Passer Rating vs. QBR: Which Statistic is Better?

Ultimate Sports Talk February 19, 2013 Comments Off on Passer Rating vs. QBR: Which Statistic is Better?

ESPN released Total QBR before the 2011 NFL season in an attempt to better quantify quarterback play opposed to the traditional passer rating statistic. While many have lambasted the statistic as irrelevant, I think that while not perfect, it has value. So I decided to look at each quarterback’s passer rating and QBR to see if there were any big differences between the two statistics. Luckily, there were a few QBs that met the criteria to test out my theory.

(For a better understanding of how QBR is calculated, read this.)

Philip Rivers

Rivers didn’t revert to form like many expected he would this season yet still ranked 11th in the league with a respectable 88.6 passer rating, but was 31st in the league with a 40.6 QBR, finishing behind guys like Blaine Gabbert and Carson Palmer.

Andrew Luck

The sensational rookie finished with a sub-par 76.5 passer rating, but had a very solid 67 QBR, which was good for 11th in the NFL.

Matthew Stafford

Coming off a breakout season in 2011, more was expected of Stafford this season. His passer rating reflected that 79.8, which was worse than Christian Ponder. However, his QBR was solid, finishing 15th in the league.

Joe Flacco

The Super Bowl XLVII MVP didn’t grade out well in QBR with just a 46.8 QBR, which was worse than Jake Locker. However, his passer rating was 87.7, which had him ranked in the Top 12 of all quarterbacks. (Note: In the playoffs, Flacco had 3 games with a QBR above 80, including a a 95.1 QBR in the Super Bowl).

Carson Palmer

The soon-to-be released Palmer was a big disappointment in Oakland this year and his QBR reflects that as he finished 29th in the league, but his passer rating shows a respectable 85.3 rating, good for 16th in the NFL. 16th paser 85.3, 44.7 29 QBR


In all of the above cases except Flacco, the quarterback’s QBR better reflected how they played when compared to passer rating. In addition to the examples above, you can also add both Ryan Tannehill (76.1 passer rating, 52.3 QBR) and Andy Dalton (87.4 passer rating, 50.7 QBR) to that group. While this isn’t enough evidence to prove QBR is a superior statistic to the traditional passer rating, it’s certainly enough to say that QBR belongs in the discussion when assessing quarterback play. However, I will say that both stats were dead on when it comes to Mark Sanchez, who was in the bottom two in both statistics.

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