CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 2: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes the football on the end around run during the game against the Buffalo Bills on October 2, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Bills 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating is designed to take every known variable into account to provide a more detailed analysis of a quarterback because apparently Paul Brown's system (winning games) just wasn't enough. From the horse's mouth:
Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a quarterback's contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team's scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, on which 50 is average.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton struggled in the first half, throwing two interceptions that resulted in 14 points for the Buffalo Bills and a 17-3 half time deficit. Obviously Dalton's contributions towards his team's scoring and winning wouldn't score big to the general (over) analysis of those developing more and more convoluted reasons to simply revert to Paul Brown's time-tested formula -- if you win football games, then you're a good football team. And if you're a good football team, that means you have good football players. It's literally impossible to break it down easier than that.
But if one "takes into account all of a quarterback's contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team's scoring and winning", then why was Andy Dalton graded as the 27th best quarterback performance for week four according to the Total QBR? Dalton led the offense into four scoring drives in the second half, helped record 20 points and was a huge reason that the Buffalo Bills are heading into their week five match against the Philadelphia Eagles after experiencing their first loss.
For that matter why is Alex Smith (26th) and Matthew Stafford (17th) ranked so low for their week four performances? Aaron Rodgers posted six touchdowns on Sunday and became the first quarterback in NFL history to record four passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns and 400 yards passing in a single-game. Yet he's ranked second behind Matt Hasselbeck, who did post three touchdowns, but only completed 10 of 20 passes and an interception against the Cleveland Browns.
We're still not sure how to handle this Total QBR thing. We're open-minded enough to check it out, see where the players rank and see how the young Dalton compares. Yet at the end of the day, Paul Brown would look at Dalton, slap him on the back and say good job kid; after all winning is the most important statistic for a starting quarterback and that's the one Dalton achieved on Sunday.
We understand that the Total QBR is designed for debate about the best quarterbacks in the NFL. What I doubt it was designed for was to debate whether or not it's a joke -- and from our perspective, there really isn't a debate.