Week Four QB Score and RB Score Rankings

Posted on October 2, 2007 by

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Overall and Week Four QB Score Rankings

Overall and Week Four RB Score Rankings 

The Quarterback Stories

After three weeks the defending NFC Champions were 1-2.  Looking at the Bears roster it appeared obvious where the problem was.  Rex Grossman, the team’s quarterback, had a QB Score per play of -0.58.  Yes, his numbers were not good.

So the Bears turned to a fan favorite (second string quarterbacks on struggling teams tend to be fan favorites) Brian Griese. Griese’s first game was in Detroit, against my Lions.  And although I am a fan of Detroit, I am not blind.  Detroit does not have a great defense.  So although Griese was on the road, he was only a few miles from the University of Michigan (where he starred) and playing a team that still hasn’t convinced me is all that good.

Despite such favorable circumstances, when the game ended Griese had a QB Score per play -0.47. 

So if you are Lovie Smith – the Bears head coach – what have you learned?

a. The Bears have two quarterbacks that are not very good.

b. The supporting cast on offense is not very good so therefore changing the quarterback is not going to make much difference.

c. Related to (b) – the play calling and offensive scheme on the Bears would make any quarterback look bad.

d. Griese is still better than Grossman, he just had a bad game.

e. The Lions defense is truly great and would make any quarterback look bad.

So which is the answer?  Okay, I wouldn’t buy (e).  But the other four are all plausible.  And hence we see the problem in the NFL. Just like baseball and basketball, we have numbers to analyze quarterbacks in the NFL.  We can look over the rankings and see that Tony Romo, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning are having good seasons.  But these same numbers tell us that Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Donovan McNabb – three quarterbacks who were quite “good” last year – are not “good” this year.

In baseball and basketball, when the numbers are bad, we tend to think the player is bad.  But in football we can’t be too sure.  Unlike basketball players, quarterbacks are consistently inconsistent (a story told more than once in this forum). This is because the numbers we use to evaluate quarterbacks depend heavily on teammates, coaching, and opposition.  And the numbers do not tell us whether it is this list of factors, or the quarterback’s talent, that drives the results we observe in the box score.

Although the numbers are not as good as we like, we can still have some fun.  For example, the rankings look at QB Score, Net Points, Wins Produced, and QB Rating.  The first three are Wages of Wins measures and are highly correlated.  The latter is the NFL’s metric.  Looking at these measures, which players are the most overrated and underrated?

Without further discussion…

Most Overrated Quarterback: Chad Pennington (17th in QB Score per play, 5th in QB Rating)

Most Underrated Quarterback: Jason Campbell (16th in QB Score per play, 26th in QB Rating)

If we look at just Week Four, the most overrated was Jon Kitna of the Lions.  The most underrated was the Lions former quarterback, Jeff Garcia.

The Running Back Stories

When we look at running backs we see that LaMont Jordan of the Oakland Raiders ranks towards the top in the Overall Rankings.  He was hurt this week and his spot was taken by Justin Fargas.  Fargas ranks towards the top in the Week Four rankings.  These results tell us that

a. Jordan and Fargas are really good.

b. The Raiders offensive line has improved.

c. The Raiders play calling and offensive scheme have improved.

d. The Raiders have played teams with lousy run defenses.

Given that Fargas and Jordan did not post great numbers last year, one suspects (b), (c), and/or (d). 

I could tell more stories.  But since I teach on Tuesday nights until 8pm (Economics of Religion from 3:30 to 5:30 and Intermediate Macroeconomics from 6pm to 8pm) I am more than a bit tired.  But before I close this post, let me note the most overrated and underrated running backs.  For this comparison I will look at RB Score per game and rushing yards per game.

Most Overrated Running Back: Steven Jackson (31st in RB Score per game, 15th in rushing yards per game)

Most Underrated Running Back: Ronnie Brown (2nd in RB Score per game, 14th in rushing yards per game)

– DJ

For more on QB Score, RB Score and what these metrics mean see

The New QB Score

Consistent Inconsistency in Football

Football Outsiders and QB Score

The Value of Player Statistics in the NFL

Posted in: Football Stories