Week Six Quarterback Rankings

From almost worst to first. And from almost first to worst. Those are the storylines from Week Six.

After Week Five, Ben Roethlisberger had the second lowest QB Score per play in the league. He was one of only two quarterbacks to be below average in every game he played this year. In sum, Roethlisberger had performed badly.

As one can see in the Week Six QB Score Rankings, Roethlisberger on Sunday posted a QB Score per play of 8.05. So far this is the best per play performance in a single game this season. One wonders if this could happen in any other sport. Can a player in another sport be ranked nearly dead last in productivity and then turn in the best performance of the season?

On the flip side we have Rex Grossman. Grossman entered Monday night’s game with the second best QB Score per play in the league. At the end of the night Grossman’s team won, although he appeared to do his best to make sure that wouldn’t happen. Grossman participated in 42 plays that advanced the ball 127 yards. On top of this level of inefficiency he committed six turnovers. Per play, he posted a QB Score of -7.12. This is the lowest QB Score per play by any quarterback in a game this season. So here we see a player towards the top in productivity offering the worst performance in a season. Again, how often does this happen in other sports?

It is important to note that despite Grossman’s poor performance his team won. Quarterbacks are often assigned wins and losses in the NFL and Monday night’s game will be recorded as a Grossman win. As we note in The Wages of Wins, assigning wins and losses to a quarterback appears problematic, and what Grossman did on Monday night highlights this issue.

Okay, enough on wins and losses. Let’s talk inconsistency again. This basic story goes beyond Roethlisberger and Grossman. Nine quarterbacks – Carson Palmer, Drew Bledsoe, Jake Delhomme, Jake Plummer, Jon Kitna, Matt Hasselbeck, Vince Young, and Roethlisberger –had a QB Score per play below average through Week Five. All nine of these quarterbacks were above average in Week Six.

And then there is Chad Pennington. Pennington posted the worst performance of any NFL quarterback in Week Five. He was also above average in Week Six.

The story of inconsistency impacts virtually every player, except Donovan McNabb and Andrew Walter. McNabb has been above average in every game he has played this year. Walter, much to the dismay of Oakland Raider fans, has been below average in every game he has played this season. As noted in the Overall QB Score Rankings, McNabb and Walter live at opposite ends of the QB Score spectrum.

Despite the apparent consistency of McNabb and Walter, inconsistency appears to be the norm. As noted, a quarterback’s performance depends so much on the actions of others. Consequently wild swings in productivity are possible. And this is why the statistics we track for quarterbacks do not allow us to fully capture player value.

That being said, it is still fun to tell stories with these numbers. And this weekend we will get another set of numbers. So next Wednesday, look for a few more stories about quarterbacks in the NFL.

– DJ

QB Score has been discussed previously in the following posts:
Football Outsiders and QB Score

Consistent Inconsistency in Football

The Value of Player Statistics in the NFL

Simple Models of Player Performance