Many traditional football fans get buried in the onslaught of data and statistics and some refuse to even acknowledge its value. Many stats are too complex and old time fans like to keep things simple.
Such is the case of WAR — Wins Above Replacement — a stat that the common football fan would not be able to explain to you if asked. In fact, many won’t know what you’re talking about.
Pro Football Focus has been keeping these stats for well over a decade now and it appears that former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning — a player many believe should not be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for some reason — had a “4-WAR” season in 2011.
Eli was a 4 WAR player in 2011. There’s only 18 4-WAR seasons in our data:
Peyton 2006, 2013, 2007, 2012 (in order of WAR)
Brees 2011, 2006
Brady 2017, 2007, 2020 (!), 2016, 2015, 2011
Rodgers 2011, 2020, 2016
— Eric Eager (@PFF_Eric) June 1, 2021
To give you and idea of how PFF calculates WAR, here is their methodology:
The PFF WAR model does these things, in order:
Determine how good a given player was during a period of time (generally a season) using PFF grades;
Map a player’s production to a “wins” value for his team using the relative importance of each facet of play;
Simulate a team’s expected performance with a player of interest and with an average player participating identically in his place. Take the difference in expected wins (e.g., Wins Above Average);
Determine the average player with a given participation profile’s wins above replacement player, assuming a team of replacement-level players is a 3-13 team;
Add the terms in the last two calculations to get that player’s WAR.
In 2011, Eli threw for 4,933 yards with 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. His passer rating was 92.9 and he led the Giants to a 9-7 record and four postseason wins including a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.
Eli led the NFL in game-winning drives (6) and comeback wins (5) that year. His 99-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz was tied of the longest TD pass of the season.