Unveiling the 'Quarterback Score' (QBS): Is Peyton Manning the G.O.A.T.?

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Unveiling the 'Quarterback Score' (QBS): Is Peyton Manning the G.O.A.T.?
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The QBS (quarterback score) system was created for the purpose of impartially and efficiently evaluating the individual contributions of a quarterback to his team's chances of winning.

Passing yards and touchdown passes reflect production, completion percentage reflects accuracy and adjusted net yards per attempt reflects efficiency. Quarterbacks are penalized for throwing interceptions, which will be reflected in their total QBS.

1-10 point scoring system amongst four categories:

  • Passing yards.
  • Touchdown passes.
  • Completion percentage.
  • Adjusted net yards per attempt.

0.5-5 point penalization scoring system:

  • Interceptions.

Scoring system for passing yards, touchdown passes, completion percentage and adjusted net yards per attempt:

  • 1st = 10 points
  • 2nd = 9 points.
  • 3rd = 8 points.
  • 4th = 7 points.
  • 5th = 6 points.
  • 6th = 5 points.
  • 7th = 4 points.
  • 8th = 3 points.
  • 9th = 2 points.
  • 10th = 1 point.

Scoring system for interceptions:

  • 1st = negative 5 points.
  • 2nd = negative 4.5 points.
  • 3rd = negative 4 points.
  • 4th = negative 3.5 points.
  • 5th = negative 3 points.
  • 6th = negative 2.5 points.
  • 7th = negative 2.0 points.
  • 8th = negative 1.5 points.
  • 9th = negative 1 point.
  • 10th = negative 0.5 point.

Why interceptions are valued at a half-rate:

Interceptions do not harm a team's chances of winning as much as touchdown passes help a team's chances of winning. Unless an interception is returned for a touchdown ("pick-six"), it's simply not as harmful as putting points on the board is helpful.

Many interceptions come on long third down passes—essentially equating to punts that come a down early.

For point of reference: Drew Brees led the NFL in both touchdown passes and interceptions in 2012.

His touchdown passes (43) more than doubled his interceptions (19).

Imperfections in the system:

The QBS system does not account for the quality of team-support. Certain quarterbacks will be at an advantage by virtue of their supporting cast.

Adjusted net yards per attempt did not become a recorded statistic until 1969. Therefore any quarterback to have played between 1950 and 1968 will have their regular yards per attempt statistic valued in lieu of adjusted-net yards per attempt.

The league continued to expand from 1951 onward, meaning quarterbacks who played in the 1950's, 1960's and early 1970's are at a distinct advantage as it pertains to ranking in the Top-10.

  • 13 teams in 1950.
  • 12 teams in 1951.
  • 13 teams in 1960.
  • 14 teams in 1961.
  • 15 teams in 1966.
  • 16 teams in 1967.
  • 26 teams in 1970.
  • 28 teams in 1976.
  • 30 teams in 1995.
  • 31 teams in 1999.
  • 32 teams in 2002.

For instance: A quarterback ranked in the middle of the league in 1960 would place 7th and yield a QBS of 13, while a quarterback ranked in the middle of the league in 2012 would place around 16th and yield a QBS of 0.

Exclusions: 

Quarterbacks playing in both the AAFC (All-American Football Conference) and AFL (American Football League) do not qualify for the QBS.

Since they played in leagues of lesser caliber, it would be unfair to treat their production and performance as equal to that of their NFL counterparts. 

The AFL consisted of ten teams prior to merging with the NFL; which means scoring AFL quarterbacks would automatically entitle them to points on the QBS system by virtue of easily qualifying for Top-10 rankings.

The NFL can choose to recognize AFL statistics as equal all they want.

The reality is that the AFL was the lesser of the two leagues, and after the merger in 1970, NFL teams like the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns needed to be moved to the AFC (American Football Conference) to help balance out the league and make both sides more equally competitive. 

Lack of postseason inclusion:

The lack of including postseason performance is likely to raise protest. The reason for its omission is simply due to the fact that the postseason represents such an incredibly small sample size of a quarterback's work.

Not all quarterbacks play for teams fortunate enough to make the playoffs so, valuing postseason performance for those who did qualify can make for a very uneven playing field. 

Much like the NFL record books, the QBS is representative of a quarterback's performance during the great majority of his playing time—the regular season.

Talking about 2012:

One thing you will notice about the QBS is that ranking-wise, it often falls in line with where the Associated Press have evaluated quarterbacks over the years.

It has become the hot trend of late to proclaim Aaron Rodgers as the best quarterback in football.

Both the AP and OBS beg to differ.

Peyton Manning ranked first in the NFL in 2012 QBS and was also named First Team All-Pro.

Aaron Rodgers tied for second in the NFL in 2012 QBS and was also named Second Team All-Pro.

All of the following lists are incomplete as I did not calculate every quarterback's QBS.

What follows is a sample to give readers some perspective regarding where certain quarterbacks rank amongst their contemporaries.

2012 Rankings:

Career Rankings (1950 - present):

  • Fran Tarkenton 418.0
  • Peyton Manning 395.5
  • Johnny Unitas 335.0
  • Brett Favre 303.5
  • Dan Marino 302.0
  • Y.A. Tittle 285.5
  • Joe Montana 284.5
  • Sonny Jurgensen 232.0
  • Tom Brady 222.0
  • Drew Brees 218.5
  • Steve Young 216.5
  • Dan Fouts 216.0
  • Ken Anderson 195.0
  • Roger Staubach 178.0
  • Warren Moon 158.0
  • Ken Stabler 147.5
  • Kurt Warner 138.0
  • John Elway 137.0
  • Jim Kelly 134.0
  • Aaron Rodgers 118.5
  • Jim Hart 113.0
  • Boomer Esiason 112.0
  • Troy Aikman 111.5
  • Jim Everett 107.0
  • Philip Rivers 106.5
  • Terry Bradshaw 99.5
  • Dave Krieg 99.0
  • Tony Romo 97.0
  • Daunte Culpepper 96.0
  • Trent Green 96.0
  • Randall Cunningham 84.0
  • Joe Theismann 72.5
  • Drew Bledsoe 69.5
  • Ben Roethlisberger 65.0
  • Phil Simms 62.5
  • Matt Hasselbeck 54.0
  • Donovan McNabb 43.0
  • Eli Manning 40.5
  • Vinny Testaverde 34.0
  • Jim Plunkett 28.5
  • Kerry Collins 13.0
  • Michael Vick 9.0

Career Rankings (players drafted after 1976) with QBS above 100:

  • Peyton Manning 395.5
  • Brett Favre 303.5
  • Dan Marino 302.0
  • Joe Montana 284.5
  • Tom Brady 222.0
  • Drew Brees 218.5
  • Steve Young 216.5
  • Warren Moon 158.0
  • Kurt Warner 138.0
  • John Elway 137.0
  • Jim Kelly 134.0
  • Aaron Rodgers 118.5
  • Boomer Esiason 112.0
  • Troy Aikman 111.5
  • Jim Everett 107.0
  • Philip Rivers 106.5

Career Rankings (players drafted after 1976 - averaged per 16 games) with QBS above 100:

  • Peyton Manning 28.25
  • Joe Montana 23.71
  • Aaron Rodgers 22.31
  • Drew Brees 20.56
  • Steve Young 20.50
  • Tom Brady 20.07
  • Dan Marino 19.97
  • Kurt Warner 17.66
  • Brett Favre 16.08
  • Philip Rivers 14.69
  • Jim Kelly 13.40
  • Warren Moon 12.15
  • Jim Everett 10.84
  • Troy Aikman 10.81
  • Boomer Esiason 9.58
  • John Elway 9.37

 

Ryan Michael is a Senior Writer for Bleacher Report. Any questions, comments or professional inquiries can be directed to his email at: bleacherreporter@yahoo.com.

Follow him on Twitter at: @theryanmichael

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