James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Real Quarterback Rating

Depending on who you ask, the NFL doesn't have a "quarterback rating," it just has a "passer rating." But in many places that list statistical leaders, they list "quarterbacks" instead of "passing."

Here's the absurdity of the system(see here for passer rating methodology, and here for a passer rating calculator):

Quarterback A's stats are 18/30, 240 yards, 2 TD's, 1 Int. Rating: 93.75

Quarterback B's stats are 18/26, 240 yards, 2 TD's, 1 Int. Rating: 107.85

Quarterback B looks like he had the better day. What isn't mentioned is that quarterback A was sacked once for -5 yards, whereas quarterback B was sacked 5 times for -25 yards and one fumble.

Assuming neither quarterback ran the ball or caught a pass, the real numbers are this:

Quarterback A: 31 plays, 235 yards, 2 TD's, 1 error.
Quarterback B: 31 plays, 215 yards, 2 TD's, 2 errors.

Now who's the better quarterback?

Also neglected is the number of first downs the quarterbacks created. Moving the chains is the key to victory. A 6-yard play that gets a first down is usually more important than a 7-yard play that doesn't.

I think a quarterback rating should have these elements:

-yards per play ( total passing, rushing, receiving minus sacks)
-total number of first downs and touchdowns/total number of plays
-total number of fumbles and interceptions/total number of plays

In the new system, a quarterback who throws incompletions instead of taking sacks will have better numbers. A quarterback who fumbles a lot will see that harm his stats.

I don't know how this "real" qb rating should be calculated, but I'd be inclined to scale the three elements so that they are assigned numbers of equal weight.


  1. This makes sense for the most part. You may be putting too much on the QB and measuring the offense as a whole. I don't know if the QB has much control over whether a RB makes yards, though. That's on the RB and the offensive line. Sacks are at least partly attributable to the line and the receivers (do they get open?).

    QBs don't call plays so much anymore, so you really can't consider them the brains of the offense.

  2. You misunderstand. I mean including the quarterback's rushing and receiving yards (if he catches passes on trick plays). If Michael Vick completes a pass for 80 yards, it would be included. And if Michael Vick runs for 80 yards, it would be included. But if he hands off to someone else who runs for 80 yards, obviously it wouldn't be included.