Admittedly, I am a data junkie and I am always looking for a new way to evaluate a player in any sport. This year, I am debuting a quarterback metric I have created.
This metric, the quarterback efficiency rating (QER), focuses on several factors that equate to a player’s success: the percentage of his attempts that end in a touchdown or interception, his touchdown-to-interception ratio, his adjusted completion percentage, courtesy of Pro Football Focus, which looks further than the traditional attempts and completions and gives a more accurate percentage by factoring in dropped passes, spiked balls, thrown away passes, batted passes and balls thrown while the quarterback is hit, yards per attempt, the percentage of times a quarterback is sacked and the percentage of points a quarterback is responsible for that the team has scored all season.
Throughout the season, we will provide an update with the QER and, if needed, re-work the formula if we notice a blatant error. Below is how the 29 qualified quarterbacks ranked last season based on QER.
1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots) QER: 293.32
Missing one-quarter of the season and playing on the same team as the NFL’s rushing touchdown leader hurt Brady, as he was only responsible for 38.5 percent of the team’s total points, but not enough to remove him from the top spot. Brady owned an astonishing 14.00 touchdown-to-interception ratio and was sacked on just 10.6 percent of dropbacks in which he faced pressure. The reigning Super Bowl MVP ranked top three in nearly every category, including touchdown-to-interception ratio (first), interception percentage (first), sack percentage (first), yards per attempt (second) and touchdown percentage (third).
2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers) 290.28
This is how important Aaron Rodgers is to the Packers: he was responsible for 62 percent of all of the points the team scored. Only three other quarterbacks accounted for at least half of their team’s scoring and none more than 51.4 percent. Rodgers 5.71 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the third best in the league and he was second to only Matt Ryan in touchdown percentage.
3. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) 261.95
Ryan won the league MVP last season, both by the Associated Press and by us, but he wasn’t quite on Rodgers’ or Brady’s level last season. Ryan scored on 7.1 percent of his pass attempts, easily the best in the NFL and a career-high. He also topped the league in yards per attempt and finished fourth in adjusted completion percentage.
4. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) 260.72
Brees was responsible for 49.9 percent of the Saints scoring last season, which was the fifth-best among quarterbacks. His adjusted completion percentage also ranked second in the NFL. Brees is also top 10 in touchdown percentage (eighth), interception percentage (10th), yards per attempt (sixth).
5. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) 252.33
What a rookie debut. Prescott was incredibly efficient and Dallas will need him to continue humming along should Ezekiel Elliott serve the full six game suspension he was handed. Prescott’s 5.75 touchdown-to-interception ratio was the second best in the NFL, behind Brady’s god-like 14.00. He is also one of just three quarterbacks who threw an interception on less than 1 percent of his passes last year. Having Elliott hurt his scoring numbers, however, as he was responsible for just 36.7 percent of all points scored by the Cowboys last year, which ranked 21st.
6. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) 251.25
Despite the Colts failing to put together a quality team around him, Luck continues to be efficient, and because of that, you can never count them out. He ranks top five in yards per attempt (fifth), touchdown percentage (tied for fifth) and was sixth in total scoring percentage, being accountable for 49.1 percent of the points scored by Indianapolis last season.
7. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders) 249.08
The Raiders are finally a competent football team again, thanks to Carr. Carr owns the fifth best touchdown-to-interception ratio, the fourth lowest interception percentage and only Tom Brady was better at avoiding sacks last season as Carr was sacked on just 11.3 percent of the plays which he was pressured. With Latavius Murray serving as a goal-line threat last year, his scoring percentage suffered a bit as he was responsible for just 42.8 percent of the points the Raiders scored in 2016.
8. Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins) 244.76
This may be Cousins’ last season in Washington, which is a bitter pill to swallow for a fanbase that has been seeking a franchise signal caller for decades. Like Carr, Cousins was sacked on just 11.3 percent of the plays which he was pressured, the second best in football. He was also third in yards per attempt.
9. Eli Manning (New York Giants) 242.30
This may come as a surprise, but two key numbers player a big role for Manning checking in at No. 9: he accounted for 50.3 percent of the Giants total points and despite having human turnstile Ereck Flowers at left tackle, he was only sacked on 11.4 percent of dropbacks which he faced pressure, the fourth best in football. The bad though was his 6.73 yards per attempt, the sixth-worst overall.
10. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers) 242.11
Rivers quietly threw 33 touchdown passes last year, scoring on 5.7 percent of his throws, which ties him with Luck and Ben Roethlisberger for the fifth most in the league. Unfortunately, he also threw a lot of interceptions and only Ryan Fitzpatrick had a higher interception percentage than Rivers’ 3.6. Rivers also accounted for 48.3 percent of the total points scored by the Chargers in 2016.
11. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers) 241.80
Along with Rivers and Luck, Roethlisberger has a touchdown percentage of 5.7, which was the fifth best in the league. Notoriously tough to bring down, he was sacked on just 13.3 percent of dropbacks which he faced pressure, which ranks seventh. He was also prone to picks, owning an interception percentage of 2.6 percent, the eighth worst and his adjusted completion percentage of 69.7 percent was the sixth worst.
12. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) 237.92
Stafford ranked ninth in adjusted completion percentage with a 76.1 percent mark, and threw an interception on just 1.7 percent of his passes, good for 11th best in football. He was hit often though as he was sacked on 18.7 percent of dropbacks which he was pressured, the seventh highest mark.
13. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) 237.63
This certainly doesn’t help my argument that Marcus Mariota is better. Winston was responsible for 51.4 percent of the Buccaneers total points, second only to Rodgers’ eye-popping 62 percent. He threw a touchdown on 4.9 percent of his passes and was sacked on just 14.5 percent of dropbacks in which he faced pressure, but he was dogged by an adjusted completion percentage of 69.1 percent, the fourth worst in the league, a 3.2 percent interception rate (third worst in the league) and a 1.56 touchdown-to-interception ratio that is the seventh worth.
14. Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings) 234.03
Bradford is anchored by the best adjusted completion percentage in football (80.9). He is the only quarterback to have an adjusted completion percentage above 80. He also threw an interception on just 0.9 percent of his passes, tying him with Dak Prescott for the second lowest in the league. Hurting him is a 7.02 yards per attempt, which is the 11th worst in football and getting sacked on 18.8 percent of the dropbacks in which he faced pressure (sixth worst) and only contributing to 36.7 percent of the total points scored by Minnesota.
15. Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) 233.34
Mariota’s 7.60 yards per attempt is the ninth best in the league and scoring on 5.8 percent of his throws ranks fourth, but only four quarterbacks had a lower adjusted completion percentage than him.
16. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars) 232.12
Surprised? While Bortles arguably isn’t a great quarterback, he does account for much of the Jaguars scoring. He was responsible for 50.9 percent of all points scored by the Jaguars last year, the third most in the NFL, which has helped negate his poor adjusted completion percentage (sixth worst), touchdown percentage (tied for eighth worst), interception percentage (tied for eighth worst), touchdown-to-interception ratio (sixth worst) and yards per attempt (third worst).
17. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) 228.39
Russell Wilson was horrific in the first half of the year before rebounding, but by then, the damage was done. His adjusted completion percentage of 77.2 checks in at No. 7, as does his 7.73 yards per attempt, but he was responsible for just 39 percent of all points scored by the Seahawks and only threw a touchdown on 3.8 percent of his passes.
18. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) 220.08
If it wasn’t for his Super Bowl win, how valuable would Flacco really be to the Ravens? His 6.42 yards per attempt was the fourth worst mark in football as was his ugly 1.33 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
19. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals) 219.94
Dalton only threw eight picks last year and his interception percentage of 1.4 percent was good for the eighth best in the league. When pass rushers locked onto him, however, he was likely going down. Nobody had a mark worse than Dalton’s 22.7 percent sacks when facing pressure.
20. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins) 215.25
Tannehill was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the league last year with a sixth ranked adjusted completion percentage of 77.4. He also scored on 4.9 percent of his passes, but also tossed an interception at a 3.1 percent clip and only accounted for 33.6 percent of the Dolphins scoring – the league’s sixth-lowest mark.
21. Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills) 212.80
Taylor didn’t surrender a lot of picks, evidenced by his 1.4 percent interception rate, tied for the eighth best in football. Playing for one of the best rushing attacks hurts Taylor, however, as he was accountable for just 35.6 percent of Buffalo’s scoring. He was also under a lot of pressure and tended to buckle. He faced pressure on 41 percent of his dropbacks and was sacked on 19.4 percent of the time, the fourth highest in the league.
22. Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals) 211.10
Another victim of a quality rushing attack, Palmer was involved in just 37.3 percent of the Cardinals scoring. His adjusted completion percentage of 70.5 percent was also the eighth worst in football.
23. Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers) 206.80
Kaepernick was a beneficiary of the adjusted completion percentage, but his 71.2 percent mark is still among the lowest in the league. He was also involved in just 31.7 percent of the 49ers total scoring, the third worst in football, and was sacked on 20.5 percent of the plays in which he faced pressure, the second most in the league and a bad mark for a mobile quarterback. Helping his case is his 1.2 interception percentage, the sixth best in the NFL.
24. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs) 206.71
Smith’s adjusted completion percentage of 77.8 percent was the fifth best in football and his interception percentage of 1.6 ranks 10th, but he was only involved in 31.9 percent of the Chiefs scoring (fourth worst) and was sacked on 20.1 percent of plays in which they were pressured (third worst).
25. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers) 202.47
After winning the league MVP award in 2015, Newton had a fall from grace last season. Newton was dead last in adjusted completion percentage and threw an interception on 2.7 percent of his passes, tied for the sixth most. His touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1.36 was the fifth worst mark and he was one of nine quarterbacks with a yards per attempt under seven. He was also sacked on 19.4 percent of the dropbacks in which he faced pressure and was responsible for just 35.6 percent of the Panthers scoring.
26. Trevor Siemian (Denver Broncos) 200.14
Siemian is ranked in the bottom 10 of pretty much every category, but none worse than being responsible for just 33 percent of the Broncos overall scoring, the fifth lowest mark in football.
27. Brock Osweiler (Houston Texans) 197.91
Osweiler was so bad that we named an award after him last year. His adjusted completion percentage was the third worst in football, his touchdown percentage was the second worst, his yards per attempt were ranked last and he is just one of two quarterbacks with a touchdown-to-interception ratio under one. Working in his favor was his ability to avoid sacks, as his 12.7 percent rate of sacks when facing pressure was the fifth best in football.
28. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles) 193.92
This probably comes as a surprise, but statistically, it shouldn’t. He is dead last in touchdown percentage, owns the third worst touchdown-to-interception ratio, second worst in yards per attempt and was only responsible for 30.5 percent of the Eagles total scoring, the second worst mark in the league.
29. Ryan Fitzpatrick (New York Jets) 175.73
Unsurprising, Fitzpatrick was easily the worst quarterback in football last season. He finished dead last in the percentage of team points he was responsible for, interception percentage, touchdown-to-interception ratio and had the second worst adjusted completion percentage.