By Luis DeLoureiro
Cold, Hard Football Facts Waterboy
T minus two days until the kick-off of the 2011 NFL season. Many players are entering the season with statistical milestones within their grasps. Today’s Waterboy looks at some of the thresholds that could be achieved by quarterbacks in 2011.
Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers are in a dead heat for the fourth-best career Yards Per Attempt (YPA) average. And, since the top three of all-time (Hall of Famers Otto Graham, Sid Luckman and Norm Van Brocklin) all retired before 1961, they are competing for the best YPA of the last 50 years.
Romo enters the season as the active leader with a YPA of 8.043. Big Ben (8.036) and Rivers (8.009) are nipping at his heals.
Speaking of YPA, Rivers is looking to be only the third player ever to lead the league in YPA for four consecutive seasons. He would join Steve Young as the only players to achieve this feat four years in a row (1991 – 1994). Sid Luckman led the league five consecutive seasons (1939 – 1943).
If Donovan McNabb can keep Christian Ponder off the field this year, he has an outside chance to be the 13th QB to pass for 40,000 yards. He needs 3,750 yards to get there.
40,000 is significant because every QB who has reached the threshold and is eligible has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Of course, the three most recent players to join the 40,000 club – Drew Bledsoe, Kerry Collins and Vinny Testaverde – will only reach the HOF if a zombie apocalypse overtakes Canton.
It would take an outstanding season, but Drew Brees could also reach 40,000 yards this season. He needs to throw for almost 4,800 yards to get there.
Even if he doesn’t reach 40,000 yards, Brees will almost definitely make a significant move up the all-time list of all-time leaders in passing yards. He’s currently 17th with 35,266 yards. Barring injury, in 2011 he should pass Jim Kelly (35,467 yards), Boomer Esiason (37,920) and Dave Krieg (38,147) to get to 14th place. He could get to 13th if he surpasses McNabb along the way.
Tom Brady will probably have to wait until 2012 to get to 40,000 yards. But, like Brees, he should make a significant move up the list. Brady, who is currently 19th on the list, will almost certainly pass Jim Everett (34,837), Kelly, Esiason and Krieg. For what it’s worth, he could also jump ahead of Brees if he out-produces him by a little over 500 yards.
If Kerry Collins gets significant playing time, the suicide rate in Indianapolis will reach record levels. It would also give Collins (40,441 yards) the opportunity to leap over Joe Montana (40,551) and Dan Fouts (43,040) into ninth place all-time.
With his first touchdown pass, Peyton Manning will become the third player to throw 400 TDs in his career. Brett Favre (508) and Dan Marino (420) are the only players with more.
Tom Brady is currently 10th all-time in TD passes with 261. He needs 39 TDs to get to 400, and he has a very realistic chance of moving all the way to sixth place on the list. He needs 12 to catch Montana (273); 14 to catch Testaverde (275); 29 to reach Unitas (290) and 30 to tie Moon for sixth place.
Brees is currently 21st with 235 TD passes. But, if he surpasses 30 TDs – which he’s done each of the last three years – he will move into 11th place. If he throws 39 TDs, he’ll pass Joe Montana and take sole possession of 10th.
Further down the all-time lists, some of the younger QBs are starting to make noise.
Eli Manning has 156 TD passes – good for 66th. But, if he throws 30 TDs in 2011 (he threw 31 in 2010), he’ll be on the cusp of the top 40. Another 4,000 yard season will put him in the top 55 all-time. He currently stands at 22,646 yards and will pass his dad Archie (currently 66th with 23,911) sometime in the first half of the season. ... Ben Roethlisberger is neck in neck with Eli in passing yards (22,502), but is 12 TDs behind. ... And Carson Palmer? Never mind.