Quarterback Success
Quarterback Success

NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2014.

The league-wide completion percentage (62.6), league-wide passer rating (88.9) and league-wide touchdown pass totals (807) were at historic levels, topping the previous records set in 2013 (61.2 completion percentage; 86.0 passer rating; 804 TD passes).

Games averaged 696.2 total net yards per game, the second-best mark in NFL annals (697.0 in 2013). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 473.6 net passing yards per game, an all-time high (471.2 in 2013).

The league-wide interception percentage of 2.52 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.63 in 2012.

As efficient as NFL QBs were in 2014, they did not shy away from throwing deep. The league-wide yards per attempt average of 7.21 was the highest in the Super Bowl era (since 1966), topping the previous high of 7.20 yards per attempt in 2011.

"It's a quarterback's league now," says CBS analyst and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback DAN FOUTS. "It's how the game has evolved. You've got coaches willing to throw the ball more than ever, and you've got receivers who are the best athletes on the field. Why wouldn't a coach want to use them?"

As professional football has evolved, the sophistication and importance of the passing game have grown consistently. Defenders have grown stronger and faster while defensive coordinators have become more creative. Moving the ball downfield three yards at a time via the run has grown increasingly difficult.

This trend has helped allow the growing number of star NFL quarterbacks -- ranging from established veterans like DREW BREES, PEYTON MANNING and AARON RODGERS (above) to promising youngsters like ANDREW LUCK and RUSSELL WILSON -- to fully showcase their passing talents.

"Everybody feeds off of what the quarterback can and cannot do," says ESPN analyst and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback STEVE YOUNG. "Defensively, offensively, everybody reacts to what threats or non-threats the quarterback has. Everything else is secondary."

An NFL-record nine quarterbacks had 30+ touchdown passes in 2014, surpassing the previous high of five (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). Eleven QBs reached the 4,000-yard mark in 2014, tied for the most of any season in NFL history (2012).

The quarterbacks with 4,000+ passing yards, 30+ touchdown passes or a 100+ passer rating in 2014:


4,000+ Pass Yards

Quarterback Pass Yards
Source: NFL
Drew Brees4,952
Ben Roethlisberger4,952
Andrew Luck4,761
Peyton Manning4,727
Matt Ryan4,694
Eli Manning4,410
Aaron Rodgers4,381
Philip Rivers4,286
Matthew Stafford4,257
Tom Brady4,109
Ryan Tannehill4,045


30+ TD Passes

Quarterback TD Passes
Source: NFL
Andrew Luck40
Peyton Manning39
Aaron Rodgers38
Tony Romo34
Drew Brees33
Tom Brady33
Ben Roethlisberger32
Philip Rivers31
Eli Manning30


100+ Passer Rating

Quarterback Rating
Source: NFL
Tony Romo113.2
Aaron Rodgers112.2
Ben Roethlisberger103.3
Peyton Manning101.5


Quarterback Consistency

NFL quarterbacks produced one of the most prolific and efficient seasons in NFL history in 2014, setting a number of league-wide passing records.

A big reason for that success was the consistent performance of the starters.

In 2014, 16 of 32 teams started the same quarterback in every game, tied for the fourth-most of any season since at least 1970:

2012: 20
1982: 18
2013: 17
2014: 16
2001: 16
2006: 16
2008: 16

"What separates the teams that have success and the teams that don't have success is having a franchise quarterback that plays every week and plays at a high level," says New York Giants President and CEO JOHN MARA. "If you have a franchise quarterback, you're always going to be competitive. You always have a chance to win."

Over the past three seasons, 53 teams -- 20 in 2012; 17 in 2013; 16 in 2014 -- started the same quarterback in every game, the most ever in any three-year span.

The most teams to start the same quarterback over any three-year span:

2012-2014: 53
2011-2013: 51
2010-2012: 46
2006-2008: 43
2001-2003: 43

Clutch Performers

Many NFL games are decided in the fourth quarter. The difference between a win and a loss can come down to a clutch performer. Some of the most memorable moments in NFL history have taken place with the game on the line.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger embraces the opportunity to respond under pressure. Last year, Roethlisberger posted an NFL-best 114.7 passer rating in the fourth quarter, throwing for 1,430 yards with 11 touchdowns and just one interception.

Quarterback Success - Clutch Performers: Ben Roethlisberger
Clutch Performers: Ben Roethlisberger

"I am around him every day and see the special things he does," says Steelers quarterbacks coach RANDY FICHTNER. "To me, he is a Hall of Famer, and you don't see those very often."

Green Bay Packers quarterback AARON RODGERS also shines during crunch time. In 2014, Rodgers posted a rating of 106.6 in the fourth quarter and led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game for the first time since 2010 when Green Bay went on to win Super Bowl XLV.

"I'm very proud of Aaron," says Packers head coach MIKE MC CARTHY. "He's at the point in his career now that it seems like every week or every other week he's breaking a record. He is just a special player."


The quarterbacks with the highest fourth-quarter passer rating in 2014 (minimum 80 attempts):

Quarterback Team Comp Att Pct Yards TDs INT Rating
Source: NFL
Ben RoethlisbergerPittsburgh10716166.51,430111114.7
Cam NewtonCarolina599661.579492110.3
Aaron RodgersGreen Bay649666.776972106.6
Kyle OrtonBuffalo7912861.71,01081104.0
Drew BreesNew Orleans12318466.81,297113100.3

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NFL Football: "Quarterback Success"