Wednesday, November 16, 2011
RodgersWatch: Nearing all-time accuracy
By Kevin Seifert
Aaron Rodgers continued his MVP-type season Monday with four TD passes against Minnesota.
LambeauOrWrigley offered some perspective through the mailbag that I thought should be shared with the group. As you know, I'm always in favor of letting someone else do the heavy lifting around here.
As the chart shows, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has the second-highest career completion percentage in NFL history, based on a minimum of 1,000 attempts. If he continues at his current pace, Rodgers will leapfrog Chad Pennington and finish the 2011 season atop this list.
(That's provided New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose career completion percentage trails Rodgers' by .064 percent, doesn't exceed his current 2011 pace of 70.9 percent completions over his final six games.)
It's only fair to point out that accuracy has elevated substantially over the past decade in the NFL, a product both of West Coast offenses and rules changes that have favored the passing game. A look at the extended list reveals that 18 of the 20 most accurate quarterbacks in history have played within the past three seasons. Two Hall of Famers are the only exceptions: Steve Young and Joe Montana.
I know you're probably bored with it, but I keep going back to Rodgers' rare combination of high completion percentage and yards per attempt (YPA). According to the always-fantastic database at pro-football-reference.com, Rodgers has the third-highest average per attempt in NFL history (minimum 1,000 attempts). He is the only player among the top four on this list who played after 1960:
1. Otto Graham (8.98 YPA)
2. Sid Luckman (8.42)
4. Norm Van Brocklin (8.16)
YPA is one measure of downfield passing. It stands to reason that the more downfield (i.e. low percentage) passes a quarterback throws, the lower his completion percentage will be. Graham, Luckman and Van Brocklin all had career completion percentages less than 56 percent.
For those who don't appreciate the numbers, consider a more detailed way of saying that Rodgers is putting together one of the best and historically rare seasons -- and careers -- for a quarterback in the history of the NFL. Plus, who wouldn't want to find a way to get Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young, Joe Montana, Drew Brees, Otto Graham, Sid Luckman and Norm Van Brocklin into a single NFC North blog post? Thanks again to LambeauOrWrigley.