Old Manning part 5: Passer rating

(This is the 5th part of an ongoing look at what Peyton Manning might do in his final 5 seasons)

Today we are going to look at how the 10 HoF QBs did in terms of passer rating as their careers wound down.  First a caveat:  Manning is in a class apart from most of these QBs when it comes to passer rating.  Manning’s career rating of 94.7 is so good that Dan Marino and Brett Favre only had three seasons each that high.  Jim Kelly did it twice.  Warren Moon only did it once.  Dan Fouts, Roger Staubach and John Elway?

Never did it at all.

So when we talk about Manning and passer rating, understand that he is in a class that very few of the greats ever made.

The QBs divide into two groups:

  • Advancers:  These guys got better or stayed the same as they aged.

Elway, Staubach, Young, Favre, Kelly

It’s not exactly a homogeneous group.  We’ve discussed Staubach and Elway ad nauseum.  Remember, however, that both got better because neither one started out with a very good rating to begin with. Young, the career leader in passer rating, was incredible to the end.  After turning 33, he had a rating of 92 or better every year (until his last injury shortened season).  He beat 97 four times!  Favre was his typical all over the board self, alternating between amazing and awful (thus a flatter curve). Kelly was never very good as he aged, but kept his rating steady until the end.  The good news is that this group combined for 10 seasons over 90 after the age of 33.

  • Decliners:  These guys trailed off

Unitas, Moon, Fouts, Marino, Montana

No surpirse to see Unitas here.  Marino start alright, hovering between 87 and 91 for three years before injuries knocked him down.  Moon had a career best at the age of 34, but trailed off quickly.  Montana had an amazing year at 33, but trailed off to a still respectable rating in the 80s.  Fouts lost it fast.  This group combined for four seasons over 90 past age 33.

Conclusions:

  • The two QBs on this list with the highest career ratings (Young and Montana) both offer hope.  Both posted (then) record seasons at age 33.  Young never trailed off like Montana, but even Joe Cool kept his rating respectable.  Both QBs battled injuries, but their ability to pass for a good rating stayed with them.  That’s a good sign for 18
  • Marino kept his rating steady until his knees went.  Manning should be able to hold the line as long as his legs hold up.
  • When it comes to passer rating, Manning is so far above most of the Hall of Fame QBs, that in some ways there is no way to make an accurate comparison.  Young and Montana played in a completely different system than Manning and both were more mobile QBs.  That makes it difficult to draw any firm conclusions, but it’s a good bet that Manning will have several more years over 90 and even one or two over 100 before he retires.  Toward the very end, he’ll likely settle into seasons in the high 80s.  Of all the categories, this should remain Manning’s strongest until the end.

Tomorrow: We’ll look at the records of the teams these men played for as they aged.

(this article will be compiled upon completion of the series and placed in the Articles Sidebar)

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