This is a fictional story. No quarterbacks were sacked, concussed or otherwise harmed in the making of this story.
Through a rare confluence of events three free agents quarterbacks have hit the market. It will be up to you the general manager to pick which one to lead your team. All three are straight pocket passers, so no need to worry about running statistics.
Here are the average stats for the first guy, call him Quarterback A, normalized to a 16 game season:
62.2 Completion Percentage
6.8 Yards Per Attempt
22 Touchdowns (4.4 TD PTC)
14 Interceptions (2.9 INT PTC)
Quarterback A is pretty good. Not terrible, certainly a functional quarterback. He is perhaps a bit of a game manager but he certainly won't be the reason you lose games. The numbers are pretty close to those put up by Joe Flacco in 2012.
Now here is the next guy. Quarterback B. He has played one more year than Quarterback A. Here are his numbers, normalized to 16 games.
63.3 Completion PTC
7.2 Yards Per Attempt
26 Touchdowns (4.7 TD PTC)
13 Interceptions (2.3 INT PTC)
Quarterback B is a step up from QB A. His yards per attempt, completion percentage and td percentage are all higher than QB A and his interception percentage is lower. By every measurable statistic he is a better quarterback. Again you can win with this guy. He compares favorably to Eli Manning in 2012 when he won a Super Bowl.
Finally Quarterback C. Here are his numbers normalized for a 16 game season:
67.1 Completion PTC
7.8 Yards Per Attempt
36 Touchdowns (5.7 TD PTC)
16 Interceptions (2.5 INT PTC)
Wow! Quarterback C is a stud. In virtually every statistic he is an improvement on the other guys. His interception rate is slightly higher than QB B but the guy makes a lot more plays. His yards per attempt and TD PTC are significantly higher. This is the type quarterback that can carry a team on his back to the Super Bowl.
The answer seems pretty clear right? If you can only sign one of these guys Quarterback C is who you want. Quarterback B finishes a solid second. Quarterback A is a distant third, finishing last in every statistical category.
By now you may have guessed that Quarterback B is Matt Ryan. But who are the other two guys?
Actually they are one guy, the same guy.
Quarterback A is the San Diego Chargers version of Drew Brees, when his head coach was conservative Marty Schottenheimer and his offensive coordinator was the conservative Cam Cameron (whose firing triggered Baltimore's run to the Super Bowl last year).
Quarterback C is the New Orleans Saints version of Drew Brees, playing inside a system that catered to his strengths and abilities, a system Sean Payton built just for him.
And don't think that the New Orleans version of Brees simply had access to more talent. In San Diego Brees was handing the ball off to a Hall of Fame running back in his prime (LaDanlian Tomlinson) and throwing the ball Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates. His receivers included quality veterans like David Boston and Keenan McCardell. Darren Sproles and Michael Turner came off the bench for the Chargers for some of these years. The Chargers had plenty of talent.
The Chargers thought so little of Brees they drafted his replacement in 2004 and then let Brees walk as a free agent after two more seasons. Had Brees continued to play for Schottenheimer would he be a Hall of Famer?
That is the difference coaching and scheme can make in the NFL.
Now if Matt Ryan, playing for conservative Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey, can outplay early career Brees what would Ryan do if the Falcons found their own Sean Payton?
And if you are NOT going to pursue a Sean Payton, if you are going to hire a defensive coach and build your team around a conservative game plan centered on playing defensive football shouldn't you just one time actually field a decent defense? If you are going to build your team around offensive talent maybe, just maybe you should consider an offensive scheme that maximizes that talent rather than one that stifles it?
I keep hearing that Dimitoff and Smith are sympatico but the team that Smith wants and the team that Dimitroff has built don't seem to be the same team.
Something to consider as Matt Ryan enters his prime.