Data Points: Criticism of these QBs unwarranted?

Recently, Joe Flacco, Tony Romo, and Carson Palmer have all drawn criticism from analysts, fans, and the rest of the hard-to-please masses that follow the NFL. Surprisingly, even with the draft coming up, all three names have been mentioned prominently in the media lately, and not necessarily in glowing terms.

Some analysts feel Flacco has not earned the right to get an extension from the Ravens; players think
Romo needs to earn his job; and Palmer has taken some barbs from fans who are less than sympathetic with his pleas to get the hell out of Cincinnati. But with the recent smattering of negative reviews of franchise quarterbacks, it begs the question … how much of it is warranted?

With that in mind, how do Flacco, Romo, and Palmer stack up against their contemporaries?

The above chart paints a pretty clear picture … at least when it comes to passer rating. From 2005 — Palmer’s first full season as a starter — through 2010, the aggregate NFL passer rating was 82.3. Flacco (87.9), Romo (95.5) and Palmer (88.4) are all at least five points above that mark, with Romo way out in front.

Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry used to say that a quarterback didn’t hit his prime until he’d been in the league 10 years. Considering Palmer is entering his ninth season (“retirement” pending), Romo his ninth, and Flacco his fourth, each seems to be well ahead of the curve.

Additional note: I read all the comments … it’s interesting to get all of your takes(!) One reader, WAXR, commented in reference to Friday’s Data Points that the 1.7 percent decrease in sacks per drop back meant very little over the course of a season, and could just be a “random drift.” WAXR, I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. The chart reflected a clear downward trajectory.

Granted, the decrease might account for only two sacks (total) per game, but what about pressures? If teams are getting fewer sacks, that means they could be getting five or six fewer pressures per game. Pressures lead to interceptions. Turnovers impact the outcome of the game. Quarterbacks today generally hit the ground less. Just ask Detroit fans how important it is that their guy doesn’t hit the deck too much. Thanks, however, for the feedback.

– Elliot Harrison

Elliot Harrison is a research analyst for NFL RedZone on NFL Network.

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