The League

Joe Baker
Colts Blogger

Joe Baker

Joe Baker writes for the Indianapolis Colts blog 18-to-88.

Statisically Peyton Manning

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As the Colts blogger, I'm not going to surprise anyone by wanting Peyton Manning, but that's not why I pick him (at least not consciously).

I'm a Peyton Manning believer because of a different ideological bent. I'm a stat-geek. I believe that few people can see every play from every player involved in any discussion, and those few who can remember all of them, remember through pre-conceived filers. A player is best evaluated through a larger sample size and by measures that strip away as much of the effects of his teammates and opponents as is possible.

This isn't to say stats don't have biases, but their biases are consistent and made clear when you can open up the hood and take a look at how they work. Personal observation is a supplement, not a replacement for the objective record of events that are recorded by statistics.

Under this view, it's no mystery why I would take Peyton Manning. He has the highest passer rating of any active quarterback, second only to Steve Young in NFL history. When sacks are included and a more intuitive system for merging yards, attempts, TDs and INTs is used (ANY/A), Peyton ranks first among both active QBs and in the league's history. The statistical wizards at Football Outsiders toe the party line of "they are both amazing quarterbacks and please don't make us pick", but their numbers have a clear favorite.

Peyton Manning finished first in both DYAR (total value) and DVOA (per attempt) each year from 2003 through 2006. Took second in both to Brady's career year in 2007, and last year took the DVOA (efficiency) title and was second to Drew Brees in total value (DYAR). While Peyton hasn't finished outside the top 2 in either category since 2002, his main competition, Tom Brady, has only appeared inside the top 2 in the 2007 season.

Subjective accolades are also rained down on Peyton Manning. He has four first team all-pro selections, most of any quarterback since Johnny Untias' five All Pro selections. Manning has nine Pro Bowl selections, second only to Brett Favre among active QBs. His three NFL MVP awards are tied for the most in NFL history with Jim Brown, Johnny Untias and Brett Favre.

All this and he's only 33-years-old and has missed just one play due to injury (for a broken jaw) in his entire career. Manning is the reigning MVP despite missing all of training camp, and preseason due to a knee injury and subsequent infection that limited his mobility well into the regular season. Now the 2008 MVP is healthy.

None of the dominance above is denied by Peyton's detractors, instead they pay him the backhanded compliment of "best regular season quarterback ever." Personally I like the label despite the backhanded intent.

Above I said I believe that the large sample size is more reliable and this is a key point to the case for Peyton. I think 176 regular season games tells a lot more about a players ability than 15 playoff games. Not that those 15 are nearly as bad as most would think. A dirty little secret of the clutch-choker concept is that Peyton Manning, "superclutch" Tom Brady and two time champ Ben Roethlisberger all have playoff quarterback ratings within 3 points of each other (85-88).

Peyton Manning dominates the regular season, has been only fractions off the supposed clutch performers in the small sample of the playoffs and is still well within his quarterbacking prime.


By Joe Baker  |  August 31, 2009; 6:03 AM ET  | Category:  Indianapolis Colts , NFL , Peyton Manning Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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