Ranking The QBs After Week 1: My QBR Explained

Some of you are familiar with the stats that I do on my own for the entire NFL. If you aren't, that is okay.

I run a stat-based website ( that studies the NFL through numbers rather than film. I base my analysis solely on the production of teams on the field.

Since there is a high correlation between performing well in the stats I use and winning football games, it is a logical decision to use these stats instead of watching film, since I lack the time and knowledge to break each play down thoroughly and accurately.

There is always plenty of debate over who the best quarterback is in the NFL, who has the best talent around him, who is a product of a "system" and who has been "unlucky" due to circumstantial football.

I have decided to tackle a few myths before I begin with Week 1 of the 2013 Regular Season.

Myth #1

Any passer rating or QBR is flawed because it can't measure everything.

Actually, teams that win the QB battle win games about 82-84 percent of all football games. This is a higher percentage than teams that win the turnover battle, which is around 80 percent.

The truth is, all passer ratings measure 4 things that are crucial to a successful offense - completing percentage, touchdown percentage, turnover percentage and yards per throw average.

This may not be an "all-encompassing" stat; however, the rules in this game dictate that teams with superior passing offenses and defenses win games far more often than anything else. The passer rating is not flawed. The problem is too many fans put too much weight into it even though it was never designed to measure everything. It simply measures the passing game and does an excellent job.

Myth #2

Any passer rating that doesn't take into account drops, throw-aways and sacks is incomplete, and therefore, invalid.

First, as you can see in my response to Myth #1, passer ratings are definitely valid because it has such a high correlation winning football games. People continue to say, "The only thing that matters is who won." Well, guess what? Most teams won because they had a better performance from their QB. It is that simple.

Second, stats have never been designed to give a perfect picture of what goes on during a game. Film is vital for the most important details. However, stats do a better job of providing an objective approximation of what occurred on the field by using factual data (numbers).

Intelligently designed ratings will provide an approximation that is as accurate as possible. That is the purpose of stats. Stats and film compliment each other and both of them should be used when studying football.

Myth #3

Passer ratings can't take into account a QB's surrounding talent and "system", therefore, its difficult to know how good a QB really is because its a team game and you can't compare one QB to another.

It is true that this is a team game and a QB can benefit from a good supporting cast and from good coaching, however, the quarterback is responsible for the overwhelming majority of a passer rating.

Regardless of the talent and coaching, great QBs succeed. It is that simple. There are obviously variations of success, but good-great QBs don't struggle from week-to-week. These quarterbacks will perform well over the course of a season no matter who he has on the field with him and who he has coaching.

Even if a team is recorded for 30 dropped passes on the season, that is usually only 5% of a QB's total passes. Also, remember that every QB has to deal with dropped passes. Therefore, the number of dropped passes compared to the total number of throws is pretty small.

The same goes for QB pressures. They are a big deal, but they are still only a small part of any rating that includes them. All quarterbacks get pressured, so the idea that one QB is either responsible for or a recipient of all these pressures more than another due to a "system" is giving them more weight than they deserve.

Pressures are important, but their significance is a little overrated. Touchdowns and turnovers are far more important than a sack. A high completion percentage is also more important than a couple of sacks. Its important to keep a proper perspective when studying football with stats.

The reality is, a quarterback with a rating of 105.0, for example, may not be performing better than a a quarterback with a rating of 103.5. These two are very close and the QB with a rating of 105.0 may very well have a superior supporting cast and have faced off against inferior competition.

However, if there is a huge gap, then the supporting cast and competition is insignificant. At the end of a season, if QB #1 has a rating of 105 and QB #2 has a rating of 98, then there is almost no chance, regardless of the circumstances, that QB #2 outperformed QB #1.

My Formula

The formula for my QBR includes rushing totals, fumbles lost, safeties (if they are on the QB), sacks and QB hits as well as the standard stats, such as passing touchdowns, interceptions, completion percentage and yards per throw average.

All of these are used as percentages instead of volume numbers. This allows me to compare QBs who throw about 20 passes with QBs that throw 40+ passes.

Week 1

Here is a chart of all of the starting QBs for the first week of the regular season.

Starter Team Acc Tds Tos YPA Tot S/H QB Rtg
1 Peyton Manning DEN 64.3 7 0 11.00 10 210.8
2 Andrew Luck IND 78.3 3 0 8.04 12 145.4
3 Colin Kaepernick SF 69.2 3 0 9.43 5 133.9
4 Drew Brees NO 74.3 2 1 10.03 5 127.6
5 Aaron Rodgers GB 56.8 3 1 8.87 7 125.5
6 Philip Rivers SD 48.3 4 1 7.10 7 125.1
7 Jay Cutler CHI 63.6 2 1 7.65 4 113.7
8 EJ Emanuel BUF 66.7 2 0 5.77 4 113.3
9 Eli Manning NYG 64.3 4 3 10.41 8 111.5
10 Matt Schaub HOU 75.6 3 1 7.69 8 105.2
11 Russel Wilson SEA 75.8 1 1 9.43 3 96.1
12 Alex Smith KC 61.8 2 0 5.21 5 96.0
13 Cam Newton CAR 69.6 1 0 5.82 2 94.6
14 Andy Dalton CIN 78.8 2 2 8.38 2 93.4
15 Sam Bradford STL 71.1 2 1 7.50 5 90.1
16 Matthew Stafford DET 65.1 2 1 7.91 3 87.7
17 Matt Ryan ATL 65.8 2 1 8.10 9 84.3
18 Michael Vick PHI 60.0 3 1 8.06 10 82.9
19 Carson Palmer ARI 65.0 2 2 8.18 9 76.8
20 Tony Romo DAL 73.5 2 1 5.37 8 75.0
21 Robert Griffin III WAS 61.2 2 2 6.54 12 61.0
22 Joe Flacco BAL 54.8 2 2 5.84 12 54.6
23 Jake Locker TEN 55.0 0 0 5.74 4 49.3
24 Ryan Tannehill MIA 63.2 1 1 6.90 11 47.0
25 Tom Brady NE 55.8 2 2 5.22 9 44.2
26 Terrelle Pryor OAK 65.5 1 2 7.83 4 42.5
27 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 63.6 1 1 5.79 11 40.7
28 Geno Smith NYJ 63.2 1 2 6.89 13 38.9
29 Josh Freeman TB 48.4 1 2 6.56 8 24.2
30 Brandon Weeden CLE 49.1 1 3 5.45 22 14.3
31 Christian Ponder MIN 64.3 1 4 8.03 9 -5.3
32 Blaine Gabbert JAC 45.7 0 2 3.51 16 -35.6


  1. It is rare for 2 QBs in the top-10 to have a completion percentage under 60.0, but Rodgers and Rivers countered that with good numbers elsewhere. 4 out of the top 10 QBs had a completion percentage over 70.0, with Kaepernick just missing out with a percentage of 69.2.
  2. At the bottom of the table, half of the lowest ranked QBs had a completion percentage under 60, with none higher than Pryor's 65.5 completion percentage.
  3. The top-10 QBs have a combined 33-8 touchdown-turnover ratio. Only Eli Manning had multiple turnovers. Conversely, the bottom 10 QBs had a combined 9-19 touchdown-turnover ratio; only one QB in the bottom ten (Tom Brady) had multiple touchdowns.
  4. To put Peyton Manning's performance in perspective, he threw (or ran, for other QBs) a touchdown pass on 17% of his throws. The next 4 QBs in this rating went like this: Luck (11%), Kaepernick (7%), Brees (6%) and Rodgers (8%). In fact, Rivers (13%-2nd in the NFL and 6th in QBR) was the closest. Still, Manning led the entire NFL by a wide margin in touchdown percentage, despite throwing more passes than all but 7 QBs in week 1. Kaepernick was the only other QB to rank in the top 5 in QBR and have at least 40 attempts, whether throwing or rushing. However, as a result, his touchdown percentage was only 7%, good enough for 4th among the top-5 QBs.
  5. At the top, 6 out of 10 QBs had an yards per attempt (throw or run) average over 8.00. This is excellent, even if it is just 1 game. 3 out of the other 4 have a YPA average of at least 7.00. Only rookie EJ Emanuel struggled to throw down the field, but that was expected because he is a rookie on a bad team. Conversely, the bottom 10 only have 2 QBs with YPA averages of at least 7.00, with Gabbert leaving us all dumbfounded as to how he still has a job.
  6. While Peyton Manning benefited from YAC from his receivers, all QBs benefit from that. Most of Peyton's passes were accurate, which allowed his receivers to run with the ball. Many of them were 15-30 yards down the field when they caught the pass. His average of 11.00 is incredible, considering he threw over 40 times. Brees and younger brother Eli were the only other QBs to have an average of at least 10.00.
  7. Despite having double-digit pressures, Manning and Luck rank 1-2 in the rating. Pressures are important, but QBs can excel even with lots of them. The next QB to have 10+ pressures is ranked 18th in QBR, Michael Vick. However, it is important to note that the top 10 QBs were pressured 70 times, compared to the bottom 10 QBs who were pressured 107 times.

I read here many times that people weren't sure how well Manning's performance stacked up with the rest of the NFL because they had not seen them play.

Rest assured, MHR, he crushed their performances. Did Welker, DT, Decker, JT and the running backs help? Absolutely. But make no mistake, there is plenty of talent on offense for SF, NO and GB. Only Indianapolis could claim to have significantly less talent.

Secondly, Manning had almost no running game, more pressures than the other QBs and his receivers dropped passes as well. Despite that, he still came out on top and by a huge margin. The formula works, despite the intangibles that fans use to discredit any performance they don't like or want to diminish.

The truth is, Manning was the most efficient and effective QB this past weekend, and it wasn't close. Any QBR or analyst that says otherwise is wrong.

Here's hoping the Broncos get a running game so Manning doesn't have to drop back 40+ times a game, even though he can do it and maintain an incredibly high rate of success.

As always, go Broncos! Beat the Giants!

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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