Comparing Arizona Cardinals QB John Skelton to a Bronze Bust in Canton

Shaun Church@@NFLChurchContributor IJuly 27, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 01:  Quarterback John Skelton #19 of the Arizona Cardinals celebrates as he walks off the field after defeating the Seattle Seahawks in overtime of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Cardinals defeated the Seahawks 23-20 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The thought of comparing Arizona Cardinals third-year quarterback John Skelton to an NFL Hall of Famer probably raised your blood pressure just now.

And that’s fine.

But before you succumb to precipitant name-calling in the comments section while telling me not to quit my day job, take a look at some numbers.

This is a comparison of Skelton’s career numbers—that's 13 games—compared to one Hall of Fame quarterback (we'll call him "Quarterback 1" for chart purposes) over the same period of his career, the first 13 games:

  John Skelton Quarterback 1
Win-Loss as Starter (Win Percentage) 7-4 (.636) 5-6 (.455)
Opponent Win-Loss (Win Percentage) 68-108 (.386) 90-86 (.511)
Comp-Att (Percent) 211-401 (52.6) 143-290 (49.3)
Passing Yards (Yards Per Attempt) 2,575 (6.4) 1,924 (6.6)
Touchdown Passes 13 8
Interceptions 16 16
QB Rating 66.9 57.0
Carries-Yards-TD (Yards Per Carry) 38-177-0 (4.6) 35-175-1 (5.0)
4QC/GWD 5/6 1/1

Now let’s dig a bit deeper and find out why the numbers are so similar and what that might mean for Skelton’s career. And don’t worry, my good people, I’ll tell you whose bronze bust it is in due time (I must say, though, that my own father compared Skelton to this HOFer before the Fordham product played a single down in the NFL and was floored when I revealed to him who the enshrined quarterback was).

One thing that sticks out from the chart above is the win-loss record of our quarterbacks’ opponents. That doesn’t mean as much when the defensive ranks are added in, however:

  Skelton Quarterback 1
Avg. Opponent Scoring Def. Rank (Out of) 16 (32) 14.5 (28)
Avg. Opponent Points Per Game Allowed 22.1 21.5
Two-Year League Avg. Def. PPG 22.1 21.5

As you can see, the defenses faced by these QBs were pretty average despite the drastic difference in team records. Does anyone else find it odd that both quarterbacks' opponents matched the two-year league scoring average?

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The similarities don't end there:

  Skelton Quarterback 1
Avg. Opponent Pass Def. Rank (Out of) 14.6 (32) 13 (28)
Opp. Pass Yards Per Game 219.3 199.9
Two-Year League Avg. Pass YPG 225.6 205.3
Opponent Percent +/- League Avg. -2.8 -2.6
Player Pass YPG Avg. 234.1 174.3
Player Percent +/- Opponent Avg. +6.3 -12.5

The NFL of today is vastly different from when the comparative quarterback played, so some of the numbers you see that look to be in favor of Skelton—passing yards, touchdown passes, etc.—are not as impressive as you may think.

That being said, Skelton has performed better than the HOFer has to this point based on percentages and defensive numbers.

This is not to say Skelton will be a legendary Hall of Fame quarterback or that he is better than this Hall of Fame quarterback is. It is simply to put into perspective just how little a handful of games means.

If you flip this to highlight Kevin Kolb (whose 13-game numbers you can see here), you will see that his numbers through 13 games are better in an area or two than both of these quarterbacks. It doesn’t mean a lot at this point.

The true fact is that both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have work to do. Both are young (though Kolb is old for how little he’s played), both have potential to do some good things (though Skelton has more potential) and both will look better in 2012 than they looked last year.

But let’s get back to Skelton vs. Denver Broncos Hall of Fame quarterback and former No. 1 overall draft pick John Elway (see, I told you I’d tell you).

The original “Captain Comeback,” as he was so affectionately referred to as (35 fourth-quarter comebacks, 46 game-winning drives), went on to put up insane numbers throughout his career. If you looked only at his first season-plus of work, you would think he’d be among the biggest busts among No. 1 picks.

Let Skelton play more games and establish himself (or fail) before you decide he can't lead the Arizona Cardinals, or any team, to bigger and better things.

I’ll leave you all with one more chart showing Elway’s career in four-year increments. Not because it’s completely relevant, though it could be, but because I love stats and these are really interesting to see.

Breaking Down John Elway's Career Numbers
  1983-1986 1987-1990 1991-1994 1995-1998 Totals
Win-Loss (%) 38-18 (.679) 31-26-1 (.534) 36-22 (.621) 43-16 (.729) 148-82-1 (.641)
Comp-Att (%) 944-1748 (54.0) 1015-1824 (55.6) 1071-1812 (59.1) 1093-1866 (58.6) 4123-7250 (56.9)
Pass Yards (YPA) 11,637 (6.7) 13,084 (6.4) 13,015 (7.2) 13,739 (7.4) 51,475 (7.1)
Touchdowns 66 69 64 101 300
Interceptions 65 63 49 49 226
QB Rating 71.9 76.6 81.8 88.7 79.9
4QC/GWD 11/11 8/10 8/12 8/13 35/46

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