NFL Talk: Was 2004 the Year of the Quarterbacks?


By PFC Writer Josh Dhani

There has been a lot of talk with those Manning vs. Brady articles that bother people deeply. People say Manning did better in 2004 than Brady’s 2007 performance. Or the other way around. Those articles helped me write this one. And here’s the question.
Did every quarterback perform outstanding in 2004? Facts help. This is the talk, the NFL talk, that is.

Well, did every quarterback do outstanding in 2004? Yes they did. I am picking the 15 quarterbacks with the best passer rating. Thanks to NFL.com, it has helped me greatly as they show it. Now I’ll just go by order from 15-to-1. So let’s go!

You are now entering one of the best class quarterbacks who did amazing in this one crazy year. The year of the quarterbacks.

15. Jake Plummer, Denver Broncos: 303-521, 58 percent completion rate, 4,089 yards, 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, 84.5 rating

After Jake Plummer’s close friend and hero to the NFL Pat Tillman died in 2004, Plummer wanted to make the season as best as he can play in. It was a rollercoaster year! He broke some of John Elway’s records here and there, but it struck him with the 20 interceptions.

He led the Denver Broncos to a 10-6 record to earn the team the sixth seed in the playoffs. But unfortunately, they lost to the Colts, 49-24. Plummer did great overall and that is why he was ranked 15th in passer rating.

14. Kurt Warner, New York Giants: 174-277, 62.8 percent completion rate, 2,054 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions, 86.5 rating

Warner was released by the Rams on June 1, 2004 and was later signed to the Giants to a two-year deal. Warner hadn’t done much, though, that season. Even though they acquired Eli Manning from a draft trade that year, Warner was given the starting job.

He helped out little.

Warner started and won five of his first seven games, but was later benched due to poor perfomances and a two-game losing streak. The Giants were at 5-4 when they benched Warner and went 1-6 with Manning at starter. They finished 6-10.

I really don’t know why Warner made the list, but he had the passer rating to make it. And remember, I am going by passer rating. The stats may not look so good, but the passer rating says it does.

I say Warner had an OK year. It went up and down. But many more quarterbacks had many more great stats in 2004.

13. Billy Volek, Tennessee Titans: 218-357, 61.1 percent completion rate, 2,486 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, 87.1 rating

Along with Dan Marino, Dan Fouts, and Phil Simms, Volek became the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 400 yards in two consecutive games, a feat matched by Matt Cassel this year.

On Dec. 17, 2004, the Titans announced that Volek will be the starter for the rest of the season because of the Steve McNair injury. Volek did pretty good, but his team didn’t, finishing last in the AFC South with a 5-11 record.

Volek did pretty good filling in for McNair, and I say he deserves a shot at a starting quarterback job for a team right now.

12. Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers: 310-533, 58.2 percent completion rate, 3,886 yards, 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, 87.3 rating

In 2004, Delhomme’s Panthers had its ups-and-downs, as Warner’s individual performances. He posted career highs in pretty much every passing category, but the Panthers had many injuries, including five different lineups on the offensive line.

Then disaster struck more after the Panthers went from 1-1 to 1-7, with losses of DeShaun Foster and Stephen Davis to injuries. Steve Smith was out as well, which made a tsunami on the team. But then the Panthers came back, being 6-2 in their final eight games of the season, finishing 7-9, so close to a playoff record.

In the 6-2 run, Delhomme had 17 touchdowns and only four picks. They had the playoff berth, but lost in the last game of the season to the New Orleans Saints.

If they had won that, Carolina would be in the playoffs with an 8-8 record. I say this is one of Delhomme’s best seasons I have seen him play in. Same for Volek, which is his best season, too. Everyone did great. And that is how Delhomme made the list.

11. Chad Pennington, New York Jets: 242-370, 65.4 percent completion rate, 2,673 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions, 91.0 rating

This is probably one of Pennington’s best seasons, like Volek and Delhomme had in their career. It was not just stats, but money, signing a seven-year $64.2M deal. Pennington started with a 5-0 start for the Jets. But he was also injured a little for the season, letting Quincy Carter come in and be 2-1 for his absence.

If Pennington played those games, he would have had really good career-highs. Even though Pennington struggled sometimes because of shoulder during his return, the Jets still maintained a playoff spot with a 10-6 record in the Wild Card. Pennington also came off a 20-17 win over the Chargers in overtime with his ailing shoulder in the first round of the playoffs.

With a bad shoulder, Chad was 23-for-33 for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Then there was a battle between the Jets and 15-1 Steelers. After a 10-0 deficit, the Jets came back with 17 points, but still lost with Doug Brien’s crucial misses for game-winning field goals. They lost in overtime, which was the Jets’ third straight overtime game.

10. Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers: 346-540, 64.1 percent completion rate, 4,088 yards, 30 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, 92.4 rating

Favre has always been good. This was another great season, but it wasn’t his best.

It started out with a bad 1-3 record, first time they had that record since 1995. During the third consecutive loss, Favre suffered a concussion. Despite it, he did throw a fourth down 28-yard touchdown pass to Javon Walker.

Favre didn’t return, and said he didn’t remember throwing the touchdown pass. Favre ended the season with a 10-6 record but lost in the first round of the playoffs. It was an OK year for Favre, he could have done better, but this was as good as it was.

9. Tom Brady, New England Patriots: 288-474, 60.8 percent completion rate, 3,692 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, 92.6 rating

Tom Brady did amazing in 2004. He won a Super Bowl and broke some more records.

But it wasn’t as good as his year in 2007. But let’s stick with 2004.

This was a dream year for Brady.

It started out with 21 straight wins for the Patriots, including the 2003 season, and is now memorialized in Pro Football Hall of Fame. Brady was also voted to his second straight Pro Bowl and the Patriots finished 14-2 and went on to win the Super Bowl against the Eagles, 24-21.

Yeah, that was a good year.

8. Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams: 321-485, 66.2 percent completion rate, 3,964 yards, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, 93.7 rating

After Kurt Warner was gone, Bulger was finally given a chance to shine. This, to me, was probably Bulger’s best season. Bulger also made the 2004 Pro Bowl, in which he was the MVP of, too.

Bulger had an outstanding season, leading the 8-8 Rams to the playoffs but losing in the divisional round. Bulger looks to gain back his 2004-ness in the 2009 season.

7. Trent Green, Kansas City Chiefs: 369-566, 66.4 percent completion rate, 4,591 yards, 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, 95.2 rating

Trent Green was without Priest Holmes that year. His passing total was second, behind Daunte Culpepper.

Green was just solid, and I say this was his best season in his long, useful career.

Even though the Chiefs did finish with a 7-9 record, Green established himself as the man for the Chiefs. I just wish he can be like that now, but he is now a free agent.

It was just a fabulous year for Green and that is how he made this list, with his amazing passer rating.

6. Brian Griese, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 233-336, 69.3 percent completion rate, 2,632 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, 97.5 rating

Brian Griese is another one of the quarterbacks on this list in which 2004 was their best season in their career.

He set a lot of franchise passing records. Griese helped the Bucs to their only wins of the season. He led them to a 5-1 record, which resulted in a 5-11 tornado, but went down with a torn ACL and was cut in 2006. But this was a solid year for Griese.

If he had played more, he would have been higher than the sixth spot he is at. He is now returned with the Bucs and looks to do the stats and make a better record with no injuries with the Bucs in the 2009 season. Or he will just mentor Josh Freeman.

5. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers: 196-295, 66.4 percent completion rate, 2,621 yards, 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, 98.1 rating

Big Ben was named ROY that year and started 13-0 as a rookie, an NFL record. He led the Steelers to a 15-1 record. It was actually very surprising, but Big Ben proved everyone wrong. He was just a fabulous player and was just amazing.

The Steelers were close to a Super Bowl that year, but lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship, 41-27. This is probably one of Roethlisberger’s best seasons. Probably his third best, along with his two Super Bowl winning seasons.

This is an example of another great year for a quarterback in 2004.

4. Donovan McNabb, Philidelphia Eagles:
300-469, 64 percent completion rate, 3,875 yards, 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions, 104.7 rating

This is an example of a fabulous year. To me, this is probably McNabb’s best season of his career.

Now, I hope all of you Eagles fans are happy. McNabb became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw over 30 touchdown passes and throw for fewer than 10 interceptions.

How great can it get? Oh right! A Super Bowl!

With a 13-3 record, and with a stud like Terrell Owens, the Eagles went on to the Super Bowl, but lost in a close one, 24-21. McNabb looks to do the same in 2009 with a new stud, Jeremy Maclin.

3. Drew Brees, San Diego Chargers: 262-400, 65.5 percent completion rate, 3,159 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, 104.8 rating

Brees and company went 12-4. Their coach was named Coach of the Year. It was all good for San Diego. There was also that 12-4 record, which qualified them as the number one in the AFC West.

Sadly, they lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs to Chad Pennington and the Jets. This is probably Brees’ second best season because of the 5,000-yard season he had in 2008. Brees looks to bring back the 2004 playoff record to New Orleans.

2. Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota Vikings: 379-548, 69.2 percent completion rate, 4,717 yards, 39 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, 110.9 rating

Wikipedia, and I agree with them, calls this season for Culpepper “historic.” He holds the Vikings record for most touchdowns in a season, broke Dan Marino’s record of combined passing and rushing yards (5,123).

The Vikes finished 8-8, making the playoffs actually, but lost in the divisional round to the Eagles, 27-14.

Now here is the moment you have all been waiting for….NUMBER ONE!

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts: 336-497, 67.6 percent completion rate, 4,557 yards, 49 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, 121.1 rating

This is the second best season ever for a quarterback, behind Tom Brady. Or maybe the first, if you check out Ryan Michael’s quarterback battles of Manning vs. Brady.

But besides that, the Colts were just solid overall this year. The real thing happened in the 34-31 overtime win over the Chargers, in which Manning broke Marino’s 20-year-old record with a touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley.

Damn. One hell of a season it was for him.

The Colts, though, ended up losing to the Patriots in the playoffs of the divisional round in a 20-3 rout. This was a crazy year for Manning. Manning was the quarterback of 2004.

Now to conclude.

Conclusion

Fifteen quarterbacks finished 50 percent or higher in completions. Thirteen quarterbacks finished 60 percent or higher in completions. Zero quarterbacks finished 70 percent or higher.

Fifteen quarterbacks finished 2,000 passing yards or higher. Ten quarterbacks finished 3,000 passing yards or higher. Five quarterbacks finished 4,000 yards or higher. Zero finished 5,000 or higher.

Fifteen finished five touchdowns or higher. Fourteen finished ten touchdowns or higher. Eleven finished 20 or higher and four finished 30 or higher. One finished 40 touchdowns or higher and zero finished 50 or higher.

Fifteen had an 80.0 rating or higher. Eleven had a 90.0 rating or higher. Four finished 100.0 or higher. Two finished 110.0 or higher and one finished 120.0 rating or higher.

Ten quarterbacks had their best season ever in 2004. It was just a great season. Just one hell of a season for every quarterback in the National Football League. Will 2009 be it, too? We’ll find out soon!

It was a great year and my favorite NFL year.

Agreed? Comment and see what you think!