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A Historical Perspective on the Dreaded QB "Regression"


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#16 MadHatter

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:46 AM

There has been some hand wringing amongst some in our fan base about Cam Newton's sophomore season. It has gotten so bad that some have suggested that if the opportunity presents itself we should even consider drafting Geno Smith in next year's draft. So out of curiosity I decided to go back and look at 10 HOF QBs to find some perspective of their first few years as starters in the NFL. The QBs I chose were: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, and Terry Bradshaw.

I will just summarize what I learned and I can talk a little bit more specifically about each QB if someone wants to know about it.

With one lone exception every QB had at least one season of significant regression in their first few years as a starter. When it happened vary from QB to QB. Some it was their 2nd season as a starter while others it was season 3 or 4 as a starter. But with the exception of Tom Brady, every QB had a significant dip in production at some point in the first few years of their careers. This leads me to believe that with the QB position it isn’t so much a matter of “progression” or “regression”, but more of a typical variance of young QBs learning what it takes to be consistent in the NFL.

I also found that no QB had a steady “progression” to QB prominence. In other words I could find no example of a QB steadily getting statistically better every year until they reached their highest levels. Instead what I found was statistical volatility until eventually the numbers would even out or significantly spike and then become fairly stable on a year to year basis. The magic number varied some but as far as the “game slowing down” for QBs, statistically it appears to happen between years 4 and 7 of a QB’s career. That is typically when you would see a QB’s season to season statistics somewhat stabilize (there is always spikes and lulls but they just aren’t as dramatic as their first few years). John Elway was the only one that didn’t really follow this pattern as his numbers were very volatile all the way through his 10th season as a starter but then they became incredibly consistent his last 6 years as a starter (when he also happened to win his 2 Super Bowls).

I guess my main point is that with Cam Newton or any young QB the idea that a QB progresses consistently year to year is just not historically accurate. However, as with these 10 QBs there comes a point where the volatility year to year will end and we will have a consistently good QB. It is a matter of when, not if.

So now I will list all 10 QBs and mark their season of “regression” and their turning points and which season as a starter those things happened. I you want me to expound on why a certain season is a “regression” or “turning point” just ask and I will explain why I think that. I was going to summarize each of them but it just would have made this post too long and I didn’t want to overload the fragile minds of most Huddlers.

Tom Brady: Regressive year: 2003 3rd year as starter (admittedly a huge stretch here). Turning point: 2007 7th year as starter

Peyton Manning: Regressive year: 2001 4th years as starter. Turning point: 2003 6th year as starter

Eli Manning: Regressive year: 2007 4th year as starter Turning point: 2008 5th year as starter (although you could make a case that actual turning point was in 2007 during the playoffs)

Drew Brees: Regressive year: 2003 2nd year as starter. Turning point: 2004 3rd year as starter and had another turning point to HOF status in 2009 his 7th year as a starter

Ben Roethlisberger: Regressive year: 2006 3rd year as starter Turning point: 2009 6th year as starter

Joe Montana: Regressive year: 1982 2nd year as full time starter Turning point: 1983 3rd year as full time starter

Brett Favre: Regressive year: 1993 2nd year as starter Turning point: 1994 3rd year as starter

Dan Marino: Regressive year: 1985 3rd year as starter Turning point: 1986 4th year as starter although I could argue it was actually 1990 9th year as starter.

John Elway: Regressive year: 1985 3rd year as starter and even worse in1992 10th year as starter Turning point: 1993 11th year as starter

Terry Bradshaw: Regressive year: 1973 4th years as starter Turning point: 1975 6th year as starter (he was also terrible in 1974 but the Steelers still won the Super Bowl)

  • A few notes and then I will stop
- I had to choose a “regressive year” for Tom Brady, but it should be noted that in 2003 he went 14-2 and won a Super Bowl so it is a big time stretch to call it regressive, but there was a statistical dip for him that year and they had the best defense in the NFL that year. There is however, a distinct “turning point” for Brady where he took his game from really, really good to ridiculous and historically good.

- Eli Manning also won a Super Bowl in his “regressive year” but if people recall earlier that very same year some of his own teammates questioned him and the NY media was wondering if Eli was the long term answer in NY.

- Dan Marino’s “regressive year” was actually pretty good. The main reason is because his 2nd year as a starter was record breaking and he had no where to go but down. However, he did throw 18 less TDs, 4 more INTs, and his completion percentage dipped by 4% so I would consider that a significant statistical regression

- Some people might note that some of the QBs had really good seasons before their “turning point”. The “turning point” is more about when a QB became statistically consistent more so than when they had their best years. For instance John Elway had several good years before his 11th season but his year to year statistics were very volatile. His last 6 seasons however were extremely consistent and very good every year. That is why I deemed that his “turning point”

- Aaron Rodgers was not a part of this because he didn't start until his 4th year in the league which is consistent with around the time QBs start to "get it" so he didn't seem to be a good comparative sample to these QBs and Cam Newton.


I do agree with much of the point that you are trying to make. However, your statistics and examples are pretty weak. Using years where their stats dipped slightly....yet they lead their teams to SB wins as "regressive" years is WAY over reaching to try and make your point.

#17 Kurb

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:50 AM

I do agree with much of the point that you are trying to make. However, your statistics and examples are pretty weak. Using years where their stats dipped slightly....yet they lead their teams to SB wins as "regressive" years is WAY over reaching to try and make your point.



I think its b/c its hard to determine a slump on a single person when football is such a team game.
Especially when most want Wins to determine the success of a QB. IE: The Golden Calf of Bristol

#18 teeray

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 09:59 AM

I do agree with much of the point that you are trying to make. However, your statistics and examples are pretty weak. Using years where their stats dipped slightly....yet they lead their teams to SB wins as "regressive" years is WAY over reaching to try and make your point.

That happened in two instances. Eli Manning and Tom Brady. Tom Brady didn't have the same up and down that the other QBs had and I admitted it was a stretch.

As far as Eli Manning goes, go look at what the NY media was saying about him in 2007 after his 18-52 184 yard performance in a must win game against Washington in December that put them on the brink of missing the playoffs and after his 8-22 59 yard performance in a squeaker win against a terrible Dolphins team on October 28th and get back to me.

Both those games are worse than ANY game that Cam has had to this point.

#19 teeray

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:12 AM

Drew Brees second year as a starter he was 2-9 and had 15 INTs.

Joe Montana's second year as a full time starter he was 3-6 and had 11 INTs.

Brett Favre second year as a starter he had 24 INTs

Peyton Manning's 4th year he had 23 INTs and his team went 6-10

Terry Bradshaw's second year as a starter he had 22 INTs and was 5-8 despite having one of the best defenses ever assembled

Madhatter would have declared all these guys busts and demanded that we trade them or bench them if he held those guys to the same standard he apparently wants to hold Cam to.

But hey, who need factual evidence when you can have anecdotal evidence that is unprovable and is not disprovable.

#20 Highlandfire

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:17 AM

Teeray, none of those guys were the head cases Scam is. None of them had the marks and issues coming out of college (that are now being proven true) that Scam has.

Sorry you are comparing apples to oranges.

At some point the scam nut huggers need to understand their guy is nothing but an overhyped, option Gimmick.

#21 Nicks To The Colts

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:19 AM

But hey, who need factual evidence when you can have anecdotal evidence that is unprovable and is not disprovable.


highlandfire can answer that for you

#22 Kurb

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:20 AM

Teeray, none of those guys were the head cases Scam is. None of them had the marks and issues coming out of college (that are now being proven true) that Scam has.

Sorry you are comparing apples to oranges.

At some point the scam nut huggers need to understand their guy is nothing but an overhyped, option Gimmick.



Opinion


Are you a Alabama/SouthCarolina fan ?

#23 Kurb

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:21 AM

... factual evidence when you can have anecdotal evidence that is unprovable and is not disprovable.


Good posts Teeray. Bravo

#24 natty

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:23 AM

CAMERON aint havin a down year? good god man, have u seen a panthers game this year? get ur head out of the sand, u must face facts sooner or later.


Your very eloquent point has been noted.

#25 Keith Moons Liver

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:29 AM

Who gives a poo what Bradshaw or Montana did. The game has changed drastically in just the past 10 years. QBs coming in and playing well early in their careers is commonplace now. The types of offenses they run and defenses they face at the high school and college levels are far more sophisticated- they are more prepared than ever before. Coupled with all the rule changes favoring the passing game and it's no wonder. So I really don't give a poo that someone threw a bunch of interceptions a quarter of a century ago.

#26 Nicks To The Colts

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:29 AM

Teeray, none of those guys were the head cases Scam is. None of them had the marks and issues coming out of college (that are now being proven true) that Scam has.


just off the top of my head, peyton manning being sued for a sexual assault in 2003 that allegedly occurred at UT when he was there. the media stayed hands-off and UT quietly let the trainer go with a $300k settlement. also dan marino was a known cokehead entering the league.

i'd say that's a bigger deal than maybe getting pay for play which btw is something i'm sure several athletes you cheer for on saturdays are involved in.

#27 Highlandfire

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:43 AM

Opinion


Are you a Alabama/SouthCarolina fan ?


nope

#28 teeray

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 10:58 AM

Who gives a poo what Bradshaw or Montana did. The game has changed drastically in just the past 10 years. QBs coming in and playing well early in their careers is commonplace now. The types of offenses they run and defenses they face at the high school and college levels are far more sophisticated- they are more prepared than ever before. Coupled with all the rule changes favoring the passing game and it's no wonder. So I really don't give a poo that someone threw a bunch of interceptions a quarter of a century ago.

Or Brees? Or Eli Manning? Or Peyton Manning? Or Big Ben? Or Brett Favre?

And despite what the media is telling you, Andrew Luck isn't playing that great so far. Neither is Ryan Tannehill. Neither is Russell Wilson.

RG3 is playing great and, well that is really about it on the young QB front.

So I guess I disagree that young QBs playing well out the gate is commonplace.

And I wasn't comparing stats of 25 years ago with stats from today. i was examining the process of QB progression.

#29 teeray

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:15 AM

BTW, some of you guys were all about history when we were discussing whether an athletic QB could become a good NFL QB.

#30 Kurb

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Posted 23 October 2012 - 11:49 AM

nope



Then you have but a few reasons left not to like Cam.


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