In terms of quarterback play, there isn’t much of a nature vs. nurture debate.
Sure, some guys, like Tom Brady, just have it. But for the mortals among NFL passers, most of their success is directly tied into what’s around them in terms of pass protection, a complementary running game, the weapons they have at their disposal, coaching and whether they have to overcome a terrible defense.
Everything is so varied from team to team in those areas that it makes it almost impossible to judge whether a quarterback is making the most of his opportunity, or if he has just been placed in a no-win situation. I mean, how can you judge 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick using the same measuring stick as you would use with Ben Roethlisberger of the Steelers? One has Jeremy Kerley to throw to, the other has a variety of targets to choose from, including the best in the league at their positions (RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Antonio Brown).
So, in an attempt to provide some clarity on the matter, we’ve decided to give you a hand in leveling the playing field.
To help give you ammo for your next barstool argument, I’ve evaluated each of the quarterback situations around the league in various categories and then averaged out the results to give you a better picture of what kind of hand each quarterback has been dealt.
— Pass Pro: Level of pass protection for each passer, which relies heavily on PFF’s pass-block efficiency rating and takes into account hurries, hits and sacks.
— Run game: The efficiency of each running attack (not just raw yardage), which uses FO’s run game DVOA.
— Weapons: Evaluates all of the possible targets for each team. Aided somewhat by PFF’s receiving crop rankings but also film study, personal evaluations and it factors into injuries sustained during the course of the season.
— Coaching: Subjective opinion that focuses mostly on the construction of the passing game by the de facto offensive coordinator through extensive film study. Head coaches are a factor with how they manage the game and the offense, as is overall coaching stability.
— Defense: Relies mostly on FO’s defensive DVOA but some of those rankings are tweaked slightly based on how a team has improved or regressed.
As an added bonus at the very bottom of each blurb, we’ve included two extra categories to take the argument even further. ESPN’s QBR ranking is given, and that number is subtracted from the situation average to give an indication of a quarterback’s value relative to their situation. Each passer is then ranked from best to worst to yield an MV-QB ranking (most valuable quarterback) from most valuable to least. (1 is our most, 32 is the least).
Let the arguments and complaints begin …