CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 11: Backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski #7 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws down field during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium during a season opener on September 11, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 27-17. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
We're not exactly sure how ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating is designed, but we're fairly certain of its intentions. It's not just meant to be a statistical measure of a quarterback; rather it introduces measurables that factor the quarterback's importance and performance in game situations. That's how we figured it at first.
With two games remaining, Bengals quarterback Bruce Gradkowski measured with a Total QBR of 32.7, which according to their definition or rankings system, is below average -- though considering he threw the game-winning touchdown, you'd think his "clutch-weight" would be above 0.0. Cam Newton (who had a great game) sported a league-leading clutch-weight EPA of 10.8 -- yet the Carolina Panthers lost. So again, we're not sure how ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating is designed, implemented or how far this representation will last (you have no idea how long it took me to find the damned thing in the first place). Though in fairness, Newton represented the only quarterback in the top-ten that lost.
Gradkowski ranked 19th overall (again with two games remaining) and Andy Dalton finished 22nd; better than notable names like Donovan McNabb, Mark Sanchez, Ben Roethlisberger and Kerry Collins. Oh, and let's not forget -- better than Colt McCoy.
We're still subjectively looking at ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating as nothing more than a new toy. Doubtful it will revolutionize many debates of quarterback comparisons, it's still interesting enough to keep our attention away from the bight shiny red ball hopping across the street.