The Green Bay Packers are one of the NFL’s most storied franchises and have now won four Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks. The fact that the previous Packer appearances in the Super Bowl have come in back to back fashion (Super Bowls I and II; Super Bowls XXXI and XXXII) should give Cheeseheads everywhere hope that their team will be in the big game again next season (if there is a season, that is). However, we can still look back and try to determine which of the three Packers quarterbacks who appeared in a Super Bowl (Bart Starr, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers) had the best performance.
Brett Favre is the only Packers quarterback who lost a Super Bowl but he won’t be relegated to last place among the three players because of that game (his performance in that game will rank last though). It might even be assumed that because in the Super Bowl that Favre was the winning quarterback (Super Bowl XXXI) he was not the MVP, he’s not in the running. Instead of knocking him out on that basis, let’s let his numbers determine where he ends up. For example, using the Passer Rating, here is how the three quarterbacks ranked in their five Super Bowl appearances:
1. Bart Starr, Super Bowl I: 116.2
2. Aaron Rodgers, Super Bowl XLV: 111.5
3. Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXI: 107.9
4. Bart Starr, Super Bowl II: 96.2
5. Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXII: 91
Here are a couple of reasons why the Passer Rating is flawed: it doesn’t include rushing stats and it doesn’t penalize heavily enough for negative plays. In Super Bowl I, Starr threw an interception. Neither Rodgers nor Favre threw an interception in their Super Bowl wins and had a lower rating than Starr’s 116.2. Rodgers and Favre both had three total touchdowns in their wins while Starr had 2 touchdowns in Super Bowl I.
By penalizing turnovers more heavily and including rushing stats, the list will look different. A way to include the other aspects of a quarterback’s influence on the game is to utilize the Positive Impact Factor (PIF) which is based on a much simpler formula than the Passer Rating and includes rushing stats (and even receiving stats). On this 100 point scale (negative scores are possible), a percentage of negative plays (incompletions, sacks and fumbles), extremely positive plays (touchdowns) and a factor of extremely negative plays (interceptions and fumbles lost) is calculated. Here are the rankings again, using the PIF this time.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Super Bowl XLV: 63.4
2. Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXI: 51.6
3. Bart Starr, Super Bowl II: 48
4. Bart Starr, Super Bowl I: 36.6
5. Brett Favre, Super Bowl XXXII: -44
One of the most important reasons why this list is different than the list ranked by Passer Rating is negative play percentage. Rodgers threw an incompletion or took a sack on 43.9% of his plays which was a lower percentage than any of the other performances except for Bart Starr in Super Bowl I. Starr threw an incompletion or took a sack on 43.5% of his plays in that game. However, Starr’s interception, which represented 4.3% of his total attempts and 14.3% of his incompletions, severely hurt his PIF number. Favre moved into second place despite a high negative play percentage (58%) because with his rushing stats included into a ranking, Favre gets credit for his third touchdown of Super Bowl XXXI. Favre produced a touchdown on 9.7% of his touches in that game (highest for a quarterback in Packer Super Bowl history). Favre’s other Super Bowl performance was rated so negatively because he threw an interception and lost a fumble without recording a rushing attempt. Denver scored a touchdown after the interception and a field goal after the lost fumble. That’s why negative plays (including rushing plays) should be penalized in any quarterback rating system. Using the PIF means ranking Aaron Rodgers’ Super Bowl performance first among Packer quarterbacks.
” Explaining the Positive Impact Factor “, inthebleachers.net
Super Bowl Stats from NFL.com.