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Passer Personality Types, part one

Posted by Jason Lisk on August 14, 2009

We've spent this week on quarterbacks, so I'm going to close the week of quarterbacks on a slightly more frivolous note.

Some of you may be familiar with the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Test. If you are not, it basically has four sub-categories (such as introversion versus extroversion), and a person's Meyers-Briggs personality type is based on the categorization in each of the four categories. There are, as a result, 16 different personality types.

Borrowing from that, I developed four passer personality sub-types, that I then combined into 16 different personality types. I'm not, however, looking at whether a quarterback prefers to read his playbook alone or discuss it in large groups, or whether the quarterback prepares well in advance, or is a procrastinator. Instead, I am using the quarterback's statistics in five key categories, and the interaction between those categories, to classify the quarterbacks.

Last month, Doug introduced the Advanced Passing Tables on the quarterback player pages. These tables convert raw rate stats to a number that compares them against the league for that season. This allows us to see how a 58% completion percentage in 1971 compares to the same raw percentage in 2008. I used these career advanced passing ratings in yards per attempt, completion percentage, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and sack rate to develop the personality categories.

Here are the four personality sub-types that I developed:

1. Bombers versus Completers [B/C]: This category compares performance in yards per attempt versus completion percentage. If a passer is better at yards per attempt, he is a Bomber. If a passer is better at completion percentage, he is a Completer (and if he is really bad at yards per attempt while completing an okay amount, he is a Captain Checkdown).

2. Fun versus Safe [F/S]: This relates back to the Fun QB Index. A passer who is better at throwing touchdowns than avoiding interceptions is “Fun”. A passer who is better at avoiding the interceptions is “Safe and Secure”.

3. Vulture versus Yard Eater [V/Y]: Vulture is for TD Vulture. Vultures are passers who perform better at touchdown percentage than yards per attempt, while Yard Eaters perform better in the yards per attempt category, while others scored the touchdowns.

4. Gambler versus Holder [G/H]: This category combines the completion percentage and interception indexes, and compares them to the sack rate index. A passer who avoids sacks at the expense of throwing a few more incompletions and interceptions is a Gambler. A passer who abides by the belief that “a sack isn’t the worst thing in the world” and is willing to hold the ball rather than put it up for grabs or risk a pass before a player is open is a Holder.

Keep in mind that we are comparing a quarterback against himself. We know that Joe Montana was better than Jack Trudeau; here, we are looking at where Montana (or Trudeau) was relatively better and worse. Also, passers are going to fall somewhere along the spectrum in each category, with several being bunched near the middle. Nevertheless, each is put in one group or the other, regardless of the magnitude. If a player was exactly equal in the two categories being compared, he was placed in the one that had the minority of players. This resulted in a roughly equal breakdown of passers on either side in each category.

I used every passer who threw at least 1,000 passes since 1968 (and threw at least 1/3 of their career pass attempts since 1968). We don't have sack data before 1968, and I didn't want to judge previous quarterbacks, but this allows me to include guys who started their career before 1968, but played into the decade of the 1970's as starting quarterbacks. 155 quarterbacks met this criteria. At least two passers fell into every personality type, while the most common personalities had eighteen passers each. I'm going to go down each personality type in depth on Monday. For now, though, I thought I would close with currently active and projected starting quarterbacks who have thrown 1,000+ passes, and the retired quarterbacks on the list who are most similar in terms of "personality" and overall quality, as measured by performance in the advanced passing tables. These should be viewed as fun comparisons and aren't anywhere as rigorous as Chase's rankings that take into account schedule, weather, or career trajectory. I guess I should point out that I'm comparing current players rate stats to retired players who played an entire career and may have seen their numbers dip at the end, which should probably result in a slightly optimistic comparison for guys who have hit their primes already, but haven't declined late in their careers.

Peyton Manning = Dan Marino
Tom Brady = Fran Tarkenton
Ben Roethlisberger = Bob Berry
Kurt Warner = Danny White
Eli Manning = Joe Ferguson
Drew Brees = Dan Fouts
Tony Romo = Terry Bradshaw
Donovan McNabb = Rich Gannon
David Garrard= Neil O'Donnell
Jay Cutler = Joe Namath
Philip Rivers = Daryle Lamonica
Carson Palmer = Jim Kelly
Jake Delhomme = Boomer Esiason
Chad Pennington = Ken Anderson
Matt Hasselbeck =Jeff Hostetler
Kerry Collins = Jim Zorn
Marc Bulger = Craig Morton
Jason Campbell = Mike Livingston