Rating quarterbacks objectively will never be an exact science — that’s just the nature of football, especially in the NFL. But what we can do is try to come up with a quarterback rating that highlights which QBs are helping their team more than hurting it.
That is exactly what Pro Football Magazine has done.
We looked at quarterbacks and their stats from 2002-2017, and came up with a way to rank them as best as we could. The NFL currently uses passer rating to rank its quarterbacks, a metric that has been in place since 1973. We used Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value (and the “eyeball” test) to gauge how well our formula fits.
ESPN came up with QBR (Total Quarterback Rating) in 2011 in an effort to improve upon passer rating. The problem with QBR — not that it’s a bad metric — is that it uses statistics and data that we are generally not privy to. It’s also overly complex.
That leaves us with PFM’s EQBR (Enhanced Quarterback Rating). Fear not, the formula is not more complex than ESPN’s QBR, it’s just the name we chose.
While we won’t fully publish how we calculate EQBR, we will disclose that it’s comprised of the following statistics:
- Air Yards
- Rushing yards
- Rushing attempts
- Wins (and losses)
Good things quarterbacks do is throw for a lot of yards, contribute to points, make play with their legs, and limit turnovers. In our system, these are rewarded, while turnovers, bad throws, sacks, and bad scrambles negatively affect the rating. We realize that sacks are not always completely the fault of the quarterback, so they are weighted lesser. The same goes for losses, which are usually not squarely on the shoulders of the QB.
Addressing the never-ending debate of QB wins as a statistic, PFM takes the following position: yes, wins and QB play are not a direct correlation, but in our metric we take this into account. Good QBs are winners, in general, and bad QBs are not.
Finally, our scale is a simple 0-100 grading scale, as with our team power rankings, where 100 is a perfect EQBR and 0 is the worst EQBR possible. One more thing to note is that we plan to update these rankings weekly.
Of course, we are open to any feedback, and we will also be publishing EQBR ratings from previous seasons shortly in order for you to get a general idea of how your favorite quarterback has performed over recent seasons.
Follow @ProFootball_Mag on Twitter