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Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady: Completion Percentage and ANY/A

Posted on November 9, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Two of the most misunderstood statistics in pro football are measures of accuracy and efficiency—completion percentage and adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A).


They're often dismissed in favor of glancing at raw numbers. To casual eyes, sans context, without any understanding of statistics and league history, Manning's 65.5 career completion percentage appears similar to Brady's 63.5, just as Manning's 7.30 career ANY/A average appears similar to Brady's 6.98. But that's not the case.


A few percentage points often account for the difference in league ranking between an average and elite quarterback. In 2013, Manning's 68.3 completion percentage ranked 3rd in the NFL, where Brady's 60.5 ranked 21st. Negligible difference, if you choose to overlook the fact tha 20 other quarterbacks out-performed Brady in an important area of statistical measure. Those over-thrown, under-thrown and mistimed passes have an effect—ending drives and killing momentum.


Adjusted net yards per attempt is the ultimate efficiency statistic, accouting for yards gained per passing attempt, yards lost to sacks, while rewarding touchdown passes thrown and penalizing interceptions coughed up to the opposition. What value does a quarterback have when dropping back in the pocket? ANY/A is a good indication.


Raw numbers, glanced at out of context rarely yield accurate results. In 1999, Manning's 62.1 completion percentage and 7.06 ANY/A average both ranked 2nd in the NFL. If a quarterback finished with those same numerical figures in 2014, he'd rank 20th in completion percentage and 10th in ANY/A. The seasons Manning played and excelled in during the early part of his career effect his career averages just as much as the seasons Brady has played and excellend in during the NFL's pass-friendly era. The results skew raw numbers significantly, making the two quarterbacks appear closer statistically than they really are. League rankings provide generational context.



Peyton Manning (Completion Percentage)

 

  • 2003: 1st
  • 2012: 1st
  • 1999: 2nd
  • 2009: 2nd
  • 2010: 2nd
  • 2004: 3rd
  • 2005: 3rd
  • 2006: 3rd
  • 2008: 3rd
  • 2013: 3rd
  • 2002: 4th
  • 2001: 5th
  • 2000: 6th
  • 2007: 6th
  • 2014: 6th

Tom Brady (Completion Percentage)

  • 2007: 1st
  • 2001: 4th
  • 2010: 4th
  • 2011: 4th
  • 2009: 7th
  • 2002: 8th
  • 2005: 8th
  • 2012: 10th
  • 2003: 13th
  • 2006: 13th
  • 2014: 13th
  • 2004: 17th
  • 2013: 21st



Manning has ranked in the Top-3 in completion percentage ten times, Brady has managed to do so just once. Manning's lowest ranking was 6th, where Brady has ranked 13th or lower during five different seasons. The difference in performance between Manning and Brady has been substantial, yet largely overlooked in this area. Typical.



Peyton Manning (ANY/A)

 

  • 2004: 1st
  • 2005: 1st
  • 2006: 1st
  • 2012: 1st
  • 2014: 1st
  • 1999: 2nd
  • 2003: 2nd
  • 2013: 2nd
  • 2007: 3rd
  • 2009: 5th
  • 2000: 6th
  • 2001: 6th
  • 2008: 6th
  • 2002: 8th
  • 2010: 9th

Tom Brady (ANY/A)

  • 2007: 1st
  • 2010: 1st
  • 2011: 2nd
  • 2012: 3rd
  • 2005: 5th
  • 2014: 6th
  • 2004: 8th
  • 2009: 8th
  • 2003: 9th
  • 2006: 10th
  • 2001: 12th
  • 2013: 14th
  • 2002: 19th


In respects to efficiency, Manning has also performed at a higher level, more regularly and more consistently than Brady has. He's ranked in the Top-2 during eight different seasons, where Brady has only three times. Manning has also ranked lower than 6th during only two seasons, where Brady has during seven different seasons.


Brady has been an accurate and efficient quarterback in his career—he just hasn't been in the same class as Manning.

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