Week Nine Quarterback Rankings

We are now at the halfway point of the NFL season. So now is a good time to tell the story about what we have learned so far about quarterbacks in 2006. What we have learned is that quarterbacks are inconsistent (okay, I said that before).

Every team has now played eight games. But due to injuries and perceptions of poor performance, only twenty quarterbacks have played enough to be ranked in eight contests. Looking at this collection of signal callers, we see that everyone except Charlie Frye has offered at least one top ten finish in the weekly QB Score rankings. And everyone except Donovan McNabb, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees has been ranked below twenty in a given week. Eleven quarterbacks have managed at least two rankings in the top ten and two below twenty. Yes, quarterbacks are a bit inconsistent.

Looking at the Overall Rankings through Week Nine we see that Manning remains the top quarterback in the NFL. And that is the same position he held at the end of 2005. The other top 10 quarterbacks from 2005, though, have not faired quite so well. After Manning, only McNabb and Marc Bulger are ranked in the top 10 thus far this season after finishing towards the top last year. The other top quarterbacks from 2005 have, with the exception of Trent Green who has been injured, have all performed quite a bit worse in 2006. Yes, quarterbacks are inconsistent.

There are twelve quarterbacks ranked in 2006 who were not ranked last year. Of these, four are ranked 31st through 34th this year. The highest ranked rookie is Brad Gradowski, and he is only ranked 27th. This is something to remember next April for teams drafting towards the top. Rookie quarterbacks tend to perform badly, which gives their teams another chance to be tempted by the top quarterbacks in the next draft. Okay, rookie quarterbacks tend to be consistently bad. So for those who love consistency, rookies might be for you.

Turning our attention to the Week Nine QB Score Rankings, what stories leap out? Jon Kitna of the Lions offered the greatest performance in the history of Detroit signal callers. Well, not really (at least, I hope not). But he did post the second best performance in the league, a rare accomplishment for a Detroit quarterback. His performance – along with the efforts of Kevin Jones and the Detroit Lions defense – have the Lions faithful thinking the sinking ship we have seen under Matt Millen’s leadership is finally turning around. Of course, if you are going to finish 5-11, you have to win five games at some point. So despite a nice victory over the Atlanta Falcons, I remain a bit skeptical.

Four more stories and a few unanswered questions:

Much to everyone’s surprise, Damon Huard is making a run at Trent Green’s job. This is the same Trent Green who finished each season from 2002 to 2005 ranked as one of the top five quarterbacks in the league. Huard is currently the 6th ranked quarterback. Should Kansas City switch back to Green? Or will Huard keep playing well enough to keep Green on the bench?

A similar problem exists in Jacksonville. Byron Leftwich finished 2005 as the 9th best quarterback in the NFL. This year he is ranked 13th. David Garrard, though, was ranked 5th in the NFL in Week Nine. Okay, Jacksonville was playing the Tennessee Titans, so maybe that shouldn’t count. Still, can Garrard take Leftwich’s job?

Andrew Walter still has a job and remains the only quarterback who has played more than half his team’s games yet never offered an above average performance. After watching him sacked nine times by the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, we now can see where part of the problem lies. Who should Oakland draft next April? Do you take another quarterback? I suspect that any college quarterback taken by Oakland will just hold out for two or three seasons until Oakland finds someone who can block.

And finally, David Carr – a native of Bakersfield – rebounded last week. Although his team lost to the Giants, Carr posted a QB Score per play of 2.39, his third best mark in a game this season. He is still ranked 23rd out of 34 signal callers in QB Score per play. Of course, the Texans rank 29th in the league in rushing, so maybe Carr is not the only problem in Houston. Going forward, should the Texans fix the running game or find a new quaterback? Or maybe do both? Perhaps the Texans could hire Matt Millen from the Lions and see if he could fix the team. I am sure Detroit would part with Millen for a 7th round draft choice in the 2053 draft.

– 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