Who is the best quarterback of this era in passing situations?

Who is the best quarterback of this era in passing situations?

NFL fans have been spoiled by the standard of quarterback play in the 21st century.

A golden age led by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers is seemingly heading straight into another, albeit largely dominated by quarterbacks with vastly different abilities.

Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson heralded the beginning of a fascinating new era. The success of Mahomes, Allen and Co. it was, in part, a product of its ability to impact with its legs as well as through the air.

Still, the ultimate test of a quarterback remains his ability to deliver in situations where the defense knows a pass is coming.

The confluence of the final years of great pocket quarterbacks and the beginnings of potential Hall of Fame careers of several dual-threat superstars can make it difficult to resolve the argument over which modern sign calls perform best in these scenarios.

However, Stats Perform has developed a metric to rank the best quarterbacks since 2008 in expected passing situations called spread value.

The spread value is calculated using our efficiency versus expected (EVE) metric. For quarterbacks, EVE measures performance in terms of yards added in expected passing situations.

The spread value is generated using the EVE baselines for each season since 2008. In essence, the spread value is how much a quarterback is above or below the accumulated baseline for that period, with significantly greater weight given to recent results. .

That weighting undoubtedly influenced the top-ranked quarterback, though his consistently spectacular play also played a role.

Mahomes Magic

With the historic pace Mahomes has set since joining the NFL, it’s no surprise that the ‘new generation’ leader is at the top of the rankings.

Mahomes racked up 18,707 yards over his first four seasons as a starter, comfortably surpassing Manning and Rodgers and putting him on track to be the best of all time.

His 6,429 spread value is a product of Mahomes leading the NFL in EVE in three of his four seasons as a starting quarterback, including a 2021 campaign that saw questions about his and the Kansas City Chiefs’ ability to excel against two-pointers. of security. defenses.

Mahomes’ task going forward will be to maintain his superiority with an absent receiver Tyreek Hill following his trade to the Miami Dolphins.

He won’t be lacking for challengers in the conference, with six more active AFC quarterbacks within the top 20 by spread value since 2008. Half of those QBs reside within their own division, encapsulating the arms race that is the AFC West.

Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert is 11th after finishing fourth at EVE last season, Oakland Raiders’ Derek Carr is 17th and new Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is 18th.

The man considered Mahomes’ main rival, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, is 12th behind Herbert. His position below Herbert can be attributed to his first struggles after joining the NFL and a 2020 season considered thus far as his vintage year being good enough for 13th place at EVE.

Allen has improved to eighth in 2021 and while some may wonder how much he can improve after his stupendous playoff duel with Mahomes, he will look to take the next step and help the Bills finally overhaul the Chiefs.

However, despite all the talk about the AFC being the deepest conference, there are seven active NFC quarterbacks in the top 20, with Rodgers (third), Dak Prescott (fourth), Matthew Stafford (seventh) and Kirk Cousins ​​(seventh) eighth) all residing in the top 10.

A 2021 season in which he was 10th at EVE secured Kyler Murray 16th in spread value and, despite the disappointing end to the campaign, underscored the Arizona Cardinals’ need to sign him to an extension. His NFC West rival Jimmy Garoppolo is three spots higher, above even his former New England Patriots mentor in an indication of the level of efficiency that successor Trey Lance will need to at least match for the San Francisco 49ers to succeed. in 2022 and beyond.

Breesy does it

Despite a glorious career in which he compiled a plethora of records, some of which Brady has since broken, Drew Brees may not receive the same level of acclaim as his contemporaries in the ‘old guard’ of NFL quarterbacks.

But the New Orleans Saints legend is in second place behind Mahomes in spread value. Immediately behind him among that group of veterans are Rodgers and Philip Rivers in fifth.

Brees’ position is a consequence of him leading the NFL in EVE in expected passing situations for five consecutive seasons from 2008-12. He regained that spot in 2017 and the last season of his career in 2020 was the only year he finished outside the top five.

These remarkable numbers are a tribute not only to Brees’ accuracy – he was first in percentage completion (minimum 100 attempts) in 2019 and fourth in 2020 – but also to the longevity of the connection between him and the former coach. Saints, Sean Payton. .

But what about the man who ended Brees’ career and stunned the NFL world by reversing his decision to complete his own?

spread value

spread value

Tom isn’t great?

Brady’s career ended for 40 days and will now continue for as long as the greatest of all time sees fit, even if he seems to have nothing left to prove.

While Brady’s legacy is secure, the extra seasons could help him climb the ladder in spread value, in which he is – by his standards – 19th.

His position is impacted by a 2008 campaign in which he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 and his final year with the New England Patriots in 2019, which marked his worst EVE performance in expected passing situations over 14 years. seasons.

Brady’s pinnacle in this regard came in the spectacular 2016 season, in which he led the league in EVE despite playing just 12 games. He subsequently guided the Patriots to Super Bowl glory with a historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons.

The last act of his incredible more than two decades in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t see him return to those heights, even as he raised the Bucs to the league’s elite.

He was 12th in EVE in 2020 as he guided the Bucs to Super Bowl glory and 13th in 2021 in what appeared to be his final season in the league.

Brady will want to go out on top of the mountain and the Bucs will hope he isn’t about to hit the cliff, with two of his biggest rivals having spent a lot of time beyond the peak.

Get out while you’re ahead

Given the four Super Bowls they share equally among themselves and the prominent role they’ve played in football this century, it’s remarkable to see Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning so low in the spread value rankings.

Roethlisberger is 37th while Manning is 67th, points that belie his first Hall of Fame scrutiny.

But it’s the deliberation of recent seasons that goes against Roethlisberger and Manning, both of whom have walked away from professional football after terrible individual campaigns.

No quarterback with at least 300 attempts in expected passing situations had a worse EVE than Manning in 2015, when he was briefly replaced by Brock Osweiler. In his defense, the end came extremely quickly for Manning after an MVP season in 2013 and a Pro Bowl run in 2014 and he still managed to do enough to go away winning a Lombardi Trophy with the Broncos.

Roethlisberger’s terrible 2021 was easier to predict, his mobility and ability to push the ball into the field had already diminished before he had the worst EVE of his career in his final season.

On the other hand, Tony Romo called it a career in 2017, but his last full season as a starter was in 2014 when he was seventh at EVE. The former Dallas Cowboy is in sixth place in spread value as a result.

Brady’s game and his efficiency numbers from his two seasons with the Buccaneers suggest he’s more likely to replicate Romo, who may well be his inspiration as he enters his post-player career.

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