QBR: Just how bad was Kerry Collins?

Our first weekly look at how AFC quarterbacks fared in QBR (Quarterback Rating), a new metric that’s more comprehensive than passer rating. It factors in all the ways a quarterback influenced his team’s chance to win, and tops out at 100. An 80 means a performance was better than 80 percent of all quarterback games.

From ESPN Stats & Information:

In his first start for the Colts in place of the injured Peyton Manning, Kerry Collins recorded the lowest Total QBR of the week with an abysmal 2.3. Interestingly, he had an 82.3 NFL passer rating -- almost exactly at last season’s NFL average passer rating (82.2), and higher than that of his opposing quarterback in Week 1, Matt Schaub of the Texans (78.5 NFL passer rating).

Here are a couple reasons Total QBR is the more complete and accurate representation of Collins’ performance:

  • Collins took three sacks for 25 yards, which are negative plays for his team. Total QBR takes sacks into account; NFL passer rating does not.

  • Collins fumbled three times (losing two), including twice on consecutive offensive plays (one sack, one mishandled snap) when the game was still close early in the first quarter. Both of those fumbles gave Houston possession inside the Indianapolis 20-yard line. Total QBR takes into account these major negative plays; NFL passer rating does not factor in fumbles.

  • When the game was still within reason in the first quarter and early second, Collins went 5-5, but for only 34 yards. Only one of those completions resulted in a first down. When the game was out of hand (Colts down by 24 or more points), Collins threw for 163 of his 197 total yards and nine first downs (including his one touchdown) -- essentially meaningless outcomes. NFL passer rating counts each of those attempts as the same; Total QBR takes into account the time and score on each play to gauge how important it was to deciding the game’s outcome and weighs it accordingly.

  • By looking at Collins’ overall performance in the context of the game, Total QBR accurately penalizes Collins for hurting the Colts early on when the game was still close. Even though NFL passer rating shows differently, Collins did MUCH less to help his team than Schaub did, and Total QBR accurately gauges that (Schaub finished with a Total QBR of 71.0 for the game).

Comparing Collins to Manning's average performance the past 3 seasons shows you just how vast the gap is between the two:

  • Manning’s lowest single-game Total QBR the past three years was 29.1 (Nov. 28, 2010, vs. San Diego). In 48 regular-season starts in that span, Manning was below 50 (the average rating) only four times.

  • Collins was sacked three times in Sunday’s game. In the past three years combined, Peyton Manning had two regular-season games where he took three sacks.

  • Collins cost the Colts’ 2.0 clutch-weighted expected points with his three fumbles. Manning fumbled only six times over the past three seasons, and his share of the blame cost the Colts 2.0 clutch-weighted expected points TOTAL on those plays. In other words, Collins hurt the Colts as much with his fumbles on Sunday as Manning hurt the team with his fumbles over the past three years.

Collins’ performance is not the worst -- or even one of the worst five or 10 -- in the Total QBR era. Among games where a QB had at least 20 action plays, the lowest score would be Jay Cutler's 0.2 Total QBR (on 23 plays) on Oct. 3, 2010 against the Giants. Over the last four seasons, 24 regular-season games have had qualifying QBs (min. 20 action plays) with a Total QBR below Collins’ 2.3 on Sunday.

Beyond Collins ...

The team with the better Total QBR has gone 11-3 so far in Week 1.

One of those was Titans-Jaguars. Matt Hasselbeck (62) lost to the Jaguars’ Luke McCown's (43.0) 16-14

Outside of McCown, who had just 32 action plays, the Jaguars ran the ball 40 times for 153 yards, compared to just 12 carries for 34 rushing yards by the Titans outside of Hasselbeck.

Schaub ranked eighth among all quarterbacks for his Week 1 performance. See the full list here.