Statistically Speaking: 2019’s Best Quarterback Part IV
Dec 29, 2019; Los Angeles, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) gets off a pass under pressure from Los Angeles Rams linebacker Dante Fowler (56) during the fourth quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Football fans’ eyes can only do so much. Beyond the simple analysis of players on the field, the ruthless data on spreadsheets never lies.
Here’s a look at 2019’s best quarterbacks from a statistical standpoint.
The numbers within the parentheses are the adjusted rank with 332 pass attempts and 400 pass attempts.
Y/A+ = yards per attempt index
NY/A+ = net yards per attempt index
AY/A+ = adjusted yards per attempt index
ANY/A+ = adjusted net yards per attempt index
Comp%+ = completion percentage index
TD%+ = touchdown percentage index
INT%+ = interception percentage index
Sack%+ = sack percentage index
Rate+ = passer rating index
30 – Chase Daniel, Chicago Bears, 92.6 Grade (40, 39)
Daniel only made five starts in the 2010s, including one in 2019. He appeared in three games for the Bears, completing 70 percent of his passes and throwing three touchdowns. Daniel relieved Mitch Trubisky after six snaps against the Vikings, leading the Bears to a 16-6 win. The next week, he started in London against the Raiders, throwing for 231 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. After the bye, Trubisky returned. Daniel left the Bears in the off-season and will back up Detroit’s Matt Stafford in 2020. Barring an injury to Stafford, it’s unlikely he will play much this season.
29 – Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals, 93.3 Grade (23, 23)
As mentioned with Josh Allen in the previous installment, it’s unfortunate that rushing stats were not included in the rankings. Murray was below average in every passing metric besides Comp%+ (101) and Int%+ (102). As a runner, Murray added 544 yards and four touchdowns, numbers that would have complimented his paltry 3.7 touchdown percentage and 6.9 yards per attempt as a passer. He delivered some exciting moments last year, including five 300-yard games, but he still has room to improve. However, he did post a pair of 100.0+ passer rating games against the top-ranked 49ers pass defense. Drew Brees was the only other quarterback to do the same against San Francisco (including playoffs).
28 – Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans, 93.7 Grade (37, 37)
Now a Raider, Mariota was replaced by Ryan Tannehill after a 2-4 start last season that included a shutout against the Broncos. He ended his Titans career with a losing record, but he does have a playoff win to his name. In 2019, Mariota got off to a solid start with seven touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 103.0 rating through five games, but the wheels came off against the Broncos. He was 7-for-18 with 63 yards and a pair of interceptions in that one.
Mariota played in just five snaps over the rest of the season (including playoffs) as Tannehill exploded down the stretch. The former Heisman winner has earned a poor reputation for having more interceptions than touchdowns in 2017 and dealing with injuries too, but he’ll still have a chance to win the starting job in Las Vegas in 2020.
27 – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins, 94.0 Grade (24, 25)
Fitzpatrick has now started at least one game for a quarter of the teams in the NFL. The former seventh-round pick had his ups and downs, but he seemed to be much less volatile in 2019 than he was in 2018 with Tampa Bay. After an exceptional season by every metric (aside from Int%+) in 2018, Fitzpatrick was slightly below average in all metrics, falling between 91 and 96 in all nine.
After a blowing up against the Patriots in Week 2, Fitzpatrick posted a 90.5 rating in his final 13 games, getting his revenge against New England in Week 17. The curtains on his Dolphins career are beginning to close with the team’s selection of Tua Tagovailoa, but Miami would be foolish to start Tagovailoa right away.
26 – Eli Manning, New York Giants, 96.2 Grade (35, 34)
Manning had a quiet swan song to end his career. Daniel Jones assumed the Giants’ starting job after Week 2, though Manning got under center again in Philadelphia in Week 14, throwing two touchdowns in an overtime loss. In the final start of Manning’s career, the Giants beat the Dolphins thanks to two touchdowns from the future Hall of Famer. Manning retired in January.
25 – Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts, 96.6 Grade (22, 22)
In his second season as the Colts’ starter, Brissett improved upon his 2017 campaign. However, his 7-8 record wasn’t good enough to keep the Colts from pursuing Phillip Rivers in free agency and Jacob Eason in the draft. Brissett totaled 18 touchdowns and six interceptions, adding four rushing touchdowns as well. He had some solid performances, including wins over the playoff-bound Titans, Chiefs, and Texans, but his conservative style often left points on the board.
Had Brissett been healthy for the entirety of the team’s games against the Steelers and Dolphins, the Colts might have slipped into the playoffs at 9-7. Brissett will likely back up Rivers and mentor Eason in 2020.
24 – Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 96.9 Grade (19, 19)
Now a member of the New Orleans Saints, Jameis Winston had an indescribable season with the Buccaneers in 2019. On one hand, he led the NFL in passing yards. However, he tossed 30 interceptions, the most in a season since 1988. For every game with a 110+ passer rating, Winston had a matching game with a rating below 50.
He threw multiple interceptions in nine games, including five in London against the Panthers. At the same time, he had a trio of games with 400 yards (including back-to-back with 450) and three more with four touchdowns. Winston is the ultimate boom-or-bust quarterback, and the Buccaneers decided to move on from the former top overall pick. Whom did they decide to add instead? They added the next player on the list.
23 – Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 98.3 Grade (18, 18)
Tom Brady has left the Patriots. In his last season with New England, he was slightly below-average and ended his Patriots career with a pick-six. Despite leading the team to their 11th-straight 10-win season (the 17th of his career), Brady showed his age. He posted his lowest completion percentage since 2013, his fewest touchdowns since 2006, and his lowest touchdown percentage of any year in which he made at least two starts.
Part of the blame can be attributed to his lack of weapons, but it’s hard to imagine Brady ever being an elite quarterback again. After a hot start, he stumbled to an 82.0 rating for the rest of the regular season and a 59.4 rating for the playoffs. In Tampa Bay, he will replace the volatile Winston with old-fashioned game management. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will help him massively, but Brady’s best days are behind him.
22 – Case Keenum, Washington Football Team, 99 Grade (28, 26)
Keenum has played in six cities in six seasons and has been consistently average outside of an electric 2017 campaign with the Vikings. Keenum was 1-7 in D.C., throwing 11 touchdowns and five interceptions. He eventually gave way to first-round pick Dwayne Haskins before cleaning up in Week 16 and 17 after Haskins was injured.
Keenum had multi-touchdown and zero-interception games against Philadelphia, Dallas, and Miami, but much of his allure wore off after Week 2. Heading into 2020, Keenum will back up Baker Mayfield.
21 – Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons, 99.6 Grade (17, 17)
Despite only playing in 15 games (missing his first game of the decade), Matt Ryan led the NFL in completions last year. He was almost dead-on average in eight of nine categories, falling between 96 and 101. The best word to describe Ryan’s 2019 is passable.
He mixed some MVP-level performances (such as a 144.9 rating against the Cardinals) with some duds (two performances below 60.6). Entering his age-35 season, Ryan likely has a few years left of being a solid quarterback and will be flanked by many first-round picks. Will it lead to success? Seeing how the Falcons have underachieved in recent seasons, he and his team will probably be strikingly average once again.