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Mid-Season Quarterback Rankings


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We’ve just passed the midway mark of the NFL season, so it’s time to look back at the first half and take stock of where we are.

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A good way to see which teams are on pace for a good season and a playoff run and which teams are headed toward an early exit is to look at which quarterbacks have been most successful so far. After all, the quarterback, more than any player on field, controls the destiny of the team.

So what’s the best way to determine which quarterback is performing the best? It is easy to look at passing yards or touchdown, interceptions or sacks. But there is an even better statistic that encompasses all this and much more: the quarter back rating or QBR.

So What Is The QBR? 

The QBR is by no means perfect, but it does attempt to take more into account than the typical stats such as passing yards and interceptions. For example, yards gained in one situation are not the same are yards gained in another. A two-yard gain on fourth and one is a lot more difficult and more important than a two-yard gain on first and ten.

When you look only at how many yards a quarterback threw for, you miss important information. Only looking at the total yards means that you count a five-yard gain that ended in a turn-over the same as a five-yard gain that ended in a first down. Practically speaking these two outcomes are opposites. But when you look at quarterback stats too simplistically, a first down and a turn-over get lost in the numbers.

So, looking at the quarterback rating is good way of honestly seeing who among the leagues best quarterbacks is really having an impact for their team. So let’s look at some ratings and see who should be at the top of our rankings.

Top Quarterbacks At The Half Way Mark  

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs takes the cake. He has the best quarterback rating at 85.4. If you aren’t familiar with QBR’s this may not mean much. Basically, everything taken into account, Mahomes is getting close to 100%. For instance, he’s the best at the quick throw. He has the best passer rating on passes thrown two or fewer seconds after the snap.

Getting the ball out of your hand quickly is extremely important for a quarterback. The less time the defense has to attack, the better. Given Mahomes is only a second-year player, it’s very impressive that he is able to be so quick with the ball. This aspect of his game is a big factor is his having the number one QBR in the league.

Drew Brees has the second highest QBR at the midway mark at 84.5. Brees is only marginally worse in terms of rating than Mahomes. He also has the best completion rating in the league. This is in part due to wide receiver Michael Thomas. The Brees-Thomas combination is one of the best in the NFL right now. So Thomas deserves some of the credit as well.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is a bit lower at number three. His QBR right now is 76.6. The Buccaneers are not doing great right now, but Fitzpatrick is pulling his weight. His rating is so high because he’s been able to take risks and make them pay off. His percentage of long, down-field passes is quite good. Right now, his risk/reward style is paying off but it’s yet to be seen whether this strategy can be turned into a winning season for the Tampa Bay.

QBR can tell us a lot about how a team might be performing but the Buccaneers are proof that the quarterback isn’t everything.

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