Tuesday, April 1, 2008

An even newer way to evaluate QBs

Even semi-casual fans now understand that the old standby of passer rating has its flaws. While new-age stats like AYA (adjusted yards per attempt) and even my own TYA (total yards/attempt) might be better, it's still an inexact science. And statheads with an eye on the draft all know that just because a player put up big numbers in college doesn't mean that success will translate to the pros.

Fortunately, I've come up with a new system that should not only solve these lingering issues but also provide a great way to evaluate both college and pro talent. Wondering if Matt Ryan or Brian Brohm is the best available quarterback in the draft? My new system shows that they should both have similarly excellent careers, and it can all be boiled down into one stat, which I've abbreviated FLAV, which stands for "First-Last Absolute Value."

FLAV is computed by taking the number of letters in a quarterback's first name and subtracting the number of letters in his last name. If you come up with a negative number, simply multiply by -1 to make the value positive. The lower the number, the better the quarterback will be (with a notable set of exceptions, mentioned below), with a value of 0 -- representing a QB with equal letters in each name -- being the optimal result, though QBs with FLAVs of 1 or 2 often have solid careers.

With this in mind, it's easy to see why Brohm and Ryan, both with an FLAV of 0, should be fine. And this should end the debate, once and for all, as to who the best quarterback of all time was. In my mind, it has to be Brett Favre, probably the best FLAV0R (standing for First-Last Absolute Value of 0 with a Ring) to ever play the game, though an equally solid case could be made for FLAV0R Steve Young. And is it any wonder why Michael Vick wanted to be known as Mike Vick a few years into his NFL career?

Many of today's best quarterbacks, like Tony Romo, Carson Palmer (FLAV 0), Drew Brees, Peyton Manning (FLAV 1), David Garrard, and Jeff Garcia (FLAV 2) enjoy success due to their low FLAVs. In fact, the top of the all-time passer rating list is dominated by low-FLAV players Young, Peyton Manning (FLAV 1), Kurt Warner (FLAV 2), Tom Brady (FLAV 2)...and Ben Roethlisberger? A FLAV of 11!?

That's where the F3 corollary comes in. It seems that quarterbacks with three-letter first names are immune to the FLAV rule. In fact, QBs with three-letter first names have had some of the best careers in the NFL. Just look at the large number of successful Joes -- Montana, Namath, Theismann -- with seemingly bloated FLAVs, as well as greats like Dan Marino and Len Dawson. Combine a low FLAV and a three-letter name and you're destined for stardom, not to mention dating and impregnating supermodels, like Tom Brady has done. Many teams overlook this vital part of the FLAV equation, which explains why nobody gave Eli Manning much of a chance in the playoffs and why Delaware's Joe Flacco will likely slip to the second round of the draft.

By now, though, you're probably already ready to poke a hole in this theory by pointing out one of the greatest QB flops of all time: Ryan Leaf. With a strong arm and, more importantly, a FLAV of 0, he seemed destined for greatness.

Ah, but there's a secret about Leaf that few know and that Leaf was always terrified would be discovered, which may have contributed to his high-strung antics and poor NFL career. Like our 42nd president, Leaf was not born with the same last name he carried into adulthood. In fact, it turns out that he is the distant relative of another NFL player, one whose name spells near-automatic doom for any quarterback unlucky enough to fall from his family tree.

It's true: Ryan Leaf's birth name was really Ryan Houshmandzedah. That's an FLAV of 12, folks. If only the Chargers had done their research.

Finally, this post wouldn't be complete without touching up on the Minnesota Vikings' tumultuous quarterback situation. While Kelly Holcomb (FLAV 2) looked good at times in 2007, even low-FLAV players can age ungracefully. Brooks Bollinger (FLAV 4) is clearly not the answer, and any talk of bringing in Sage Rosenfels (FLAV 4) should stop. Donovan McNabb (FLAV 1) seems a good choice, but where does that leave Tarvaris Jackson (FLAV 1)? With such a low FLAV, what is stopping him from becoming the next great, or at least above-average QB?

I think the answer lies in the name "Tarvaris" itself. Let's face it -- do you know any other people named "Tarvaris"? I don't. The name appears to be completely made up, and, while it satisfies the basics of having a low FLAV, the football gods do not take kindly to those who play fast and loose with its simple traditions. If Tarvaris had a more normal-sounding (and preferably seven-letter) first name, like "Terrell" or "Roberto," he could have been one of the greatest QBs of all time. As it is, the Vikings were clearly duped to trade up for him by his low FLAV, and he may sadly never live up to those lofty expectations.

Hey, do you suppose Milt Plum or Sammy Baugh are still available?

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