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Monday, December 13, 2004
QB rankings: Week 14

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.

It is hard to remember a week with as many bad performances as this one. 4 for 18? 5 for 22? SIX interceptions? Wow.

Remember how the NFL was riding high on offense, and the new enforcement of the illegal contact rule had unleashed every quarterback's inner Marino? We've been so busy celebrating Peyton Manning's record-setting season that nobody has noticed passing performances around the league falling over the past five weeks. In terms of total Points Above Replacement by league quarterbacks, Weeks 10 through 14 have been five of the seven lowest weeks of the year, with this week the lowest yet, heading into the Monday night game.

With the raging winds this week in Green Bay and Buffalo you are probably thinking this kind of drop off is normal, once the bad weather sets in. Yes and no. Yes, leaguewide passing does in fact always fade a little at the end of the season. Weather is one reason. Losing teams pulling their veteran quarterbacks to try youngsters is another reason. But that fade usually starts at the beginning of December, not three weeks earlier. And passing numbers have never dropped as dramatically as they have this season. Could the league have sent a memo to officials that passing had gotten just a little too out of hand?

Is there any good news for quarterbacks here? Actually, yes. For some strange reason, quarterback performance around the league normally bounces back for one last week of strong games in Week 15. It makes no sense, there's no reason for it, and yet it seems to happen every single season. Last year, Week 15 was the best week of the entire year for quarterbacks not named "Tim Hasselbeck." So if you are an NFL quarterback, buck up my friend, cause things are gonna get better. Unless you are a rookie first overall pick and you have to play Pittsburgh next week.

  • Get overall season rankings at

    Quarterback Skinny DPAR
    1. Tom Brady
    18/26, 260 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTd
    If you are counting at home, that's 13.8 DPAR from his feet and 0.6 DPAR from his tush. 14.4
    2. Daunte Culpepper
    21/33, 270 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    I dunno, if I had a quarterback this good, I might want him throwing the ball in the red zone. 13.8
    3. Peyton Manning
    26/33, 298 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTs
    Actually had more value in the second half than the first, even without getting closer to the record. Average second-half drive started deeper in Indianapolis territory and while Manning had no touchdowns, the Colts did score three field goals. 12.3
    4. Carson Palmer
    18/24, 202 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Palmer's two starting wideouts, Chad Johnson, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, were also the two starting wideouts for the 2000 Oregon State Beavers. Does Jonathan Smith look on from his office in Corvallis and get jealous? 11.7
    5. Kyle Boller
    18/34, 219 yards
    4 TDs, 0 INTs
    Some of us thought it wouldn't happen, but he's developed into a legit NFL starter. -8.2 DPAR through six games, but 24.3 DPAR the past seven. 8.3
    6. Ken Dorsey
    18/34, 191 yards
    3 TDs, 0 INTs
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. 7.8
    7. Brian Griese
    36/50, 392 yards
    3 TDs, 3 INTs
    Did a very good job of finding holes in the San Diego zone, but was undone by two throws: a screen pass that could only have been caught by Manute Bol and flopped into the arms of Donnie Edwards, and a second pass that doesn't even need a joke because it went straight to Edwards with no Buccaneers in the vicinity. (Third INT was Hail Mary at end of first half.) 5.9
    8. Byron Leftwich
    25/45, 242 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Bad WR news: lots of dropped passes. Good WR news: Rookie Reggie Williams does seem to be coming around after looking pretty lost. 4.7
    9. Michael Vick
    13/20, 145 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    31 rushing
    Yes, another win without a great Vick performance. The people who say he should get MVP votes must have gotten brain damage riding "The Michael Vick Experience." 3.9
    10. Brett Favre
    19/36, 188 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Looks like we'll be adding "rating adjustment for really windy days" to the offseason to-do list. 3.5
    11. Matt Hasselbeck
    23/34, 334 yards
    3 TDs, 2 INTs
    Lots of yards, but lower rating thanks to two interceptions and adjustment for poor Vikings pass defense. 3.3
    12. Jon Kitna
    9/13, 126 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    From the people who brought you that old baseball favorite, "Free Erubiel Durazo," comes the new NFL hit, "Free Jon Kitna." 3.2
    13. Patrick Ramsey
    29/45, 251 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Drip, drip, drip ... threw 12 passes of five yards or less and only one above 20 yards. 2.4
    14. Josh McCown
    26/44, 307 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Wins "McCown Brother of the Week Award" from the National Institute for Damning with Faint Praise. 1.5
    15. David Carr
    16/21, 167 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    He's the anti-Boller, getting worse as the year goes along. 39.4 DPAR through first seven games, -6.3 DPAR in last six games. 1.3
    16. Drew Brees
    17/23, 220 yards
    2 TDs, 2 INTs
    What is going on with coaches who feel the need to change the name of the red zone? Apparently, San Diego calls it the "gold zone." The Giants call it the "green zone." Does anyone think quarterbacks play better if they think the zone is a different color? 1.2
    17. Donovan McNabb
    21/38, 260 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    He had that one real nice long catch but let's be honest: it still seems like Todd Pinkston has no idea what route he's running half the time. 1.0
    18. Ben Roethlisberger
    9/19, 144 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    From FO Steelers expert Ryan Wilson: "Not having Plax is really a problem because Roethlisberger doesn't have wideouts who can stretch the field. Randle El can beat people deep but he's about a foot shorter than David Patten, and Ward can't create separation on fly patterns." 0.0
    19. Jake Delhomme
    16/30, 206 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Given the poor quality of the Rams defense and Chris Chandler's pick-o-rama, this performance was about as impressive as the invasion of Grenada. -0.5
    20. Kerry Collins
    14/27, 166 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Yes, but is he better than Eli Manning? -1.1
    21. Jake Plummer
    16/30, 219 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    Wants the Denver fans to know he's still number one. -1.5
    22. Chad Pennington
    17/31, 189 yards
    0 TDs, 3 INTs
    There's an arm strength problem here, which may be related to the rotator cuff; threw the ball as far as he could on a 43-yard completion that almost drew rain. -2.4
    23. Aaron Brooks
    18/31, 252 yards
    1 TD, 2 INTs
    His tombstone will read "IF ONLY FANTASY FOOTBALL WAS THE REAL THING." -4.3
    24. A.J. Feeley
    17/35, 170 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Second straight week where he got off to a nice start and collapsed in the second half. -4.3
    25. Drew Bledsoe
    12/27, 100 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Yet another example that football is a team sport and rushing and defense can overcome a bad QB performance. -5.3
    26. Chad Hutchinson
    17/33, 212 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    This game was ugly, but nowhere near as ugly as Hutchinson's official team picture. (Click the link on his name and you'll see what I mean.) -6.9
    27. Joey Harrington
    5/22, 47 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    OK, I know there were driving winds, but come on. FIVE completions against Green Bay? McNabb did that every 30 seconds, for crying out loud. -7.9
    28. Luke McCown
    8/20, 62 yards
    1 TD, 2 INTs
    Third-down nightmares: 2 for 6 with two interceptions and three sacks for a total loss of 38 yards. -9.9
    29. Eli Manning
    4/18, 27 yards
    0 TDs, 2 INTs
    That game against Atlanta where he looked composed and ready for prime time seems like eons ago. -12.6
    30. Vinny Testaverde
    14/35, 160 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Apparently, we need to retire those "anybody can pass on New Orleans" jokes. -13.6
    31. Chris Chandler
    16/29, 243 yards
    1 TD, 6 INTs
    And we have a new champion for worst game of the year! In fact, if you consider the quality of the defense faced, this is worse than any game last year, including Tim Hasselbeck's 6-for-26, 56-yd, 4-INT vs. Dallas. To get a game this bad you have to go back to the last week of 2001 when Aaron Brooks threw four INTs and was sacked three times in a 38-0 loss to SF. -17.8

    How DPAR (Defense-adjusted 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.

    Ratings are also adjusted 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. With 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. DPAR 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