People often argue that a quarterback's passer rating isn't a valid measure for an NFL quarterback. Some argue that the formula used to figure a passer rating weighs too heavily in favor of completion and interception percentages, whereas touchdown percentages aren't weighed enough. But most importantly, a passer rating doesn't factor game situations or more specifically, the implications of a play. Is an interception that's returned for a touchdown weighted more than an interception on the other side of the field? How much does it cost a team if the quarterback throws an interception inside the Red Zone while down by four points with only two seconds left in the game? Granted. Rating is a little more detailed than say completion percentage. Yet passer rating is nearly a 40-year old passing statistic developed during the game's history in which the modern passing game was still in its infancy.
And as time moves on, so does the advanced saturation of analysis inside the most popular game in the United States of America. Debates increase, blogs surface and sports media companies grow exponentially. Using passer rating, while still relevant, doesn't apply game situations and that's become a critical component with any debate.
ESPN developed something called the Total Quarterback Rating. ESPN's NFC South blogger Mike Sando explains:
With input from football people, including ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, our statistical analysts have developed a 100-point ratings scale for quarterbacks taking into account advanced stats, game situations and relevant non-passing stats, including fumbles and sacks, to evaluate quarterbacks far more thoroughly. The methodology is complex -- one of the formula's key algorithms spans some 10,000 lines -- but the resulting "Total Quarterback Rating" (QBR for short) beats the old passer rating in every conceivable fashion. The ratings scale will debut this season.
A score of 100 would be perfect, with 50 being around average.
Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith adds:
One of the aspects of Total QBR that could be both a strength and a drawback is that it considers data that the average fan doesn’t have access to, like how far a pass travels in the air, and whether the quarterback was under pressure when he threw it. That could be a great benefit of Total QBR because it incorporates detailed information that only comes from film study, not from the box score. The drawback, however, is that it means fans can’t see for themselves exactly where Total QBR comes from — fans just have to trust that the distance the ball traveled was correctly measured, and how much pressure the quarterback felt on the play was correctly assessed.
Quarterbacks Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees scored as the league's top quarterbacks, according to Total QBR (which isn't that surprising). Retired Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was graded "around average" with guys like Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen as poor last season
We'll be interested to see how this pans out; even though it doesn't appear that fans will have immediate access to how the figures are compiled. Then again it's not like anyone know the quarterback formula at heart.
SportsCenter will run a special on the new stat this Friday at 8 p.m.