QB Grades Explained
As is the case with any project/experiment, the experimenter learns over the course of the project. In 2017, I am removing throwaways from the grade (won’t be counted as a drop back) so long as the quarterback made the correct decision and there wasn’t anybody open downfield. He will still receiver a score of 1 if he evades pressure and the throwaway is in lieu of a sack, and will received a -1 score if he misses an open receiver that could’ve reasonably targeted.
Shovel passes are also being removed from the drop back count.
A greater emphasis will be placed on situations. I did change my evaluation for garbage time scoring, but I will pay closer attention to third downs, red-zone and missed big play opportunities (Cam Newton’s missed TD throw against the 49ers will be a -3 because it should’ve been a touchdown.)
I am implementing more concrete scoring rules this year:
3 points = Must be 20+ air yards. Must elude some form of pressure, unless the ball is perfectly located for a massive play in tight coverage.
2 points = must be 10 air yards or more with location and pressure escaping coming into play.
The purpose of this project is to eliminate all surrounding factors such as scheme, receiver and offensive line impact and anything that is out of the quarterback’s control. Admittedly, this can’t be done on every snap as this is the ultimate team game. Jump balls, back shoulder fades, go routes, miscommunications, free pass rushers, sometimes there are events that the quarterback has little control over. In such instances, I did my best to make an objective evaluation of how the quarterback handled the pressure or where the ball was located.
The way we view quarterbacks has become too dependent on reputation, narratives and the inability to separate the mainstream headlines from what the coaches are evaluating on film. For instance, Sam Bradford will forever have the reputation of a middle of the road, at best, quarterback. Eli Manning and Joe Flacco are still leaching off post-season success from a half-decade ago. Rather than relying on antiquated views, I put the 2016 season under a microscope and gave every player a clean slate and based the grades purely on recent performance.
These are the main criteria points used in this evaluation:
Timing: Was the QB on time with his decision making and throws?
Ball Placement: Did the QB afford his receiver an opportunity to turn an average gain into a big one? Did he throw around the coverage? If the receiver reached back and made a one handed catch, he’s not going to be credited with a positive play.
Pocket Movement: Did the quarterback manage the pocket to mitigate poor protection?
Going Off-Script: It doesn’t always go right in the NFL. In those instances, does the QB thrive, or fold into a doomed result?
Taking Advantage of Open Targets: Electing to dump it off when the original read was there will go against the quarterback.
Keep in mind that throw aways can be positive points just as scrambles can be negative plays. Tom Brady against Cincinnati is a perfect example. On the second drive, he scrambles around and has a great opportunity to find Edelman in the end-zone and eschews the throw and runs for two yards. I gave him a -1 for this play because he could’ve taken a shot with minimal consequences. Then, the next play, he escapes immense pressure, no receiver ever uncovered and he was able to throw it away. I gave him 1 point for that play because he kept the Pats out of a negative play.
If the pocket is clean or a receiver is all alone, the quarterback will most likely get a 1 for any type of completion. This project is to measure how well the quarterback’s deal with making plays beyond the routine. The routine plays are important, and that’s why they get docked for missing them, but the majority of their positive plays will be scored a 1.
A player’s lack of traits will absolutely be held against them. For instance, there are cases with Brady where his lack of athleticism leaves play on the field. Obviously, the Pats don’t roster him for his ability to shake defenders, but this is looking at every quarterback in a vacuum and in their entirety.
Where PFF gets it wrong, beside charging thousands of dollars for access to their information, is the mysterious unknown grading scale. Here, I will tell you exactly what I look for. And since I’m the only one compiling the work, the curve is always the same.
Remember, end result is NOT what I’m looking at here. No notes are made on a player before the third game played. This is NOT a results based grading system. An 80 yard touchdown pass that came on a quick hitter is not more impressive than driving an ordinary deep-out route over a linebacker and under the safety.
Usage % = Number of drop-backs divided by team snaps.
Execution % = Positive plays divided by drop-backs.
Mistake % = Negative plays divided by drop-backs