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Monday, October 4, 2004
Updated: September 22, 11:39 AM ET
QB rankings: Week 4

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.

  • Get overall season rankings at footballoutsiders.com.

    SNAP JUDGMENT'S QB RANKINGS FOR WEEK 4
    Quarterback Skinny PAR
    1. Tom Brady
    17/30, 298 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTs
    On a day where no quarterback was spectacular, he was steady with a number of long passes and (thanks to replay) no turnovers. Paul Maguire always says they don't draw up plays for 1st-and-35, but Brady found one, completing a 44-yarder on a drive that ended in the first TD. 14.1
    2. Byron Leftwich
    29/41, 318 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Although it came against a shaky defense, Leftwich's performance was the silver lining in Jacksonville's first loss. A 40-yard bomb on 4th-and-1 was a bold play call that showed confidence, both in Leftwich and the defense's ability to stop the Colts if the play had failed. 11.9
    3. David Carr
    14/23, 228 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Last week, when he ran four times for 26 yards, I joked that he was riding the "Michael Vick Experience." After four rushes for 40 yards this week, maybe they should call it the "David Carr Experience." 10.1
    4. Drew Brees
    16/20, 206 yards
    3 TDs, 0 INTs
    His limp gradually became a normal walk, and to our shocking surprise we discovered that the gimp from Weeks 2 and 3 was actually the dreaded Kaiser Soze. 9.1
    5. Marc Bulger
    17/25, 186 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Why context is important for QB numbers, part one: only threw two passes in second half (both incomplete) as Rams ran the clock. 9.0
    6. Tim Rattay
    31/47, 299 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Why context is important for QB numbers, part two: 7-12, 70 yards, 0 TD in first half (-4.0 PAR) and 24-35 for 229 yards, 2 TD in second half (12.1 PAR despite the fact that PAR system adjusts for easier yards in garbage time). 8.1
    7. Jeff Garcia
    14/21, 195 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Kellen who? Garcia 4-of-5 with 47 yards and a TD to tight ends Aaron Shea and Steve Heiden. 7.2
    8. Ben Roethlisberger
    17/25, 174 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Conventional wisdom says playing a rookie will doom Pittsburgh's season, but history says teams with rookie QBs usually play poorly because they were bad teams before drafting a quarterback. Pittsburgh was mediocre last year, but mediocre might win this division. 6.4
    9. Peyton Manning
    20/29, 219 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Who would have expected Manning to pass for 100 fewer yards than Leftwich -- with the Colts still winning the game. 6.3
    10. Michael Vick
    10/18, 148 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    The "Dunn fakes right, Vick bootlegs left" routine is freezing defenses: Vick this year has 17 yards rushing right, 45 rushing up the middle, and 170 rushing left. 6.0
    11. Billy Volek
    39/58, 278 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTs
    In his valiant attempt to undue the damage done by the Tennessee defense, Volek actually converted on four of six 4th-down attempts -- two rushing and two passing. 5.1
    12. Mark Brunell
    17/32, 192 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Only 1-of-4 for 5 yards in the red zone. 5.0
    13. Donovan McNabb
    24/38, 237 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    If you're going to have a mediocre game, do it now -- not the NFC title game (sorry, Eagles fans). 4.8
    14. Brad Johnson
    15/23, 162 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    While there are a number of calls to put Chris Simms in, does it make sense to get him used to a bunch of teammates who, other than Michael Clayton, won't be around next year? 4.7
    15. Kurt Warner
    20/26, 187 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    He's winning again, but those medium-range passes that hit receivers in stride are gone, replaced by accurate short passes. Shaky in the red zone, throwing into triple coverage for an interception when he had a running lane and then later sliding at the one to avoid a hit instead of diving into the end zone. 4.4
    16. Josh McCown
    12/18, 157 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    That's only twice as much passing PAR as Emmitt Smith. 4.0
    17. Aaron Brooks
    24/40, 242 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    There are always many surprises in a new NFL season, but surely the most inexplicable story of 2004 has been Arizona's sudden ability to play defense. 2.8
    18. Jonathan Quinn
    26/43, 215 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Bears actually had a good scheme set up to protect the journeyman Quinn, leaving him a short receiver if the blitz got to him; but most of the time Quinn just threw the ball away. 2.3
    19. Jake Delhomme
    23/38, 308 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    Only two of 10 passes on third down resulted in first downs, although one resulted in a touchdown. Unfortunately, that touchdown was for the Falcons. 0.9
    20. Jake Plummer
    13/31, 138 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Major deduction here for fumbled snap on Denver 9-yard line which, if Tampa had recovered it, would have probably lost the game. 0.2
    21. Brett Favre
    12/18, 110 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    I'm not sure whether returning to the game after a concussion to throw a touchdown on fourth down counts as astonishing courage, rank stupidity, or both. Was the Green Bay training staff just asleep? -0.3
    22. Doug Pederson
    7/17, 86 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Giants had a shot at picking off nearly all his passes. Had a three-play sequence in the third quarter where he had an interception called back due to defensive pass interference, an interception prevented by offensive pass interference, and a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. -1.9
    23. Drew Bledsoe
    18/30, 247 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Once again, sacked seven times; on the last one, Patriots came in from the right, knocked the ball out of his hand, and returned it for a TD while left tackle Jonas Jennings and left guard Lawrence Smith stood around blocking nobody. -2.6
    24. Chad Pennington
    14/24, 143 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Hey, look, Miami still has a defense -- and they must be the most miserable people on earth right now. -4.4
    25. Carson Palmer
    20/37, 164 yards
    1 TD, 2 INTs
    On pace to throw 12 touchdowns and 28 interceptions, stats that might be called Akilian. -4.9
    26. Kerry Collins
    21/38, 237 yards
    0 TDs, 3 INTs
    Raise your hands if you participated in the fantasy stampede for Kerry Collins this week. OK, now raise your hands if you ended up with him and are still happy about it. -8.0
    27. Jay Fiedler
    18/33, 206 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    Given that whoever gets plugged in to this position ends up at the bottom of these ratings, perhaps quarterback is not actually the problem in Miami. Nevertheless, what's the countdown on the Sage Rosenfels watch? -8.4

    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 49ers

    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 FootballOutsiders.com.