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Monday, September 27, 2004
Updated: September 30, 12:34 PM ET
QB rankings: Week 3

By Aaron Schatz
Special to Page 2

Note: Go to the bottom of the table for a more complete explanation of how Aaron's QB rating system works.

Quarterback Skinny PAR
1. Peyton Manning
28/40, 393 yards
5 TDs, 0 INTs
How good was Manning? His first-quarter score would have ranked as the second-best game of the year behind Donovan McNabb in Week 1. His final score ranks as the best game by any QB since my PAR numbers began in 2000. 23.5
2. Brett Favre
30/44, 358 yards
4 TDs, 0 INTs
Grizzled veteran matches young stud pass for pass. Unfortunately, he can only throw it; he can't catch it, nor can he protect it from being stripped. 16.7
3. Daunte Culpepper
19/30, 360 yards
2 TDs, 0 INTs
On 3rd-and-24, you know it's going to Randy Moss, and you still can't stop it. 12.8
4. Jake Plummer
25/36, 294 yards
2 TDs, 0 INTs
Plummer's fakes don't really fool the other team, but they sure confuse the heck out of the cameramen. Can we send those guys to Denver practices so they stop following a running back without the ball? 11.7
5. Aaron Brooks
24/41, 316 yards
1 TD, 0 INTs
Strange stat: 11-for-12, 169 yards on second down. 11.6
6. Kurt Warner
19/27, 286 yards
0 TDs, 0 INTs
A great game against a defense decimated by injury. Next week he gets ... Green Bay, a defense decimated by injury. Keep sitting, Eli. 11.6
7. Matt Hasselbeck
21/30, 254 yards
2 TDs, 0 INTs
Seattle winning NFC West in such a cakewalk that Hasselbeck has declared, "We want the ball for the first game of the playoffs and we're going to score." 11.5
8. Donovan McNabb
29/42, 356 yards
2 TDs, 0 INTs
Putting entire team in commercial neutralizes Chunky Soup curse. 10.9
9. Marc Bulger
32/49, 358 yards
1 TD, 0 INTs
Attention Rams: Games where Marc Bulger does not throw an interception are very rare. You are supposed to win them. 9.7
10. Trent Green
21/30, 224 yards
3 TDs, 1 INT
A very good game ruined by one ill-timed mistake. If someone from Kansas City is close enough to tackle Marcus Coleman after he intercepts that ball, Green is probably player of the game. 7.8
11. Kerry Collins
16/27, 228 yards
1 TD, 1 INT
With the way the Oakland offensive line was dominating the Tampa defense, Warren Sapp could have lined up behind center and thrown for 200 yards. Warning sign: Only 4-for-13 with an interception from the Tampa 40-yard line or closer. 6.3
12. Rex Grossman
21/31, 248 yards
0 TDs, 0 INTs
That was good, Rex, but normally flipping the ball across the goal line is not going to work. 5.5
13. Brad Johnson
22/36, 309 yards
2 TDs, 1 INT
Exhibit A for why the 300-yard game is often meaningless. This is all garbage-time value; he was at -4.3 PAR before the fourth quarter. For years Johnson has been steady if unexciting but for three quarters he looked completely lost out there. Interception by Philip Buchanon was practically gift-wrapped. 5.3
14. Byron Leftwich
14/20, 124 yards
1 TD, 0 INTs
Once again, the Jaguars defense wins the game and Leftwich does just enough to not lose it. 2.6
15. Jeff Garcia
21/31, 180 yards
1 TD, 1 INT
Another garbage-time star. Through three quarters he had thrown for only 100 yards, had been sacked three times, and had lost a fumble on an aborted snap. -2.0 PAR entering the fourth quarter. 2.6
16. Drew Brees
14/29, 121 yards
0 TDs, 0 INTs
That's -0.3 PAR passing, 1.1 PAR rushing, and 1.8 PAR receiving. When your quarterback comes within a yard of being your leading receiver, this is a good indication that your offense has some problems. 3-for-8 for 16 yards in first half after going 1-for-6 with 8 yards in the first half last week. Perhaps San Diego should start Flutie and just bring in Brees in the third quarter. Or let LT play QB. 2.6
17. Kyle Boller
11/18, 126 yards
1 TD, 0 INTs
Second straight game with only 18 passes. A 46-yarder, a 38-yarder, and nothing else over 10 yards. Chances are Jamal Lewis will have more rushing yards than Boller will have passing yards against Kansas City next Monday night. 1.4
18. David Carr
13/25, 180 yards
1 TD, 1 INT
Four rushes for 26 yards? Apparently, someone has been riding the "Michael Vick Experience." 1.4
19. Ben Roethlisberger
12/22, 163 yards
1 TD, 1 INT
This rating does not look good but remember that he was playing in a flood. I believe this is the first game in NFL history where touchdown passes were measured in cubits. How long can you tread water? 0.9
20. Joey Harrington
21/38, 199 yards
2 TDs, 0 INTs
135 receiving yards for Roy Williams, more than twice the total of all other receivers combined. -1.2
21. Josh McCown
20/26, 198yards
0 TDs, 0 INTs
Dink and dunk -- threw 14 passes of less than 10 yards, only three of which were for enough distance to get a first down. How often can you throw to the safety valve? -2.0
22. Steve McNair
16/26, 143 yards
0 TDs, 1 INT
Jaguars kept the best third-down passer in the NFL to only 4-of-10 on third-down conversions, with an interception. -2.0
23. Carson Palmer
25/52, 316 yards
0 TDs, 3 INTs
First-round draft pick, throws for over 300 yards on a ridiculously high number of passes with a terrible completion rate and lots of interceptions. Carson Palmer stars in the new TV series "Young Vinny Testaverde." -7.1
24. Michael Vick
10/20, 115 yards
0 TDs, 1 INT
Yes, his team won. Yes, that last run of 58 yards was so sick it made Nike look furthermore the marketing genius. But the rest of the game he was horrid, and against a poor defense. Only 115 yards passing, with four sacks, two lost fumbles, and an interception. -9.2
25. A.J. Feeley
13/27, 137 yards
0 TDs, 2 INTs
Jacksonville's offense is bad, Tampa Bay's offense is worse, but as reader Brian Walsh suggests, the Dolphins have the worst offense in Florida -- and that includes the 'Canes, 'Noles and Gators. -10.6
26. Ken Dorsey
19/32, 153 yards
0 TDs, 2 INTs
You mean it gets worse than A.J. Feeley? Yes, Dorsey threw for only 153 yards and turned the ball over four times without a hurricane to blame for it. -10.8

How PAR (Points Above Replacement) works

The success of each play is judged based on yardage gained towards both a touchdown and a first down. Then each play gets compared to the NFL average on similar plays, based on down, distance, and other variables. Quarterbacks are judged not based on how many yards they get, but on how important those yards are in the context of the game.

Once we have enough data for the season, we also adjust for the quality of the opposing defense. The quarterback's performance is then translated into an approximate number of actual points that such success (or failure) is worth when compared to a "replacement level" quarterback (defined as any quarterback named "Billy Joe").

When all offensive, defensive, and special teams plays are added together for one team, the result comes very close to the actual difference between points scored and allowed.

Among the advantages of this system:

1. Gives value for first downs, which are not really included in any other QB rating system but are hugely important.

2. Does not punish quarterbacks who are always in bad field position because of a poor defense, nor does it punish quarterbacks who are always stuck in third-and-long because of a poor running game.

3. Later in the season, when we have enough data to begin including defensive adjustment, quarterbacks receive bonuses when they play well against good defenses, and they don't get rated as world-beaters when they shred the Cardinals.

4. Includes both passing and rushing plays, which obviously helps a QB like Michael Vick.

5. PAR punishes quarterbacks for turnovers but also for fumbles that his own team recovers. Different kind of fumbles have different penalties depending on how often defense recovers for a turnover. Sacks are punished as well.

6. 5-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10? Worthless!

7. Actual points! Easy to understand!

An even longer explanation of these numbers can be found here.

Aaron Schatz is editor-in-chief of