The NFL post-season plows on with some high-quality quarterback play leading the way. The playoffs don’t always prove the point but this year it is clear that good quarterbacks lead to the playoffs.
The final eight teams left in the playoffs in the divisional round are quarterbacked by the following:
While there are some good to great quarterbacks sitting at home, this list of eight is filled with mostly great ones. All but Brady (famously taken in the 6th round) and Garoppolo (taken at the top of the 2nd round) were drafted in the first round.
That group also is well represented when you look at the third and fourth down conversion rates over the last five years. Mahomes tops the list with Garoppolo (3), Burrow (5), Stafford (9), Rodgers (10) and Brady (12) all near the top of the list:
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) January 16, 2022
Only Allen (16) and Tannehill (25) are outside of the top 12 players on the list.
The conversion rate isn’t a perfect measure of great quarterback play. As the initial tweet indicates, turnovers are a problem for both Garoppolo and Jameis Winston, fourth on the list. Russell Wilson, who is universally praised, ranks near the bottom of the ranking.
As the Cleveland Browns look for a bounce back from QB Baker Mayfield, improving his conversions on these two important downs from 27th to closer to the top half of the league would be a huge start.
In 2020, as a team, the Browns converted 44.84% of their third downs. That was good for eighth in the league. In 2021, that number dipped down to 39.15% and 18th in the league. Both years the team struggled on fourth down, 40.74% in 2020 (27th) and 41.38% in 2021 (30th).
On those important downs, the defense, offensive play calling, length of conversion and a variety of other factors play a role. Placing blame or credit only on the quarterback’s shoulders is not fair but the data above, given who is left in the playoffs, is quite interesting.