Now here are five stories about what these rankings say. These are not the only stories the rankings can tell, but these are stories that came to mind as I looked over each list. If you see another story, post a comment and let me know.
Andrew Walter Explains His Consistency
The Weekly Rankings indicate that, once again, Andrew Walter of the Oakland Raiders has offered a performance that was below average. Although quarterbacks tend to be consistently inconsistent, Walter has been very much the same player in the eight weeks he has led Oakland’s offensive attack. With the exception of Walter, every quarterback who played in Week Ten has had at least one week this season where his performance ranked in the top 15 in the league. Even Joey Harrington managed to join the club this last week. Walter’s best performance, though, came in Week Six, when he was only ranked 19th.
And now we now Walter tells us why he has played poorly. Walter claims the problem is with his coaching. According to an article by Associated Press writer Josh Dubow “Walter took shots at coordinator Tom Walsh’s offense after Sunday’s 17-13 loss to Denver, saying there is not enough “depth” in the playbook, the offense was too predictable, and that the team needed to utilize more quick-developing plays than five- and seven-step drops.”
In response to this criticism, the Dubow article claims head coach Art Shell might switch back to Aaron Brooks at quarterback. If Brooks performs well, we will have some evidence that Walter was the problem. If Brooks fails to perform, then it could be the play calling – as Walter contends – or the very weak offensive line any Oakland quarterback must rely upon for protection. In other words, it is very difficult to verify the story Walter is telling.
Tony Romo Comes Through for Parcells
As Shell ponders a change at quarterback, the early returns are justifying the switch made by Bill Parcells. The Overall Rankings indicate that Drew Bledsoe is ranked 26th out of 32 quarterbacks. Tony Romo, the new quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, does not have enough attempts to qualify for the overall rankings. Still it should be noted that buoyed by his performance against the Arizona Cardinals – the second best performance by a quarterback this season – Romo’s overall QB Score per play this season of 3.36 just barely eclipses Donovan McNabb’s per play performance of 3.34. In other words, had he enough attempts to qualify, Romo would be ranked second in the league. One should note that Romo has improved each and every week in his relative performance. Obviously Romo can’t improve on his number one ranking this week, and it is unlikely he can post a better QB Score per play than 7.16 when he plays the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.
The Consistency of Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb
Speaking of the Colts, Peyton Manning continues to be ranked as the number one quarterback in the league. This is the spot he held last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Manning, though, has not led his team to a Super Bowl title. So despite the numbers and his team’s 9-0 start, skeptics still come after him. As Bill Freehling argues, the numbers still tell us that Manning is one of the all-time great quarterbacks. And that is true whether or not his team ever takes the title.
Donovan McNabb may not be one of the all-time (he may be, though), but he is certainly very good. If his QB Score per play this year of 3.34 stands until the end of the season, McNabb will have posted the fourth best performance by a signal caller since 1995. The other top performers were Peyton Manning in 2004 and this season, and Randall Cunningham in 1998. Yet McNabb’s team is only 5-4. Perhaps wins and losses are not only about the quarterback (we say that in Chapter Nine of the book).
Carson Palmer Gets a Loss
And Carson Palmer learned that lesson this week. Palmer led his team to 41 points against the San Diego Chargers. Unfortunately, Cincinnati’s defense allowed 49. His career record will still note this as a loss, which could have been avoided if Palmer would have just led his team to 50 points. Of course, requiring an offense to score 50 points may be a bit unreasonable.
Damon Huard Gets Benched
And the last story continues the discussion of crediting wins and losses to the quarterback. This practice has apparently ended Damon Huard’s reign as starting quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs. Huard is currently ranked 6th in the NFL in QB Score per play. But the team has only been 4-4 with him as a starter. So off the bench comes Trent Green, who has been a top five quarterback each of the past four seasons. Perhaps going to Green is a good idea, but Huard has certainly looked like a legitmate starting quarterack this year in Kansas City.