Top 5 Quarterbacks in NFL History

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Source: State Library of Victoria Collections via Flickr

Source: State Library of Victoria Collections / Flickr

The quarterback is first among equals when it comes to a football team’s offense. This is not shocking. They’re the decision makers on the field, the one player who is almost guaranteed to have the ball in his hand in the course of every play (let’s pour one out for the Wildcat). Even when a QB gets derided as a mere “game-manager,” the not-quite slur acknowledges that even the most passable of quarterbacks is in charge of making the offense go.

As the head of Operation: Points on the Board, a National Football League quarterback is up against every other NFL quarterback whenever they take the field. It’s inevitable. Due to a QB’s status, he is largely held responsible for every loss and every victory. In some order, it will be the head coach, the quarterback, and a defense (either a team’s own or the other team’s) that will be credited for the outcome of every game. But which quarterback in NFL history is the best? What really constitutes the best? How could anyone ever know?

FootballPerspective.com just took a crack at tackling this difficult question, and the site seems to have done a pretty good job. Deciding that one great season wasn’t enough to hang a career on (consider Tebow in 2012 compared to Tebow in 2014), the site took each NFL quarterback’s five best seasons and ran them through a self-proclaimed “quick-and-dirty formula. Calculate the relative ANY/A (adjusted net yards per attempt) of each quarterback in every season since 1950; for each quarterback season, multiply each quarterback’s number of dropbacks by his relative ANY/A to derive a passing value over average metric; pro-rate non-16 game seasons to 16 games; and calculate a career grade for each quarterback based on the sum of his best five seasons.”

Sound like a lot of math? It is a lot of math. The results, though, are not nearly as complicated as the process. Check it out.

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