Earlier this month, Jason addressed the question of whether Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was headed for the dreaded "sophomore slump." While he concluded that Dalton should avoid a slump, Jason cautioned that his data was skimpy.
Enter the Cold, Hard Football Facts. Crunching QB numbers going back to 1950, CHFF agrees that Dalton shouldn't slump, and moreover that the whole sophomore slump is a myth.
As you will see, the research process was difficult, but we emerged with the definitive proof that the quarterback sophomore slump is a myth. Oh it used to be real, but that was over 30 years ago.
Of the 35 QBs that CHFF deemed to have a big enough body of work in their rookie and sophomore seasons, and enough success in their rookie year to be in danger of "slumping" the next time around (among other criteria), 20 improved, while 15 slumped. While that's only a couple of good-seasons-turned-bad away from a 50/50 split, most of the bad seasons came a long time ago.
Here are the 15 players we chose for the sophomore slump being real: Eddie LeBaron, Tom Flores, Sam Etcheverry, Fran Tarkenton, Mickey Slaughter, Joe Namath, Dennis Shaw, Jim Plunkett, Steve Bartkowski, Phil Simms, Don Majkowski, Jeff George, Matt Leinart, Matt Ryan, and Sam Bradford.
Rookie quarterback success was so very rare, and the sophomore slump claimed 10 of our first 15 quality rookies. That is two-thirds, and takes us through Phil Simms in 1979.
That also means 15 of our last 20 rookies (75 percent) did not suffer a sophomore slump. Though their may be three recent cases since 2006, the myth of the slump has really been dead since the 80s.
If Dalton experiences the average post-1980 improvement of rookie QBs in their second season, his completion percentage will increase to about 60.8%, yards per game to 234.3 (for a 16-game total of around 3,749) and his QB rating should rise to 84.8. No one would mistake him for Tom Brady, but based on 2011 passer ratings, that would rank Andy 15th in the league.