By Aaron Schatz
Special to Page 2

Note: Go to the bottom of the table for a more complete explanation of how Aaron's QB rating system works.

Most readers this week will look at the yardage and completion totals on the left and the DPAR totals on the right, notice that they don't quite seem connected, and wonder if I'm just pulling these numbers out of Tom Brady's behind. But it really does make sense, because an important part of the system is adjusting for opponent.

This week, there were a number of great games against bad defenses as well as good games against good defenses. The games against the bad defenses get penalized, the games against the good defenses get bonuses, and the result is that the top performances of the week look all jumbled up in the ratings.

Before adjustments, the top quarterbacks are Drew Brees (13.7 PAR), Brian Griese (13.7 PAR), and Matt Hasselbeck (13.1 PAR). All three of those games came against below-average defenses, especially New Orleans. The Saints have managed to make every quarterback they've faced this year look like Dan Marino with the exception of Ken Dorsey. Tom Brady and Jake Delhomme also have their ratings dropped a bit because their big games came against horrible defenses.

On the flip side is Trent Green's game against Tampa Bay. Reports of the demise of the Tampa Bay defense have been greatly exaggerated. They've controlled a number of good quarterbacks this year, including Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks, and Marc Bulger. Not only did Green throw for more yards against Tampa Bay than any other quarterback, he threw for more yards per pass than any other quarterback. Because Tampa has such a good defense, adjusting for opponent raises Green's rating from 9.9 PAR to 13.7 DPAR, best of the week. (The added "D" stands for "defense-adjusted.")

The most surprising rating of the week is probably Joey Harrington, sixth even though the Lions only scored 10 points. A lot of his rating comes from an adjustment for the quality of the Washington defense, but the rating system also takes into account that he was constantly forced to throw on second-and-long and third-and-long because the Lions had no running game.

  • Get overall season rankings at

    Quarterback Skinny DPAR
    1. Trent Green
    32/42, 369 yards
    3 TDs, 2 INTs
    Being ranked No. 1 on a day Manning and Culpepper didn't play is a bit like winning the NBA title the year after they broke up the Bulls. 13.7
    2. Brian Griese
    22/34, 296 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTs
    Hey! I'm back! Too bad Drew Brees already stole my storyline. 12.9
    3. Jake Plummer
    16/24, 234 yards
    4 TDs, 0 INTs
    Denver ditched Griese because he was maddeningly inconsistent and couldn't get past the first round of the playoffs. As they say in Montreal, "Plus ca change, plus ce la meme ..." 11.3
    4. Matt Hasselbeck
    17/28, 285 yards
    3 TDs, 0 INTs
    Amazing how much better he looks the more the Seahawks give the ball to Alexander. 11.2
    5. Tim Rattay
    23/35, 259 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Rattay was New England's second choice when they drafted a backup for Drew Bledsoe in 2000. They took Tom Brady instead. 9.8
    6. Joey Harrington
    26/52, 269 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    From FO writer Michael David Smith: Harrington actually played really well when you consider how little help he got from his line. Damien Woody got him a huge contract and he's been dogging it big time. He's clearly overweight and out of shape." 9.0
    7. Drew Brees
    22/36, 257 yards
    4 TDs, 0 INTs
    NFL scouts now scouring playground basketball courts looking for failed NCAA hoopsters who can play tight end. 8.8
    8. Drew Bledsoe
    18/30, 184 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Sometimes stars burn hottest right before they burn out. 8.7
    9. Jake Delhomme
    25/45, 299 yards
    3 TDs, 0 INTs
    Zell Miller protests: You can't send Delhomme out therearmed with nothing but spitballs. SPITBALLS! 6.4
    10. Tom Brady
    18/31, 284 yards
    2 TDs, 0 INTs
    Boston fans renaming St. Louis Arch, will now be called "Arc D'Triomphe." 6.1
    11. Marc Bulger
    22/33, 285 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Which is more embarassing, a pitcher who forgets how to run the bases or a wide receiver who can't get open against an opposing receiver who has never played cornerback before? 5.5
    12. Ben Roethlisberger
    11/18, 183 yards
    2 TDs, 1 INT
    Surprisingly, only ranked second Sunday in the category "Prematurely bald quarterbacks who rely heavily on the running game." 4.6
    13. Josh McCown
    18/31, 162 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    For season, including sack yardage, averages less than five yards per pass play on first down. Yikes. 4.0
    14. Kerry Collins
    20/32, 231 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Yes, he got his revenge on the Panthers, but is it that impressive to beat Jake Delhomme and the practice squad all-stars? 2.8
    15. David Carr
    22/41, 245 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Right when we're thinking the Texans could contend for the playoffs, Carr lays an egg. WWJDD? Not cut his hair, that's for sure! 2.1
    16. Jay Fiedler
    12/21, 129 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Ugh, enough Jay Fiedler, give A.J. Feeley a chance. 1.9
    17. Kyle Boller
    17/30, 142 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    Dear God: make the monochrome uniforms stop. 1.9
    18. Carson Palmer
    21/32, 212 yards
    1 TD, 0 INT
    This week on ABC's new hit drama "Lost," the island castaways find the 2003 Dallas defense hiding in a cave. 1.9
    19. Craig Krenzel
    8/21, 144 yards
    1 TD, 0 INTs
    Gets our nod as the best molecular biology major in the NFL. 0.5
    20. A.J. Feeley
    6/15, 129 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Ugh, enough A.J. Feeley, give Sage Rosenfels a chance. 0.3
    21. Jeff Garcia
    15/26, 146 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    Throws to TE more than almost any quarterback in football. Is he aware that Winslow is, in fact, injured? 0.3
    22. Mark Brunell
    6/17, 58 yards
    0 TDs, 0 INTs
    This Brunell performance is Exhibit A that "just winning" is not the best way to determine a good QB. -0.2
    23. Chad Pennington
    7/15, 141 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    McCareins TD was the only third down converted out of eight pass attempts. -0.5
    24. Aaron Brooks
    16/29, 173 yards
    1 TD, 1 INT
    Core of this Saints team has now been together a few years and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. They need to blow this thing up and start over. -0.7
    25. Donovan McNabb
    15/24, 109 yards
    0 TDs, 1 INT
    There will be enough dissection of this performance. My question: Does McNabb have the fullest beard in the NFL? -1.6
    26. Vinny Testaverde
    18/30, 207 yards
    0 TDs, 3 INTs
    Not bad for a 200-year old man, really. -5.6
    27. Kurt Warner
    18/36, 195 yards
    1 TD, 2 INTs
    Hey New York sports radio -- prepare to meet Brenda Warner. -7.9

    How DPAR (Defense-adjusted Points Above Replacement) works

    The success of each play is judged based on yardage gained towards both a touchdown and a first down. Then each play gets compared to the NFL average on similar plays, based on down, distance, and other variables. Quarterbacks are judged not based on how many yards they get, but on how important those yards are in the context of the game.

    Ratings are also adjusted for the quality of the opposing defense. The quarterback's performance is then translated into an approximate number of actual points that such success (or failure) is worth when compared to a "replacement level" quarterback (defined as any quarterback named "Billy Joe").

    When all offensive, defensive, and special teams plays are added together for one team, the result comes very close to the actual difference between points scored and allowed.

    Among the advantages of this system:

    1. Gives value for first downs, which are not really included in any other QB rating system but are hugely important.

    2. Does not punish quarterbacks who are always in bad field position because of a poor defense, nor does it punish quarterbacks who are always stuck in third-and-long because of a poor running game.

    3. With enough data to begin including defensive adjustment, quarterbacks receive bonuses when they play well against good defenses, and they don't get rated as world-beaters when they shred the 49ers

    4. Includes both passing and rushing plays, which obviously helps a QB like Michael Vick.

    5. DPAR punishes quarterbacks for turnovers but also for fumbles that his own team recovers. Different kind of fumbles have different penalties depending on how often defense recovers for a turnover. Sacks are punished as well.

    6. 5-yard scramble on 3rd-and-10? Worthless!

    7. Actual points! Easy to understand!

    An even longer explanation of these numbers can be found here.

    Aaron Schatz is editor-in-chief of


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