Judging Quarterbacks Incorrectly Must stop
Judging Quarterbacks Incorrectly Must stop | Chris Schisler | June 18, 2013
In this year’s draft people ranted and raved about the completion percentage of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. This is a silly measure for Smith as he threw over 100 screens and ran an offense built off dink and dunk passing, to NFL quality receivers. In this case we have evaluated a quarterback off a misleading number. Completion percentage is often irrelevant. Ideally your quarterback is somewhere between 58- 60 % but the number is not important. What is important is the efficiency of a quarterback’s decisions. Look at Joe Flacco. People often bicker about his completion percentage forgetting that he is a home run hitter who does not dink and dunk with regularity. Joe is an incredibly efficient passer who rarely makes decisions that lead to turnovers and takes calculated chances. His completion percentage feeds his critics, but it is rotten food they indulge in. Some numbers tell the whole story with a quarterback. For example Tony Romo’s 19 interceptions sell a pretty convincing argument about him as a passer. The point here is that quarterbacks get judged good and bad every day. It is important to judge them correctly.
First off never utter the letters QBR in my presence. The QBR is ESPN’s baby, a new form of quarterback rating, a faulty one at that. The QBR attempted to be the modern version of the quarterback rating, counting quarterback runs into the equation. To be honest I see it as a bunch of nonsense. (http://espn.go.com/nfl/qbr) The link takes you to ESPN’s QBR ranking for 2012. Notice that Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan and Alex Smith ranked in the top 10. This is supposed to say that these three are the three most efficient and productive quarterbacks in the league. Well Alex Smith lost his job to Kaepernick, because Jim Harbuagh did not believe he could win a Super Bowl with him. Kaepernick’s QBR is inflated because of his runs, and he is a good but not great passer so far. Matt Ryan is the most overrated quarterback in football, with receivers that bail him out of bad throws. To attack the QBR even more, the rankings do not reflect the quality of the respective quarterbacks’ play. The QBR would have you believe that Joe Flacco was one of the worst quarterbacks in football. In reality Flacco is a Super Bowl MVP who has won a playoff game five years in a row, whose play has taken the Ravens to new heights. Ahead of the Super Bowl MVP are names such as Locker, Bradford, Ponder and Dalton just to name a few. To prove my point I propose a hypothetical question. To win a game: who would you rather have Locker, Bradford, Ponder, Dalton or Joe Flacco? Exactly, you take Joe Flacco. The QBR is one of the least valid and reliable measures in football. Its results do not meet reality and you get some awfully funny rankings.
The word elite is obsessed about and it seems everyone has a different definition. My definition of elite is quite simple. An elite quarterback must always give his team a chance to win a championship. I have a short list of elite quarterbacks, all who have proven their status in postseason play. The list in no particular order includes only Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rogers, the Manning Brothers and Joe Flacco. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but this list reflects my strong belief. A quarterback in this list gives their team a chance to win it all every year. The list has won a combined 9 championships starting when Brady won in 2001. Elite is defined to me anyway by championships and playoff success. The caveat being that the quarterbacks still give their team a chance to win it all. Ben Roethlisberger has had an elite career, but I think his play has declined and he does not give the Steelers a reasonable chance to win the Super Bowl.
Quarterback play should be judged by results. I scoffed at the old passer rating the same way I mock the QBR. I do not need a formula to tell me whether a quarterback is good or bad. Especially because these statistics do not measure the impact the quarterback’s teammates have on the statistics. I can see who is good and who is not with my eyes. Statistics are helpful in summarizing results. Some statistics are however more indicative of the truth than others. Red Zone statistics and touchdown to interception ratios are very important, because they are so results oriented. Completion percentage and passer ratings do not tell me a lot. Judge by results, judge from what you see but please judge responsibly.