If you’re trying to gauge the best quarterbacks in the NFL, don’t use ESPN’s QBR rankings.
Debuting in 2011, ESPN’s QBR is a comprehensive formula taking into account situational analytics. For example, quarterbacks are rewarded more for 35-yard passes thrown down the field, as opposed to a receiver catching a short passes and doing all the dirty work. It also measures strength of schedule and other football scenarios.
Somehow, someway, Blaine Gabbert has checked in eighth on ESPN’s QBR rankings.
Apparently this formula doesn’t take into account Gabbert’s 55.2 completion percentage (ranked 31st), his 5.54 yards per pass (ranked 32nd) or the fact that he 49ers have gone thee-and-out on 34.9 percent of their drives.
Here are the official rankings. Sometimes analytics don’t match what we see with our own eyes.
- Jimmy Garoppolo – 91.9
- Matt Ryan – 85.6
- Aaron Rodgers – 83.0
- Dak Prescott – 82.5
- Philip Rivers -74.8
- Ben Roethlisberger – 74.4
- Matthew Stafford – 74.2
- Blaine Gabbert – 73.8
- Andrew Luck -70.6
- Jameis Winston – 69.5
- Carson Wentz -66.0
- Trevor Siemian – 65.2
- Derek Carr – 63.6
- Tyrod Taylor – 62.6
- Eli Manning – 60.9
Anyone who has watched all three of the 49ers games in their entirety understands Gabbert is a bottom five starting quarterback in the league. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle totaled his third-down statistics: 17-for-32, 87 yards, TD, INT, 56.3 rating, 8 first downs. That’s brutal.
“To be honest with you, that we were in third-and-favorable situations all game,” 49ers offensive coordinator Curtis Modkins said about the Week 3 loss to the Seahawks on Tuesday. “I talked to the players a little bit about it this morning. We had several third-and-four, four-of-four, five-five, six-six.”
We’ve been hard on Gabbert, pushing for his benching this week. The 49ers don’t owe him playing time. But team broadcaster Tim Ryan told KNBR 680 that Gabbert has looked better than Colin Kaepernick in practice. Kelly is reluctant to push the Kaepernick button because No. 7 really might be worse than Gabbert.
It’s clear ESPN’s QBR cut Gabbert a break because San Francisco had to play Carolina and Seattle on the road. They even said so in a Twitter Q&A.
It’s also clear there are some significant flaws in ESPN’s formula.