Week Seven Quarterback Rankings

Ben Roethlisberger got off to a bad start in 2006. Okay, his team won the Super Bowl at the start of the calendar year. But the 2006 NFL season did not start well. After five weeks only Andrew Walter’s struggles with the Raiders prevented Roethlisberger from being the lowest ranked quarterback in the league.

Last week that changed. The best single game performance of the year was posted by Roethlisberger. As the Week Seven QB Score Rankings indicate, Roethlisberger continued to play well in the seventh week of the season. At least he did until the Atlanta Falcons made a Roethlisberger sandwich. After that, his game was over.

Off the bench came Charlie Batch. As noted previously, one can argue that Batch is the greatest quarterback employed by the Detroit Lions in the past 30 years. Granted, that is an incredibly poor sample of signal callers. Still, Batch has had moments in his career when he was “not bad.”

In the first game of the season Batch had a 1.66 QB Score per play. This was the 16th best performance that week, and above the average mark of 1.1, so that clearly falls under the heading of “not bad.”

In Week Seven Batch was replacing a quarterback who had posted a QB Score per play of 3.11. Batch, though, was unfazed. In 13 pass attempts Batch threw for 195 yards. With no turnovers, this results in a QB Score per play of 12.00. The somewhat arbitrary cut-off to qualify for the rankings is 14 pass attempts, so Batch came within one pass attempt of posting the best performance by a quarterback this season.

For the season Batch has a 4.46 QB Score per play, which – as the Overall QB Score Rankings indicate – would be the top mark in the league had Batch attempted enough passes to qualify.

But he did not, so that honor falls to Peyton Manning. Manning’s top performance in Week Seven was good enough to propel him past Donovan McNabb for number one ranking in the league. Manning has been the top quarterback in the league the last three seasons. In essence, Manning has been the island of consistency in the sea of inconsistent NFL quarterbacks. One should note, though, that although McNabb slipped from the top overall spot, he remains the only quarterback to be above average in every game played this season. So this season, McNabb has joined Manning on the island.

Other stories from Week Seven….

Continuing the theme of looking at quarterbacks associated with the Lions. Jon Kitna, the current signal caller in Detroit, has committed 12 turnovers. Only Charlie Frye and Walter have lost the ball more often. Not surprisingly, Kitna is listed as below average. If we look at QB Score per game – the approach taken in the discussion of Charlie Batch posted earlier – Kitna’s per game mark of 39.9 ranks as the 8th best performance by a Lions quarterback in the past 30 years. Yes, it is a sad history in Detroit.

More on the Lions… Joey Harrington, the Lions quarterback last season, is one of only five quarterbacks – Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Brad Johnson, and Philip Rivers are the others — who have not yet been ranked in a given week 20 or lower. Unlike these signal callers, though, Harrington has yet to actually be above average in a week. Harrington has so far been ranked 18th, 17th, and then 18th. This means that only Harrington and Walter have been below average in every game played this season.

So Kitna is not working out. Keeping Harrington may not have been a good idea. The other option the Lions had was drafting a quarterback last April. That always seems like a good idea in April, and not such a good idea in October. Thus far, every rookie quarterback is below average this season. Of these, the top performer is Bruce Gradkowski. Matt Leinart and Vince Young have both posted numbers far below the sixth round draft choice of Tampa Bay.

Of course, it should be noted, one should expect all three of these players to play better in the future than any quarterback the Lions choose to employ. Okay that may sound like a bold prediction and a harsh comment on Detroit. But after thirty years of data on Detroit quarterbacks, predicting that future signal callers in the Motor City will play badly seems like a safe bet for a fan who is not happy with yet another losing season.

– 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