Detroit Lions & How to Judge a Quarterback
We would say that Stafford is a second-tier player if not for some of the spectacular plays that he continues to make at 31 years of age. If you watched the Kansas City Chiefs game and didn’t come away knowing that Stafford can hang with another elite QB, you didn’t watch closely enough. The throw through four defenders to Kenny Golladay is a throw that only a few quarterbacks could ever make.
Few quarterbacks can convince the media and NFL fans in general that a team isn’t really a reflection of their quarterback. The circular logic is often hard to escape.
The questions always seem to be, “Why do teams win big games?“, and the answer seems to always be, “They have a great quarterback.” Likewise, “How do we know that a quarterback is great?“, is answered with, “His team wins big games.” So, we need to remove the ability to discuss the topic in such circular and binary terms.
For the purpose of doing so let’s look at the concept of defense adjusted value over average ratings (DVOA), which essentially measures a player or team versus the other teams or players in the same situation, adjusted for quality of an opponent. So, the ratings are percentages, the higher the percentage, the more above average your team, unit, or player is.
Another analytics measurement is called defense adjusted yards above replacement, (DYAR) for short. Football Outsider’s website characterized their DVOA and DYAR ratings this way, “The simple version: DYAR means a quarterback with more total value. DVOA means a quarterback with more value per play.” They also include total quarterback rating (QBR), which incorporates both measures to give a more accurate way to judge an individual quarterback.
Football Outsiders displays their findings, link here, so if you wish to dispute their methodology, take it up with them. However, these analytics are what drive modern decision-makers, like Detroit Lions vice president-general manager Bob Quinn. If you are not a believer, open your mind and take in what we’re about to lay down.
At this point, if you are a non-believer, you’ve looked at the stats and decided on a talking point that tries to explain the data away, like, “It’s just one year.” However, Stafford has not been ranked outside the top ten in DVOA, a measure of value per play, or it’s accompanying partner, DYAR, in the last five years. The asterisk is his 2018, which you should look at the “Team factors” section of this article to understand better.
In 2018 he was ranked at numbers 20 and 21, respectively. Every other year in the last five, Stafford was a top ten performer. His total QBR was number five last year, pretty elite company to keep, huh?
That kind of performance over time shows what we intend to show, that few quarterbacks have been better or more valuable over the last five years, including right up to this past season.
Without further ado, here are our rankings of 39 NFL quarterbacks that deserve starting consideration in our opinion and backed up with production and analytics as their base.