Thursday, September 18, 2008

Kurt Warner- All Time Great or Fraud?

As many now know, I have taken a very strong stance regarding my feelings of Kurt Warner as an NFL QB. I have stated many times, with time to set up in the pocket, Warner is as good as any QB to ever play the position.

Now, taking hyperbole and opinion out of the equation, let's see if the FACTS back up The People's Champ and see if the common "against" statements are true or false.

1- Warner was the beneficiary of the friendliest QB system in history with the Greatest Show on Turf:
Warner received his job when Trent Green went down to a season ending injury. Warner came in and subsequently threw 3 TD's in route to his MVP 41 TD 109.2 QB rating MVP and Super Bowl MVP season.

The season before in Vermiel's second season as coach of the Rams, Tony Banks was the QB, and the Rams finished 4-12. His first season they were 5-11. In 1999 no one expected the Rams to do much more. ESPN in their pre season rankings had the Rams ranked #25. Sean Salisbury said ".500 should be their goal". CNN SI ranked them 21.

Now to be fair, much changed for the 1999 Rams. They traded for Marshall Faulk (who's interestingly averaged almost a yard and a half more per carry with Warner as his QB than with Manning). Bruce was back from injury and they drafted Tory Holt. With all that being said, no one was predicting an MVP season for Green or anything near a SB. Systems are important but the QB needs to be the engine that drives it. Warner did that in 1999 to a top 5 statistical season in NFL history AND a SB ring.

2- His supporting cast made him, not the other way around:
This is very easy to say when you play with an all time great like Faulk and Pro Bowlers like Bruce and Holt. let's see what the facts tell us.

In 1998 with Faulk playing with an unseasoned Peyton Manning, he averaged 20 carries per game with a 4.1 avg and 5 receptions for 57 ypg. He totaled 2200+ yards. Amazing season. In 1999 he averaged only 16 carrieds per game but for a whopping 5.5 ypc and 5.4 receptions for 65 yards a game. Both averages up significantly.

In 2002 with Warner hurt and Bulger his QB on the same offense he averaged only 4.5 ypc and 5.7 ypr. In 2003 with Bulger exclusively he averaged on 3.9YPC and 6.4 YPR In comparison, 2001, Warner's last full season and healthy season with St. Louis (and as some would say the final year on his contract which sold his soul to the devil) Faulk averaged 5.3YPC and 9.2 YPR. Granted 2002 and 2003 was later in his career and he got hurt as well, but those are significant drops. The best comparison would be to look at 2000 when Warner played and got hurt and Green took over:

The SB Champ Rams were 6-0 when Warner got hurt. When he came back they were 8-4 and The Greatest Show on Turf was no more. Trent Green went 2-3 as a starter with a 60% completion % to Warners 67%. Interestingly Green was sacked more in his 5 games (and 3 in relief) than Warner with almost 90 more attempts. Warner also had a yard more per attempt average than Green a significant stat. It leads you to believe Warner got the ball to his receivers quicker and in better position than Green.

The same argument is being made now that he is playing in Arizona with two stud WR's (Fitzgerald and Boldin). The numbers still point to Warner being the engine rather than being the beneficiary.
In 2005 splitting time with Josh McCown . Warner had a 64.5 to 60.4 Completion % split over Josh McCown and had a 7.2 to 6.8 Yards per attempt margin.
In 2006, playing 2nd fiddle to #1 draft pick, Matt Leinart, Warner had an even larger edge 64..3 to 56.8 on completion percentage and 7.2 to 5.6 on YPA.
2007, Arizona finally got to their senses and gave Warner the full time job midway through the season. Again, same system, same supporting cast, Warner went 62.3 to Leinarts 53.6 and 7.6YPA to Leinart's 5.6. Interestingly, Warner also threw 27TD's and this was on a squad that was next to last in the NFL in rushing, so Warner was the system.

Warner is also the 3rd most accurate passer in NFL history. In incredibly telling stats (I think competion % is an overrated stat) he is tied for 4th in Yards per Attempt for his career behind only Otto Graham, Sidd Luckman and Norm Van Brocklin, just ahead of Steve Young, Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas.
For those that think he gets sacked to often and has no mobility limiting his game , he has the highest career Adjusted Passing Yards per attempt (tied with Peyton Manning) which is calculated by adding in sacks and yards lost for sacks.
These stats prove he gets rid of the ball quickly and gets it to the receiver in the right space to maximize their YPC.
The verdict. As laways, TPC is right and the numbers back him up.

Ed Note: Many of the above stats were courtesy of Pro Football, THE BEST NFL site for statistics.


Anonymous said...

Ya Who'as

I am curious what TPC said when Warner was drafted in his FFL?
He probably said "great pick." Not a foolish thing like "Way too early"

Or more likely he was drafted a football genius and TPC is jumping on this forward thinkers bandwagon. What is this blog, a collection of things the Who'as said, only a month later?

ThePeoplesChamp said...

Mr. Ya Who'as,

If you've been a loyal reader and follower of TPC you would have read here

what TPC said about Warner, PRIOR to you're drafting of him. Either way, great job and hope he stays healthy. If he does, you've got 30+TD's and 4200 yards of fantasy Football Deeee-light!

Ducks said...

just out of curiosity, did you watch warner play in the Giants system at all?

The system gave warner his perceived greatness.he wasn't the engine, he was the wheels that drove the system to where it was going anyway.

there's actually alot of favre in warner. they are QBs who take huge risks, sometimes looking like superman, other times looking like the Greatest American Hero.

Of all sports, stats are a horribly misleading criteria to football, to the point that there aren't even any real stats for many positions on the team (i.e., linemen, special teams blockers on kickoffs, etc...).

Here are just a few examples of QBs whose #s are/were obscenely deceiving:

Phil Simms: His #s always looked mediocre. His play never did.

Warren Moon: It's the system, man. it's the system.

Jeff Hostetler: Here's one of the finest examples in history of how the system determines the QB stats, and not vice versa. Hostetler was the ULTIMATE "manage the game" QB for NY, rarely throwing a pass more than 10 yards. Suddenly with oakland (can anyone say Tim Brown?) he's a freaking gunslinger.

Tom Brady: DO NOT MISSUNDERSTAND THIS. He's the best QB ever. Ever. But his stats? Alwats determined by his system. NE used to be a run-first and defense oriented team. suddenly with moss/welker and the gang, they are like the old Rams/warner teams. You had to WATCH brady in the run-first years to know he was great. You need only see stats nowadays to see it.

Favre: Yeh, I know this is blasphemy, but the ducks tell it like it is. Even in his prime, the guy was never as good as he was made out to be. He's football's version of Nolan Ryan. The stats are there. The TDs and Ks were impressive. The BBs thrown (from both) were exhilirating. But both had huge huge flaws. Ryan was a wild, largely .500 pitcher his whole career. Hard to believe, but he was never even an ace. Never the best on his staff. Favre is the ultimate gunslinger. A Hero on quite a few slings, but a team-killer on many, many others. High-risk. High reward. The stats looked impressive, yes. But is there any other great QB who threw more bad INTs than Favre?
Duck Side Note: I do believe Favre is a HOFer and Ryan shouldnt be. My point is only that his stats make him look way better than he ever actually was.

Honestly, I cannot in good conscience mention Favre and Warner in the same class as the Elways, Montanas, Youngs, Marinos, etc.

ThePeoplesChamp said...

Mr. Ducks brings up some poignant points but we need to make a few clarifications.

First off, Warner got killed as the New York football Giants QB and with that still posted viable numbers. Now granted Ducks, since I watched him play his play was far worse than his numbers. That's why I said "when Warner has time". He needs time. He isnt a Favre or Manning that can create his own time. He has a great quick release that helps but he needs his pocket protection.

As for Simms I dont see how he had average numbers. I'm not talking about attempts and completions. For a QB the most important stats are W-L's and YPA. he YPA were very good for his career and were better than Hostetler in the same system, the same year. That means he was a more effective QB than Hostetler, who as you correctly pointed out was a "holding down the fort QB" for the great Giant D and running game. You did mistake Hostetler for Rich Gannon, who was the Raider QB during the run and gun days of Tim Brown.
Warren Moon, as you correctly stated was an incredibly overrated QB. His stats were not great on average they were just gaudy because they always threw the ball. For comparison, Moon had a Yards Per attempt (YPA) of 7.2 for his career. Respectable but far from super. Take away his great seasons (and they were great by any measures) in 88-89-90, he only broke the 7.2 mark once. Simms also had a 7.2 YPA for his career, but his first few seasons were atrocious (5.8, 6.6, 6.4). He was over 7.5 every year but 3. Warner by comparison is 8.2 which is phenomenal.
You do make a great point about Ryan, which you know I agree with, he was incredibly overrated and I will need an entire piece to address that.
Although Favre has a big hit or miss about him at times, he is still an incredible QB over his career. Where you're clouding your judgement is, except for last season, he has been an average NFL QB his past 5 seasons. Now, is that a result of his demeanor which is the cowboy gunslinger who will do anything to win, and he didnt have the horses with him, or did he just hit the proverbial wall? I think Favre is an incredible QB, top 10 of all time, but he is overrated if that makes sense.

ducks said...

interesting responses, tpc. i guess we can agree to disagree on favre though. and you can't say that i didnt predict the favre-jets outcome.

as for hostetler-- there were definitely a couple of years in the 90s where he was a "gunslinger" constantly throwing bombs as a raider QB. surprised you don't remember that...

Anonymous said...


You must be aGiant's because nobody would mention two Giant quarterbacks. Also, what make you say Brady is the best? You're wrong about that.