Is Ken Anderson a Hall of Famer? | Football Outsiders

2022-07-02 01:36:41 By : Mr. Dara Chemn

Exclusive Premium Content For Subscribers

With an annual subscription. Learn More

Explore sample content below to see what you're missing.

Exclusive Premium Content For Subscribers

Explore sample content below to see what you're missing.

Exclusive Premium Content For Subscribers

With an annual subscription. Learn More

Explore sample content below to see what you're missing.

Senior Analyst Since 2004 New Jersey

NFL Offseason - Cincinnati Bengals legend Ken Anderson may be the perfect example of a borderline Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Anderson occupies a thin isthmus between the obviously deserving Hall of Fame quarterbacks and the obviously undeserving. No other quarterback is really mentioned as an all-time snub these days, though Philip Rivers will likely join Anderson when he fails to get in on his initial ballots. (Eli Manning is a separate beast). What's more, Anderson's case rests near the front lines of some of our favorite HoF argument battlegrounds: too many quarterbacks versus too few, Super Bowl champions versus non-champions, statistics versus reputation and hagiography.

Statistical excellence has always been the centerpiece of Anderson's Hall of Fame argument. That's why Football Outsiders' new 1981 and 1982 DVOA and DYAR rankings are such exciting news for Anderson and his supporters. (The 1981 season will be released later this week, but Walkthrough got a sneak preview.)

Anderson ranks second in DYAR to Dan Fouts in both 1981 and 1982. Those high rankings add weight and depth to the assertion that Anderson was one of the two or three best quarterbacks of the early 1980s. They also suggest that Anderson's performances in 1974 through 1976 were every bit as good as they look on his Pro Football Reference page, as opposed to being the result of some proto-West Coast Offense-aided statistical distortions.

Mounting analytical evidence, combined with a bar for Hall of Fame enshrinement that has dropped recently for 1970s/1980s legends in recent years, should finally propel Anderson into the Hall of Fame sometime in the next few years.

Here's a quick summary of Anderson's Pro Football Hall of Fame credentials:

It's important to note that the top three bullet points boil down to "he was awesome in 1981." Furthermore, the top four bullet points represent the typical resume of a clear NON-Hall of Famer. As I wrote about Matt Ryan last year, quarterbacks such as Ryan, Steve McNair, Boomer Esiason, Donovan McNabb, and others have an MVP-type season, a Super Bowl loss, and some scattered Pro Bowl-level accomplishments in their portfolios.

To briefly recount the case against Anderson:

That final point is critical. Anderson would be a longer-than-longshot without all of that "black ink," and it's all of those league-leading stats that prompt younger fans to point to Anderson's PFR page and scream "WTF is wrong with Hall of Fame voters?"

The issue here is that quarterback rating and its kissing cousin completion percentage are viewed with very healthy suspicion by both analytics types and traditionalists.

No one doubts that Anderson was a worthy MVP in 1981, but how seriously should we take his 1982 efficiency-rating crown? Anderson's 95.3 rating in 1982 was driven by a then-record 70.6% completion rate in a strike-shortened season. The Bengals went 6-3 and got hammered by the New York Sack Exchange Jets in the first round of that season's playoff tournament. Was that really a Hall of Fame-caliber season? And what about Anderson's league-leading 66.7% completion rate for a 7-9 Bengals team in 1983? Was that really a Hall of Fame accomplishment? And why weren't Pro Bowl or All-Pro voters blown away by Anderson's 1974 and 1975 seasons?

DVOA is now starting to answer those questions. Anderson was the second-best quarterback in the NFL to Fouts in 1982. Anderson also ranked ninth in DYAR in 1983 and a surprising 11th in DYAR (eighth in DVOA) in 1984, his two decline seasons as a starter.

DVOA and DYAR offer Anderson a two-year perch when he was better on a play-by-play basis than contemporaries such as the young Joe Montana and the aging Terry Bradshaw, Archie Manning, and Ken Stabler. Anderson's credible 1983 and 1984 seasons suggest that there was nothing "fluky" about that two-year peak. Those were not dink-and-dunk seasons; Anderson was a great quarterback on the decline trying to prop up a fading roster.

So we have rescued 1982 from the stat-compiler bin for Anderson. But he still needs more unassailable Hall of Fame-worthy accomplishments to overcome the weak spots in his portfolio. The "too many quarterbacks" crowd, on the Seniors Committee and the comment thread, won't be satisfied by an argument about a nine-game season and a first-round exit.

It's time to turn our attention to 1974 through 1976. But now we come face-to-face with the limits of statistical arguments when discussing players from the pre-modern era.

Here are the year-by-year NFL passing yardage leaders of the 1970s:

Before Fouts, the only Hall of Famers in the group are creaky-knees Joe Namath during a 7-7 Jets season and the 38-year-old Fran Tarkenton for the declining 8-7-1 Vikings. Many of the passing leaders played for sub-.500 teams, including Hadl, Gabriel, and Ferguson.

Meanwhile, perennial Pro Bowler Bob Griese only finished in the top five in passing yards once (fourth in the AFL in 1968), Terry Bradshaw twice. Roger Staubach never finished higher than third.

Go back to the 1960s and Sonny Jurgensen leads the NFL in passing five times, but for teams that finished 10-4, 3-9-1, 7-7, 5-6-3, and 7-5-2. John Brodie leads the NFL two other times, for teams that finished 7-5-1 and 7-6-1. Bart Starr only finishes in the top five (in a 14- or 16-team NFL) once in the decade. Johnny Unitas leads the NFL in passing for the last time in 1963 despite (or because of) his Colts remaining near the top of the standings into the early 1970s.

Sonny Jurgensen entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983 after several years as a finalist. Yes, a quarterback with five passing titles had to wait through several ballots. Brodie, who retired fourth on the all-time passing yardage list, used to appear on Hall of Fame snub lists, but his last good season was over 50 years ago. He makes a useful example of why I am so cautious about Philip Rivers' case and dismissive of Matt Ryan's case.

But back to Anderson. He finished fourth in passing yards in 1973, the year before his early-career peak of 1974-1976. Gabriel led the league, as shown, for the 5-8-1 Eagles "Fire High Gang." Jim Plunkett (who had a weak, Alex Smith-like early career) was second for the 5-9 Patriots. Charley Johnson was third for the 7-5-2 Broncos. Staubach was fourth, then we get to Jim Hart for a 4-9-1, Don Coryell-led Cardinals team before some other HoFers and near-HoFers appear.

Similar results can be found on other leaderboards of the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. Teams didn't just pass less back then. They passed differently. Most teams rarely passed when they were ahead, which meant that the passing yardage leader was often a quarterback just effective enough to keep his job for a so-so team.

So Anderson's league-leading 1974 performance for the 7-7 Bengals didn't impress observers all that much. Sure, he was a fine young quarterback. But he threw for 352 yards in a 34-21 loss to the Oilers! True greats like Bob Griese don't find themselves in such predicaments!

Anderson's league-leading passer rating, on the other hand, should have impressed observers. The rating formula was invented specifically because the league watched Starr finish short of the leaderboards each year and wanted a more trustworthy measure of passing excellence than yards or touchdowns.

Unfortunately for Anderson, the rating formula wasn't introduced until 1973, so he was just the second quarterback (after Staubach) to officially lead the league in the category. I don't know how the sportswriters of the time felt about a complicated, decimal-laden stat that could only be computed using a slide rule, but I can guess.

Ken Anderson's de-facto offensive coordinator in 1974 and 1975 was Bill Walsh, of course, and the Bengals kept running a Walsh-like system in 1976. Anderson wasn't Joe Ferguson in 1977 throwing lots of bulk passes for a helpless team; he was executing a precursor to the West Coast Offense, and he did so effectively enough to keep the Bengals in the playoff picture for several years. The Bengals went 21-7 in 1975 and 1976. Unfortunately, they went 0-6 against the Steelers and Raiders, the two teams they had to beat, led by quarterbacks (Terry Bradshaw and Ken Stabler) against whom Anderson was judged both at the time and by Hall of Fame voters when he case was considered in the 1990s.

Every serious Anderson Hall of Fame argument ends up here. The Anderson of the mid-1970s was broadly thought of the way Tony Romo was thought of from about 2006 to 2009: everyone knew he was a quality quarterback, but losing over and over again in big games and playoff appearances shunted him squarely into the B-tier behind Bradshaw, Stabler, Griese, Staubach, and Tarkenton. Anderson supporters are then left arguing for perhaps the sixth-best quarterback of his era, armed mostly with efficiency ratings that come with a pair of product-of-the-system asterisks: Walsh's system inflated Anderson's completion rates and efficiency rating, and the "proof" of that distortion comes in the form of losses to the Steelers and Raiders. How DARE we argue for another 1970s quarterback when so many linemen and defenders with long strings of All-Pro selections are clamoring to get in?

To build an airtight argument, Anderson needs solid evidence that he really was better than most of the Hall of Famers of his era. The rating formula isn't good enough, because it's the rating formula. We need strong evidence that Anderson was doing more to help the Bengals than Bradshaw was doing for the Steelers, Tarkenton for the Vikings, or Griese for the mid-1970s Dolphins.

DVOA and DYAR are the tools we need if we want to tell the Seniors Committee: "Anderson was better on a snap-by-snap, throw-by-throw basis than those quarterbacks from 1974 through 1976. His rate stats aren't the distortion. His losses to the Steelers and Raiders are the distortion." If advanced stats reveal that Anderson was a top-two quarterback for a stretch of the mid-1970s AND the early 1980s, then his omission from the PFHoF is unconscionable.

(And yes, Seniors committee voters would listen to DVOA and DYAR, because our metrics come bundled with figures like third-and-long statistics that voters find convincing but generally don't have access to for players of yesteryear.)

Unfortunately, DVOA and DYAR for 1974 through 1976 may never come. Football Outsiders metrics require thorough play-by-play data. We have already started encountering official gamebooks which are nigh-illegible handwritten scrawl in the 1980s. Turn back the clock a little further, and no one will be able to loan us a VHS tape of a 1975 Bengals-Oilers game so we can homebrew the play-by-play, because VCRs didn't really become available until 1977.

The DVOA and DYAR results from 1981 and 1982, however, can at least inform discussion about Anderson's mid-1970s peak.

If DVOA loved Anderson in 1982, when he averaged 11.4 yards per completion in a league experiencing an offensive explosion, it would likely adore him when he averaged 13.9 yards per completion in the Dead Ball Era. If our opponent adjustments were kind to him in an era when the Steel Curtain was collapsing, they'll be his hero in the grueling mid-1970s AFC. The argument that Anderson benefited from Walsh's offense will sound silly if Anderson was actually one of the two best quarterbacks in the NFL in the mid-1970s according to careful analysis of situational splits. No one holds Walsh against Montana, after all, or Coryell against Fouts.

Anderson should reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame long before Football Outsiders invents the TARDIS we may need to create DVOA for 1976.

The Senior Committee will be allowed to nominate three candidates per year over the next three ballots. All of those nominees will be inducted, because the main committee doesn't try to veto Seniors selections anymore. There's going to be something like another Centennial Class over the next few years, only this one won't be used by powerful men named William to elect their binkies.

The induction threshold for 1970s greats has dropped significantly since I first started writing about Anderson and the Hall of Fame many, many years ago. Most notably, Ken Stabler was inducted in 2016. I have described Stabler as Anderson with a ring and tough-guy hagiography in the past, and I want to amend that slightly. Stabler would probably lead the NFL in DVOA/DYAR in 1974 and 1976. Stabler and Anderson may well have been the NFL's two best quarterbacks in the mid-1970s, with Staubach also in the mix. Stabler did indeed have the drunken-biker cache and (more importantly) a much better playoff record than Anderson. But Stabler was a terrible quarterback by the time Anderson reached his second peak.

Stabler's enshrinement means that no other quarterback whose career looks like Anderson's is excluded from the PFHoF. Hadl and Brodie superficially have more "black ink," but both were leading leagues that were about to become merged into conferences, and concerns about high bulk passing numbers are definitely warranted for their era.

What's more, Anderson contemporaries such as wide receivers Harold Carmichel, Cliff Branch, and Drew Peason and defenders such as Donnie Shell and Cliff Harris have gotten in over the last decade. The seniors and Centennial committee have done a pretty good job clearing their agenda of 1970s-1980s players who slipped through the cracks while past voters debated over Steel Curtain backups and Vince Lombardi waterboys. Anderson and the ever-present Randy Gradishar are now the two most talked-about omissions of their era. The Hall should have no problem squeezing both of them into a nine-person group.

DVOA and DYAR are making Anderson's Pro Football Hall of Fame case a little better at the same time that the Hall is making induction a little easier. It's time to enshrine Anderson. Then we can close the book on quarterbacks of yesteryear once and for all and start talking about deserving candidates at non-glamor positions such as Louis Wright and Isiah Robertson and, sure, Gradishar.

106 comments, Last at 29 Jun 2022, 7:58pm

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 10:53am

Before Fouts, the only Hall of Famers in the group are creaky-knees Joe Namath during a 7-7 Jets season and the 38-year-old Fran Tarkenton for the declining 8-7-1 Vikings. Many of the passing leaders played for sub-.500 teams, including Hadl, Gabriel, and Ferguson.

It is worth pointing out that that list has a ton of Hall of Very Good guys.

Hadl, Gabriel, and Brody were roughly equivalent to McNair, McNabb, Esiason, or Gannon, or roughly where Stafford, Newton, and Mahomes are now. (This presumes Mahomes gets hit by a car in training camp)

\Troy Aikman can thank his lucky stars he could ride a stellar roster to the HOF, because the only other Hall guys within 20% of him got in due to the extra boost of their non-NFL star legacy)

Sonny Jurgensen... makes a useful example of why I am so cautious about Philip Rivers' case and dismissive of Matt Ryan's case.

I'm with you on Ryan. Ryan really needed to hold onto that 25 point lead to have any kind of Hall case.

Rivers' best hope is that people remember he played for San Diego, and thus should get in despite no post-season success, and not think he played for Cincinnati, and thus should not get in because of no post-season success. Really, he's hoping for Fouts vs Tarkenton -- where voters held SB losses against a QB more than failing to make it there at all. Both Rivers and Ryan get dinged by Stafford's ring -- his bulk numbers are similar enough that in the long-view they will blend together, and Stafford has the win the other two could never get. Anderson inherits a lot of that Tarkenton vs Fouts narrative argument, with some contextual coloring.

The problem you are missing is narrative -- and narrative has changed.

The 80s loved QBs who passed. The 70s hated QBs who passed.

Namath made it in despite leading the league in passing. Analytics are warm on Namath because his numbers are actually pretty good -- but he's in because he resembles Eli, not because he resembles Phil Rivers. He's in because of SB III. Voters didn't hold 1972 against him. Tarkenton is in because starting 3 SBs and being an MVP candidate on two completely different teams is really good, and he was so far out in front in passing totals that his throwing a lot was not a show-stopping obstacle.

What was clear, though, is that passing a lot was seen as a negative indicator. Teams threw because they sucked -- good teams could pass when they wanted to, not when they were forced to. If you threw a lot, it's because you were trailing a lot. About the only guy who threw a lot on good teams was Unitas -- and Unitas was always the exception.

Bob Griese was like Pete Carroll's platonic ideal for a QB -- a replaceable cog who was good when he did pass, but who absolutely no one wanted to actually throw the ball. The Dynasty Dolphins ran more than twice as often as they passed -- and Morrall was doing some of the passing! The cheerleaders were more involved in the offense than Griese was. Bart Starr? His immortal highlight is a six-inch run in a game where he took 8 sacks.

Through 1978, QBs were seen as a liability. No one wanted a prolific QB, because that meant you sucked. Anderson suffers from two problems -- his teams were one of the few middle-class teams in the 1970s, when giants and gnomes both walked the earth; and he straddles the dead-ball era. He's almost unique in this regard.

Namath and Gabriel were done by 1978. Tarkenton and Staubach kiss the modern era, but only just. Fouts played in the deadball era, but was an early-Gannon journeyman type until it ended -- his credentials are based on the modern era. (Theismann, too -- he's basically a poor-man's Fouts) Bradshaw played a few years in it -- and gets a stats bump from the modern era, but his career is built arounds a pure-70s narrative. His teams were old-school mud-and-blood monsters in 1978 and 1979. Simms and Montana enter just as the modern era began.

But Anderson and Stabler both had one leg firmly in each era, spending about half their career in each section. Stabler also waited an eternity to get in, and he too, like Bradshaw, made it for being a 70s QB, not for being an 80s QB. There's nobody like Anderson -- who are borderline in both era, and who needs that 1980s stretch to get over the hump.

I think to get Anderson in, you need to convince voters of the narrative that after 1978, a prolific QB had become an asset rather than a liability. The 80s Bengals passed not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Anderson was an early version of Montana and Marino, not a Gabriel or Brody-esque desperation bomber. That he was a Fouts before Fouts. He was an 80s QB who began in the deadball era, not a 70s guy who finished in it.

He needs to change his story from being a worse Tarkenton to being a more successful Fouts.

by KnotMe // Jun 27, 2022 - 2:22pm

In reply to Before Fouts, the only Hall… by Aaron Brooks G…

Totally agree on the era thing but I'm not sure where that goes. 

I wonder how writers view went into this. No QB who finished their career in the 80s(esp early) is even above average for the HOFm, (Tarkenton is the closest, retiring in 78) so it seemed like it took Marino to change perceptions honestly. 

You could argue that Fouts took the black ink. Would be interesting to see what the DYAR numbers say. 

Although when your resorting to comparing to weaker guys to get someone in it's not a great sign. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 2:55pm

In reply to Totally agree on the era… by KnotMe

No QB who finished their career in the 80s(esp early) is even above average for the HOFm

That's weirdly Staubach's fault. Staubach had a short career and the tail-end was better. Had he stuck around one more year, you probably get an above-average HoFer who retired in the 80s.

by KnotMe // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:51pm

In reply to No QB who finished their… by Aaron Brooks G…

He probably would have needed to stick around a few years and have them be really good.  Can't blame him for hanging it up as there was no way he could go another couple seasons and avoid more hits to the head. 

by Will Allen // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:14pm

In reply to Before Fouts, the only Hall… by Aaron Brooks G…

One of the amazing things about Tarkenton is that his int totals are low for the era, even while passing a lot for bad and mediocre teams in the first 11 years.

by theslothook // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:17pm

In reply to One of the amazing things… by Will Allen

It's kind of sad. Tarkington is almost assuredly and unknown to the majority of NFL fans.

I think his esteem should be right at the highest tiers of NFL quarterback mythology.

Even if you write off all of his statistical accomplishments as meaningless window dressing, his acclaim among true followers of the sport including rival players and coaches is pretty unimpeachable. 

I just don't understand what happened with him. Or maybe this is just a broader sweep of the 1970s in general for quarterbacks 

by Will Allen // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:38pm

In reply to It's kind of sad. Tarkington… by theslothook

His scrambling was really looked upon with extreme disdain for the first 2/3 of his career. Once he arrived on a team with competent coaching and talent, it became obvious how dumb that was. The Vikings, for an expansion team, actually was above average talent-wise, even before Jim Finks arrived in '64, but Norm Van Brocklin had about as much business being a head coach as Buddy Ryan, if Buddy Ryan had little in the way of tactical insights, and was as incapable of having productive relationships with his defensive players, as he did his offensive players. Van Brocklin was just awful with everyone. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:49pm

In reply to It's kind of sad. Tarkington… by theslothook

Tarkington is remembered, even if it's sometimes as the guy Marino passed or the guy who lost all those Super Bowls.

The guys I look back to as a complete black box are guys like Hadl or Brodie or Gabriel. You don't even get sad NFL Films about those guys. I kind of feel for Hadl and Gabriel -- Tarkenton at least played for one of the giants of the 1970s. Of those giants, really only the Rams don't have a QB in the Hall. Gabriel retired just before that run started, and Hadl was only there for one year.

by KnotMe // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:29pm

In reply to Tarkington is remembered,… by Aaron Brooks G…

I think the 70s in general get overlook as it was a transition period. So the QB's from that time basicly end up looking similar to 80s guys but not stacking up. 

by pauldemet // Jun 27, 2022 - 9:13pm

In reply to It's kind of sad. Tarkington… by theslothook

When I was 9 years old, my sister took gymnastics with Tarkenton's daughter. I was able to meet him a couple of times and instantly became a fan. Unfortunately, I have been a Vikings fan for almost 50 years with all the heartbreak that comes with that.

Correct me if I am wrong, but when Tarkenton retired, he held every major passing record, had the most rushing yards for a QB, had the most wins for a QB, and three Super Bowl losses. None of this was good enough to be a first ballot HOFer.

On his second year of eligibility, Staubach and Namath were both inducted before him. Whether he was better than Staubach is obviously debatable, but he was a much better QB than Namath.

Even today, he is never mentioned as a top 10 QB all time. I think he deserves better.

by mehllageman56 // Jun 27, 2022 - 10:58am

I started watching football in 1981, or rather, regular season football.  My father was a Jets fan, so I started rooting for them the year of the Sack Exchange.  Before that, I did watch the Rams-Steelers Super Bowl.  So I have very little memory of Terry Bradshaw playing quarterback, but I do remember Ken Anderson, and how good he was in 1981-1983.  So I always felt Anderson was a much better quarterback than Bradshaw, even with Bradshaw's 4 championships.  Because I also watched Mark Sanchez almost make it to a Super Bowl, I have no doubt the Steel Curtain had a lot more to do with those Super Bowl years than Bradshaw, especially when he got to hand off to Franco Harris.

However, if anyone wants to argue Joe Namath doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, they can fight me.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:26am

In reply to I started watching football… by mehllageman56

Bradshaw is interesting. He's both not as good as his 4 titles legacy, but also not as bad as his aw-shucks demeanor and historical revisionist suggest.

His waterline is probably where HOFm puts him -- about average for a HOF QB. He's not an all-time great, but there was also little doubt he was a HOFer.

by mehllageman56 // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:50am

In reply to Bradshaw is interesting. He… by Aaron Brooks G…

I have to admit, the one important game I watched him play, he was great in.  That bomb to Stallworth in the Super Bowl against the Rams was a great throw and catch.  He was a really good deep ball thrower. But going by stats, he has a better completion percentage than Lamonica, but has a higher interception percentage (5.4 to 5.3) and a lower td percentage (5.4 to 6.3).  Lamonica's AY/A of 7.4 beats out Bradshaw's AY/A of 5.8.

by Noahrk // Jun 28, 2022 - 12:27pm

In reply to I have to admit, the one… by mehllageman56

I am on the same boat as you on Bradshaw. Technically I did see him play, but I don't remember a thing. But I am under the impression that he was a hall of very good QB on a great team. However, if people who actually saw him play say he deserves the HoF, I won't argue.

by HitchikersPie // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:25am

This article from that came out after the 2013 season might be an instructive one, the value stat it spits out has a very strong correlation with DYAR (thinks Brady '07 pips Marino '84 and Peyton '04 for the best season ever), and it's mainly owing to opponent adjustments for the respective rankings.

It also agrees that Fouts provided more value in 1981 even though Anderson was more productive on a per play basis, and though it loses the fidelity of DVOA ranking every play on a success basis, it looks to be a pretty good proxy for QB value.

By that measure it's rough DYAR analogue "Value" has Anderson with 3 seasons inside the top 50 all time (though that's likely lower with 8 seasons since then), and by the DVOA analogue "RANY/A" it has his 1975 season over Joe Montana's 1989 (though doubtless his playoff performance would be lower). I wonder if you could take a system like this and punch out some more DYAR estimations that could potentially help a Ken Anderson HoF case.

By career value he's 10th before 2014, with only Rodgers certainly passing him, though Rivers or Roethlisberger would have a good chance to as well, it would still leave him among the best passers in NFL history, and well above contemporaries Bradshaw and Stabler. There would probably need to be a lot of persuasion on such a discussion, and also removing negative seasons from Stabler/Bradshaw which I doubt any HoF voters will be holding against them (or thinking of) when they rank them next with Anderson.

by NYChem // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:31am

Are there other examples of guys in the HOF, specifically QBs, where they were legitimately bad for a sustained portion of the mid portion of their career? That seems like the most important of the counterarguments; not beating the Raiders and Steelers, well hell those teams were stacked with HOFers. You can be great but fail when going up against greatness.

But if he is HOF worthy, how can you explain those mid-career seasons where his play tanked, three of them, with '78 and '80 being particularly bad? If you can wave away '81 not being a fluke because of '75 and '76, you can't say that any of those bad seasons were a fluke either. There are plenty of HOF QBs who have bad seasons on their resume, multiple bad seasons, but those tend to be at the beginning and/or the end, and they're not held against them because we can see the sustained greatness of their heyday. And you can maybe give someone a mulligan for one bad season that might involve injury or team tragedy or something. but 3? I mean maybe the coaches were bad, sure, but they weren't throwing the INTs...

I like Ken Anderson, but if Matt Ryan isn't HOF worthy, I find it hard to think he is.

by Joey-Harringto… // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:41am

In reply to good-bad-great by NYChem

Kurt Warner was bad to mediocre in his mid-career (his 2002 season, with Faulk/Holt/Bruce still in their primes was particularly egregious).  Warner's peaks (both statistically and "legend" wise)  are arguably higher than Anderson's, though.

by JoelBarlow // Jun 27, 2022 - 1:38pm

In reply to Kurt Warner was bad to… by Joey-Harringto…

started 0-5. Marc Bulger became starter, they get to 5-5, end at 7-9 

at 5-5 Warner came back as starter and got sacked on the last play of the game at the Was 6 yard line to end the game

and Warner's numbers are really bad that season. its truly bizarre

by SandyRiver // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:56pm

In reply to yes, and the 2002 Rams are fascinating by JoelBarlow

Warner banged his thumb on someone's helmet during SB36, and though he remained reasonably accurate in the game, I've read that the injury impact increased afterward and was very slow to heal.  Might that have affected his 2002?

by Boots Day // Jun 27, 2022 - 5:04pm

In reply to Warner's thumb by SandyRiver

I wouldn't be surprised. In his year with the Giants, his passing numbers were decent but he had some kind of problem with his hand that caused him to fumble a lot (12 times in 10 games). He also broke a finger in that dreadful 2002 season. 

It's hard to believe that after the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, Warner never won another game as a starter for the Rams. 

by theTDC // Jun 27, 2022 - 8:49pm

In reply to yes, and the 2002 Rams are fascinating by JoelBarlow

It's actually not. As someone else said, Warner had a damaged thumb. I can't remember if it was legitimately broken or if he tore a ligament or something, but there were numerous passes he made that slipped out of his hand, and his trademark laser accuracy was entirely missing. So that season should be considered a pure mulligan due to the injury, which he eventually fully recovered from.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:41am

In reply to good-bad-great by NYChem

Are there other examples of guys in the HOF, specifically QBs, where they were legitimately bad for a sustained portion of the mid portion of their career?

Warner and Tarkenton. Favre had multi-year downstretches (1998-1999, 2005-2006).

Elway might be the best comp. Elways was pretty mediocre from 1988-1992. If he retires in 1995, he never gets his two rings and is basically a blend of Tarkenton and Anderson.

by mehllageman56 // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:56am

In reply to Are there other examples of… by Aaron Brooks G…

While the original poster used the caveat that career beginnings and endings do not matter, take a look at Bradshaw's first two years.  6 TDs, 24 Ints.  13 TDs, 22 Ints.  In 1972 the Steelers make it to the AFC championship game, and Bradshaw's stat line improved to 12 TDs, 12 Ints.  Looking at the first half of Bradshaw's career, can we kick him out of the Hall of Very Good?

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:07pm

In reply to While the original poster… by mehllageman56

Is he going to take Peyton, John Elway, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Roger Staubach, Dan Fouts, and Warren Moon with him?

With Moon and Young, their first seasons weren't even their real first seasons. Both guys were full-time starters in the USFL or CFL. Young was so bad he got run out of Tampa Bay, who drafted Vinny Testaverde to replace him.

by mehllageman56 // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:29pm

In reply to Is he going to take Peyton,… by Aaron Brooks G…

1), Thank you for giving me hope about Zach Wilson.

2). Bradshaw's first season with more touchdowns than Interceptions is 1975, his sixth year.

3) Bradshaw only made the Pro Bowl three times in his career.  I'm certain everyone you listed did better than that.

4) It only took one year (which was better than either of Bradshaw's first two years) for Warren Moon to become a star in the CFL.   He's in the CFL Hall of Fame as well as the NFL Hall of Fame.  You are correct that Steve Young stunk for a while in the USFL as well as the NFL.

I must add I'm being a little snarky asking for Bradshaw to be kicked out of the Hall of Very Good, or even the Hall of Fame.  If he gets kicked out, they'll come for Namath next.  And I don't want that.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:50pm

In reply to 1), Thank you for giving me… by mehllageman56

What I meant with Moon and Young was that they weren't really rookies in their "rookie season" for NFL purposes -- they had been starting QBs in professional leagues (of AAA or AAAA-quality) prior to entering the NFL.

Moon and Kelly are in the HOF in part because they were the best QBs of their era in the CFL and USFL, respectively. (They are both under-credentialed in pure NFL terms)

Bradshaw's first season with more touchdowns than Interceptions is 1975, his sixth year.

Surprisingly common. TDs didn't become more numerous than INTs until 1983, and it didn't stick until 1986. Favre was making Pro Bowls in 1993 with an underwater TD/INT ratio!

The biggest miracle of Dan Marino's career is that it's not until 1987 that TDs outnumber INTs if you remove Dan Marino. He alone put the league over in 1983, 1984, and 1986. His down year in 1985 actually puts TDs back underwater. Early Marino was like some god who traveled back in time from a different era of football. 1984 was a crazy year even from a modern perspective. He was like Don Hutson -- he's the last old guy whose numbers hold up.

Basically, Bradshaw had a rough first year, and then was mostly averagish for the next few -- although that 1972 was actually pretty solid. If you look at his advanced numbers, he seemed to trade off getting TDs with avoiding INTs -- it's not until 1975 that he puts all the parts together.

by NYChem // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:41pm

In reply to Are there other examples of… by Aaron Brooks G…

I agree with Warner for sure, the end of Rams and Giants and beginning of Cardinals era for him were piss poor, and the resurgence with the Cardinals was essential for his HOF resume. But also agree the Warner of the late90's-2001 was far better than Anderson at his peak, even era adjusted. 

The Elway comp, well not so much. 88-92 he was inconsistent and worse than his peaks, but his team was making the playoffs most years. He wasn't great, but Anderson's 78-80 performance would have been among Archie Manning's worst seasons , whereas Elway 88-92 would have been among Archie's best. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:51pm

In reply to I agree with Warner for sure… by NYChem

1988-1992 were a different world than 1978-1980.

Era adjusted, Anderson's 1978 is better than Elway's 1992. Anderson's 1979 was actually above-average! He took a ton of sacks, but being +6 on TD/INT margin was really good in an era where the average team was -2!

by NYChem // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:03pm

In reply to 1988-1992 were a different… by Aaron Brooks G…

kind of cherry picking. Take a five year lull from one QB, compare it to a 3 year bad stretch for another QB, and find the best 1 year in the bad stretch was better than the worst of the lull, era adjusted. Which is arguable anyway, but sure...

Elway also made the probowl twice from 88-92 in a conference that also had marino and kelly and kosar and esiason and moon. 

And if 79 was above average for on TD/INT margin, 78 and 80 were atrocious, again like A Manning at his worst, and Archie was actually at his best from 78-80, they had JUST loosened up the rules on receiver contact, passing numbers were going up, and Anderson had 3 lost seasons.

They may have been different worlds, but Elway's lull isn't much of a comp to Anderson's cliff dive.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:32pm

In reply to kind of cherry picking. Take… by NYChem

It's... the opposite of cherry-picking.

Anderson's "dive" consisted of two below-average years wrapped around one above-average year, which were bracketed by stellar starts and endings. Elway had a beginning with lost of narrative but only marginal passing success, a mid-career lull worse than Anderson's, and a great ending.

Basically, Anderson's two best years are better than anything Elway did, and Elway's two worst years are worse than anything Anderson did. Anderson's lull wasn't as long or as bad as Elway's, and his best years of the lull were better. Anderson's team was more dependent on him than Elway's was -- The Broncos could do okay when Elway wasn't great, but the Bengals could not when Anderson wasn't great.

This demonstrates two things to me:

by NYChem // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:58pm

In reply to It's... the opposite of… by Aaron Brooks G…

anderson's best years of his lull were better than elway's? he had one year in that period you cited as better than elway's worst year of his lull. 1989 not only did elway make the probowl, but the broncos got to a superbowl. If ken Anderson had gotten the Bungles to the SB in 79 and lost 55-10 to the Rams he'd have a MUCH better HOF resume

In '91 elway, again a probowler, gets the broncos to an AFCCG. I've already listed his overlapping AFC QB competition, all of whom are HOF or HOverygood, so the probowl wasn't JUST reputation based. Hell, Elway's accomplishment during his lull come close to Ken Anderson's overall, outside of 1981. So if 1981 for Anderson equals Elway 85-87 and 93-97 years, sure... he's an all-timer, can't believe he didn't get in first ballot...

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 5:57pm

In reply to that's ridiculous by NYChem

he had one year in that period you cited as better than elway's worst year of his lull.

I said his 1979 was above-average for the league, and his best lull year was better than Elway's best lull year.

But his worst lull year was also better than Elway's worst lull year. All around, Anderson's lull was not as bad as Elway's lull. It's only in Pro Bowls that Elway comes out ahead -- Pro Bowls have always been notoriously more about fame than about quality. Elway in the 1990 season was famous, but it's hard to argue he was good.

by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 27, 2022 - 7:27pm

In reply to he had one year in that… by Aaron Brooks G…

You nailed it. Elway did not earn the 89 or 91 pro bowl. not even close

We can't do this for Anderson but Elway from 1989 to 1992 DYAR and DVOA

As you say, those 89 and 91 pro bowls were reputation and what the rest of the team did to drag Elway along. Traditional stats do not treat Elway kindly either. His ordinal ranks in some of the stats voters would have cared about back then, well maybe they didn't care about passer rating but I'm still adding it. For 89, 90, 91, and 92, the big 3 of TD, yards, and INT (well INT% so that lower ranking is still better and because PFR does the sorting correctly for that but not always for raw INT)

What about the NFC QB advantage in the 90s? In 1991 he managed to be 5th in the AFC in Yards. But didn't make top 5 in TD's, INT%, or passer rating. He was worse in 89 than 91 so I didn't bother to do the exercise again it's pretty clear he made the PB when he shouldn't have. Also while Elway was good in 93 he was below average again in 94 falling to 18 and 17 in DVOA and DYAR much like 89, so we could potentially have a 6 year stretch for Elway that only had 1 good and 1 above average season in it.

Now lets be fair to Anderson's lull. I know ordinal ranking is not the best way to era adjust and he did have an injury in 80 that lowered some numbers but since we've got Elway's lull mid career lets get the numbers for Anderson

78, 79, 80 for Anderson (also in a 28 team league so you can do an apples to apples ordinal ranking if you like)

Both QBs look pretty bad but with top 5 passer rating and INT% and only a bit below average in TD and yards (and above average TD%) it looks like Anderson is better for that year than any of the 4 we have for Elway. His 1980 does look worse than Elways worst ordinal rankings but it's not that much worse than 92 and 78 is also pretty similar to Elway 92 but looks worse than Elway 89. So who fell the farthest I can see there being debate.

So yes I think it's very fair to use Elway as a comparison and the duration of Elway's down turn is more concerning to me than the 2 years for Anderson that have a above average to good year in the middle. Even if you think Anderson fell farther and I'm not sure he did I think the Elway dip is worse.

Now the TDs in 80 look very bad at 31. If we use TD% instead of raw TD that only climbs to 30. However it would help Anderson vs Elway as his TD% was always a better ordinal rank than his TDs. That was not the case for Elway, in 90 he was 25 in TD% but 18 in raw. In 91 he was 23 in TD% vs 11 in raw. Elway was actually more of a volume passer than Anderson so I'm potentially making Elway look better depending on what you care about and I still think he looked worse.

by NYChem // Jun 27, 2022 - 10:06pm

In reply to You nailed it. Elway did not… by DisplacedPackerFan

Curious as to who should have made it to the afc probowl in lieu of elway in '89 and '91, and why he didn't make it in '90. He wasn't going against scrubs in these years, he was beating out some equally famous and accomplished afc QBs. I know in the analytics era we discount the prior winz props, which is probably what got elway into those two probowls more so than fame.  Much easier to discount subpar QB stats when the team achieves than when they go 4-12, but hard to argue a 3 year lull that tanier specifically said was objectively bad all well under 500 was better than a five  year period with 2 probowls, super bowl and afccg losses (with the accompanying playoff wins). I know you and AB are trying but I can't imagine this would get anywhere in a HOF council room. 'Anderson should be in because of '81, and because his 3 year suckitude midcareer wasn't as bad as it looks, look at elway when the the broncos were at the tail end of Dan Reeves career and remodeling between the 3 super bowl loss team and the 2 super bowl winning team.'

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 10:23pm

In reply to Curious as to who should… by NYChem

Elway was probably a fair way down the list, admittedly. There were 8 PB QBs that year.

\Jim Everett got no love.

by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:05pm

In reply to Curious as to who should… by NYChem

First I think Elway belongs in the Hall of fame. Even if you take away the 2 PB mentioned and that SB run in the middle of poor stats he still has plenty of accolades.

What we are saying is that Elway had a very clear statistical lull and came back from it to get up into top 5 stats (he was never better than about the 3 best QB in the league). That means you can't say that his early league leading stats high was just some weird thing or that his post lull return was just "well the rules changed". He was a less accomplished QB than Elway but he was also a statistically better QB than Elway for basically his whole career, even the lull. Elway tops out as maybe 3rd best statistical QB in the league for any individual season. His HoF case has more to do with the accomplishments and that entangles with team even more than stats do.

Anderson needs to build his case differently and I'm not saying a comparison to Elway should be used. I was pushing back against the argument that Elway didn't decline much before coming back. He did. He was bad QB probably 3 of his 15 seasons and average for probably 3 more, then above average for 10, with probably 3 of those being top 5. League MVP and 2 ringz with that profile easy pass.

But Elway is a HoF QB, like Warner, and Favre, who had a mid career lull before coming back so trying to use that against him just doesn't work. Elway is just another data point in a list to get rid of an argument against him, not the whole of it.

And for the record Favre also topped out as probably just the 3rd best QB based on stats in the league too, even in his MVP seasons. So that is not a knock against Elway either.

We know that the committee puts high value on post season success. There is abundant evidence. So you have to dig sometimes for the greats that got stuck in purgatory.

by Will Allen // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:16pm

In reply to Are there other examples of… by Aaron Brooks G…

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:02pm

In reply to good-bad-great by NYChem

Ironically those were also bad years for the other Ken QB as well who's in. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 11:34am

How DARE we argue for another 1970s quarterback when so many linemen and defenders with long strings of All-Pro selections are clamoring to get in?

This is perhaps the strongest counter-argument.

We talk about Fletcher Cox having no chance and almost completely forget about Ndamukong Suh, but they are 15% and 30% ahead of Troy Aikman, who was basically the Bob Griese of the 1990s. There are too many QBs in the Hall.

Nah. Paul Hornung has been in for ages. Now we argue about the Raiders waterboys.

by KnotMe // Jun 27, 2022 - 2:14pm

In reply to How DARE we argue for… by Aaron Brooks G…

Agree on the to many QB thing. I wonder what a "typical" expectation for an era is. The 2000's will give us Peyton(done), Brady, Rodgers and Brees. I feel like they probably pick 1-2 more and it will be difficult. 

If you take the agurment that teams mostly passed when they were behind, you would expect alot of comebacks and game winning drives. Anderson has 10 and 14, Bradshaw has 15 and 23 and Fouts has 21 and 23 (Anderson has the most games of all three).  

He wouldn't be the worst guy if he got in, but it would feel like lowering the bar a bit and there are alot of QB already. 

by Independent George // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:13pm

In reply to How DARE we argue for… by Aaron Brooks G…

I think there's a good argument for QBs to be over-represented due to the significance of the position. They're essentially starting pitchers who don't rotate out of the lineup. I think the fundamental problem is that football has 22 starting positions but only five inductees per year. 

by HitchikersPie // Jun 27, 2022 - 7:40pm

In reply to I think there's a good… by Independent George

Agreed that this is the primary issue, beyond the fact there's only 5 inductees this is a number which hasn't increased in decades despite there being both more teams and bigger roster sizes.

by big10freak // Jun 27, 2022 - 12:00pm

I doubt it's a coincidence that the Anderson downturn/resurgence is pretty much aligned with the Bengals turning over almost the entire offensive line.  Munuz pushed Wilson to right tackle where now both edges were set and Max Montoya also locked down the right guard spot for the next 15 years. 

Separately, what about an Isaac Curtis Hall of Fame push?  I suspect that adjusted for context he comes up looking pretty good.  Plus I think the illegal contact (or was it defensive holding) rule came about because of Paul Brown b8tching about teams holding Curtis to keep him from getting downfield

by JoelBarlow // Jun 27, 2022 - 1:33pm

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 2:15pm

In reply to does every city have a Hall of Very Good QB? by JoelBarlow

It gets tough, because there are a lot of journeymen in this list -- guys like Norm Snead and Earl Morrall and Vinny Testaverde played for half the league. Snead and Testaverde are a pain, because they spread their peak across three teams. Plunkett started for three teams, but his claim is only based on one of them. Morrall started for four, hut his claim is based on two.

If you took Dave Krieg or Tony Romo as the utter floor of the Hall of Very Good, 

Teams with: Seattle (Krieg) Dallas (Romo) Kansas City (Smith) San Francisco (Smith, Brodie) Cleveland (Sipe, Frank Ryan) Washington (Snead, Theismann) Philadelphia (Snead, Cunningham, McNabb) Giants (Snead, Simms) Raiders (Plunkett, Lamonica, Gannon) Colts (Morrall, Jones) Miami (Morrall) Ravens (Testaverde, Flacco) Jets (Testaverde) Tampa (Testaverde) Cardinals (Hart, Palmer) Cincinnati (Palmer, Esiason, Anderson) New England (Bledsoe) Buffalo (Bledsoe, Kemp) Chargers (Hadl, Kemp) Tennessee (McNair) Minnesota (Gannon) Rams (Gabriel) Detroit (Stafford) Carolina (Newton)

If you drop the floor a little, Atlanta would get Vick and Jacksonville would get Brunell.

So six teams don't have a Hall of Very Good guy -- Green Bay (every GB QB is in the Hall or will be soon), Chicago (no one in this city actually plays QB), Pittsburgh, Houston, Denver, and New Orleans.

What stands out is how many failed dynasties are featured here. The sundry heartbreaks of the Eagles and Raiders, Bengals and Chargers, and the poor, poor Bills. A few more made it over the hump, because they paired their HoVG QB w/ a great running game and/or dominant defense -- see also Morrall, Flacco, Simms, Theismann. Others needed to depart towards sanity to find success -- Gannon and Testaverde -- or winning --Stafford.

Looking at the list, it's Roethlisberger who is hard to find a comp for -- he's too good for the Only Ringz problem of Plunkett, too prolific for the non-starter problem of Morrall, and has too many titles for the compiler argument that is much of this list.

Ryan and Rivers slot in nicely among their compatriots. Eli's best comp is probably Simms, but it's hard not to see him as a rich man's Phil Simms, and a rich man's Phil Simms is probably in the HOF.

by theslothook // Jun 27, 2022 - 2:32pm

In reply to Probably not.https://www… by Aaron Brooks G…

I'd say Green for KC over Smith 

by Independent George // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:05pm

In reply to I'd say Green for KC over… by theslothook

Also Pennington for NYJ and Miami. I also think Eli for the Giants even if he seems likely to make it into the HOF - as a Giants fan, I love him, but I just don't see him as belonging in the HoF.

Tampa gets special credit for wasting QB talent. Young managed to get rescued by Bill Walsh, but Testaverde and Williams both might have pushed over the good/great divide had they not wasted many prime years getting the snot kicked out of them in Tampa.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:23pm

In reply to Also Pennington for NYJ and… by Independent George

I see Testaverde is a sort of historical knock on Young.

Testaverde was pretty good once he escaped Tampa for teams who were just bad in mundane ways. He always threw too many INTs, but he was decent on decent teams. And was better than Young in a worse situation for Tampa -- and without Young's years as a starting QB in the USFL. Young managed to suck for two teams in two leagues in 1985.

This always made me suspicious of the SF Young years, sort in concert with Siefert. Could literally anyone have walked in and inherited those teams and won?

It's hard to disentangle the team from its QB -- in both directions.

by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 27, 2022 - 10:47pm

In reply to I see Testaverde is a sort… by Aaron Brooks G…

I got deep in the weeds with Young in the Jason Kelce thread, comment 78, but I'm not sure Testaverde was that much better than Young. You seem to hold those 2 USFL years against Young a lot but he was 24 in his NFL rookie season. Testaverde was 24 in his NFL rookie season. How much different is 3 years at BYU + 1 3/4 years of USFL (he missed the first 6 games of his rookie USFL season finishing up college) vs 5 years at Miami (1 redshirt year, 2 back-up, 2 starter)?  It is different, I do not deny that, but you seem to really hold that against Young in the NFL. He wasn't great in the USFL but he was still top 10 (in a 24 team league) in passer rating. It's not like LA had a great USFL team either.

So unless that 3 years at BYU + 2 years USFL vaults him like 2 NFL seasons ahead of 5 years at Miami saying that Vinny was clearly better than Steve in a worse situation at TB is just wrong.

NFL Rookie years Young (85): 5 starts, 138 attempts, -268 DYAR, -37.7% DVOA, 37 rushing DYAR vs DeBerg 391 attempts, 559 DYAR, 10.9% DVOA Vinny (87): 4 starts, 165 attempts, -153 DYAR, -24.4% DVOA, 25 rushing DYAR vs DeBerg 296 attempts, 358 DYAR, 7.4% DVOA

Both are bad, but it's arguable that TB was a slightly better team by that point too not worse like you claim. Vinny was less of a drop off from DeBerg than Steve was, but both were on the Josh Allen rookie level bad.

2nd NLF season Young (86): 14 starts, 363 attempts, -22 DYAR, -12.0% DVOA, 124 rushing DYAR vs DeBerg 96 attempts -94 DYAR, -25.2% DVOA Vinny (88): 15 starts, 466 attempts, -185 DYAR, -17.2% DVOA, 35 rushing DYAR vs Ferguson 46 attempts, 150 DYAR, 36.3% DVOA

There is no way you can say those 2 season are significantly better for Testaverde. It's the same 19 starts with -350 DYAR for Testaverde and -290 DYAR for Young. There just is not much of a difference between their first 2 seasons in Tampa Bay when they were both 24 and 25 years old and I just don't think the USFL prepared Young for the NFL that much better than what Testaverde got from Miami. 

Clearly Young looks worse in the rookie year, lower stats and bigger drop off from DeBerg. But Young in year 2 looks significantly better than Testaverde. Better stats and was better than DeBerg (who clearly rebounded from injury in 87). While Ferguson looks way better on the same team than Testaverde that was a start against Miami and relief appearance against Chi. While Chicago had a good defense Miami was a 25.2% passing DVOA and I'm not sure that adjustments always work correct. So I don't hold his back-up going 26 of 36 for 291, 2 TD 1 INT vs Miami and 5 of 10 for 77 yards and 1 TD against Chicago to get crazy DYAR (probably most of it for the TD against Chicago and their -8.7% passing DVOA) against him. I will hold getting 163 less DYAR in 1 more start against him though.

Really they both sucked A LOT in their first 2 seasons in TB with basically the same opportunities.

While Steve got to a better situation as I point out in the other thread it's not like he didn't show amazing stats. You can make an argument that he was better than Montana for several of the years that he was backing him up. He finally got to be a full time starter at age 31 his year starting in TB was still as the back-up and injury replacement.

Cleveland was not a great team under Bill Belichick when Testaverde was there but they weren't a dumpster fire and while BB might not have been the coach he is today saying that Testaverdes second stop had significantly worse coaches to help with his progression wouldn't be true either. I will allow that his first good team wasn't till he 35 with the Bill Parcells Jets. So again it isn't like he lacked great head coaches after leaving Tampa.

Clearly Young had a much better break in his career. Sitting behind a multiple MVP, in the GOAT conversation, QB for 5 season sucks but is better than 4 more years in Tampa and 1 year under rookie HC Belichick trying to rebuild the Browns. But I still don't see how Testaverde is that much of a knock on Young. He was a great QB who sucked in TB during his 2 NFL seasons and couldn't prove he was great till he left. Young was an MVP level QB who sucked in TB during his first 2 NFL seasons and couldn't prove he was great until have left.

Would Vinny Testaverde have been great in SF under Walsh/Seifert? Probably. Would he have been Steve Young good? I actually don't think so. I think he would have been better than Jeff Garcia was but not quite as good as Montana. Young was actually better in the system than Montana was. Sure the system was perfected by then, but it was also 10+ years old and every defense in the league was being built to stop it and every offense to mimic it by that point. That should have made it harder for Young to do so well.

So I agree that it's hard to disentangle player and team but it's not impossible to draw some inferences.

Another hard part with this specific case that I have not tried to solve for is that rookie QBs suck, even if they came from another pro league. Many 2nd year QBs aren't good either because marked improvement from sucking is still below replacement level in many cases. So how much of Young and Testaverde both being garbage in their first 2 years in TB the fact it was TB and how much was 1st and 2nd year QBs are bad. Also yes it is pretty easy to say they were both garbage considering what DeBerg/Ferguson did on the same teams. I'll even let you discount that Young improving from year 1 to year 2 was more like a 2nd year QB going to 3rd year even though I personally don't think his time in the USFL should count for that much more than another year in 1980's Miami. Even then that would only put Vinny barely ahead of Young. Vinny did get to 153 DYAR and -6.5% DVOA so that would be a Y2 -> Y3 jump of 338 DYAR and 10.6% DVOA. Youngs Y1 -> Y2 can really only use DVOA because 5 vs 15 starts but it was a 25% (246 DYAR if you want) jump. He started lower sure. But again I think they can both use the same Y1 -> Y2 -> Y3 progression I don't think the USFL years really jumped Young ahead on that progression chart. But that's me. Even without it I still don't see much difference. No way do I see Testaverde was clearly better in the same crappy situation.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 9:13am

In reply to I got deep in the weeds with… by DisplacedPackerFan

You seem to hold those 2 USFL years against Young a lot but he was 24 in his NFL rookie season. Testaverde was 24 in his NFL rookie season. How much different is 3 years at BYU + 1 3/4 years of USFL (he missed the first 6 games of his rookie USFL season finishing up college) vs 5 years at Miami (1 redshirt year, 2 back-up, 2 starter)? 

I think that's a big difference, really. Testaverde had a rough learning curve, going from a dynasty college team to a sadsack pro team.

Arguably every back or receiver on his college team was better than any back or receiver on his pro team. This may have been true of his defense, too. But even in general, in the pros, the defense is played by men rather than boys. It makes a difference.

The real criticism is DeBerg -- who was really good on a Tampa team for whom Young was really bad. That suggests it wasn't just the team sucking around him -- Young was part of why they sucked.

I mostly bag on Young during GOAT arguments. I think he was a worthy HOFer. I just don't think he has any reasonable GOAT argument, even versus his teammate.

I basically look at it this way:

Like Siefert, Young was a little better in San Francisco than Montana was in the regular season. Like Walsh, Montana was a little better in the playoffs. Like Siefert, Young failed badly in his years on a bad team. Like Walsh, Montana did pretty well on his other team, but couldn't win a title. Like Walsh, Montana built a team. Like Siefert, Young carried on a great team to slowly diminishing returns.

I think Young was a really good QB. He's just not Sid Luckman, Sammy Baugh, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, or arg(Brady/Manning)^0.5.

by BlueStarDude // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:28am

In reply to You seem to hold those 2… by Aaron Brooks G…

by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 28, 2022 - 4:23pm

In reply to You seem to hold those 2… by Aaron Brooks G…

Fair enough. I don't really put Young in the GOAT conversation either. Maybe GOAT peak (take any QB's best 5 consecutive years) but that's a very different type of thing than GOAT QB. My bad for misunderstanding what your issue with Young was. I can accept your different weighting of rookie and sophomore years than mine. It's a very hard thing to judge. I still treat Youngs first 2 years like any one else's but I certainly get not doing so and it absolutely counts against him in a GOAT convo. Especially the DeBerg arguments.

I don't know if you can say he didn't take his show on the road. He never really had a chance. Tampa made everyone but DeBerg look awful (maybe DeBerg is severely underrated) and then he played the rest of his career in SF at a high level even as the back-up. I suspect that had he done a late career Montana or Favre move that we would have seen him do just fine. But yeah we never saw.

GOAT does need favorable circumstances. You need performance and accomplishments to claim that title and getting those accomplishments requires some luck. If Rodgers goes on to win 4 Super Bowls in a row from 2022 - 2025 someone who argued that his 3 years on the bench behind Favre still held him back from GOAT consideration would be correct. Young had both favorable and unfavorable circumstances. But they happened. As great as Young was he at best can stick his head into the GOAT room. Just like guys like Elway and Favre (3 MVP let's anyone put their head through the door). Then Brady, Manning, Unitas, Montana, Luckman, Baugh (maybe some others I'd entertain) say, "oh hey guys, sorry closed meeting". Young, Favre, Elway, Rodgers, etc. they don't get through the door but they can at least get in the building and poke their head in with the real GOAT contenders.

Yeah no real issues with that. Glad it's cleared up because I kept finding your angle on Young very weird. I get it now though.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 6:18pm

In reply to Fair enough. I don't really… by DisplacedPackerFan

DeBerg had such a weird career.

He got replaced by Joe Montana, then John Elway, then Steve Young, and ultimately backed up Dan Marino.

In between, he was really good for the MartyBall Chiefs for one year, decent for a second, and then almost got replaced by Joe Montana on a second team 13 years later!

\There was a Dave Krieg Interregnum

by Noahrk // Jun 28, 2022 - 12:31pm

In reply to I see Testaverde is a sort… by Aaron Brooks G…

Young was a great QB, though. He was like a running back: strong, agile and with good vision. But he was also a great passer. I can't take a comp with Testaverde seriously. Vinny T was pretty good for a while, but no more than that.

by Independent George // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:02pm

In reply to Probably not.https://www… by Aaron Brooks G…

Chicago (no one in this city actually plays QB)

Heh. Harsh, but true. This seems like too long a period to be a mere statistical anomaly - pure random chance should have given the Bears at least one legitimately good/great QB post-Halas - but for the life of me I can't figure it out. Different owners. Different coaches. Same result. How is that possible? 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:16pm

In reply to Chicago (no one in this city… by Independent George

McMahon was like the Bob Sanders of QBs -- really good when he was healthy, but he was never healthy.

by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 27, 2022 - 5:56pm

In reply to Probably not.https://www… by Aaron Brooks G…

Fun exercise. I have an argument for actually lowering your floor for HoVG.

If you lower the floor to Hasselbeck and you then have to consider Trent Green, Jeff Garcia, Brad Johnson, Michael Vick, and Mark Brunell to think about. If you drop the bar to an even 40+ HoFm points instead of using a player for that bar then you get Jaworski, Andy Dalton, and Daunte Culpepper to think about as well. So why would I want to do that?

That becomes an interesting argument for what the floor for the HoVG is. Most of those guys listed and Krieg himself all seem like a borderline for the secondary Hall. 43.6 HoFm points would be 40% of the average Hall of Fame player. That only adds Brunell and Vick as HoVG candidates over Krieg as the bar and you already touched on them. That's a pretty solid bar with a fairly good reason for being where it is. Both the Krieg line and the 40% line feel pretty good.

Why the Hasselbeck of 40 HoFm points bar? Well that is mostly because of what Seattle fans might stump for as their HoVG candidate if you base things just on what the player did for a specific team. An argument that has it's own flaws for something to use.

Based just on what they did in Seattle Hasselbeck might be ahead of Krieg. I could see Seattle fans pushing more for Matt than Dave for the HoVG. Krieg tied his 2nd best AV season in KC in 92, his 3rd best passing yardage season was in ARI in 95, his best INT rates were all outside of Seattle. At least 7 and as much as 11 points of his 45.56 HoFm score could come from seasons outside Seattle. I haven't done the full AV calcs for portion of HoFm. His 0.09 bonus for getting over 250 career passing TD doesn't matter. 25.3% of his TDs were outside Seattle so that's just 0.02.

Hasselbeck had his 6th best AV and 3rd best yardage season with TEN in 2011, and was never a primary starter again. So of his 41.58 HoFm points about 4 come outside Seattle. That puts Seattle HoFm numbers at ~37.5 for Hasselbeck and ~36.5 for Krieg (with a bigger +/-). 

It's a close call and like you said what do you do with the guys who got stats for multiple teams? Which team gets to claim them? Do you need to have a team stump for you to get into the HoVG like you tend to need for the HoF? Clearly saying that Hasselbeck may have been better in Seattle than Krieg doesn't mean that you should ignore what Krieg did outside Seattle that help his case for the hall. But those 2 guys being potential floors for the hall and both having most of their careers for Seattle did make me think about it.

The weighting the HoFm uses is also another reason why I find these two an interesting comparison for a lesser Hall.

I've used the HoFm as a jumping off point myself in many discussions. It's very good and does well for dealing with a lack of data from earlier seasons. As I've mentioned in the past I think it misses a few things. Part of it's problem is the general issues with AV. All players get half of their Career Weighted AV as part of the HoFm points. It would give a bit of credit for hanging around as a back-up that HoF voters are likely to ignore.

It's fairly clear that voters do value peak too and the way AV can suppress that if the player isn't on a great team hurts the measure. That's part of why I've been working on something that uses DVOA/DYAR for offensive players to try and project going forward. I think it might do a better job of predicting edge cases going forward than what PFR has. Not having data before 81 doesn't really matter for that.

Krieg's best season would probably have been Hasselbecks 3rd best season but Krieg had 7 seasons of AV over 10 which is two more than Hasselbeck had. So likely sustained the moderate peak a little longer. I haven't looked up DVOA yet but I think Matt will soundly beat Dave in that measure most seasons and for peak. I think voters might actually like the shape of Hasselbeck's career more and I don't think the HoFm quite captures in the way the voters care about. Using HoVG players for that argument has issues, but I think it happens with borderline HoF players too and I like systems that work at all levels.

Anyway fun to look through the list you generated and think about who the hall of very good players would be. You get into some interesting debates about players like Krieg and Hasselbeck and for me that's fun.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 6:07pm

In reply to Fun exercise. I have an… by DisplacedPackerFan

I grabbed Krieg initially as he was a round number and he seemed like a good stopping point for "who is the worst player for whom you would entertain the notion of belonging in the Hall?" (I eventually decided this was really Brunell.)

Krieg, for a period, got some bump for being the guy who put Largent over the top on the WR TD record and for being something like the #2 active passer (A bunch of Hall guys passed him near the end, but around 1992, Krieg was in like 4th or 5th all-time in passing yards, wasn't he?) He was sort of a poor man's Matt Stafford.

by Vincent Verhei // Jun 27, 2022 - 6:39pm

In reply to I grabbed Krieg initially as… by Aaron Brooks G…

At the end of 1996, his last year as a starter, Krieg was 8th all-time in passing yards, 5th in passing TDs. Elway and Moon both passed him in TDs the next year, knocking him down to 7th, but he stayed 8th in passing yards until Testaverde and Favre passed him in 2001.

by DisplacedPackerFan // Jun 27, 2022 - 7:32pm

In reply to I grabbed Krieg initially as… by Aaron Brooks G…

Yeah I liked Krieg as a floor I think you did well. I don't think I would have even batted an eye if wasn't for how easily juxtaposed he was with Hasselbeck. It's also pretty darn cool that you basically eyeballed 40% of the average HoF player.

I have zero issue leaving Hasselbeck out of the HoVG and having Krieg/Brunell/Vick basically be your floor. As pointed out Krieg has some things going for him that Hasselbeck doesn't and his career outside SEA very much counts.

I couldn't make an argument for anything lower than Hasselbeck though and have no issue leaving him out.

As you've said doesn't matter where the line is. Once it's set you have arguments around it. My Hasselbeck argument was simply one of those.

by theslothook // Jun 27, 2022 - 6:08pm

In reply to Fun exercise. I have an… by DisplacedPackerFan

The Hall is clearly not a pure merit based system. I would be less incensed by them if they had a standard and stuck with it. If they set the floor for Hall of famer at Hasselbeck's level, then so be it. At least we'd know that's the standard. Instead,  the floor is higher, but how much higher is murky and then its full of holes as well that led marginal candidates in. 

I've stated many many times, its also heavily biased, much like the entire nfl, to players who touch the ball or put up sack totals. This was born out in both the all time nfl top 100 list and the annual nfl top 100 list. Corners and linemen are seemingly vaporized from the conversation. 

by SportsPhan8 // Jun 27, 2022 - 1:49pm

Based on observations, a lot of people judge quarterbacks mainly on wins, winning percentage and Super Bowl titles.

Yes, I think Terry Bradshaw is 100% a Hall of Famer, but he also had one of the greatest defensive units behind him and a great coach.

Jim Plunkett, plus backups like Doug Williams, Jeff Hostetler and Nick Foles, have more titles than guys like Anderson but none of the four mentioned before him were/are statistically better than Anderson throughout their careers.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:55pm

In reply to This is my huge beef about fans, sportswriters, analysts, etc. by SportsPhan8

Yes, I think Terry Bradshaw is 100% a Hall of Famer, but he also had one of the greatest defensive units behind him and a great coach.

That's true for a lot of guys.

You could also say that of Dawson, Starr, Staubach, and Griese (and Brady). Hell, you could say it about a bunch of Tarkenton's career too.

by SportsPhan8 // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:19pm

In reply to Yes, I think Terry Bradshaw… by Aaron Brooks G…

You ignored my point, about aforementioned average QBs having more rings as a starter than guys with significantly better resumes — Marino, Anderson, Fouts, etc.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 6:11pm

In reply to Yes, that’s true but…. by SportsPhan8

If the line is Marino, you could also say that of Dawson, Starr, Staubach, and Griese. Hell, you could say it about a bunch of Tarkenton's career too. =)

\Fouts and Anderson are both ahead of Griese and Dawson.

by theslothook // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:20pm

I'm kind of torn on Anderson. On the one hand, I think quarterbacks of his era seem to be getting short changed legacy-wise and reputation-wise. 

And on the other hand, we have allowed way too many quarterbacks as is, though it's not fair to punish him retroactively for mistakes made more recently.

In the end, since he's right on the border I wouldn't be opposed to keeping him out sadly. One of the few areas I kind of sort of maybe agree with Skip Bayless on is the Hall of Fame criteria. If you have to pour over a ton of arguments to be convinced they probably should not be in the Hall of Fame.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:05pm

In reply to I'm kind of torn on Anderson… by theslothook

One of the few areas I kind of sort of maybe agree with Skip Bayless on is the Hall of Fame criteria. If you have to pour over a ton of arguments to be convinced they probably should not be in the Hall of Fame.

That's a poorly reasoned argument, but that was obvious once you saw the guy behind it.

Borders are always either ambiguous, arbitrary, or both. No matter how high up you pull the floor, there will always be a question of whether a given height is the floor of the higher room or the ceiling of the lower room.

If every subsequent guy had to increase the mean of current HOFers, your QB list consists of: Peyton, Brett Favre, and Johnny Unitas. Brady will get in. Rodgers will need to retire before Brady in order to get in. Montana is out.

WR would be Raymond Berry, Paul Warfield, Lance Alworth, Steve Largent, and Jerry Rice. Rice drags the mean so high that Moss and Harrison don't make it, even though they are #s 2-3 all-time. The others only made it because they were pre-Rice.

by theslothook // Jun 27, 2022 - 5:41pm

In reply to One of the few areas I kind… by Aaron Brooks G…

I dont agree. Exceptions exist even among the all time greats; which is why they get remembered as goats rather than as the standard bearer hall of fame legitimacy. I understand how Skip saying it quickly devolves into -- "is he as good as MJ? No? Then he is out!" But a more reasoned person would say, MJ is the true outlier here.

The reason I like this standard is because it puts a harder floor on the conversation than suggesting that since player X was unworthy but made it, player Y deserves it because he was either a little better or a little worse and thus his case makes sense. IMO, having too low a floor is much worse than having too high a floor. I think the bar for hall of famers should be high. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 6:25pm

In reply to I dont agree. Exceptions… by theslothook

Too high a bar has its own problems. You might as well kiss linemen goodbye if you want to pull the floor all the way up.

This goes a little astray, but the Michael Jordan reference is fascinating the era adjustment it unintentionally invokes. And it's because of Kobe Bryant. Bryant was almost identical in size, position, temperment, and playing style. He openly crafted himself to be a clone of Jordan. And he basically succeeded. And they are almost contemporaries -- they played at the same time, but Bryant wasn't yet a starter at the end of Jordan's peak, and Jordan was aging badly when Bryant was entering his peak. 

It's just in the early 1990s, a 2nd-team SG might look like Chris Mullin. In the mid-2000s, it looked like LeBron James. That's cherry picked a touch, but it's worth remembering in the Jordan-LeBron discussions. LeBron wore Kobe out head to head.

Whereas Kobe and Michael were pretty even.

Again, not entirely fair, but interesting.

by theslothook // Jun 27, 2022 - 6:29pm

In reply to Too high a bar has its own… by Aaron Brooks G…

"Too high a bar has its own problems. You might as well kiss linemen goodbye if you want to pull the floor all the way up."

First of all, this already seems to be the case. They make overly qualified candidates at those positions have to wait to get in. But even then, that's not the fault of the high bar or limited number of spaces, its because the hall is falling prey to the positional biases out there at large.

I wonder if Tanier can confirm this, but I wonder if this is the case because voters are afraid of a mass media backlash if they make a receiver sit; because we all know the media talking heads can only remember skill players and all other positions are way afterthoughts. Making Faneca or Will Shields ride the pine gets narry a peep besides a fan blog post that 10 other people will care to read fully. 

by mehllageman56 // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:05am

In reply to Too high a bar has its own… by Aaron Brooks G…

Cherry picking a little here, but LeBron James isn't strictly a shooting guard.  Originally he was listed as a small forward, but LeBron has played every position on the court, like Magic Johnson, the guy I would compare LeBron to the most.  And even though LeBron mostly plays small forward, he has the size and weight of Karl Malone.  You wouldn't want Kobe Bryant to guard Karl Malone for too long, because Malone, like James, would wear Bryant out.  In terms of playing style, shooting guard is the position that least fits LeBron; he distributes the ball a lot more than a normal shooting guard.  I would just call LeBron a point forward and leave it at that.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:18am

In reply to Cherry picking a little here… by mehllageman56

It's one of those fun basketball questions -- who played PG for the Chicago Bulls? It was rarely important. The assists leader was usually Scottie Pippen (something I didn't realize until I looked it up) or Michael Jordan. In the late-dynasty run, the nominal PG was often 5th on the team in assists -- behind Luc Longley and Dennis Rodman!

Some of this is revisionism -- SF and SG used to have more of a positional difference than they do now; now they are basically the same position. But even then, that was blurry -- what position did Barkley play? 

I agree with you, LeBron is really more of an answer to the question of "What if Magic Johnson had Michael Jordan's athleticism?" He's more of a better Magic or Pippen than he is a Jordan clone.

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:31am

In reply to It's one of those fun… by Aaron Brooks G…

And yeah the difference was more prominent back then, the only time Lebron mightve played some 2. He still was primarily a 3 (same for Mullin). 

People aren't comparing MJ and Lebron because they were the same position. Everyone knows they aren't clones. They're comparing the 2 most decorated NBA players of all time. 

by mehllageman56 // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:52am

In reply to Some pretty easy answers. by ImNewAroundThe…

Honestly the main issue I had with the original post was this: "It's just in the early 1990s, a 2nd-team SG might look like Chris Mullin. In the mid-2000s, it looked like LeBron James."  I doubt the 2nd team SG ever looked like LeBron James unless it was LeBron James.  Nowadays, most teams want a shooting guard who looks and plays like Klay Thompson, at least on his good uninjured days.  Which isn't that different from Chris Mullin except that Thompson is a better defender.

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 11:24am

In reply to Honestly the main issue I… by mehllageman56

And his overrated defense. Give me Mullin on a roster instead. And Donovan Mitchell (DWade) for a modern 2. 

by mehllageman56 // Jun 29, 2022 - 2:48pm

In reply to Don't get me started on Klay by ImNewAroundThe…

Thompson still has a career defensive rating of 108.2 compared to Mullin's 109.7.  His peak of 2012-2016, with 107.1, 105.9, 103.6 and 107.0 is better than all but one year of Mullin's career.  Thompson's not Pippen, but he's the 2nd guy on a team with 4 championships.  Donovan Mitchell started out well, but has a career defensive rating of 108.8, just a little worse than Thompson, and Mitchell's last three years have been over 110, like Thompson's last three years.

Dwayne Wade's career defensive rating is 104.4, better than Kobe's 105.5.  Both of them are in a different league defensively than all the others we mentioned.

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 29, 2022 - 7:58pm

In reply to Thompson still has a career… by mehllageman56

Thompson's not Pippen, but he's the 2nd guy on a team with 4 championships.

Now where are their ORtgs? Klay has long benefitted greatly from Curry (duh) but also Draymond, the real defensive player and 2nd guy. Klays not a great ball handler, slasher, playmaker, and his reputation as defender hinges almost entirely on Drays presence. Mullin had to carry a lot of teams and that's something Klay could never do. You do not want to see his splits without those two. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 11:51am

In reply to Honestly the main issue I… by mehllageman56

If you want to go straight up -- when Jordan was peaking, a 1st team SF was a Larry Bird or James Worthy.

When Kobe was peaking, it was James or a Vince Carter/Tracy McGrady. It was just a different level of athleticism.

\this does discount Dominique a touch, but a few years also squeezed (literally) Charles into the SF slot.

by Independent George // Jun 28, 2022 - 11:22am

In reply to Some pretty easy answers. by ImNewAroundThe…

The lineup in the 2nd Bulls dynasty where they moved Rodman to C and had Kukoc at PF was absolutely terrifying. In theory, the that was a bad defensive matchup against the likes of Shaq, Ewing, or Malone, but in practice, you couldn't get a clean pass into the low post because of how long that lineup was. And Rodman might be the greatest defender in NBA history. Ron Harper is really underrated for how much he contributed to the lineup.

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 11:38am

In reply to The lineup in the 2nd Bulls… by Independent George

And Longley 5. Kukoc came off the bench for the most part until he started over Rodman at the very end.

Either way they were defintely great. Not the best defender (Russell or Duncan, probably best rebounder though) but he and Harper won multi chips for multi franchises for a reason. 

Guys with the most Finals MVPs, coincidently my all time starting 5, is also great for the same length reason, even if they weren't the most technical.

by Independent George // Jun 28, 2022 - 12:52pm

In reply to Rodman still mostly played 4 by ImNewAroundThe…

I'm talking about a specific lineup switch they would use periodically against teams with top-tier big men. Rodman would match up against the best  post player (Ewing, Malone), and move Kukoc against a weaker offensive big man (Oakley on the Knicks, Ostertag for the Jazz). It caused all kinds of matchup problems that aren't obvious from just looking at the lineups - Rodman gave up a lot of size, but he knew body positioning like no one else, and Jordan, Pippen and Harper had those long arms that swiped at the passing lanes. Kukoc was the weakest defender, but he was on the weakest offensive player, and at 6-10 he could also deflect a lot of passes. When they switched to offense, Rodman became the weak link as a scorer, but he was an underrated passer, and everybody else could handle the ball, shoot, and distribute. They couldn't maintain that lineup because Rodman's size disadvantage made that incredibly exhausting on defense, but it was terrifying when they did.

I'll grant you Bill Russell as a defensive GOAT candidate, but I think Rodman was a better defender than Duncan. Duncan was a better overall player & power forward, but Rodman did so many things against Shaq, Malone, Ewing, Robinson, etc. that don't show up on the boxscore. I think Olajuwon was the only big man he couldn't contain.  

Also, Kevin Garnett - this is a great video on just how absurd he was:

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 2:02pm

In reply to I'm talking about a specific… by Independent George

But I have to stick with Duncan>Rodman in terms of defense. A good proof of that would be a rookie and young Timmy immediately being a better fit at the 4 next to a 32+ Robinson compared to (semi?) prime Rodman with a peak Admiral. 

You might point to the DPOTYs but that's just mostly just a product of timing. Peak Ben Wallace was a monster. But consistently being 2nd best is valuable as well (you could make some cases for him through some of the years as well but there's no need to go that deep). He went against those same guys (although Robinson just in practice). It was his defense that allowed him to play (and start) so long because it barely slipped. 

KG was great too but the next episode there was Timmy lol most have him firmly ahead of every other 4 but Dirks offensive game is compelling in taking him over KG but that debate can go either way and depends on team structure tbh.  

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 2:39pm

In reply to Ok, fair, misread. by ImNewAroundThe…

The Pistons used Wallace basically the same ways the Bulls used Rodman. The Pistons had Rodman toggle between a 3 and a 4; this was Prince's job on the Wallace Pistons. But in a pinch, Rodman could guard 1-5.

The only guy Wallace just couldn't handle was Shaq. He just gave away too much size. They put Rasheed Wallace on Shaq; Rasheed gave him fits for whatever reason.

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 3:28pm

In reply to The Pistons used Wallace… by Aaron Brooks G…

"the Bulls used Rodman. The Pistons had Rodman toggle between a 3 and a 4; this was Prince's job on the Wallace Pistons. But in a pinch, Rodman could guard 1-5."

huh? Tayshaun was almost exclusively a 3. Man you're jumpin all over the place comparing Pistons Wallace to Bulls Rodman to Pistons Rodman to Tayshaun back to Rodman. 

Wallace was a shot blocking 5 and Rodman was a rebounding 4. IDK what that has to do with what I said there though. 

by Independent George // Jun 28, 2022 - 2:59pm

In reply to Ok, fair, misread. by ImNewAroundThe…

A lot of it comes down to what you value. I (obviously) watched that episode, too - and while Duncan was a better low-post defender and better on offense, I think Garnett's versatility elevates him in the same way I appreciate Rodman's ability to guard literally every position on the floor. (Except Olajuwon. Rodman's guile somehow let him take away Shaq's strength, but Olajuwon's absurd agility was too much for him, making those hypothetical Bulls-Rockets finals a really interesting counterfactual - especially since they had neither Horace Grant nor Rodman in those years).

In football terms, it's like a debate over whether it's better to have Earl Campbell, Barry Sanders, or Marshall Faulk. 

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 4:07pm

In reply to A lot of it comes down to… by Independent George

Timmy could get his vs Shaq too. 

Ironically random Duncan slander helped dig out the underratedness of Duncans perimeter defense as well. And we only have the data for when he was old. I would especially have no problem w/prime Timmy in any capacity in a full series vs any team. Unless I'm in desperate need of rebounding, I'll stick my man team because you'll never know when someone will go down and you need to up another aspect of your teams game. Which through the years and various teammates Tim proved heavily. 

In terms of those RBs give me Barry>>Faulk>Campbell. Just looked up the time Faulk and Barry spent together (94-98) and my goodness Barry avg 5.2 YPC while Faulk was 3.8. Barry was 5 for his career and Faulk was 4.3 YPC. 

by Independent George // Jun 28, 2022 - 5:25pm

In reply to It's an interesting convo by ImNewAroundThe…

If we're playing through the 80s, I want Campbell. If we're playing from the 90s to the mid-2010s, Sanders. If we're talking the late 2010s onward, I want Faulk, who might finish with 3,000 yards from scrimmage over 17 games.

Duncan might be my 2nd favorite player of all-time (after the young, angry, 76ers version of Charles). I love me some Timmy and I'm not taking anything away from him. But Rodman's defensive genius on the Bulls is overlooked and underappreciated beyond just the raw rebound totals.

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 7:33pm

In reply to If we're playing through the… by Independent George

Although I think Faulk and Barry would have been just as good or better in the 80s than Campbell. Feel like the former two are thoroughly more talented. Campbell was non-existent in the pass game but the other two had the chops for it. I think Sanders could do some Faulk things in todays league too with some practice. 

The Bulls 3 peats are quite different from each other outside of MJ, Pippen and Phil Jackson. But they were still good defensively, went from -4 Rel DRtg to -5.8, -4.3, -5.2 with Rodman then dropping off a lot to .8 without but they were blown up (infamously) as well (58% roster continuity excluding coaches). But the Spurs also jumped from franchise worst 5.6 to a (then) franchise best -5.6. Yeah w/o (post peak) Robinson (mostly) but it's still a franchise worst to best, that's crazy. That's just not primarily Robinson. And of course his tenure was there longer but when he left the did dip from -7.4 to -5.3 so still good size (69% of minutes retained, same coach(es)). The top 9 years in franchise history in Rel DRtg belong to a Timmy team. None of those 3 Rodman teams are the top 4 of Bulls history (of course offense is a waaaay different story). And they would match Timmys top 6 as well. And his top 4 are better than any in Bulls history.

And when Rodman was in SA, they did improve from -1.2 to 1-.7 then -2.9 but when he left they also improved to -4.1. Those years weren't better than Timmys first two...or last two. Or many others in between. Rodman was great but was never quite the shot deterrer (that Timmy was) to stop shots from happening but he sure knew how to end a possession if it didn't go in. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 4:10pm

In reply to A lot of it comes down to… by Independent George

Olajuwon was wilier than young Shaq was. O'Neal basically admits as much in interviews about his Magic teams.

Peak Olajuwon had the athleticism to outwork Ewing and Robinson, the size to out-muscle Barkley and Malone, and the wits to outfox Shaq. In 1994, he dragged Otis Thorpe and five irrational confidence guys -- Elie, Horry, Smith, Cassell, Maxwell -- to a ring through Drexler, Stockton & Malone, Barkley, and Shaq.

by Independent George // Jun 28, 2022 - 5:39pm

In reply to Barry Sanders. Olajuwon was… by Aaron Brooks G…

'95 Olajuwon against then-MVP Robinson in the conference finals was one of the most dominant solo performances I've ever seen. I though Shaq more than held his own against him in the finals, but getting swept makes people overlook just how well he played. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 6:26pm

In reply to '95 Olajuwon against then… by Independent George

Iguadola won Finals MVP for holding LeBron, minus his two best teammates, to 36-13-9. The Cavs offense consisted of throwing it into LeBron as a makeshift 4, with Tristan Thompson or Mozgov dunking offensive rebounds. 

However, LeBron was not as good of a QB as Ken Anderson.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 28, 2022 - 11:52am

In reply to The lineup in the 2nd Bulls… by Independent George

For historical purposes, I sort of regret that Jordan and Olajuwon never ran into each other in the playoffs.

They're comparing the 2 most decorated NBA players of all time. 

Mikan, Wilt, Russell, and Kareem might have something to say about "most credentialed". Kareem has more MVPs and as many titles. Russell has as many MVPs and more rings than he has fingers. Mikan won a title in all but one and a 1st-team NBA in every full season he played. Wilt was Wilt.

by Independent George // Jun 28, 2022 - 5:43pm

In reply to For historical purposes, I… by Aaron Brooks G…

The Bulls without Horace Grant or Dennis Rodman would have had matchup problems against Houston. Then again, they may well have acquired someone for that role like they did Rodman and Harper later on. 

by theslothook // Jun 28, 2022 - 12:17pm

In reply to Cherry picking a little here… by mehllageman56

I think if people are going to call Magic a point guard, then Lebron IS a point guard. This is basically the role he inhabited whenever it was time to get serious. 

Lebron preferred to coast during parts of the regular season and postseason and thus would defer the ball handling responsibilities to a Rondo or a Chalmers. But that doesn't obscure the fact that he is a point guard.

I would argue Steph's role is much more akin to a shooting guard than a point guard, which is why you see Draymond as a the typical ball distributing orchestrator of that offense. 

by Will Allen // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:21pm

If Chuck Howley doesn't get in with 3 Veterans Committee selections a year getting inducted for 3 years, just board the place up.

by Will Allen // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:26pm

It's weird that I was able to find a complete YouTube of a 1971 Monday Night game of Giants at Cowboys, where Tarkenton played what Paul Zimmerman said was the best qb performance he ever saw. I wonder; did that contest make it out into the wild because ABC didn't record over Monday night game tapes?

by Travis // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:34pm

In reply to It's weird that I was able… by Will Allen

Other home taping formats existed before 1977 (Bing Crosby recorded Game 7 of the 1960 World Series by hiring someone to film a television screen), but it didn't become widespread/inexpensive to tape full games until VHS (and its tapes that could hold 2+ hours of video) was introduced.  You can find DVDs of scattered pre-1977 games, but recordings of your typical regional afternoon broadcast are scarce.

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:06pm

In reply to Other home taping formats… by Travis

1960 is early even for telescining. 

\as anyone familiar with the BBC is all too aware

by Independent George // Jun 27, 2022 - 3:57pm

I'm really glad for this article, because I never got to see him play, but as I grow increasingly skeptical of media reporting in general (with sports media being especially terrible in particular), I was never sure what the proper evaluation of him was. I've never been sure what to think of 'system quarterback' critiques; they can put up gaudy numbers with stacked offenses (Marc Bulger and Trent Green come to mind, though I actually do have a good opinion of Green), but talentwise, the Bengals seemed to me like an upper-middle class team going up against all-time great dynasties. But this was all before I started watching football, and long, long before I considered myself an educated fan.

by Mike B. In Va // Jun 28, 2022 - 1:42pm

In reply to I'm really glad for this… by Independent George

Green would have been Warner without a garbage hit by Rodney Harrison. He was just as good in that offense when given a chance, and those Vermeil Chiefs teams were some great offenses.

by BlueStarDude // Jun 27, 2022 - 4:04pm

RE: "DVOA and DYAR offer Anderson a two-year perch when he was better on a play-by-play basis than contemporaries such as the young Joe Montana and the aging Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach, and Ken Stabler. "

Am I misreading this? If the two-year perch is 1981 and 1982, Staubach was retired.

by Aaron Schatz // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:52am

In reply to RE: "DVOA and DYAR offer… by BlueStarDude

Mike just got his memory scrambled. I'll edit!

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 27, 2022 - 8:04pm

So let me get this straight.

Hmmm. Both their black ink happened in their overlap years. Anderson and Matt Ryan really are just Stabler without a ring. How much does that say about ringz weighting...well...seems like a good amount. (toothpick changes everything meme but insert SB ring) Playoff years overlap conveniently as well. Ignoring the record, Anderson upped his game statistically while Stabler did as well but Anderson still came out on top in terms of ANY/A, AY/A, NY/A, Y/A, YPG, Passer Rating and Int%. Stabler wins in Sack% and both have the same 5.4 TD%. Winz may be weighted too much to make Anderson wait 4+ years more, but that's nothing new. 

IDK how much I'm gonna fault Anderson for not having Dave Casper for 7.5 years, Cliff Branch for 8, Gene Upshaw for 10, Ray Guy for 7, Ted Hendricks for 5 and Willie Brown for 9 instead of Anthony Munoz for 6 years (what HOFrs did I miss?) but I guess Stabler just Or maybe we're just overthinking Anderson and passer rating isn't actually that bad (especially back then, the time period is was invented for). 

Stabler would probably lead the NFL in DVOA/DYAR in 1974 and 1976

And why is that? Well in 76 Stabler led in Passer Rating (74 as his 2nd highest Rate+), ANY/A in 74 (76 ANY/A+ was actually his only one above it) and NY/A in both. 

Quite surprising Anderson couldn't make one of PB spots despite leading in Cmp (but not Att), Cmp%, PYardz, Y/A, YPG and Rating in 74 but whatever, 7-6. 

Get him in. Then Ryan too with his "MVP-type" or you know just literal AP and PFWA recognized MVP that wasnt 2nd place like McNabb or only AP shared like McNair (Jim Thorpe and SN gave to Peyton, PFWA game to Jamal Lewis). Although Esiason is comparable but Roger Craig did get the Jim Thorpe. Everyones got an "MVP-type season" I suppose with how broad that criteria is. 

by Aaron Brooks G… // Jun 27, 2022 - 10:28pm

In reply to 70s/80s Ken QBs by ImNewAroundThe…

Anderson had about 2.5 years with Charlie Joiner from 1972-1975.

(Joiner was traded in 1972 and hurt for most of 1973)

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:40am

In reply to Anderson had about 2.5 years… by Aaron Brooks G…

or 1k season and compiled his way into the HOF. 

Stabler still got his HOF WR and OL for longer, plus others. 

by ImNewAroundThe… // Jun 28, 2022 - 10:39am

Wish the system was better

Recent and Trending topics from Football Outsiders.

Get news, picks, promos, & more!

We know you are here for the FREE analytics, not the ads.

Terms of Use   |   Privacy Policy   |   Cookie Policy   |   Responsible Gaming