony Romo, for his part, has probably already supplanted Ken Anderson as the best quarterback not to don a Gold Jacket.2 A Super Bowl victory would likely turn the tide and leave that dubious distinction with Anderson (or Philip Rivers), but I doubt it will happen.
Tom Brady and Drew Brees are, as they often have been throughout their careers, neck and neck statistically. They achieved their results differently, but they were among the most dominant passers in history all the same.
A trio of Hall of Famers follow Brady and Brees. Joe Montana and Dan Marino likely suffer from having their prime years excluded from the calculations, but it is a testament to their prowess that they still rate so high. Troy Aikman, on the other hand, benefits from having his early career woes ignored by this study. Of course, this study also focuses on the regular season, leaving out the games where Aikman put to bed any doubts about whether he was worthy of HOF honors.
There are plenty more observations to be made here, but I’d rather leave further commentary to the reader. Let me know what you think in the comments.