Don Ohlemeyer takes over as the new go to guy for fans to complain about the Worldwide Leader. Right off the bat, he addresses the Roethlisberger situation. He rightly takes letter from the audience, including one that summarized what most of us felt.
(This is the 5th part of an ongoing look at what Peyton Manning might do in his final 5 seasons)
Today we are going to look at how the 10 HoF QBs did in terms of passer rating as their careers wound down. First a caveat: Manning is in a class apart from most of these QBs when it comes to passer rating. Manning's career rating of 94.7 is so good that Dan Marino and Brett Favre only had three seasons each that high. Jim Kelly did it twice. Warren Moon only did it once. Dan Fouts, Roger Staubach and John Elway?
Never did it at all.
So when we talk about Manning and passer rating, understand that he is in a class that very few of the greats ever made.
The QBs divide into two groups:
- Advancers: These guys got better or stayed the same as they aged.
Elway, Staubach, Young, Favre, Kelly
It's not exactly a homogeneous group. We've discussed Staubach and Elway ad nauseum. Remember, however, that both got better because neither one started out with a very good rating to begin with. Young, the career leader in passer rating, was incredible to the end. After turning 33, he had a rating of 92 or better every year (until his last injury shortened season). He beat 97 four times! Favre was his typical all over the board self, alternating between amazing and awful (thus a flatter curve). Kelly was never very good as he aged, but kept his rating steady until the end. The good news is that this group combined for 10 seasons over 90 after the age of 33.
- Decliners: These guys trailed off
Unitas, Moon, Fouts, Marino, Montana
No surpirse to see Unitas here. Marino start alright, hovering between 87 and 91 for three years before injuries knocked him down. Moon had a career best at the age of 34, but trailed off quickly. Montana had an amazing year at 33, but trailed off to a still respectable rating in the 80s. Fouts lost it fast. This group combined for four seasons over 90 past age 33.
- The two QBs on this list with the highest career ratings (Young and Montana) both offer hope. Both posted (then) record seasons at age 33. Young never trailed off like Montana, but even Joe Cool kept his rating respectable. Both QBs battled injuries, but their ability to pass for a good rating stayed with them. That's a good sign for 18
- Marino kept his rating steady until his knees went. Manning should be able to hold the line as long as his legs hold up.
- When it comes to passer rating, Manning is so far above most of the Hall of Fame QBs, that in some ways there is no way to make an accurate comparison. Young and Montana played in a completely different system than Manning and both were more mobile QBs. That makes it difficult to draw any firm conclusions, but it's a good bet that Manning will have several more years over 90 and even one or two over 100 before he retires. Toward the very end, he'll likely settle into seasons in the high 80s. Of all the categories, this should remain Manning's strongest until the end.
(this article will be compiled upon completion of the series and placed in the Articles Sidebar)
Here's a great read that merits front page status. Cold Hard Football Facts talks about records under assault this year. There are a lot of Colts related items to cover.
- The first relates to our old friend Edge James who is still looking for work. With even minimal production, he'll vault to 7th on the all time rushing list. Everyone is still hoping he gets a job.
- Then they note that Manning is #2 on the all time passer rating list (still a two great seasons behind Steve Young).
What's interesting is the Post Season Passer rating list. They give the top 10. It ends with Favre at 85.2. Peyton isn't on it. His passer rating in the post season? 85.0. In other words, Manning is not only one good game from busting into the top 10, but standing at #6 all time is Troy Aikman at 88.3 and Brady at #7 with an 88.0.
Wait. What? Tom Brady's career playoff rating is 88.0 and Manning's is 85.0?
That's right, for all the bluster about Manning being a post season choker, his career passer rating is only 3 measly points below Tom Brady's. Manning needs only a good game or two to not only pass Brady, but rank among the best postseason passers ever.
- In other news: Keading could pass Vandy for the most accurate kicker of all time spot. I'm no Chargers fan, but I hope that happens.
- Manning needs one 400 yard game to go to second all time
- Finally, Manning should make the top 3 in almost every major career passing statistic by the end of the year.
I'm back, and the net is burning with Colts articles. Instead of posting a bunch in the "Daily Links" sidebar, I'll catch them all up right here. By the way, if you don't read the daily links, you should. We often (though not always) offer commentary to go along with the link, so even if you know you've already read the article just by reading the 'headline', give it a click anyway to see what we think about it.
We'll get started with Phil B's rewatch of the game. It's always my favorite thing he does. We've said it before, but if you want to take a serious jump in your football IQ, just rewatch the game. It's a simple way to get a second look at key plays. The broadcast tape doesn't show all, but it shows more than just the clips you'd catch on ESPN. I swear if they ever offer some kind of special deal where you can pay crazy money for the coach's tapes, I'll do it. I'd pay $350 for the coaches tapes over the same money for the Sunday Ticket in a heart beat.
Kuharsky says don't get too high about McAfee or too low about the line. Good advice. In other words, it's just one preseason game.
Oehser has the piece of the day. He says not to give up on Ugoh. This is a great read and dead on. It's a shame Hillard was such a mess Friday night, because it was tough to get any feel for Ugoh's play. I thought he looked ok, but Manning was running for his life half the time so it's not like there was ample time to see how the pocket formed.
Kuharksy gives wonderful insights into the Colts camp with his Camp Confidential.
King interviews Manning and asks him about sunscreen? So very very weird. I'm not making this up:
Me: "Jim Johnson died of melanoma. You're pretty fair-skinned. You take precautions against skin cancer?''
Manning: "I do. My dad always worried about it
He also has a nice graph showing the Colts beef-up on the line.
Jason David was cut. Thanks for helping us win that ring, JD. NO never knew what to do with you. David is now most famous in Colts country for getting abused by Manning in the season opener in '07, which served to mock everyone who thought he was irreplaceable. Still, we should be generous and remember him for starting on the defense that brought us a ring. I hope he finds another job.
Finally, Simmons is one lucky bastard. If you love the idea of sport, you have to love his column about his trip to Mexico to see USA Mexico in the World Cup Qualifier.
Thanks for letting me cheat today, folks. I'm still getting caught up from being gone all weekend. Old Manning will return tomorrow with a look at QB rating. On Wednesday, we'll cover wins, and on Thursday, I'll compile the whole thing and offer up my projections and thoughts.
This will probably be your last 18to88 entry until Monday. Demond's wife had a death in the family, and I have a conference for work and will be unplugged for a couple of days. I've seen bits and pieces of the game last night, and will briefly share my thoughts:
1. Addai and Brown looked great (no surprise)
2. I watched the first series on D. I'm pleased with what I saw. They forced two fourth downs without the starting secondary, so that's a plus.
3. Whatever that was starting at RT will not be making the final cut. Yikes. It was hard to get a gauge on Ugoh because the RT was failing so miserably.
4. I hate preseason football.
So other than posting a few wrap ups in the links, I'll leave you all with this letter from Brett D:
Thanks for that Brett. Be back on Monday, folks.
1.) Great to hear Don "Fish" Fischer calling a game for a football team who doesn't suck.
2.) My parents call to report that the view from our seats "looks better" this year. I'm not in attendence for personal reasons. Hope no one tries to bring me a beer.
3.) Oh Sage Rosenfels... how I've missed you.
4.) They're hitting early... I love you football! I love you so much.
5.) Touchdown Vikings. Lots of flukey conversions on that drive. Looked very familiar.
6.) Ugoh is... at Left Tackle. Johnson is out. Hmmm.
7.) Stretch play. Addai is cash money.
8.) Another sack.
9.) The line looks horrible.
10.) A drop by Garcon on third down. Barf. I think Peyton's day is over and done. Thank God. Lots of problems by the line in that drive, most of them from the new guys. That O-line sequence will be worth replaying after the game. CJ would have made a big difference... on the right side.
11.) Chester Taylor for big yards.
12.) What a play by Tim Jennings to break up the pass. Beauty.
13.) Rosenfels looks comfortable in the middle of the field. Vikings fans are loving it... all the while forgetting that it is Sage Rosenfels.
14.) We've entered the portion of the game where we will learn very little about the 2009 Colts.
15.) The D gets a stop on a drop by Rice. They'll take it. The Colts D seems to never change. Lots of long drives, but they seem to get better as the game goes on. It's preseason so I'll stop pontificating.
16.) Hey. I learned something: Donald Brown is quick as hell. And suddenly the night looks a lot better.
17.) Donald FLIPPING Brown. Sure it's the second stringers, but the kid has it.
18.) I hate Purdue. Painter shows us... absolutely nothing. But, again, I hate Purdue.
19.) Now let's take a look back at the Colts first offensive series of the game. Here's how the starting lineup was presented by channel 4: Corey Hilliard at LT, Lilja at LG, Saturday at C, Pollak at RG, Ugoh at RT. In reality though, Ugoh came out at LT and Hilliard at RT.
20.) Peyton's first sack of the game was entirely on Hilliard at Right Tackle. He got juked out of his shoes by the defensive end.
21.) On third down it appears Lilja gets beat, but Peyton manages to convert to Collie.
22.) Peyton's second sack was partially good coverage, but it appears Lilja and Saturday fail to block one tackle between the two of them. Their man ends up making the play.
23.) Peyton's third sack (on the very next play) is caused by Hilliard getting beat badly. Ugoh gets driven backwards, but keeps a strong grip on his man who manages to put a hip into Peyton. Hilliard gets the holding call (declined). Just a terrible sequence.
24.) Overall Ugoh looked like himself. Not brilliant, but competant. Probably a decent LT if the rest of the line is up to snuff. But in 2008 that certainly wasn't the case.
Yards per attempt is perhaps the most important "rate stat" in football. The Ten Greats break down into two categories (right click on chart to view image-note that seasons lost to injury by Montana, Unitas, and Young were omitted)
- Dropped like a Rock: These guys' YPA fell dramatically as they aged.
Montana, Unitas, Marino, Fouts, Moon
Montana, Unitas and Marino battled injuries and it hurt their ability to get the ball downfield. Moon and Fouts had some nice years after the age of 33, but declined quickly.
- Held the Line: These guys may have had dips, but finished strong in YPA
Staubach, Elway, Young, Kelly, Favre
Yesterday, we discussed Staubach and Elway. Once again, it's plain to see how they improved with age. Favre's curve stayed fairly flat, but only because he had several up and down years. Some years, his YPA was very weak, but also posted a few excellent years. The curve splits the difference. Kelly was remarkably consistent in the last four years of his career, and actually finished with a 7.4 YPA, the highest of the last four years of his career. Steve Young was remarkable and other than his partial final season had a YPA over 7.6 four of his last five seasons.
First, the good news: the 10 QBs had 9 4000 yard seasons among them after the age of 33. That might not sound like a lot, but considering that the same 10 QBs combined for only 6 such seasons from ages 28-32, that's really a lot.
Now the bad news, the yards start to fall for almost all great QBs. Simply put, teams typically don't rely on older QBs to chew up yardage. Again, click on the graph to magnify.
With only one true exception, the QBs showed a downward trend. Only the aging wonder Roger Staubach managed to generally increase his yards passing as he got older. That isn't to say that an old man can't have a big year. At 37, Steve Young threw for 4155 yards (which was out of line with general decline). Warren Moon went over 4000 yards four times after turning 33. Still, it's not the norm. Notice Elway's curve. We've seen in recent days that Elway grew more efficient with the ball as he got older, but at the same time, his yards dropped. The Broncos didn't rely on him to throw the ball nearly as often, thus he was more effective when he did throw it. Guys like Marino trailed off quickly. He topped 4400 yards at age 33, but never again hit 3800. Other big armed guys like Fouts and Kelly met similar fates.
- In terms of YPA, Manning has a decent shot at staying productive. Currently, his YPA has taken a nose dive since 2004, dropping every season. With uncertainty surrounding the Colts line this year as well, no one should be surprised to see Manning's YPA dip below 7 (where it stood for a good portion of last season). Having said that, he still should be able to post some strong seasons before he retires. With some peaks and valleys, we can expect Peyton to settle in between 7 and 7.5 YPA. In other words, where he finished last year is likely to be a typical Old Manning season.
- In terms of pure yards, Manning will drop off. It's all but certain. He may have one or two more 4,000 yard seasons in him, but will probably settle in around 3500-3800 yards (similar to Favre). That's higher than most of the other guys on the list, but Manning has had higher yardage totals at every step of his career.
- A best case scenario would be a John Elway set up. Manning gets paired up with a strong run game and a stifling defense and the Colts don't need him to throw as much. In such a selective situation, Manning could see his YPA move back up toward 8 or 8.5, though his overall yardage would still fall, perhaps even lower than the 3500 yard plateau.
Next week: QB rating
(this article will be compiled and placed in the Articles Sidebar upon completion of the series)
Roy Hall (aka Sasquatch aka The Phantasm) has been waived by the Colts. Hall was supposed to be the next big thing, but alas he never panned out. It is too bad, but that's life in the NFL.
From a personnel standpoint this move is not a big deal. The Colts, and those who follow them, seem pleased with the progress of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie at receiver. There's no guarantee that Roy Hall, heading into his third season, would have made the team even if healthy. You could argue that Hall has been kept around this long based on potential rather than on-field results.
I don't want to belabor the point, but Roy Hall is a great example of why NFL Draft is overated. Poor players get drafted. Great players get drafted too low or not at all. Until you prove it on the field in the regular season it is all talk. To an extent you can say the same thing about the preseason. We fall in love with guys who end up getting cut. We make sweeping judgments about rookies based on very limited data.
So don't criticize me for not giving a crap about much of the offseason hoopla. The Roy Hall lesson is a big reason why I don't treat the spring and summer with the same enthusiasm as the fall and winter. You guys can have the Roy Halls and Lance Balls of the NFL... I'll worry about what the real players do on Sundays. Once again it has been proved that "potential" is the dirtiest word in sports.
Today we are going to look at TDs and INTs as volume stats.
When looking at touchdowns thrown by the 10 passers selected, we see four groups emerge:
- The Sharp Decliners: These players lost their skills fast.
Unitas, Fouts and Montana.
Unitas and Montana never threw more than 20 TDs after they turned 34, even though both played more years. Fouts threw more than 20 TDs only once after turning 31 (27 when he was 24).
- The Fine Wines: These players got better with age
Elway and Staubach
Both players saw upward trends in their TDs from age 28 to the end of their careers. Elway threw at least 25 TDs in 6 of his last 7 years in the league. Staubach increased his TD total each of his last four years in the league and retired after throwing a career high 27 TDs at age 37.
- The Soft Landers: These players leveled off but stayed excellent
Marino and Favre
Marino threw at least 23 TDs in 3 of his last 6 years (two more were cut short by injury). Favre never threw fewer than 18 TDs after turning 33, and threw more than 25 four times.
- The Bell Curves: They took time to get up to speed, peaked late, and then fell off.
Young, Kelly, Moon
These players started their careers in other leagues, and joined the NFL late. Young peaked at age 33 and began a steady decline, but stunningly had one more amazing season at age 37 before retiring due to concussions. Moon peaked at age 34 and then gradually fell off, posting a couple of good years late in his career (39, 41). Kelly peaked at 31 and steadily fell off.
There are three ways to group the players by interceptions
- The Wiley Vets: They threw fewer picks as they aged
Monatana almost never threw interceptions anyway and as his health declined, he played less, so he threw less. His curve was straight to the floor. Elway threw plenty of plenty of picks when he was younger, but as he aged (and got Shanahan) he became more careful with the ball, never throwing more than 14 picks after the age of 33. Young never threw more than 12 picks in a season after age 33.
- The Hangers On: They managed to keep their picks steady
This is a deceiving group. Staubach stayed in the low to middle teens in picks throughout his career. Kelly consistent threw in the high teens. As they got older, they did what they had always done. Staubach kept throwing a reasonable number of picks; Kelly kept throwing more.
- The Old Gunslingers: They kept firing after the fastball was gone
Favre, Marino, Unitas, Fouts, Moon
Favre was always a pick machine, but as he got older, he grew more indiscriminate with the ball. He topped 20 three times after his 33rd birthday. Marino was more judicious, but still saw his pick totals rise his last several years. Unitas's playing time decreased, but his pick rate increased. Fouts threw 74 picks after the age of 33, and only played four seasons. Moon threw a lot of picks early in his career but seemed to figure things out in the middle. By the end, he was back to throwing a high number of picks.
It's safe to assume that by volume, we won't see much decrease from Peyton Manning in the touchdown department. It's reasonable to assume that barring injury he'll still throw between 20-30 TDs a year. He's similar in many ways to Favre and Marino, so the 'Soft Landing' label fits nicely.
Unfortunately, the odds are high that he'll fall into the trap of the 'Old Gunslingers' as well. It is possible that as his arm deteriorates, he'll change his game and protect the ball better. This list has shown that Elway certainly elevated his game and became a better QB at 35-38 than at 25-28. More likely, his pick rate will rise with time. In fact, if the Colts have a down season, I would expect it to rise dramatically as he'll have to throw more to keep his team in the game.
The good news for 18 is that because his INT levels are so low now that even a modest increase will keep his numbers at respectable levels. We might see a few more seasons like 2003 (19 ints) late in his career, but are unlikely to see a Favrian number of picks.
A good baseline for "Old Peyton" would be 25 TDs 15 Ints starting around age 35. Plenty of the greats had seasons at least that strong at an advanced age, so there's no reason to expect Peyton to fall much further in terms of the volume stats.
Tomorrow we'll look at Yards and YPA
(note: this article will be compiled and appear in the articles sidebar)
I know I promised a look a touchdowns and interceptions yesterday, but I think the discussion will make more sense if we start with a look at attempts per season. The bottom line with aging quarterbacks is staying healthy enough to stay on the field.
Each of the 10 QBs selected (see yesterday's post) played through age 36. Seven were still playing at age 38. 3 by 39, 2 by 40, and only Warren Moon played past age forty (he played until 44 years old, though only saw a full season of play once after age 40). Currently, we are guessing that Manning plays until 2014, when he will break most of Brett Favre's records. I can't see him quitting at age 37, needing just one more season to take some of the most illustrious records of all time away from Favre.
Of the 10 QBs in question, injuries took a toll. Johnny Unitas was never fully healthy after age 34. Steve Young played until he was 38, but lost parts of three of his last four seasons. Joe Montana lost almost 2 full years at age 35, before coming back at age 37. Dan Marino was banged up two of his final four years in the league. Still, of the QBs who suffered lost or partially lost seasons due to injuries after the age of 33 (Young, Montana, Marino, Fouts, Elway), most came back to be successful again. Only Unitas (again, very different era) got hurt and was never the same.
The stunning thing about all the quarterbacks on the list, is that other than Unitas and Moon, the end came quickly. Eight of them posted a season of at least 430 attempts one year before retiring. Staubach, Montana, and Favre all posted at least 460 attempts in their final season.
Manning has always been a high volume passer and bears a lot of similarity wtih Marino and Favre in that respect. Favre never threw fewer than 471 times after age 33. Four of Marino's final six seasons saw him throw the ball over 480 times. In two other seasons, he battled injuries, but still threw at least 369 times both seasons.
So, what can we take from this? We know that injuries can hit any player at any time. We also know that Manning has a suspect offensive line. So we knock on a serious amount of wood as we draw these conclusions:
1. Manning is likely going to throw the ball a lot right up until the end. In terms of passing attempts, there's more of a cliff than a gradual decline. Most of the big time passers kept flinging it until they left the league.
2. Manning is likely to play to at least age 38. Most of the greats retired at that age. It would take him through the 2014 seasons which would be enough to pass Favre's consecutive start streak (should he stay healthy).
3. In terms of playing time, we won't see the end coming. The greats kept throwing until the end. Once they couldn't be the man, they walked away. The exceptions were Warren Moon, who started in the NFL much later than other great QBs, and Johnny Unitas.
4. Even if he does get hurt, he can still come back to have fine seasons. Many QBs in the modern era have done so.
Tomorrow: TDs and Ints (I promise)
(note: this will be compiled and posted in the articles sidebar upon completion of the series)