Have Fun with the Facts!
The NFL Conference Championship games are this Sunday and many pundits are talking about Quarterback rankings between the four starters. We are NOT going to attempt to rank the four QBs in the conference championship games. It’s folly to try and rank Quarterbacks. The value of these Quarterbacks to their respective teams is as varied as the the plays in their respective game plans. The most important element is each Quarterback’s understanding and acceptance of their role with their team in the game. So let’s start with a baseline of information; How they performed for the entire season.
ESPN’s QB Ratings for the 2023 Regular Season
Brock Purdy was rated #1 in overall passing with 69.4 % completions, 9.6 yds per completion, 31 TD passes and 11 Ints. He rushed for 144 yds and 2TDs. Lamar Jackson was rated #4 with 67.4%, 8.0 yds per completion, 24 TDs vs only 7 Ints and rushed for 821 yards and 5 TDs. Patrick Mahomes had a subpar season, for him, with 67.2%, 7.0 yards per att and 27 TDs vs 14 Ints. Jared Goff completed 67.3% with a 7.6 yds per completion, with 30 TDs vs 12 Ints.
Lamar Jackson rushed for 8211 yards and 5 TDS. The next best QB rusher in this group was Patrick Mahomes with 389 yards and zero TDs. Brock Purdy rushed for 144 yards and 2 TDS and Jared Goff also had 2 TDs on only 21 net rushing yards.
Based on the Stats Above Two Items Jump Out
First, Brock Purdy is incredibly accurate while at the same time being the most lethal Quarterback in the league with the long ball. He led the league in highest yards per attempt (9.6) while finishing second to Dak Prescott in completion percentage (69.4%). The second point is pretty obvious, Lamar Jackson can kill you with his legs and his arm. He is accurate and protects the football when passing and gives defensive co-ordinators fits with his legs.
Pathway to NFL: How They Got Here
Jared Goff in 2016 was the first player selected in the 2016 draft by the Rams. Patrick Mahomes was also a first rounder in 2017 selected by the Chiefs with the 10th pick. Lamar Jackson the Heisman winner was selected by the Ravens in 2018 in the first round with the 27th pick and Brock Purdy was selected by the 49ers with a genius pick in the 7th round with the 262nd and final pick of the 2022 draft.
Fun QB Playoff Facts:
> We have three first round draft picks including a number one overall pick in the draft, Jared Goff (2016). We have one Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy the last pick (262) in the seventh round. You might ask have any seventh round QBs ever won a Super Bowl? The answer would be no. But, two non-drafted free agent QBs have taken their team to a Super Bowl. They include the Carolina Panther’s Jack Delhomme who lost Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 and Kurt Warner who led the LA Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV in 1999.
> Brock Purdy joins Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Sanchez as the only Quarterbacks in NFL history to start in a Conference Championship game in each of their first two years in the NFL.
> With his two playoff wins so far this post-season, Jared Goff is only the third NFL QB to lead multiple teams (2) to at least 14 wins. He recorded 15 wins with the LA Rams in 2018 and took them to the Super Bowl where they lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots. The other QBs with 14 or more wins include Brady with 10 seasons of at least 14 wins with the Patriots and two more with the Bucs. Peyton Manning is the third QB having won 14 or more games with the Colts 5 times and once with the Denver Broncos.
> BTW only four QBs have led multiple teams to a Super Bowl: Brady, Manning, Kurt Warner (Rams and Cardinals), and Craig Morton (Cowboys and Broncos).
> How about post season wins for our four QBs playing this weekend?
Patrick Mahomes 13-3
Jared Goff 4-3
Brock Purdy 3-1
Lamar Jackson. 3-3
> What about all-time NFL QB post-season victories?
Tom Brady 35 (good grief)
Joe Montana 16
Terry Bradshaw 14
John Elway 14
Peyton Manning 13
Ben Roethlisberger 13
Brett Favre 13
Patrick Mahomes 13
> Since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, Patrick Mahomes has the best QB winning percentage including the post-season (.777). Tom Brady is second (.752) and Lamar Jackson is third (.732).
> Since 2018 when both Mahomes and Jackson became full-time starters the Chiefs are 88-27 (.765) and ranked #1 in winning percentage and the Ravens with Jackson are 68-37 (.648) and ranked #2. Kansas City also leads the league in scoring during the Mahomes run at 28.9 pts per game while Baltimore is #2 at 25.8 pts per game.
> Watch out for Goff late: Since week 15 in 2023 (including the post season) Jared Goff has thrived in the fourth quarter. Goff has a 116.9 passer rating (843 yards 6 TDs ) in the final quarter and the Lions are 5-1 over that stretch.
> In 2023 Patrick Mahomes threw the 200th TD pass of his career reaching the milestone in his 84th NFL game to break a record set by Dan Marino. Marino threw his 200th in his 89th NFL game back in 1989. Say no more about Mahomes as he will break many many more NFL records if he stays healthy.
Lamar Jackson holds the NFL single season rushing record for a QB (1,206) set in 2019. He has 12 games with over 100 rushing yards. But in 2023 he took his passing skills to another level averaging 8.0 yards per attempt and keeping interceptions down to single digits.
> In his first two seasons Brock Purdy is 20-5 as the 49ers starter. He is also the second QB in NFL history to record a passer rating of 115 or greater in his first two starts (Aaron Rodgers). He is the first QB in NFL history to win his first six starts and throw at least two TD passes in each of those starts. He is the first 49er rookie QB to start and win a playoff game. Finally, against the Cardinals this season he completed 20 of 21 passes (95.2%) for 283 yards and a TD in the 35-16 win. This surpassed Steve Young’s franchise record of 90% completions set back in 1991.
How Does This All Add Up?
In summary, each one of the QBs playing in this weekend’s Conference Championships are bringing a ton of talent and success to their games. Even Brock Purdy with only two years experience has as many post-season wins as Lamar Jackson. Mahomes has two Super Bowl wins and Goff has two Super Bowl appearances with two different teams. To me, Lamar Jackson is on the hot seat. He has had a brilliant season that can only be capped with a Super Bowl appearance.
While the the AFC Conference Championship is being played in Baltimore, Jackson’s road to the Lombardi Trophy is through Patrick Mahomes. And let’s face it, when it comes to the playoffs Mahomes is a magician. He thrives on the big stage. Whether it’s hanging tough in the pocket, rolling out to extend the platform or flicking an underhand no-look pass to a check down, he’s a wizard. I’m not ranking these four QBs because they are all great players. But, I am picking Patrick Mahomes to be the last man standing.