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Passer Personality Types, part two

Posted by Jason Lisk on August 17, 2009

You probably want to read part one if you haven’t already done so, or this won’t make much sense.

I think most people have certain preferences when it comes to quarterbacks and how they play. Some like the fun loving gregarious bombers; others prefer tacticians who quietly go about their business and avoid the costly mistake. As we will see below, successes have occurred in most personality types. Nevertheless, we may all have our preferences—the lenses through which we view the player.

What was your gut reaction to the Jay Cutler trade involving Kyle Orton? I’m not talking about your reaction to all the off-season drama, but rather, your reaction to whether Cutler is a substantial upgrade over Orton, or whether Chicago overpaid for the difference. The exchange of those two quarterbacks involves the exchange of vastly different styles. Orton didn’t make this list because he hasn’t quite made it to 1,000 career passes (a mark he should reach this season), but his personality type is CSVG, and pretty strongly so, which we will see is almost exactly opposite of Cutler with the exception of the Gambler trait.

I list all 16 personality types below. I grouped them by opposite pairs (so CSVG is next to BFYH) so you can see the contrast between players of the exact opposite types. I then listed the opposite pair groups in descending order, based on the frequency with which that personality and its polar opposite appear. Thus, the most common personality types are listed first, and the infrequent ones last. As you might guess, several of the traits are related. “Fun” Quarterbacks tend to be “Gamblers” also (about a 67% chance), while “Safe” Quarterbacks tend to be “Holders”. As a result, though the distribution of the sub-types are uniform (there are roughly equal numbers of Bombers and Completers, for example), the distribution of personality types is not. The quarterbacks are listed within each personality type by the magnitude of their “personality”. Quarterbacks who are more extreme toward a personality type are going to be listed near the top.

As noted by commenter Oneblankspace below, here are the categories being used:

Bomber-Completer (YPA v. Comp%)
Fun-Safe (TD% v. INT%)
Vulture-Yard eater (TD% v. YPA)
Gambler-Holder (Comp%/INT% v. Sack rate)


These guys are your classic game managers—and not in the derogatory sense that the term is too often applied. They take what the defense gives them, and complete passes while avoiding turnovers. At their best, they can efficiently move a team down the field, often letting others get the glory for the touchdown. At their worst, they can check down every pass, and take too many sacks while they avoid those interceptions.

Steve Fuller
Ken O'Brien
Greg Landry
David Carr
Bernie Kosar
Neil Lomax
Tony Eason
Ken Anderson
David Garrard
Jim Harbaugh
Chad Pennington
Neil O'Donnell
Mark Brunell
Archie Manning
Jason Campbell
Troy Aikman
Gary Danielson
Jim McMahon


These guys take what the defense gives them, too—if you consider that patch of green behind the last safety something the defense is giving them. The BFVG’s are the quintessential gunslingers. When they are on, they can combine with a running game to provide quick strike scores and rip the heart out of the opponent. When they are off, they can rip their own fans’ hearts out with costly interceptions and lots of incompletions. Apparently, they can also change their stripes and win with great defenses, as evidenced by the extremes of a guy who won four rings, and another guy often credited as a game manager for managing to win with a great defense, but who shows up with this personality type. The seven rings by QB's with this personality type finishes just ahead of CFVH and CSVH, each with six.

Tony Romo
Terry Bradshaw
Eli Manning
Daryle Lamonica
Mark Rypien
Tommy Maddox
Marc Wilson
Billy Joe Tolliver
Boomer Esiason
Scott Mitchell
Joe Ferguson
Chris Miller
Philip Rivers
Trent Dilfer
John Hadl
Richard Todd


This personality type is very close to the gunslingers above. In fact, the only difference is the propensity to rack up yards at a higher rate than touchdowns. They not only have a quick trigger on the field and avoid sacks, they may also have one off of it, guaranteeing Super Bowl victories or demanding trades when feeling disrespected.

Steve Grogan
Mike Tomczak
Bill Nelsen
Vince Evans
Jay Schroeder
Joe Namath
Craig Erickson
Gus Frerotte
Jay Cutler
Vinny Testaverde
Jake Delhomme
Jay Fiedler
Dan Fouts
Jake Plummer
Bob Avellini
Jim Everett
Charley Johnson
Warren Moon


The top quarterback in Chase's list comes from this personality type. At their best, these quarterbacks are efficient game managers who can still rack up high touchdown totals. Again, their downfall, for those who are not as good, is the tendency to take sacks or not throw for enough yards.

Bill Munson
Rich Gannon
Joe Montana
Joe Theismann
Steve Bartkowski
Fran Tarkenton
Brad Johnson
Don Majkowski
Bubby Brister
Jeff Garcia
Bert Jones
Rick Mirer


Safe Gambler may sound like an oxymoron, and in this case, its not a good combination as a whole. This is one of the least successful personality types, with Brodie and Gabriel representing the best case scenarios, and Bledsoe having the only Super Bowl start.

Steve Walsh
Jim Miller
Steve Bono
Joey Harrington
John Brodie
Roman Gabriel
Steve Spurrier
Dan Pastorini
Steve DeBerg
Kyle Boller
Byron Leftwich
Mike Phipps
Brian Sipe
Kordell Stewart
Drew Bledsoe


A Fun Bomber who may have a tendency to hold on to the ball a little too long waiting to make an even bigger play and pick up chunks of yardage--who does that sound like? If you guessed both of last year's Super Bowl quarterbacks, you are right on both counts. This is a group that features lots of high peaks, and some valleys as well.

Bob Berry
Ben Roethlisberger
Daunte Culpepper
Kurt Warner
Lynn Dickey
Steve Beuerlein
Craig Morton
Trent Green
Chris Chandler
Jim Plunkett
Wade Wilson


This group is a little more conservative than the previous group. They tend to hold on to the ball waiting for a big play, but are a little safer in risking the interception versus making the touchdown pass.

Roger Staubach
Charlie Batch
Rodney Peete
Tony Banks
Jeff George
Dave M. Brown
Marc Bulger
Jeff Hostetler
Pat Haden
John Elway
Eric Hipple


At their best, players from this group can win all pro honors. This personality trait manifests itself on the bad end in guys who don't produce enough yards, or throw too many picks. It is similar to our true gunslingers group, except these guys perform better in the completions category.

Vince Ferragamo
Mark Malone
Brett Favre
Bobby Hebert
Peyton Manning
Carson Palmer
David Woodley
Dan Marino
Erik Kramer
Tommy Kramer
Billy Kilmer


The Fun/Vulture combination coupled with the Completer/Holder subgroups means that these guys will wait on plays to develop and throw for completions, but still can rack up league leading touchdown figures. On the negative end, the bad version may not get enough yards to offset the sacks they might take. This personality leads with the most Super Bowl starting appearances, with an overall record of 6-7.

Len Dawson
Randall Cunningham
Danny White
Dave Krieg
Tim Couch
Bob Griese
Brian Griese
Sonny Jurgensen
Tom Brady
Jim Kelly
Josh McCown


This is an eclectic mix of guys who again show that the Safe Gambler combination is not a particularly great one. Nevertheless, virtually all of these guys had decent careers or better, even if they are not among the all-time greats, as each was able to make enough plays downfield.

Kerry Collins
Jim Hart
Doug Flutie
Jim Zorn
Stan Humphries
James Harris


These quarterbacks are risk takers who rack up yards and completions at prodigious rates when on their game, though some might have a “compiler” reputation.

Ken Stabler
Randy Wright
Norm Snead
Drew Brees
Dave Wilson
Elvis Grbac
Jon Kitna


The Bomber/Vulture combined with the Safe/Holder persona matches some of the greatest running quarterbacks of recent times at its extreme. These guys will hold the ball (or run it) rather than risk the interception, but will take the big shots down the field for scores when the opportunity presents itself. At their worst, they struggle mightily with completions.

Bobby Douglass
Michael Vick
Donovan McNabb
Phil Simms
Ron Jaworski
Matt Hasselbeck


What can you expect if this personality type reaches the Super Bowl? Apparently, a record number of touchdown passes in a quarter. Other than that, not a particularly noteworthy group.

Doug Williams
Scott Brunner
Kent Graham
Mike Pagel
John Friesz
Bill Kenney


Steve Young was a pretty unique player.

Steve Young
Gary Hogeboom


Rest in peace, Steve. Another unique talent who didn’t follow the norm.

Jack Trudeau
Mike Livingston
Steve McNair


Only two quarterbacks fit this profile, and they both happened to play for the 2000 New Orleans Saints.

Aaron Brooks
Jeff Blake