29. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
The greatest trick the devil ever performed was convincing people that Matthew Stafford was a Pro Bowl QB in 2014. Sure, this can also apply to Andy Dalton, but Stafford has managed to avoid much criticism despite incredible inconsistency.
A big part of that comes from the deep ball. There are enough great plays to save him, but there’s loads of inaccuracy, 50/50 shots to Megatron, and bad picks. Since Stafford’s relatively young, he gets a pass because the Lions have yet to see what he can do at an older age. He may be the best QB for Detroit since Bobby Layne (Good lord that’s a long time ago), but there’s plenty of works that must be done before he’s great.
Staff’s mobility and arm strength are terrific, but the mentality has to be fixed, because there is so much talent in this guy that’s being wasted.
Best Deep Ball Throw: Week 1 vs. NYG, 12:25 1Q: Managing to avoid a sack and extend the play, Stafford climbs the pocket and fires a perfect pass to a wide open Calvin Johnson, manipulating the secondary and making up a 67-yard touchdown play.
- Drew Stanton (Arizona Cardinals)
Bruce Arians’ QB system thrives on the deep ball, and few guys got more mileage out of it than Drew Stanton. 5 of his 7 TD passes in 2014 came on the deep ball, giving him the highest Deep Ball TD% rate out of all qualified passers.
As you can guess, there’s plenty of inefficient play, but the strikes are pretty good. And that’s pretty much it when it comes to Stanton. There’s a balance of great accuracy and awful decision making, giving him an average score. Not bad at all for a backup.
Best Deep Ball Throw: Week 10 vs. STL, 7:47 4Q: Filling in for an injured Carson Palmer, Stanton fires a sensational 48-yard touchdown pass to John Brown in the end zone. Beautiful.
- Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)
Ryan Tannehill is the best QB the Dolphins have drafted since Dan Marino’s retirement (Chad Pennington had that MVP worthy year in 2008 after signing with Miami), and 2014 was indicative of such. Deep Ball has been a weakness for Tannehill, but he improved on this in 2014, throwing plenty of unspectacular, but on target passes.
The secret? Bill Lazar, the guy who brought you Nick Foles’ 27 TD 2 INT season. With an actual offense, Tannehill progressed. There’s nothing showing us we should be satisfied yet, but at long last, the Dolphins have someone to build on at the QB position.
Best Deep Ball Throw: Week 10 at DET, 0:29 4Q: Doing a fantastic job of avoiding pressure, Tannehill delivered a strike to Mike Wallace for 20 yards.
- Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
One of the 10 best QBs in the NFL, Wilson, in spite of a limited receiving core, did a solid job on the deep ball in 2014. It’s a step down from his excellent first 2 years, but it’s not a troubling sign either.
Wilson also has the benefit of the #1 defense and the best legs a quarterback can buy, so it’s not too bad. There’s the questionable throws and decision making, and some luck on dropped picks. But overall, this was one of the better deep ball performances of 2014, with many perfect shots and completions, giving Russell Wilson another fine year. Of course, with a true #1 receiver, we can expect greater things.
Best Deep Ball Throw: Week 16 at ARI, 7:16 2Q: Wilson fires a beautiful pass to Luke Willson for an 80-yard touchdown. Perfect touch.
Next, we take a look at all 32 QBs on 2 single charts. The first chart is what I call “The Deep Ball TD% Wall.”
Surprised to see the bad/journeyman QBs on top? I was too, at first. Then it got to me that many bad QBs are boom or bust players. Their misses can look abysmal, but their best throws can wow you. I guess that explains why Drew Stanton is at the top.
Secondly, the below chart is what I like to call “The Deep Ball Wall.” Keep in mind DBYPG=Deep Ball Yards Per Game and TD%=Number of deep ball attempts resulting in a touchdown.
Now let’s go through the leaders of each statistic, as well as the average results of each.
That’s a lot of Andrew Luck.
Finally, who was the best deep ball QB of 2014? It should be obvious looking through the grades, but in case you’re too lazy to look back up again, Aaron Rodgers (A+) had the best deep ball of 2014. The completions were memorable and the bad throws weren’t noticeable enough to talk about, more so than any other QB on the list.
I hope you enjoyed this article, as well as learned something from it. And remember, if you have any questions regarding this, do not hesitate to send them in the comment section below or to me via Twitter (@KinsleyNFL).