It’s hard to survive as a starting quarterback in today’s NFL without being able to consistently throw the deep ball. That’s why it’s sort of surprising that, statistically, Vince Young and David Garrard were the most accurate deep passers in the league in 2010, while Peyton Manning struggled completing passes down the field, according to Pro Football Focus.

They explain their study:

“We broke down every pass from the 2010 season, and dropped them into numerous categories and sub categories. One of these was passes thrown longer than 20 yards. Which brings us to the point of this article. A look at who threw downfield the most and who did it most efficiently. 30 deep attempts was the qualifying mark to be considered.”

Some interesting findings:

  • At 45.7 percent, Young had the highest completion percentage in the league on passes of 20 yards or more. He can thank Kenny Britt for that. (Maybe that’s why Jeff Fisher thinks Young can win somewhere as a starter.) Garrard came in at 45.1 percent despite throwing 16 more deep passes than Young, which is actually more impressive in my opinion.
  • While Matt Schaub, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees and Michael Vick all made the top 10 by completing more than 40 percent of their deep passes, Peyton Manning fell on his face. Manning finished 22nd on the list, completing just 30.5 percent of a league-high 95 deep attempts.
  • It was a tough year for Eli Manning, interceptions-wise. But Eli crushed his brother, finishing 15 spots ahead of Peyton with a deep ball completion percentage of 41.1 percent.
  • Looking at the pivots in our recent quarterback power rankings, Brees, Rivers, Vick and Schaub lived up to expectations, while Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Josh Freeman finished in the middle of the pack. The real disappointments were Matt Ryan and Manning. Ryan’s 31.4 deep pass completion percentage makes you understand why the Falcons traded up in the draft to take Julio Jones.
  • I nearly included Matt Cassel in my quarterback power rankings, which is why I was amazed to see that the Chiefs’ signal caller finished dead last on the list at 24.6 percent. Considering how good Dwayne Bowe was, that’s shocking.
  • Brady, Ryan and Schaub rarely went deep. Only Chad Henne and Sam Bradford had fewer deep throws as a percentage of their overall attempts than those three. Brady and Ryan were Pro Bowlers.
  • Excluding Colt McCoy (who was off the charts), Jay Cutler had the highest percentage of interceptions on deep throws (12.5 percent). Somewhat surprisingly, Rivers and Brees also finished in the top 10 in that category. The underrated Kyle Orton and the super-young Josh Freeman threw only two interceptions apiece on 73 and 72 deep passes, respectively.