There have been a ton of great individual seasons by a QB. So who had the best you may ask. That is what I attempted to figure out. This was a difficult task, but I narrowed it down to 6 QBs. They are (in no particular order):
1. 1994 Steve Young
2. 2004 Peyton Manning
3. 1984 Dan Marino
4. 2007 Tom Brady
5. 1989 Joe Montana
For each of the QBs above, I will compare the following stats in each of their respective seasons: Completion percentage (Cmp%), Passing Yards (Yds), Passing TDs (TDs), Interceptions (INTs), Yards per attempt (Y/A), Yards per completion (Y/C), Quarterback rating (QB Rtg.), TD%, and INT%. I also used advanced stats that you can find at pro-footballreference.com and footballoutsiders.com. Approximate Value, DYAR, and DVOA. DYAR tries to accumulate how many yards a player would contribute above a replacement level player, and DVOA is defined as total value a player has per play. You can read about these stats if you're into that sort of thing, which I and many others am.
I will begin with Steve Young’s 1994 season:
1994 Steve Young
16 Games: 324/461, 70.3 Cmp%, 3969 Yds, 35 TDs, 10 INTs, 8.6 Y/A, 12.3 Y/C, 112.8 QB Rtg, 7.6 TD%, 2.2 INT%.
Advanced Stats - 23 Approximate Value, 1687 DYAR, 40.4 DVOA
Steve Young’s 112.8 QB Rtg in 1994 stands at 3rd in NFL history. His 70.3 Cmp% is also good for 3rd in NFL history. Young won the MVP in 1994 leading the 49ers to a 13-3 record and an eventual super bowl MVP in that season.
2004 Peyton Manning
16 Games: 336/497, 67.6 Cmp%, 4557 YDs, 49 TDs, 10 INTs, 9.2 Y/A, 13.6 Y/C, 121.1 QB Rtg, 9.9 TD%, 2.0 INT%
Advanced Stats - 21 Approximate value, 2493 DYAR, 60.6 DVOA
Peyton’s 49 TDs stands at 2nd place in NFL history. His astounding 121.1 QB Rtg is the greatest in NFL history. Peyton won the MVP in 2004 leading the Colts to a 12-4 record.
1984 Dan Marino
16 Games: 362/564, 64.2 Cmp%, 5084 YDs, 48 TDs, 17 INTs, 9.0 Y/A, 14.0 Y/C, 108.9 QB Rtg, 8.5 TD%, 3.0 INT%.
Advanced Stats - 21 Approximate value, DYAR and DVOA not yet created
Dan Marino’s 48 TDs were a record for 20 years, until Peyton Manning’s 2004 season. He’s now 3rd on the all time single season list. Marino’s 5084 YDs are the greatest in NFL history. Marino won the MVP in 1984 leading the Dolphins to a 14-2 record.
2007 Tom Brady
16 Games: 398/578, 68.9 Cmp%, 4806 YDs, 50 TDs, 8 INTs, 8.3 Y/A, 12.1 Y/C, 117.2 QB Rtg, 8.7 TD%, 1.7 INT%.
Advanced Stats - 24 Approximate Value, 2788 DYAR, 56.9 DVOA
Tom Brady’s 50 TDs are the most in NFL history for a single season. His 4806 yards are 4th in NFL history, and his 117.2 QB Rtg is 2nd in NFL history. Brady won an MVP award and led the Patriots to a 16-0 season in 2007, before falling to the Giants in the super bowl.
1989 Joe Montana
13 Games: 271/386, 70.2 Cmp%, 3521 YDs, 26 TDs, 8 INTs, 9.1 Y/A, 13.0 Y/C, 112.4 QB Rtg, 6.7 TD%, 2.1 INT%.
Advanced Stats - 17 Approximate value (13 games), DYAR and DVOA not yet created
Montana’s TDs and YDs are low because he missed 3 games. He went 11-2 in the 13 games he started. He easily has the least amount of pass attempts of any QB on this list. His 70.2 Cmp% is good for 4th in NFL history, and his 112.4 QB Rtg stands at 4th as well. Montana won the MVP in 1989 and eventually the super bowl MVP with the Niners.
These QBs were a combined 66-11. Not only were their statistics great, but each of them led their team to the playoffs. 3 of 5 led their team to the super bowl, with 2 taking home the Lombardi trophy in their respective seasons (Montana and Young).
I’ll give an honorable mention to 2004 Daunte Culpepper, 1999 Kurt Warner, 2009 Drew Brees, and 2010 Tom Brady. All of these seasons were spectacular, but I believe not as impressive as the 5 listed above.
Now that I’ve compared all their stats, I would like you to weigh in. Which do you think was the best season? 2nd best? I myself am too biased to weigh in. I believe that Peyton Manning’s 2004 season triumphs them all, and rightfully so. But I’m sure not all of you will feel that way. You can make a legitimate argument to any of these 6 seasons. So, what do you think?