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Not So Far Away

    Experiencing an incredibly busy couple of weeks at work, combined with family obligations, a major home improvement project and an intense coastal navigation class left me with little time to do more than skim the absolutely awesome posts here at MHR, and drop the occasional comment and rec'd.  I've very much enjoyed the wealth of articles that have been flowing from the creative and intelligent minds of our members.  I've also been totally stoked over the number of members who have taken the leap and made their first posts.  Way to go & kudos to each and every one of you.
    One of the side-effects of having little time to myself is that I often find myself skimming articles on the MSM (please do not revoke my membership for this ;-p).  One in particular caught my eye the other day.  It was an article by John Clayton (please do not burn me in effigy for daring to cite his work).  It was titled: "Elite QBs more vital than ever"  (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?columnist=clayton_john&id=4705986).  The reason that this caught my attention was that rarely, when discussing "elite" or "franchise" quarterbacks, the writers rarely define what they mean by the term.  Clayton gave the readers his definition -- an elite quarterback has the following characteristics:

1 -- can run an offense that scores 21.5 or more points per game.
2 -- throws for 220 or more yards per game.
3 -- has a 60% or higher completion rate.
4 -- has led 4th quarter comebacks.

    Clayton then goes on to offer a list of QBs that he sees as "elite," and includes a couple that he would consider to be on the bubble.  Those QBs are:

AFC -- P. Manning, Brady, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Palmer, and Flacco.
NFC -- Brees, Favre, Romo, McNabb, Rodgers, Warner, E. Manning, and Ryan.
Bubble -- Schaub, Hasselbeck (on bubble due to rib injury), and Cutler (was elite in Denver, INTs have dragged him down in Chi)

    Of course, the obvious question that arose for me at this point was "Do these QBs, in the 2009 season, meet the criteria set forth by Clayton, and how does Kyle Orton compare to this group?

Results after the jump

The Data (NOTE: I only looked at performance data for this season in games-to-date)

 

 
Quarterback 21.5+ points/game 220+ yds/game 60%+ Completions 4th Qtr Comebacks
AFC        
P. Manning 27.6 310.5 70.4 6
Brady 27.9 298.7 65.7 1
Roethlisberger 22.5 286.7 68.9 1
Rivers 28.4 267.1 64.2 2
Palmer 21 211.5 61.0 4
Flacco 23.4 249.5 65.4 2
         
NFC        
Brees 37.0 283.4 68.8 3
Favre 31.1 261.3 69.3 2
Romo 23.2 266.6 60.2 3
McNabb 26.6 243.2 61.4 2
Rodgers 26.9 285.1 65.5 2
Warner 24.3 271.8 67.5 2
E. Manning 24.7 244.0 60.5 2
Ryan 24.7 208.3 59.4 2
         
On the Bubble        
Schaub 23.5 294.7 67.8 1
Cutler 19.6 242.8 62.8 1
Hasselbeck 20.3 217.2 59.8 1
Totally Ignored        
Orton 17.8 222.5 62.2 4

 

The colored cells indicate where a quarterback has failed to meet one of Clayton's criteria.

Several things leapt out at me regarding this list of elite QBs:

1 -- Two are listed (Palmer and Ryan) even though they fall below the criteria level in half the categories.

2 -- Schaub is left off the list, even though he meets the criteria in all 4 categories, and is ahead of Romo in scoring, is ahead of everyone except P. Manning and Brady in yards, and is ahead of 10 of the "elite" QBs in Completion percentage.

3 -- Hasselbeck is described as being on the fringe, even though he falls below the criteria in 3 out of the 4 categories.

4 -- Orton is left off the list even though he meets the criteria for 3 out of the 4 categories. 

5 -- So far this season, Orton has more 4th quarter comebacks than everyone except Peyton Manning (though I will admit that Kyle is tied with Palmer on that one).

6 -- Orton's completion percentage is higher than 6 of the "elite" QBs.

    Now, am I arguing that we should all hail Kyle as an "elite" QB at this point in time?  Not necessarily, though -- depending on how you define the term -- the case could be made that he is growing into the role. 

    What I drew out of all of this is the same conclusion that I drew when I looked at the various discussion about what it takes to be a "franchise" quarterback.  It's largely a matter of perspective and preference.  Typically, we all tend to make definitions that raise up our favorite player to the status that we would like to see him hold.  Ultimately, my own position is that the elite quarterback is the one who helps his team win games, irregardless of final margins of victory and statistics.  In that regard, maybe Kyle is not so far away from elite status as we might be led to believe.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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