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For more from Chase and Jason, check out their work at Football Perspective and The Big Lead.

Fun QBs

Posted by Chase Stuart on August 6, 2007

Do you know who holds the modern record for yards per completion in a season? It's Jack Kemp, the former Buffalo Bills QB and United States Congressman. In 1964, Kemp averaged 19.20 yards per completion, easily the most for any QB since 1960 with at least 200 pass attempts. Here's a list of the top 20 QBs:

19.20	Jack Kemp	1964	buf
18.59	Tom Flores	1963	rai
17.87	Johnny Unitas	1964	clt
17.83	Craig Morton	1970	dal
17.81	George Blanda	1961	oti
17.75	Ed Brown	1963	pit
17.61	Bobby Layne	1960	pit
17.47	Tom Flores	1966	rai
17.39	Norm Snead	1963	was
17.38	Joe Namath	1972	nyj
17.13	Don Meredith	1965	dal
16.99	Terry Bradshaw	1970	pit
16.84	Eric Hipple	1981	det
16.83	Joe Namath	1968	nyj
16.70	John Hadl	1968	sdg
16.70	John Brodie	1961	sfo
16.64	Sonny Jurgensen	1962	phi
16.61	Cotton Davidson	1962	rai
16.60	Chris Chandler	1998	atl
16.45	Greg Landry	1971	det
16.45	Ed Brown	1964	pit
16.42	Jim Ninowski	1961	det
16.31	Johnny Unitas	1960	clt
16.28	Jack Kemp	1961	sdg
16.27	Jay Schroeder	1988	rai
And the bottom 25 QBs:
8.43	Bobby Hoying	1998	phi
8.94	Donovan McNabb	1999	phi
8.95	Doug Pederson	2000	cle
9.12	Mark Rypien	1993	was
9.15	Kordell Stewart	1999	pit
9.16	David Carr	2006	htx
9.31	Kelly Holcomb	2003	cle
9.32	Joey Harrington	2003	det
9.38	Bruce Gradkowski2006	tam
9.50	Gary Huff	1975	chi
9.56	Joe Namath	1976	nyj
9.62	Dan Pastorini	1973	oti
9.65	Anthony Wright	2005	rav
9.67	Roman Gabriel	1974	phi
9.70	Hugh Millen	1992	nwe
9.72	David Carr	2005	htx
9.74	Kelly Holcomb	2005	buf
9.74	Charlie Frye	2006	cle
9.77	Boomer Esiason	1992	cin
9.84	Kyle Orton	2005	chi
9.84	Jim McMahon	1993	min
9.85	Shane Matthews	1999	chi
9.85	Patrick Ramsey	2004	was
9.89	Mike Livingston	1978	kan
9.91	A.J. Feeley	2004	mia
Certainly, Kemp's 1964 season is interesting because of his high yards per completion rate. But there are some other peculiar notes about his stat line. Kemp completed an abysmal 44.2 percent of his passes, converting 119 of 269 passes. There have been 1280 quarterbacks to throw 200 passes in a season since 1960: Kemp ranks as the 27th worst on the list. In Mike Shanahan's only full season with the Raiders, both his QBs completed 44.1% of his passes. No wonder he didn't stay in California for very long. Here's a list of the worst 30:
35.3%	Gary Marangi	1976	buf
36.1%	Dick Wood	1966	mia
37.1%	Cotton Davidson	1962	rai
38.1%	Terry Bradshaw	1970	pit
39.0%	Johnny Green	1960	buf
39.8%	Tom Sherman	1968	nwe
40.3%	Steve Tensi	1967	den
40.4%	Bobby Douglass	1971	chi
40.6%	Babe Parilli	1965	nwe
40.7%	John McCormick	1965	den
41.0%	Pete Beathard	1967	oti
41.2%	John Hadl	1962	sdg
41.2%	Rusty Hilger	1988	det
41.4%	Jim Zorn	1977	sea
41.8%	Doug Williams	1979	tam
42.1%	George Blanda	1965	oti
42.7%	Jack Kemp	1966	buf
42.7%	Joe Pisarcik	1977	nyg
42.8%	Dan Darragh	1968	buf
43.5%	Bob Avellini	1976	chi
43.6%	Jack Kemp	1967	buf
43.7%	Randy Johnson	1966	atl
44.1%	George Herring	1961	den
44.1%	Steve Beuerlein	1988	rai
44.1%	Jay Schroeder	1988	rai
44.2%	Akili Smith	2000	cin
44.2%	Jack Kemp	1964	buf
44.3%	Jim Hart	1968	crd
44.5%	Ed Brown	1964	pit
44.7%	Vince Evans	1981	chi
And the best 30:
70.6%	Ken Anderson	1982	cin
70.3%	Steve Young	1994	sfo
70.2%	Joe Montana	1989	sfo
69.3%	Brian Griese	2004	tam
69.2%	Chad Pennington	2002	nyj
69.2%	Daunte Culpepper2004	min
69.1%	Troy Aikman	1993	dal
68.7%	Kurt Warner	2001	ram
68.3%	David Carr	2006	htx
68.0%	Steve Young	1993	sfo
67.8%	Carson Palmer	2005	cin
67.7%	Kurt Warner	2000	ram
67.7%	Steve Young	1996	sfo
67.7%	Steve Young	1997	sfo
67.6%	Rich Gannon	2002	rai
67.6%	Peyton Manning	2004	clt
67.4%	Kelly Holcomb	2005	buf
67.3%	Peyton Manning	2005	clt
67.3%	Steve Bartkowski1984	atl
67.0%	Peyton Manning	2003	clt
66.9%	Marc Bulger	2005	ram
66.9%	Steve Young	1995	sfo
66.8%	Joe Montana	1987	sfo
66.7%	Brian Griese	2002	den
66.7%	Ken Stabler	1976	rai
66.7%	Ken Anderson	1983	cin
66.7%	Steve Young	1992	sfo
66.4%	Ben Roethlisberger2004	pit
66.4%	Trent Green	2004	kan
66.3%	Peyton Manning	2002	clt

Those large data dumps are just the background for this post. Because Kemp's season gets even more interesting. Kemp threw 13 TDs against 26 INTs in 1964, which is pretty incredible considering he only had 269 pass attempts. His 9.67 INTs per 100 pass attempts ranks as the 5th worst of those 1280 QBs. Here are the top and bottom 10 INT rates:


11.1 Eddie LeBaron 1960 dal
11.0 Terry Bradshaw 1970 pit
10.4 George Herring 1961 den
10.0 George Blanda 1962 oti
9.7 Jack Kemp 1964 buf
9.4 Norm Snead 1973 nyg
9.2 John Hadl 1962 sdg
8.9 Dennis Shaw 1971 buf
8.6 Joe Namath 1975 nyj
8.5 Ralph Guglielmi 1960 was


0.4 Damon Huard 2006 kan
0.9 Steve Deberg 1990 kan
1.2 Steve Bartkowski1983 atl
1.2 Neil O'Donnell 1998 cin
1.2 Brian Griese 2000 den
1.2 Bart Starr 1966 gnb
1.3 Phil Simms 1990 nyg
1.3 Jim Harbaugh 1997 clt
1.3 Doug Flutie 2000 buf
1.3 Brad Johnson 2002 tam

That's right, Damon Huard last season had the lowest INT rate of the 1,280 QBs since 1960 to throw 200 passes in a season.

So roughly, every 20 times Jack Kemp threw a pass, he would have nine 20-yard completions, with one of those going for a TD, two INTs, and nine incompletions. Maybe it's the AFL'er in me, but that sounds pretty exciting to watch. So I've decided to come up with a fun index, centered around Mr. Kemp. Without putting too much thought into this (since this is, after all, filed under 'totally useless'), here's the formula:

[ ((Interceptions + Touchdowns) X 25) + Passing Yards ] / Completions

It's basically yards per completion, with a bonus for "big plays." Since both passing TDs and INTs are big plays, I weighed them the same. Both are fun to see.

Kemp had a fun score of 27.39, the highest in the modern era. He had 13 TDs, 26 INTs, 2285 passing yards and 119 completions. I think this "fun score" formula approximates what we're trying to get at, and since Kemp topped the list, I'm happy. Here are the top 30 most fun seasons to watch since 1960:

Fun	Player		Year	Team	Cmp	Yard	TD	INT
27.39 Jack Kemp 1964 buf 119 2285 13 26
26.02 Terry Bradshaw 1970 pit 83 1410 6 24
25.89 Tom Flores 1963 rai 113 2101 20 13
25.56 George Blanda 1961 oti 187 3330 36 22
24.89 Bobby Layne 1960 pit 103 1814 13 17
24.63 Jim Zorn 1977 sea 104 1687 16 19
23.85 Ed Brown 1963 pit 168 2982 21 20
23.79 John Hadl 1968 sdg 208 3473 27 32
23.76 Tom Flores 1966 rai 151 2638 24 14
23.56 Joe Namath 1972 nyj 162 2816 19 21
23.33 Don Meredith 1965 dal 141 2415 22 13
23.23 Craig Morton 1970 dal 102 1819 15 7
23.10 Norm Snead 1963 was 175 3043 13 27
22.92 Cotton Davidson 1962 rai 119 1977 7 23
22.85 Ed Brown 1964 pit 121 1990 12 19
22.85 Norm VanBrocklin1960 phi 153 2471 24 17
22.81 Cotton Davidson 1961 kan 151 2445 17 23
22.76 Sonny Jurgensen 1962 phi 196 3261 22 26
22.76 Johnny Unitas 1960 clt 190 3099 25 24
22.75 Y.A. Tittle 1962 nyg 200 3224 33 20
22.56 Cotton Davidson 1964 rai 155 2497 21 19
22.54 Bill Wade 1961 chi 139 2258 22 13
22.27 Charley Johnson 1962 crd 150 2440 16 20
22.03 Jay Schroeder 1988 rai 113 1839 13 13
22.02 Eric Hipple 1981 det 140 2358 14 15
21.99 Matt Robinson 1978 nyj 124 2002 13 16
21.97 John Hadl 1965 sdg 174 2798 20 21
21.89 Earl Morrall 1968 clt 182 2909 26 17
21.88 Jack Kemp 1961 sdg 165 2686 15 22
21.83 Johnny Unitas 1964 clt 158 2824 19 6

Of note: two pre-1960 QBs even beat mighty Jack. In 1943, Sid Luckman (29.04) had 110 completions (on 202 attempts), 2,194 passing yards, 28 TDs and 12 INTs. But if you lower the bar to 100 attempts, no one could match Joe Geri: despite completing just 41 of 113 passes (36.3%), he passed for 866 yards (21.12 yards per completion). Throw in 15 INTs and 6 TDs, and he has a fun score of 33.93.

You might notice that there aren't any QBs on the fun score list since 1990. Here are the top 25 most fun seasons since then:


Fun Player Year Team Cmp Yard TD INT
21.47 Chris Chandler 1998 atl 190 3154 25 12
19.50 Jay Schroeder 1990 rai 182 2849 19 9
19.32 Jeff George 1999 min 191 2816 23 12
19.10 Chris Miller 1991 atl 220 3103 26 18
18.81 Jake Plummer 1997 crd 157 2203 15 15
18.74 Kurt Warner 2000 ram 235 3429 21 18
18.67 Boomer Esiason 1990 cin 224 3031 24 22
18.55 Randall Cunningham 1998 min 259 3704 34 10
18.40 Heath Shuler 1994 was 120 1658 10 12
18.25 Vinny Testaverde 1993 cle 130 1797 14 9
18.23 Mark Rypien 1991 was 249 3564 28 11
18.19 Vinny Testaverde 1990 tam 203 2818 17 18
18.07 Ben Roethlisberger 2005 pit 168 2385 17 9
18.04 Donovan McNabb 2006 phi 180 2647 18 6
17.95 Peyton Manning 2004 clt 336 4557 49 10
17.92 Billy Joe Tolliver 1999 nor 139 1916 7 16
17.85 Trent Green 2000 ram 145 2063 16 5
17.81 Donald Hollas 1998 rai 135 1754 10 16
17.66 Jay Schroeder 1991 rai 189 2562 15 16
17.60 Rodney Peete 1990 det 142 1974 13 8
17.55 Kurt Warner 1999 ram 325 4353 41 13
17.50 Rodney Peete 1992 det 123 1702 9 9
17.49 Jeff Blake 1994 cin 156 2154 14 9
17.46 Steve Young 1991 sfo 180 2517 17 8
17.38 Daunte Culpepper 2000 min 297 3937 33 16

I think it's safe to say that Jay Schroeder was a pretty darn fun QB to watch: he's on this list twice, and his 1988 season even cracked the original list. Whatever happened, it sure wasn't boring. And don't be too surprised to see Chandler at the top of this list. The 1998 Falcons had Tony Martin and Terance Mathis catch 130 balls for 2,317 yards, 17.8 yards per catch. Chandler was incredible that season, leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl. A few of the players on here -- Jeff George, Vinny Testaverde, Jeff Blake -- were physical talents with rocket arms and exciting games, but will never be remembered as winners. And check out the 2000 Rams, with two QBs on this list. That was the Rams team that saw 1,011 points scored in their games, easily the most in league history.

How about the reverse? Here are the 25 most boring QB seasons since 1990.


Fun Player Year Team Cmp Yard TD INT
10.40 Bobby Hoying 1998 phi 114 961 0 9
11.07 David Carr 2006 htx 302 2767 11 12
11.09 Doug Pederson 2000 cle 117 1047 2 8
11.23 Mark Rypien 1993 was 166 1514 4 10
11.65 Kordell Stewart 1999 pit 160 1464 6 10
11.78 Brad Johnson 2001 tam 340 3406 13 11
11.85 Jeff George 1991 clt 292 2910 10 12
11.93 Bruce Gradkowski 2006 tam 177 1661 9 9
11.93 Anthony Wright 2005 rav 164 1582 6 9
11.97 Jim McMahon 1993 min 200 1968 9 8
12.15 Steve Walsh 1994 chi 208 2078 10 8
12.16 David Klingler 1993 cin 190 1935 6 9
12.16 David Carr 2005 htx 256 2488 14 11
12.16 Kelly Holcomb 2003 cle 193 1797 10 12
12.19 Rich Gannon 2003 rai 125 1274 6 4
12.24 Kyle Boller 2004 rav 258 2559 13 11
12.25 Shane Matthews 1999 chi 167 1645 10 6
12.26 Jim Harbaugh 1993 chi 200 2002 7 11
12.29 Jeff George 1993 clt 234 2526 8 6
12.37 Kurt Warner 2002 ram 144 1431 3 11
12.40 Rich Gannon 1991 min 211 2166 12 6
12.41 Brad Johnson 2006 min 270 2750 9 15
12.42 Charlie Frye 2006 cle 252 2454 10 17
12.42 Brad Johnson 2005 min 184 1885 12 4
12.48 Joey Harrington 2003 det 309 2880 17 22

Bobby Hoying was just awful: he had a 45.6 QB rating for the season. But the 2006 version of David Carr embodies exactly what the formula was intended to find -- really boring QBs. He was everything that Jack Kemp was not. You might remember that Carr tied the NFL single game record for consecutive completions against the Bills last season (sorry, Bill M.). While impressive, note that Carr threw for exactly 202 yards during that stretch. That ugly 9.18 yards per completion average barely topped his season average of 9.16 YPC. There was nothing interesting about the Texans' passing game last year, as Carr completed a ton of short passes for not very many yards. Eleven TDs on 442 passes isn't very exciting to watch. Maybe if Houston had drafted Reggie Bush, they would have been just a bit more fun.

Brad Johnson (2001 - Tampa, 2005-2006 - Minnesota) hasn't been very fun to watch, either. Thankfully him and Carr aren't starting anymore. But here's something interesting: Jeff George (twice), Kurt Warner and Mark Rypien all appear on the boring list, despite also appearing on the fun list! George was incredibly boring as a Colt in 1991, but eight years later he had the third most fun season since 1990 with the Vikings. That should finally settle the debate that Bill Brooks and Jessie Hester were no Randy Moss and Cris Carter. Warner was really fun with the Rams in 1999 and 2000, but by 2002 he had become boring. Throwing 11 INTs was the only thing he did that was exciting -- he had just 3 TD passes in 220 attempts that season. Similarly, Rypien was great and fun to watch in 1991, but two years later, he ran a boring and incompetent 'Skins offense. Amazingly, he had only 4 TDs in 319 attempts that year.

As you might imagine, there aren't very many boring QBs from before 1990. Only five QBs had scores below 13.00, and none were below 12.00. Gary Huff (1975, Chicago) was the most boring, followed by Roman Gabriel (1974, Philadelphia), Greg Landry (1977, Detroit), Eric Hipple (1986, Detroit) and Mike Livingston (1978, Kansas City).

Tomorrow, we'll switch from a seasons view to a careers view, and see how the QBs stack up.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 6th, 2007 at 6:04 am and is filed under Totally Useless. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.