Using NFL.com, I calculated the Quarterback Efficiency Ratings for certain NFL quarterbacks. I did not do an exhaustive list. I calculated the numbers for quarterbacks who for one reason or another interested me: NFC Central QBs, Packer QBs, Rookies, Quarterbacks who are in heated competitions, or Quarterbacks who have switched teams. QBER = (Yards Passing + Yards Rushing – Sack Yards – (30 x Interceptions) / Incomplete Passes + Sacks)
NOT APPLES TO APPLES
The list does not feature perfect comparisons. Some QBs, like the list leader Matthew Stafford, and Tim Tebow, have attempted few passes. That must be kept in mind. Plus, the QBs have faced different levels of competition. Graham Harrell, for instance, has been throwing against 3rd stringers, whereas someone like Aaron Rodgers has been going against mainly 1st stringers.
With those caveats, we can say that quarterbacks who have just entered the NFL are, by and large, are struggling badly. So far the rookie who is performing the best is New England’s Ryan Mallett. Carolina’s Cam Newton has struggled, but he is outperforming his rival Jimmy Clausen. Andy Dalton of Cincinnati is doing worse than Newton, but I assume he’s been going against mainly 1st string competition. Former Badger Scott Tolzien is taking his lumps so far, but he is at least outperforming for Iowa starter Ricki Stanzi, a QB who seems to have a lot more talent. Blaine Gabbert has not fared well, whereas Minnesota’s Christian Ponder has done okay.
No QB battle has received more attention than the one being waged in Denver. By media accounts, Tim Tebow has performed poorly in limited action, and his rivals Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn have clearly outperformed him. QBER disagrees. While Orton and Quinn have both been effective, by QBER, Tebow has been the most effective. Tebow is not an accurate passer, but he passes for yardage, he runs the ball well, and he does not turn the ball over.
The other QB battle that has received a lot of attention is the one in Washington between journeymen Rex Grossman and John Beck. By media accounts, the two have battled to a standstill. QBER agrees. Both have been effective, and both have virtually the same rating.
NFC CENTRAL QBs
I did not calculate the numbers for Bears QB Jay Cutler, but among the NFC Central QBs I did calculate, the Lions Matthew Stafford has performed the best. In limited action, his numbers are off the chart. With a much larger sample size, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has been his normal outstanding self, although he’s been sacked a bit more than he was last season. But, that has a lot to do with some matador protection he has gotten. Minnesota’s Donovan McNabb shows no signs of bouncing back from his poor Washington season.
For Wisconsin readers, Green Bay second string QB Matt Flynn has been impressive, to say the least. Green Bay third string QB Graham Harrell has not. Training camp reports have suggested that Harrell has improved dramatically, but his performance against live opposition has not provided any evidence backing up that claim.
FACES IN NEW PLACES
Generally speaking, the QBs who changed teams in the offseason have underwhelmed. Arizona’s Kevin Kolb has been decent, but nothing spectacular. McNabb, as mentioned, has been mediocre for the Vikings. Tarvaris Jackson has been downright brutal for Seattle. He shows no signs of being a starting caliber quarterback in the NFL. Vince Young has not done all that well with the Eagles, either, although he has outplayed Michael Vick, who has been surprisingly bad. I don’t know that you can read anything in to Vicks poor performance, though.
We shall see how the preseason QBER numbers translate to the regular season, but I would say (1) any team that starts a rookie is in big trouble (2) the Redskins QBs should not perform appreciably worse than McNabb did last season (3) the Lions will be a very strong team (4) the Vikings will not be a strong team and (5) Tebow should at least be a backup in Denver, and probably a starter in Denver. He may look ugly, but he moves the chains.
Merrill Hoge says he has reviewed film and found that Tebow is not NFL quality. Bear in mind that the year the Packers installed Rodgers as starting quarterback, Hoge had also reviewed film on Rodgers and found that he had a “problem with accuracy”. Since then, Rodgers performance has shown that it was quite possibly Hoge’s analysis, and not Rodgers throwing, that had the “problem with accuracy”.