Getting it right: CQBR 2.0

By
Updated: March 19, 2013

Peyton Manning’s superb Complete Quarterback Rating (CQBR) for the 2004 regular season was driven largely by the historic scoring percentage he achieved that year.

CQBR 2.0

No one always gets everything right the first time, and the nameless number crunchers here at WCSN are not immune to this very human affliction. By the same token, we’re also not afraid of correcting and learning from our mistakes.

A few weeks ago, amidst great fanfare and excitement, we released the first edition of our WCSN Complete Quarterback Rating (CQBR) system, which takes into consideration not just a quarterback’s passing prowess, but also his rushing achievements and his ability to protect the football.

Although there were a lot of things we really liked about CQBR 1.0, there was also something subtly not quite right about it too. The more we looked into the real-world numbers, the more apparent the problem became to us.

As we noted in the original release, the NFL does not separate passing fumbles from rushing fumbles for quarterbacks. Consequently, we put fumbles in their own statistical category. The problem with that was that fumbles ended up being so heavily weighted that they had a disproportionate effect on CQBR. A quarterback could have a fantastic, even historic, game — as Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers did against the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional Round of the 2012 NFL playoffs — yet a single fumble could drastically reduce his rating. The fumble category was reducing the ability of CQBR to properly rate extremely good games.

Another way of expressing this is that CQBR wasn’t providing good separation among quarterbacks at the top end of the scale. It was lopping off otherwise very high ratings because of sometimes a single play. NFL passer rating doesn’t punish even interceptions this harshly.

When a quarterback puts up a recordsetting performance, as San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did in the Divisional Round of the 2012 NFL playoffs, his rating should reflect that accomplishment.

Working out the kinks

Since a quarterback rating system fails to sufficiently separate out quarterbacks isn’t very useful, we realized it was time to go back to the drawing board with CQBR.

After some intense conversations and an in-depth look at the numbers, we decided that CQBR would be not only more reflective of actual quarterback production on the field, but also more useful for learning about individual players’ strengths and weaknesses, if we broke the statistical categories comprising CQBR into four sub-ratings:

  • Passer rating (PR): completion percentage (CMP%) and net yards per dropback (YPD);
  • Rusher rating (RR): average yards per carry (YPC);
  • Scorer rating (SR): percentage of plays that resulted in a touchdown (TD%), whether passing or rushing;
  • Turnover rating (TR): percentage of plays that resulted in the loss of the football (TO%), whether by fumble or interception.

As we can see, breaking the rating system down this way gives us a glimpse into the quarterback’s productivity as a passer and a rusher; it helps us see how productive he is as a scorer; and it shows us how careful he is protecting the football. One of the advantages of combining fumbles and interceptions is that for quarterbacks, interceptions tend to be much more common than fumbles. Thus as single fumble does not have nearly the effect on CQBR that it had in the original formula.

In other words, a quarterback who has a phenomenal game in every other category won’t have his rating ruined by a single mistake.

The practical result of this is that CQBR now has much more spread, particularly at the upper end of the spectrum, enabling us to better rate and appreciate great performances.

CQBR in action

Following is a listing of the top 25 season CQBRs of the past decade for all quarterbacks who started at least 12 games in a season.

Top 25 CQBR of 2002-2012

Year Player Tm Cmp% Int% YPD TD% TO% PR RR SR TR CQBR
2004 Peyton Manning IND 67.6 2.0 8.7 9.2 2.8 101.28 27.61 156.88 76.30 107.21
2011 Aaron Rodgers GNB 68.3 1.2 8.2 8.0 1.7 98.16 63.39 134.79 95.17 104.83
2007 Tom Brady NWE 68.9 1.4 7.8 8.2 2.0 95.51 41.67 137.71 88.97 102.86
2011 Drew Brees NOR 71.2 2.1 7.8 6.7 2.1 101.35 60.83 108.81 87.42 99.13
2010 Tom Brady NWE 65.9 0.8 7.2 6.8 1.3 81.77 21.22 109.92 101.76 92.09
2009 Drew Brees NOR 70.6 2.1 8.0 6.5 3.6 101.35 27.61 104.51 63.06 91.11
2012 Peyton Manning DEN 68.6 1.9 7.5 5.9 2.1 91.48 12.28 93.32 88.48 89.74
2009 Brett Favre MIN 68.4 1.3 7.0 5.7 1.6 85.98 18.67 90.35 96.91 89.28
2004 Daunte Culpepper MIN 69.2 2.0 7.5 6.0 2.9 93.11 67.22 95.47 74.15 87.29
2006 Peyton Manning IND 65.0 1.6 7.6 5.9 1.9 82.95 28.89 93.14 92.18 86.76
2012 Aaron Rodgers GNB 67.2 1.4 6.6 6.2 2.0 79.26 69.78 99.94 90.06 86.74
2011 Tom Brady NWE 65.6 2.0 7.9 6.1 2.6 87.74 40.39 97.63 79.30 86.62
2002 Chad Pennington NYJ 68.9 1.5 7.1 5.3 1.8 88.27 30.17 82.24 93.41 86.17
2009 Peyton Manning IND 68.8 2.8 7.6 5.5 3.0 93.32 -0.50 85.49 73.02 84.80
2005 Peyton Manning IND 67.3 2.2 7.8 5.6 3.0 91.34 26.33 86.79 73.32 83.57
2010 Aaron Rodgers GNB 65.7 2.3 7.4 5.6 2.6 82.90 80.00 87.71 79.17 83.01
2004 Donovan McNabb PHI 64.0 1.7 7.4 6.3 3.0 78.89 77.44 100.57 73.82 82.99
2009 Aaron Rodgers GNB 64.7 1.3 7.0 5.4 1.7 76.38 77.44 83.40 94.79 82.79
2008 Philip Rivers SDG 65.3 2.3 7.7 6.4 3.6 84.94 42.94 102.41 63.71 82.78
2009 Philip Rivers SDG 65.2 1.9 8.0 5.4 2.8 88.05 32.72 83.54 76.47 82.69
2005 Carson Palmer CIN 67.8 2.4 7.1 5.9 3.0 85.17 23.78 92.75 72.61 82.07
2012 Tom Brady NWE 63.0 1.3 7.0 5.5 1.5 72.27 26.33 86.10 98.79 81.59
2012 Matt Ryan ATL 68.6 2.3 7.0 4.9 2.5 86.59 60.83 73.28 81.18 81.26
2011 Tony Romo DAL 66.3 1.9 7.1 5.5 2.8 81.57 35.28 85.83 77.05 80.62
2004 Drew Brees SDG 65.5 1.8 7.2 6.2 3.0 80.66 28.89 98.31 73.48 80.36

Perhaps the most interesting thing that jumps out of that table is the extraordinary scorer rating Peyton Manning posted in his 2004 season, when he scored a touchdown on an astounding 9.2 percent of the plays he touched the ball. It’s quite possible that achievement will never be duplicated. The only other starting quarterback we are aware of who has come close to equaling that accomplishment was Dan Marino in 1984, when he scored on 8.5 percent of all snaps. (His CQBR of 91.96 for that season is reflective of his phenomenal efficiency that year.) Tom Brady registered a 8.2 percent scoring mark in 2007, while Aaron Rodgers produced an 8.0 scoring percentage in 2011. After that, the numbers drop off precipitously, with Tom Brady (2010) clocking in at 6.8 percent and Drew Brees (2011) at 6.7 percent.

Also notable is that none of these quarterbacks had extremely high rusher ratings. Indeed, the highest RR posted by any quarterback of the past decade was Derek Anderson (2006), who attained a lofty RR of 159.22 on four rushes but finished with a CQBR of just 35.42. While we’re at it, let’s look at run-first quarterbacks and see how they fare. Below are the CQBRs for the 25 quarterbacks with the most rushes of the past decade.

Run-first quarterbacks

Year Player Tm PAtt Cmp% RAtt TD% TO% PR RR SR TR CQBR
2004 Daunte Culpepper MIN 548 69.2 88 6.0 2.9 93.11 67.22 95.59 74.12 87.31
2012 Robert Griffin III WAS 393 65.6 120 5.0 2.0 79.38 95.33 75.26 89.21 82.57
2010 Michael Vick PHI 372 62.6 100 5.9 3.4 70.44 95.33 93.96 67.01 77.92
2012 Russell Wilson SEA 393 64.1 94 5.8 4.2 73.43 74.89 90.84 52.51 72.69
2011 Cam Newton CAR 517 60.0 126 5.2 3.2 63.33 80.00 78.97 68.92 70.19
2010 Josh Freeman TAM 474 61.4 68 4.4 2.3 63.01 77.44 63.79 84.97 69.55
2003 Daunte Culpepper MIN 454 65.0 73 5.1 4.6 74.19 82.55 78.57 46.20 68.83
2002 Jeff Garcia SFO 528 62.1 73 3.9 1.9 59.79 69.78 53.96 90.61 66.63
2012 Cam Newton CAR 485 57.7 127 4.2 3.4 58.40 82.55 59.50 66.42 63.05
2008 Matt Cassel NWE 516 63.4 73 3.6 2.8 64.82 55.72 48.73 75.83 63.03
2002 Steve McNair TEN 492 61.2 82 4.2 3.5 61.58 77.44 60.18 64.19 62.98
2002 Michael Vick ATL 421 54.9 113 4.2 3.0 41.51 96.61 60.79 73.03 59.70
2011 Michael Vick PHI 423 59.8 76 3.6 4.6 65.37 108.11 49.19 46.40 59.69
2008 David Garrard JAX 535 62.6 73 2.6 3.1 58.71 64.67 29.15 71.72 54.91
2006 Michael Vick ATL 388 52.6 123 4.0 3.1 25.58 115.77 55.39 72.04 54.62
2009 David Garrard JAX 516 60.9 77 2.8 3.8 56.95 62.11 33.44 60.02 52.15
2004 David Carr HOU 466 61.2 73 2.7 4.1 60.56 60.83 31.22 54.99 51.85
2003 Donovan McNabb PHI 478 57.5 71 3.2 3.4 44.95 72.33 40.77 66.70 50.98
2002 Daunte Culpepper MIN 549 60.7 106 4.0 6.3 57.25 81.28 56.01 18.61 49.10
2005 Michael Vick ATL 387 55.3 102 4.0 4.6 34.98 83.83 56.69 46.40 48.04
2004 Michael Vick ATL 321 56.4 120 3.5 5.7 41.24 104.28 46.27 27.23 46.76
2007 Vince Young TEN 382 62.3 93 2.4 5.2 58.97 62.11 24.94 36.38 45.11
2003 Quincy Carter DAL 505 57.8 68 3.1 4.8 46.32 57.00 38.92 43.80 44.44
2006 Vince Young TEN 357 51.5 83 4.1 5.2 26.96 94.05 57.92 37.02 43.20
2011 Tim Tebow DEN 271 46.5 122 4.2 4.5 9.47 77.44 60.64 48.70 41.80

Only one of these running quarterbacks — Daunte Culpepper (2004) — attained a CQBR greater than 80 on the season, and only five managed even to break the 70 mark. This makes sense. Due to the nature of the game, passing will almost always have a stronger effect on CQBR than rushing. Not even the most run-oriented of starting quarterbacks attempts nearly as many rushes as passes over the course of a season. Here again CQBR does a good job of reflecting reality.

2012 NFC North and NFC South

Quarterback Tm GS Cmp% Int% YPD Avg TD% TO% PR RR SR TR CQBR
Aaron Rodgers GNB 16 67.2 1.4 6.6 4.8 6.2 2.0 79.26 69.78 99.94 90.06 86.74
Matt Ryan ATL 15 68.6 2.3 7.0 4.1 4.9 2.5 86.59 60.83 73.28 81.18 81.26
Drew Brees NOR 16 63.0 2.8 7.2 0.3 6.2 3.4 74.00 12.28 98.92 66.76 77.77
Cam Newton CAR 16 57.7 2.5 7.0 5.8 4.2 3.4 58.40 82.55 59.47 66.43 63.04
Matthew Stafford DET 15 59.8 2.3 6.3 3.6 3.0 2.9 56.91 54.44 37.37 74.56 56.38
Christian Ponder MIN 16 62.1 2.5 5.3 4.2 3.5 3.3 53.06 62.11 46.04 67.95 55.50
Josh Freeman TAM 16 54.8 3 6.7 3.6 4.3 4.3 48.19 54.44 62.73 50.77 52.67
Jay Cutler CHI 15 58.8 3.2 5.9 5.7 3.7 4.3 50.39 81.28 50.44 51.53 51.92

Finally, we compare the ratings for all of the NFC North and NFC South starting quarterbacks. It’s interesting to note just how average, with the exception of Aaron Rodgers, the NFC North starters are. In fact, the overall divisional CQBR for the NFC South was significantly higher in 2012 than it was for the NFC North. Also noteworthy is the fact that although neither posted a stellar PR last year, both Rodgers and Drew Brees put up outstanding scoring numbers, both nearly breaking the 100 mark for SR.

About the author

Rourke Douglas Decker covers the Green Bay Packers beat for the Water Cooler Sports Network. He resides with his family in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He can be reached for questions or comments at . Connect with .

1366 comments
jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

The "Tuck Rule" has been officially abolished by the . However, the unwritten "Do whatever Tom Brady wants" rule remains in full effect.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

The crown-of-the-helmet rule has also passed by a wide margin, I'm told.

Um...
Um... moderator

 This the one Forte was bitching about?

EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T.
EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. moderator

  yeah

Um...
Um... moderator

   Not to mention how it might alter a RBs ability to protect the ball. 

Um...
Um... moderator

   No shit. The amount of injuries to RBs will be devastating I think. The form of a RB leading with the head and shoulders affords him so much more protection than some Forest Gump style of running would.

EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T.
EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. moderator

   RB's are going to get murdered if they need to run upright now.

Um...
Um... moderator

   I understand safetey and all but uintil they figure out a way to biologically move the shoulders on top of the head it seems like it is going to be impossible to get players to not lead with their helmet. That is like saying don't walk with you feet on the ground.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

The Tuck Rule change has passed overwhelmingly, I'm told. No, not retroactive. Sorry,

Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused moderator

Gah, I wish it was April already so I could go hiking in the high country. I'm going stir crazy down hear in the lowlands.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

": Leslie Frazier joked he'll write a book someday on the layers on the Percy Harvin saga. "It's complicated.""

Translation: Percy was an asshole, but I'm not gonna publicly lay into him right now

El Oso Blanco
El Oso Blanco

That dude wont get laid by Kate Upton. It will be a platonic prom night for him. Unless he can charm her. 

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 if I was him I'd just go have fun getting to spend the evening with a supermodel.  Don't ruin it by trying to make a move, which will never work.  Just hang out with her and have a good time

El Oso Blanco
El Oso Blanco

 THAT might get him laid. She probably has thousands of guys using lame attempts to get into her panties. Maybe she might be intrigued by one who is just being himself and having a great time. 

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

   her boobs are so big they're practically by her face

Um...
Um... moderator

   Just remember. Look at her face when you are talking to her.

EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T.
EvilDonkey-R.H.I.T. moderator

  I would still be nervous as fuck. We'll at first anyway. best thing to do is NOT try to sleep with her.

Um...
Um... moderator

I'm not 18 any more. I know what to do now.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

    tolkien, lewis, harry potter, sex positions

you know, the usual

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

   just talk.  start with talking about each other a little bit, then same shit as any first date type stuff.  get to know her as  a person a little bit.

Um...
Um... moderator

  I can't imagine what I'd talk to her about. Sports? Science? Kitties? Pugs? I'm sure I would have bored the pants on her when I was 18.

El Oso Blanco
El Oso Blanco

 Last I heard was Justin Verlander. But yea you are right. He needs to be thankful that he gets to spend an evening with a supermodel

Um...
Um... moderator

  Also, it takes a special g woman to want to lay a pimply virgin. I doubt that's the kind of gal she is.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

  he's not gonna get laid.  Doesn't she have a boyfriend?  Just have fun and don't even think about it

Um...
Um... moderator

 You know he is going to spend all his time between now and then coming up with a thousand different lines intended to get her to let him just touch her boobs.