Regular Season QBGOAT VI: Career Stats

tom bradyWelcome. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m in the middle of a series on the greatest regular season quarterbacks in NFL history.1 The first set of posts explored different ways to look at the top single seasons. Today, I’ll begin my first look at career stats.

As always, I’ll be using Total Adjusted Yards per Play, my bread and butter stat, as my performance measure. If you’re not familiar, Total Adjusted Yards is a metric, expressed as yardage, that accounts for a player’s full stat line and gives players bonuses/penalties for touchdowns, interceptions, and fumbles.2 The TAY/P stat is just a look at a player’s effectiveness on a per-play basis. I don’t want to waste too much time keeping you from what you want, so let’s move on to why you’re really here: the results.

Career Stats

The table below contains the career metrics for every quarterback that meets one of the following criteria: at least 750 plays, at least 3000 Total Adjusted Yards, or an absolute value greater than 750 in the “VAL” column. It is sorted by value over average, but you can search and sort as you like. Read it thus: Peyton Manning has 10114 career plays for 68574 Total Adjusted Yards, good for a rate of 6.78 TAY/P. For his career, he was 1.71 TAY/P above average, 2.98 above 75% of average, and 3.13 better than one standard deviation below average. That comes to 17287 Total Adjusted Yards above average. It also gives Manning 30109 or 31676 Total Adjusted Yards above replacement, depending on where you set your baseline.

PlayerPlyTAYTAY/PVal/P75Rep/PSDRep/PVal75RepSDRep
Peyton Manning10114685746.781.712.983.13172873010931676
Dan Marino8929540086.051.412.572.88125692292825748
Tom Brady8698559956.441.252.542.64108302212122981
Drew Brees8800565646.431.202.512.61105742207123011
Joe Montana6161384126.231.662.803.14102071725919352
Steve Young5229342936.561.893.063.3599011599917503
Fran Tarkenton7625388805.101.102.102.9583941601622466
Otto Graham3031202896.692.573.604.8077851091114539
Aaron Rodgers4787337427.051.632.983.0377801427014510
Dan Fouts6147330125.371.152.202.7470491354016830
Ken Anderson5270280235.321.312.313.0068811216715816
Brett Favre11296613655.430.601.812.0567762042423140
Johnny Unitas5866312265.321.102.153.0064451264017598
Sonny Jurgensen4683258215.511.312.363.1961431106314924
Roger Staubach3681199905.431.672.613.466135959912719
Norm Van Brocklin2997173075.771.902.873.945707860711802
Tony Romo4817312526.491.172.502.5956461204712483
Philip Rivers5967375626.290.942.282.3456091359713952
Ben Roethlisberger6255384396.150.862.182.2753541362614206
Sammy Baugh3319154004.641.532.313.775084766312529
Len Dawson4251226825.341.182.223.065031944413023
Kurt Warner4503268715.971.052.282.5247311026611343
John Elway8540441625.170.531.692.0045541445617103
Sid Luckman1873100945.392.393.144.78447458798948
Jeff Garcia4325252355.830.992.202.424287952410462
Donovan McNabb6400357295.580.641.872.1040671198213452
Trent Green4242244985.780.952.162.394037915210140
Jim Kelly5406291945.400.741.912.2240041030211985
Y.A. Tittle4821243755.060.831.892.864002909513810
John Brodie4868243004.990.811.852.683937902813061
Daryle Lamonica2823148505.261.352.333.31380765689341
Joe Namath3983192534.830.911.892.883608751911474
Steve McNair5467297175.440.641.842.0735031005611299
Bert Jones3030154145.091.132.122.87342564228698
Carson Palmer5994347475.800.551.861.9732841115011812
John Hadl5236242154.620.611.612.533194844913225
Bart Starr3631185965.120.861.932.763126699410006
Boomer Esiason5970308055.160.521.681.9930841001411856
Rich Gannon5029268685.340.611.792.043074902210251
Warren Moon7824393965.040.391.551.8530241211714457
Troy Aikman5301278955.260.551.731.992936917610571
Bob Griese4025180964.500.711.662.602853666410450
Mark Brunell5543293185.290.511.711.932836945710692
Matt Ryan5033302996.020.561.931.95283196989803
Cecil Isbell124065475.282.273.024.37281437475423
Jim Everett5437282135.190.501.671.972714908910686
Jim Hart5517243274.410.471.452.222594802712220
Roman Gabriel5204233274.480.491.492.352556774912244
Terry Bradshaw4652208824.490.521.512.212430704310258
Russell Wilson2310153536.651.032.432.28237956235269
Matt Schaub3636215775.930.641.972.12234171507709
Joe Theismann4297205444.780.531.592.07227468428909
Steve Grogan4285200314.670.511.552.12216766339073
Mark Rypien2837153505.410.731.902.20208454016253
Bobby Layne4311185204.300.471.432.512024614810815
Daunte Culpepper4011214495.350.501.711.93200668677745
Billy Kilmer3446152984.440.551.522.39189252438251
Craig Morton4406192804.380.421.412.15185562129477
Doug Williams2811142385.070.661.762.16185249496084
Johnny Lujack86047295.502.132.974.30183225563702
Bob Waterfield169271554.231.061.853.35179131325676
Chad Pennington2813155985.540.641.862.11178652395928
Earl Morrall3014143304.750.591.632.47177749157458
Cam Newton3202194916.090.521.911.81165561145794
Bernie Kosar3818192965.050.431.591.93164760597361
Charlie Conerly3103133504.300.531.472.62163345628122
Jim McMahon3137159555.090.521.662.02162252056331
Randall Cunningham5548275554.970.291.461.76158280759757
Dutch Clark85638494.501.812.483.73154921243193
Frank Ryan2593126384.870.581.652.51150042846516
Brian Sipe3886176314.540.381.421.98149355287690
Neil Lomax3737183354.910.401.521.92148256957180
Tom Flores180695475.290.711.852.48128133474474
Frankie Albert189396635.100.671.783.01126233625700
Tommy Thompson171767003.900.721.513.05123326005237
Doug Flutie2596135725.230.471.661.91122143084963
Arnie Herber123946593.760.981.682.98121820793693
Brad Johnson4853244855.050.251.451.67120970288116
Eli Manning6797371525.470.181.501.5911991018710805
Phil Simms5473260064.750.221.351.70118773929311
Greg Landry3046129244.240.391.352.13117541126480
Michael Vick4406236645.370.261.541.69116367887450
Marc Bulger3543186165.250.321.561.81114655136418
Danny White3226155724.830.341.461.85110647225969
Charley Johnson3830168184.390.281.312.15108950218251
Cliff Battles76832004.171.392.093.24107016032489
Jeff Hostetler2861144885.060.371.541.80104544065142
Ken Stabler4192178374.260.241.251.92102752298056
Billy Wade2888135684.700.351.442.28102241586574
Neil O'Donnell3703183754.960.261.441.7097053216288
Elvis Grbac2737139305.090.341.531.7492941804767
George Ratterman150277185.140.601.742.9190626094375
Bill Kenney2748132364.820.331.451.8589539805083
Bernie Masterson51723874.621.692.423.5387212511823
Don Meredith2768127424.600.311.382.2286238326144
Ed Danowski107238303.570.801.492.7285515992913
Bob Monnett69027513.991.211.903.1083313122137
Ray Mallouf33318905.682.463.264.7682010871585
David Garrard2840152245.360.281.551.8178643955139
Ron Jaworski4737209434.420.161.231.7177958208103
Matt Hasselbeck6055314495.190.121.391.5774684229522
Jim Zorn3684158994.320.201.231.7973345256593
Bobby Hebert3494169204.840.211.361.7071947695923
Bill Nelsen213593884.400.331.352.1571028804594
Andy Dalton2900168355.810.241.631.5470347364467
Milt Plum2710124914.610.261.352.2170036485997
Bobby Thomason144058774.080.451.362.4564819553533
Pat Haden160269524.340.401.382.0263622153231
Matthew Stafford4101232885.680.151.531.4862562916083
Ace Parker121645503.740.471.292.4757715703005
Virgil Carter94442854.540.591.582.3255514882192
Andrew Luck2443142025.810.231.621.5055539673670
Gary Danielson2301104004.520.221.301.7451029823999
Kirk Cousins103263256.130.441.861.6445719241691
Butch Songin71736675.110.551.692.2839712151637
Frank Filchock115437993.290.331.072.4838512382865
Jeff Blake3907189934.860.091.291.5036750235852
Jake Delhomme3275166015.070.101.351.6234044065300
Jeff George4493215034.790.071.251.5133556276789
Colin Kaepernick1801104295.790.181.581.4332628522581
Jay Cutler5001270975.420.061.401.4730570037372
Spec Sanders95851265.350.311.572.7830015062668
Tommy Kramer4114184774.490.071.181.5628648346408
Tyrod Taylor58736336.190.461.901.642731113961
Stan Humphries2810134804.800.091.271.5125935654243
Nick Foles140281255.800.181.591.4425622242013
Tony Eason187586904.630.131.261.6224823593038
Jacky Lee91843404.730.271.382.0524512691878
Jameis Winston61637806.140.381.821.532361122943
Ken O'Brien4129191844.650.051.201.5519849456407
Steve Pelluer119756784.740.161.301.7119015622051
Robert Griffin140879845.670.131.511.4418121322024
Paul Christman122538783.170.130.892.5016110903060
Aaron Brooks3560173214.870.041.251.4714944425220
Bob Berry147559434.030.101.081.8614615952750
George Blanda3761165574.400.041.131.8814442477077
Jay Schroeder3258151444.650.031.191.5311238705000
James Harris137151743.770.081.001.9611013762689
Wade Wilson2884134204.650.031.181.527434104374
Byron Leftwich183490904.960.031.271.536423202808
Vinny Testaverde7548357874.740.011.191.4647898210990
Matt Cavanaugh69931784.550.061.191.55458281084
Jay Fiedler205098694.810.021.221.424425002903
Steve DeBerg5524247774.490.011.131.514362278325
Ed Brown224695364.250.021.071.953924134375
Bill Munson230492504.010.021.021.893523394348
Erik Kramer2574121514.720.011.191.463430633749
Sage Rosenfels62931645.030.041.291.5425810968
Steve Beuerlein3885183684.730.001.191.441646045585
Rob Johnson108651504.74-0.011.181.37-812821487
Don Strock87336724.21-0.021.041.57-179051368
Cotton Davidson180482684.58-0.021.131.73-3520413125
Craig Erickson125158464.67-0.031.141.36-4114311704
Don Trull79333314.20-0.080.991.88-627861491
Johnny Clement84830673.62-0.100.832.25-887011910
Charlie Batch193792324.77-0.051.151.36-10422302637
Norm Snead4835198984.12-0.021.011.84-11448898897
Jim Harbaugh4840226434.68-0.021.151.43-11755736916
Scott Mitchell2673125204.68-0.051.141.35-12830343614
Brian Griese3227154464.79-0.041.171.38-13537614465
Jake Locker86446335.36-0.171.221.16-14310511003
Steve Bartkowski3990167174.19-0.041.021.54-14340726129
Billy Volek66730924.64-0.260.971.26-170645843
Vince Ferragamo176976534.33-0.101.011.40-17117852473
Steve Bono190287714.61-0.101.081.33-19520472535
Brian Hoyer113061765.47-0.181.231.04-20613891180
George Shaw93236983.97-0.230.821.68-2197601563
Chris Miller3279152174.64-0.071.111.39-22836334573
Shaun Hill135969585.12-0.171.151.33-23415641801
Jim Finks147350553.43-0.180.731.89-25910702781
Tobin Rote3542135733.83-0.070.901.86-26531946602
Scott Hunter90130873.43-0.300.631.51-2705701361
Ty Detmer108548574.48-0.260.931.17-27910051264
Jeff Kemp109346344.24-0.290.851.24-3139241352
John Friesz149166514.46-0.220.951.24-33314131846
Steve Tensi98834453.49-0.350.611.80-3436041777
Steve Spurrier123242673.46-0.280.651.60-3488061975
Glenn Dobbs119657154.78-0.300.972.19-35811602621
Kyle Orton3003154375.14-0.121.201.37-36035894102
Tim Rattay82236184.40-0.450.761.03-372626851
Parker Hall105828162.66-0.370.391.73-3874141827
Dave Krieg6222283144.55-0.061.091.41-39567838750
Joe Ferguson5184210094.05-0.080.961.56-39649558079
Teddy Bridgewater102354405.32-0.391.040.79-3981061808
Pete Liske88330093.41-0.470.501.32-4164401161
Jake Plummer5062238114.70-0.091.111.35-43456276813
Gary Hogeboom152665424.29-0.290.861.20-44013061824
Jim Miller114149784.36-0.410.780.95-4658951085
Shaun King91238614.23-0.520.670.88-472611804
Mike Tomczak2649119164.50-0.180.991.30-47526233443
Pat Ryan76029493.88-0.630.500.89-477380675
Irv Comp77417572.27-0.620.101.88-480791456
Roy Zimmerman88221602.45-0.550.201.89-4821781666
Steve Ramsey106434583.25-0.460.471.43-4855011522
Jason Campbell2928147395.03-0.171.131.33-49033173889
Seneca Wallace91542114.60-0.540.750.98-494682897
Shane Matthews91638594.21-0.550.640.84-501589766
Damon Huard109248294.42-0.470.750.99-5128231077
Mike Livingston206071233.46-0.250.681.61-51213963312
Matt Leinart71830534.25-0.720.520.74-515377533
Babe Parilli3745157104.19-0.150.941.73-55235136495
Mike Glennon71233864.76-0.830.570.43-589405308
Bud Schwenk80725903.21-0.770.231.77-6191831425
Bob Lee79223272.94-0.780.151.09-619118863
Vince Young166978394.70-0.380.891.11-62614901852
Gus Frerotte3509162834.64-0.181.031.26-62935994428
Marty Domres101831853.13-0.620.321.28-6293241303
Chris Chandler4756218244.59-0.141.041.30-64949706189
Joe Flacco4607243785.29-0.151.211.26-66855935786
Jim Hardy96425722.67-0.700.151.54-6711401488
Kordell Stewart3088139924.53-0.230.961.19-70529693668
Jack Kemp3488146744.21-0.210.891.66-73531175781
David Woodley158563534.01-0.460.651.02-73610361609
Cody Carlson79429523.72-0.940.230.54-746179428
Trent Edwards107647614.42-0.690.590.85-747630917
Tom Hodson38210332.70-1.97-0.80-0.48-753-307-182
Dan McGwire1831100.60-4.13-2.95-2.73-756-539-499
Randy Hedberg114-352-3.09-6.64-5.75-4.78-757-655-545
Steve Romanik4608081.76-1.69-0.830.41-778-382190
Gary Cuozzo137247043.43-0.570.431.25-7795911717
Art Schlichter2523411.35-3.11-1.99-1.64-784-503-413
Lynn Dickey3562143654.03-0.220.841.37-78430034869
Derek Carr128965685.10-0.610.820.57-7851054737
Rusty Lisch154-102-0.66-5.12-4.01-3.65-789-617-561
Gary Marangi3585041.41-2.21-1.30-0.27-789-466-95
Jim Plunkett4404170403.87-0.180.831.52-79636636689
Spergon Wynn186870.47-4.30-3.11-2.95-799-578-548
Ronnie Cahill171-288-1.68-4.69-3.94-2.17-801-673-371
Eddie LeBaron200774633.72-0.400.631.57-80412633159
Stoney Case41711712.81-1.94-0.75-0.51-808-313-211
Jack Scarbath3223611.12-2.52-1.61-0.44-811-518-143
Pete Beathard148350283.39-0.550.441.50-8136472223
Curtis Painter3309742.95-2.46-1.11-1.03-813-366-342
Bobby Scott58113692.36-1.40-0.460.44-815-269257
Jack Jacobs64612851.99-1.29-0.471.10-832-303711
Chuck Long68423003.36-1.22-0.080.36-837-53250
Joe Reed65615942.43-1.28-0.350.64-838-230420
Bill Mackrides3854901.27-2.18-1.320.02-839-5067
Patrick Ramsey103941894.03-0.820.400.63-848411659
George Terlep191410.21-4.52-3.34-2.03-863-637-387
Dean McAdams3792620.69-2.28-1.540.22-865-58384
Frank Reich109142803.92-0.790.380.64-867420697
Quincy Carter119248994.11-0.730.480.69-869573819
Tarvaris Jackson133460784.56-0.650.650.81-8718671078
Bob Hoernschemeyer89435794.00-0.980.271.50-8762381337
Adrian Burk110230562.77-0.800.091.20-8851001321
Chris Simms59320043.38-1.51-0.29-0.02-896-171-9
Jerry Golsteyn2581330.52-3.49-2.49-1.82-900-642-469
Matt Moore89738604.30-1.010.310.46-910282413
Kevin Kolb90139184.35-1.020.320.46-918291415
Tommy Maddox136256244.13-0.680.520.75-9227141022
Davey O'Brien68611501.68-1.35-0.590.56-927-408387
Bill Troup3935441.38-2.36-1.42-0.74-927-559-291
Jeff Rutledge63019273.06-1.47-0.340.08-928-21450
Brandon Weeden109251274.70-0.850.540.46-929585506
Don Panciera2602530.97-3.58-2.44-1.17-931-635-303
Mickey Slaughter65421233.25-1.43-0.260.27-935-171176
Todd Collins85131373.69-1.110.090.34-94179289
Josh Freeman2365118195.00-0.400.951.06-94222492511
Dick Wood122047533.90-0.770.390.97-9434811181
Terry Hanratty4869601.98-1.95-0.97-0.17-946-470-83
David Archer88530013.39-1.080.040.40-95236355
Ryan Lindley2966822.30-3.24-1.85-1.92-959-549-568
Kent Graham156063914.10-0.620.560.82-9728691276
John Reaves72317772.46-1.35-0.400.40-974-286291
Johnny Gildea251-320-1.27-3.89-3.23-1.87-976-812-470
Danny Wuerffel43810952.50-2.23-1.05-0.81-978-460-354
Scott Bull275320.12-3.56-2.64-1.84-978-726-507
John Roach4067711.90-2.44-1.36-0.43-991-551-175
A.J. Feeley84331513.74-1.180.050.28-99442232
Matt Robinson64015462.42-1.56-0.570.00-999-3631
Mark Herrmann64518952.94-1.55-0.43-0.06-999-276-36
Brady Quinn63523623.72-1.58-0.25-0.07-1001-160-45
Paul McDonald88229393.33-1.14-0.020.35-1004-18308
Drew Bledsoe7569351154.64-0.131.061.29-100680259739
Bob Davis5259021.72-1.94-1.030.13-1018-53867
Chad Hutchinson49613512.72-2.06-0.87-0.66-1023-429-328
Kelly Holcomb100738713.84-1.020.200.44-1026198443
David Whitehurst115636143.13-0.890.120.67-1026134780
Jim Ninowski116741163.53-0.880.221.05-10292571229
Mike Pagel176069083.93-0.590.540.91-10439451600
Colt McCoy103745964.43-1.010.350.42-1044366435
Vince Evans172067253.91-0.610.520.87-10488951489
Steve Fuller140451013.63-0.750.350.71-10504881001
Donald Hollas48812252.51-2.17-1.00-0.68-1059-488-330
Fred Enke85919382.26-1.25-0.371.03-1071-319887
Sam Etcheverry3435061.48-3.15-2.00-1.30-1082-685-446
John McCormick54714542.66-1.98-0.82-0.16-1085-450-90
Al Dorow145552353.60-0.750.331.03-10974861498
Browning Nagle49911682.34-2.23-1.08-0.72-1110-541-359
Rudy Bukich136946843.42-0.810.251.15-11113381574
Steve Walsh143756933.96-0.780.410.66-1116586952
Cliff Stoudt88228533.23-1.27-0.140.29-1121-127255
Ken Dorsey44410532.37-2.53-1.31-0.99-1125-581-442
Bobby Hoying56215172.70-2.02-0.84-0.56-1132-470-313
Blake Bortles129562604.83-0.880.550.30-1134715391
Steve Dils109738073.47-1.040.090.52-113799572
Dick Shiner88824942.81-1.29-0.260.53-1144-235468
Lamar McHan169757663.40-0.680.341.25-11475812120
Karl Sweetan69417072.46-1.66-0.630.28-1149-435192
Hugh Millen111940553.62-1.030.130.48-1153149532
Don Majkowski233398264.21-0.500.680.98-115615902297
Derek Anderson171776734.47-0.680.610.82-115910491411
Eric Hipple185171083.84-0.640.480.87-11818911610
Kellen Clemens77329043.76-1.53-0.21-0.14-1182-160-112
Ryan Tannehill2609134565.16-0.460.950.80-118824732080
Mike McMahon65219583.00-1.83-0.62-0.42-1191-404-272
Chris Weinke81026793.31-1.50-0.30-0.14-1215-241-111
Richard Todd3490136803.92-0.350.721.21-121725074222
Rusty Hilger54813052.38-2.24-1.09-0.65-1228-595-358
Heath Shuler70621082.99-1.78-0.59-0.39-1254-413-276
Alex Smith4365221975.09-0.291.061.08-125446094731
Jeff Komlo5239381.79-2.40-1.35-0.93-1255-707-488
Jack Thompson100031623.16-1.26-0.160.25-1264-157249
Geno Smith105946704.41-1.190.210.05-126421956
Joe Kapp114634102.98-1.11-0.090.69-1268-98787
John Skelton69124643.57-1.85-0.50-0.41-1280-344-281
Archie Manning4422162663.68-0.290.701.39-128731016157
George Izo3442030.59-3.74-2.66-1.81-1287-914-623
Hugh McCullough388-143-0.37-3.37-2.62-1.41-1306-1015-548
Doug Pederson62316532.65-2.10-0.91-0.68-1306-567-422
Charlie Frye82727543.33-1.58-0.35-0.11-1308-292-88
Joe Pisarcik107528992.70-1.24-0.250.38-1329-272414
Andrew Walter4036381.58-3.30-2.08-1.84-1330-838-740
Mark Malone189372223.82-0.700.430.82-13348051560
David Klingler87927663.15-1.52-0.35-0.11-1338-312-95
Bobby Douglass176853173.01-0.770.171.06-13693031882
Todd Blackledge103532883.18-1.33-0.200.16-1372-207171
Bruce Gradkowski85028933.40-1.66-0.39-0.16-1410-334-135
Jimmy Clausen55216012.90-2.56-1.19-1.12-1411-658-619
Craig Whelihan62415232.44-2.27-1.10-0.81-1419-684-508
Bob Avellini132435302.67-1.07-0.140.70-1423-185923
Anthony Wright74021672.93-1.93-0.72-0.48-1430-530-357
Christian Ponder127855764.36-1.120.250.24-1437316307
Stan Gelbaugh4656911.49-3.09-1.95-1.56-1437-905-726
Dave Wilson118338463.25-1.22-0.100.28-1443-121329
J.P. Losman116542873.68-1.24-0.010.23-1444-11270
Dan Darragh354-96-0.27-4.08-3.13-1.99-1445-1108-703
Rodney Peete2860120304.21-0.510.670.91-144519242615
Marc Wilson243295723.94-0.600.530.89-146212972167
Jack Concannon141842442.99-1.03-0.030.77-1467-391090
Akili Smith59013162.23-2.51-1.32-1.12-1481-782-661
Randy Wright125942163.35-1.18-0.050.36-1489-63457
Rex Grossman173573404.23-0.860.410.60-14917171045
Kent Nix73514531.98-2.04-1.04-0.20-1499-761-149
Bubby Brister2596106864.12-0.580.600.89-150215452319
Billy Joe Tolliver193176283.95-0.780.400.67-15097751288
JaMarcus Russell79025213.19-1.94-0.66-0.37-1535-521-292
Ryan Fitzpatrick4083205835.04-0.390.971.00-159339514098
Kelly Stouffer5177621.47-3.15-2.00-1.61-1630-1032-834
Tim Couch200479483.97-0.820.380.57-16357601139
King Hill92022672.46-1.80-0.730.18-1652-672164
Dennis Shaw114327352.39-1.45-0.490.29-1653-556334
Chad Henne2219103154.65-0.750.600.70-166613291544
Sam Bradford2562124144.85-0.650.720.72-166818521857
Scott Brunner118936213.05-1.44-0.320.09-1708-376101
Danny Kanell106332813.09-1.65-0.47-0.21-1756-497-218
Kim McQuilken322-588-1.83-5.47-4.56-3.54-1761-1468-1139
Rick Norton441-102-0.23-4.14-3.16-1.98-1824-1394-872
Matt Cassel3031143004.72-0.620.720.85-187621682586
Josh McCown2324101454.37-0.860.440.51-200910291179
Ralph Guglielmi81415141.86-2.47-1.39-0.47-2012-1130-383
Tony Banks2829113144.00-0.750.440.68-211212451923
Zeke Bratkowski162148102.97-1.33-0.250.60-2149-410979
Dave Brown200773973.69-1.070.120.32-2157231637
Mike Taliaferro107721902.03-2.01-1.00-0.06-2165-1076-64
Joey Harrington2804114554.09-0.780.440.67-218912221886
Ryan Leaf77914761.89-2.84-1.65-1.44-2210-1289-1120
Frank Tripucka178853502.99-1.24-0.180.68-2211-3211211
Gary Huff92011381.24-2.43-1.51-0.51-2234-1391-470
Blaine Gabbert127347803.75-1.78-0.40-0.46-2271-508-581
Jack Trudeau184462073.37-1.26-0.100.23-2316-185415
Randy Johnson155238702.49-1.51-0.510.38-2337-785593
Kerry Collins6972314434.51-0.350.871.10-242360437650
Jon Kitna5078221644.36-0.500.710.93-255936224714
Mark Sanchez2590114794.43-0.990.360.44-25689441148
Mike Phipps222557952.60-1.23-0.270.55-2736-6031235
Kyle Boller181862213.42-1.52-0.29-0.02-2767-520-40
Rick Mirer248489463.60-1.140.040.26-2840106651
David Carr2839107263.78-1.080.130.37-30703791053
Dan Pastorini3517102212.91-0.910.050.86-31951593021
Trent Dilfer3683141463.84-0.940.260.48-34569451782

As you probably expected, Manning leads the career list. Good luck finding a stat-based list that doesn’t put him on top. Considering that this is just taking the regular season into account, having Manning and Dan Marino falls in line with the common sentiment that the two were great before January.

It’s important to distinguish between dominance and value, which is why I have value over average and value over replacement. When we rank quarterbacks by value over average, which has a higher baseline, we see guys like Otto Graham and Steve Young outrank Brett Favre. This just means that, for their time, Graham and Young were more statistically dominant than Favre. However, can we really say we would rather have 3031 plays from Graham or 5229 plays from Young over 11296 plays from Favre? I don’t think so. That’s where replacement value comes into play.

Using the lower baseline, guys with longer careers (maybe even guys considered compilers) move up the charts. Favre moves into the top five – even as high as third – when using the two different baselines for replacement value.  Manning and Marino, as well as active players Tom Brady and Drew Brees, all find themselves in the top five regardless of which way we want to measure value. It makes sense, given that these players played at a high level for a very long time.

joe montanaJoe Montana, known by many young fans as a guy who just won a lot of Super Bowls, ranks as the fifth most dominant regular season quarterback. When we measure his value over replacement, he moves behind Favre and legendary scrambler Fran Tarkenton. It may seem strange to see Tarkenton so high on a list like this, but keep in mind that he played for a long time and never had a bad season. He also retired as the all time leader in yards and touchdowns, and he held those records longer than any quarterback in history. So yea, he was pretty good.

John Elway often gets more than his share of criticism from box score scouts. He ranks in the top 25 in value over average, but his efficiency numbers don’t stand out like contemporaries Montana and Marino. However, if we look at value above replacement, which is probably a better way to look at the entire scope of a player’s career stats anyway, he ranks in the top ten in history.

If you look at the TAY/P column, you’ll see that Aaron Rodgers, unsurprisingly, ranks first. He is the most statistically dominant quarterback in the most passer-friendly era in history, still in his prime, so it makes sense that he would rank first. Graham’s third place rank is somewhat misleading. While he was, indeed, superior to his contemporaries, his AAFC stats do not account for fumbles or sacks. This artificially inflates his numbers, as well as the numbers of every other AAFC quarterback.

It may shock some to see Russell Wilson rank fourth, ahead of even Steve Young. Keep in mind, of course, that Wilson has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league. He also began his career the year after the 2011 passing explosion. When you look at his TAY/P relative to his peers, he drops to 31st place. Still great, but not extraordinarily so.

The players hurt most by this exercise are the ones who played before the 16-game schedule and the passing explosion brought on by a concert of regulatory changes. The volume of their career stats simply doesn’t stack up. Most historians and analysts would put Johnny Unitas in their top five list, but he only ranks 13th, 14th, and 8th by these metrics. The need for some type of era adjustment becomes clear when we see the relatively low rankings of legends like Unitas, Roger Staubach, Y.A. Tittle, and Sammy Baugh. Like I did before, I’m going to work step-by-step to account for that. Join me next time when I look at the numbers modified for the expanded league schedule.

That’s all for now. Leave your comments if you have any.

 

  1. If you haven’t been reading, you can check out parts one, two, three, four, and five at your leisure.
  2. Versions of this stat for quarterbacks after 1991 include first down bonuses, and versions after 1992 include adjustments for air/YAC splits. To be fair to older players, I have excluded those from the calculations.