Everyone knows that quarterback rating is flawed. Everyone has known this for a long time. But because of the drawbacks to other statistics -- touchdowns, wins, interceptions, yards -- QB rating has persevered as the most mainstream singular statistic for grading quarterbacks. PFR has used Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt; Advanced NFL Stats using Expected Points Added; Football Outsiders uses DYAR. Now, ESPN takes its turn at measuring quarterback play.
The actual formula behind quarterback rating is complicated, but it can be reduced to a simple formula. That's what Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer and John Thorn discovered in their groundbreaking book, The Hidden Game of Football. Essentially, QB rating is equivalent to yards per attempt, but with a 20-yard-bonus for each completion, an 80-yard-bonus for each touchdown, and a 100-yard-penalty for an interception. Such adjustments should seem ridiculous to every reader, which is why everyone finds quarterback rating ridiculous. By way of comparison, PFR's ANY/A formula -- in addition to including relevant data on sacks -- gives no bonus for completions, a 20-yard bonus for touchdowns and a 45-yard penalty for interceptions.
But on Thursday, ESPN released the methodology behind its new QB Rating. And last night, ESPN aired an hour-long segment at 8 PM to discuss the new formula. So how does ESPN's formula look?
There's some good and some bad, which means it has exceeded my expectation. As Jason Lisk said, ESPN will promote it ad nauseum but it should have value. It's not perfect, but it's almost certainly better than the traditional passer rating and possibly the best single statistic out there. Here's my take.
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