Quarterback Rating and What it Means For Tonight’s Game

NFL Steve O Speak

By Guest Writer Greg Gonsalves:


Going into this Thursday-night game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs I was originally going to make a comparison between Alex Smith and Michael Vick’s quarterback rating by attempts. My next step was to go over the correlation between quarterback ratings and wins (I’m still going to go over that).

The drastic changes that Vick and the Eagles’ offense has seen this year has made it difficult to get a baseline as to how Vick will play tonight. Vick has a career quarter back rating of 81.4, but in two games this year his rating is at 119.    michaelvick

Although I could just ignore this current season’s stats due to sample size and say Vick is likely to come back down to his average, I won’t. At least not yet. Chip Kelly’s offense is something that has never been seen before in the NFL, and the Chiefs’ defense only had four days to prepare for it on top of only two real games worth of tape. Add those factors up with the fact that Kelly’s offense has been extremely efficient at every level, whether it’s in the PAC-12 with the Oregon Ducks, FCS with New Hampshire University, and so far in the NFL with the Eagles, and Vick’s future performance can be considered a great unknown.

Vick is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL that could be seen as the prototype for this offense, with his almost ideal blend of rushing and passing abilities. At the snap of the ball, Kelly’s offense still has multiple options. In one designed play, Vick could hand the ball off to LeSean McCoy, throw a screen to DeSean Jackson, throw a seam pass to Brent Celek, or even rush the ball himself. The defense only really stands a chance if the quarterback makes a poor decision, and while decision-making has never been Vick’s best attribute, through two games this year he has shown that he can consistently make the correct decision and as long as Vick can keep making the correct decisions, there is no reason his quarterback rating should dip back to his career norms. This means comparing the ratings of him and Smith becomes increasingly difficult.

Alex Smith on the other hand, has had a pretty consistent quarterback rating in his last three years, even though he’s switched teams this off-season. In his last three years, his rating has been between 90.7 and 104.1, while his career average of 79.6 is below Vick’s. Smith is likely to stay within this range this year, given that the past two seasons both featured big, strong starting receivers, (Michael Crabtree in San Francisco and Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City) and a top tier running back (Frank Gore in San Francisco and Jamaal Charles in Kansas City). Overall, I expect Smith to stay at that level of production.                    chiefs-alex-smith

Now, back to the importance of quarterback rating. In the modern NFL, with quarterbacks being more mobile than ever, the quarterback rating will fall in importance to a stat like ESPN’s QBR, which incorporates quarterback rushes. But the normal quarterback rating is still a good indicator of which team will win in any given game. The team that has won the quarterback rating has won close to 80% of the games going back to 2007, according to Cold, Hard Football Fact’s analysis.

So for tonight, I’m willing to say I have no clue what will happen tonight with Vick’s quarterback rating. Very little at this point in regards to Vick’s production would surprise me, and I’m going to eagerly watch this game to watch what happens.



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