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Stop Comparing Quarterbacks From Then And Now

In football, quarterbacks are always the star of the show. They are the ones that make the passes, make the clutch plays, and sell the jerseys. QBs are the face of the franchise they play for 99% of the time.

Still, there is an issue going on that needs to be fixed. People continue to compare quarterbacks from years past to the signal callers of today’s NFL.

The league is so much different compared to what it used to be. There is no point in comparing a QB from the 1980s to a QB from 2020. In 1980, rookie quarterback records weren’t being broken every year.

Now, I am not trying to discredit anything Herbert and Mayfield have done this season. Both have played above expectations, in turn impressing a lot of people (including myself). Still, the difference in the league from back in the day is drastic, and people can’t keep comparing legends to the guys suiting up in today’s game.

For example, nine out of the top ten single season passing years have come from 2010 and beyond. The lone exception being Dan Marino in 1984.

Rank Player Yds Year Tm
1 Peyton Manning (37) 5,477 2013 DEN
2 Drew Brees (32) 5,476 2011 NOR
3 Tom Brady (34) 5,235 2011 NWE
4 Drew Brees (37) 5,208 2016 NOR
5 Drew Brees (33) 5,177 2012 NOR
6 Drew Brees (34) 5,162 2013 NOR
7 Ben Roethlisberger (36) 5,129 2018 PIT
8 Jameis Winston (25) 5,109 2019 TAM
9 Patrick Mahomes(22) 5,097 2018 KAN
10 Dan Marino+ (22) 5,084 1984 MIA

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com

On the other side of things, of the top ten rushing seasons in NFL history, only one of those years came after 2010 (Adrian Peterson’s MVP season of 2012).
The passing volume in this league has gone up so much that there is no point in comparing one decade to another. In addition, new league rules have made it much easier for teams to pass. I mean, no receiver in today’s NFL is worried about getting their bell rung if they run across the middle. Back in the 90s and even 2000s though? You can sure as hell bet players had their heads on a swivel.
So, as much fun as it is to compare Baker Mayfield to John Elway and other signal callers with gold jackets, there is no point. The league has changed, just like the numbers players are putting up.

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– Jarrod Ribaudo (@jarrod_ribaudo)

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Featured image courtesy of Twitter / @Sam_Penix

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