View Full Version : Evaluation of ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating (Total QBR) - Contest Entry

11-14-2011, 01:17 PM
Evaluation of the Total Quarterback Rating (Total QBR)

Total QBR was created by ESPN to evaluate a Quarterbackís total contribution to the game. This would 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I think itís safe to say that the traditional Quarterback Passer Rating is outdated. Iíd venture to say that 99.9% of todayís fans and experts could not recite the formula for todayís passer rating. I mean, who designs a system where 158.3 is the maximum rating? I think you take Pi Ė 3.1415926525 Ė and multiple 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 arenít 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, youíll 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 havenít figured out how to account for Tebow.

Whatís next?
Some folks think that statistics donít 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 playerís 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 teamís success. A player couldnít just get hits when it didnít matter for the game. Years ago, many laughed at the notion of using numbers this way, saying that they didnít 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 todayís game, many teams now employ sabrematicians to evaluate free agents.

Such ratings should also exist for other football positions. Iíd 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 werenít 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 lineman 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 wasnít selected as a Pro Bowler starter because he didnít have as many interceptions as Revis. These are the stats that are usually shown. However, what the stats donít 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 donít 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 Iíd be happy to tell you for no additional cost! :):


11-14-2011, 03:06 PM
What did I win for reading that? :)

Just kidding, but that is a HUGE post. I'll admit that I don't know how the current QB rating is calculated. But as simple/stupid as it is, I like that if a QB is doing well that their rating is above 100. To say that Rodgers has been playing lights-out football and that he's at an 88 rating just doesn't sounds as cool as 143.6... and we all know that we live in the era of 'cool' over common sense.

11-14-2011, 04:09 PM

Sorry to take away 15 minutes you'll never get back. But this is just one man's opinion. In today's world of free agency and fantasy leagues, we often complain that the players of all sports aren't what they used to be. In the old days like the Negro Leagues, the players were more concerned about playing the game the right way (i.e. getting the run home even if it meant grounding out) than playing for their statistics or playing for their next contract. These are the things that can actually change the focus to keeping track of what really matters, not what "sounds cool". But you're right, we live in different times.

Appreciate the comments.


11-15-2011, 07:46 PM
I wonder what the Raiders' punter's TQB Rating is... I believe he has one pass attempt around 30 or so yards for a touchdown on a fake field goal against the Browns... LOL

11-15-2011, 08:02 PM
Yes, I wondered too, so I looked it up:

Unfortunately, they only calculate Total QBR on QBs who have a minimum number of action plays.

11-20-2011, 03:44 PM
Thanks for the submission Guy, published here: http://www.sportscardforum.com/articles/2011/11/evaluation-of-the-total-quarterback-rating-total-qbr/