Here are some numbers to crunch. The web’s archive of professional football data, pro-football-reference.com, recently ranked the best and worst QBs of the modern era (since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger) and posted the results on their blog.
PFR’s rankings were based on a quarterback’s adjusted yards per attempt (defined as “(passing yards + 10*(TD passes) – 45*(interceptions thrown)) / (pass attempts)”) adjusted for season by subtracting the season average adjusted yards per attempt (to determine if a given QB was above or below average that year) with the difference multiplied by number of attempts for each QB.
How they generate the numbers is explained a little better in the first post in the series, which gives us the worst QB season of all time and the worst QB of all time. Surprisingly, Ryan Leaf, who once went 1/15 for 4 yards and 2 INTS in a game, doesn’t lead either list. It seems Mr. Leaf flamed out too fast to rank too highly on the suckitude list. I never would have guessed #1, though his inclusion does make perfect sense. For Colts’ fans, Jack Trudeau ranked #6.
The best QBs and QB seasons of all time are here. Unsurprisingly, Peyton Manning’s 2004 season ranks the best QB season of all time and Marino’s 1984 as #2. I’m surprised at the #1 QB of all time, however, especially since the numbers don’t include his awesome career rushing statistics (43 additional TDs). Manning is currently ranked #7, and, the authors concede, will probably be the best QB of all time statistically when all is said and done (though I’d trade some of that for a Super Bowl title if I were a Colts fan).
The final post in the series takes the numbers back to 1956, Johnny Unitas’s rookie year. A new #1 best QB of all time emerges, but the #1 worst QB remains the same.