By Guy Mitchell aka sweetg1

 

Total QBR was created by ESPN to evaluate a Quarterback’s total contribution to the game. This would concern not only his passing numbers (as does the traditional Quarterback Rating), but it would also include his sacks, fumbles, his running ability, and penalties incurred.

 

I think it’s safe to say that the traditional Quarterback Passer Rating is outdated. I’d venture to say that 99.9% of today’s fans and experts could not recite the formula for today’s passer rating. I mean, who designs a system where 158.3 is the maximum rating? I think you take Pi – 3.1415926525 – and multiply it by the yards gained divided by number of TDs to calculate this rating (kidding). You know a system is flawed when Broncos punter Colquitt threw an incomplete 2 handed pass on a botched punt but still had a rating of 39.6. How is that not calculated as a 0.0 rating?

 

Total QBR is based on a 0 to 100 scale. A score of 50 is considered average (what a concept!) and a Pro Bowl type of season is 65-70. The attached chart shows the type of year that Aaron Rodgers is having. What I like about Total QBR is that it accounts for win probability. For instance, a team is not expected to win if they are down by 30 with 2 minutes. Yards accumulated this way aren’t as meaningful as yards accumulated when down by 2 with 98 yards to go with 2 minutes on the clock. While neither team is really expected to win, a QB gets more credit if he brings his team back. A QB also gets more credit going 1 for 1 for a 90 yard TD if he throws 60 yards in the air and the WR runs the remaining 30 yards than a QB who goes 1 for 1 for a 90 yard TD on a 5 yard screen pass where the RB runs 85 yards. While the numbers look the same in the paper, the Total QBR accounts for the incredible throw.

 

No system is perfect. Where I think the system needs tweaking is on winning. ESPN explains that more emphasis is not placed on winning because 86% of the time, the QB with the higher QB rating wins the game. Thus, no adjustments are made for the winner. However, if you look at my Denver Broncos, you’ll see that Kyle Orton has a higher rating for 2011 than Tim Tebow, as Orton is the purer QB. However, the Broncos under Orton in 2011 are 1-4, while the Broncos under Tebow are 3-1. Tebow ranks second from the bottom in the new rating system with the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Curtis Painter. Even the statisticians haven’t figured out how to account for Tebow.

 

What’s next?

Some folks think that statistics don’t matter. Being a statistician, I believe they can be relevant if used properly. Baseball, a statistics driven sport, gained notoriety with the introduction of Sabremetrics. For those not familiar with Sabremetrics, it was created to look at the ability of a player’s contribution to the game. For instance, it was better to hit .250 with 90 RBIs and 80 runs scored than it was to hit .300 with 60 RBIs and 80 runs scored because you accounted for more runs, the true indicator for your contribution to your team’s success. A player couldn’t just get hits when it didn’t matter for the game. Years ago, many laughed at the notion of using numbers this way, saying that they didn’t account for the intangibles of a player. However, statistics, if used properly can notice trends and evaluate the likelihood of a player doing well. In today’s game, many teams now employ sabrematicians to evaluate free agents.

 

Such ratings should also exist for other football positions. I’d love to see how a RB got his yards. Did he get them when his team was up by 30 and just ran 20 more times or did he get a long run when they weren’t expecting to get his yards? How did he rate on 3rd down? I think it would be more impressive if he got his 4 yards consistently on 3rd and 3 than he did on 1st and 10. Did the WR get his catches in the clutch? Again, it would be more impressive to get 2 receptions for 20 yards and a TD than it would to get 3 receptions for 90 yards (all in the first half) and no TDs. It would be nice to see which other players stood out consistently over time and in the clutch. It would allow us to see what linemen are actually doing. If fans got to see these numbers, then the fan votes for Pro Bowls might actually be based on real numbers instead of being a popularity contest. A few years ago, Champ Bailey wasn’t selected as a Pro Bowler starter because he didn’t have as many interceptions as Revis. These are the stats that are usually shown. However, what the stats don’t show is that QBs choose not to throw his way for fear of the INT, essentially shutting down his half of the field. Most casual fans don’t see this. Imagine seeing these statistics in hockey, seeing when a winger scored his goal (in the clutch or was it an empty netter?). Did the goalie make the save when his team was up 5-0 and when his team was up 1-0 in the last few minutes of a game? Seeing such statistics in other sports would tell the fans who the money players really are. Or you could just ask me and I’d be happy to tell you for no additional cost!