Pro Football Focus grades and rankings can lead to a lot of side eye at times. This one would definitely qualify. This week, they set about ranking the NFL quarterbacks. I popped in, ready to scroll down a ways before seeing Derek Carr’s name. I scrolled a bit and heard a record scratch.
They ranked him 7th in the league. Um, what? Here was their head-scratching reasoning.
Carr’s good grade lands more on the conservative end of the spectrum, as he ranks third at avoiding turnover-worthy plays (two of his three interceptions were on the receiver and a bad bounce), though Carr ranks just 19th in the league in positively graded throws. After an encouraging Week 1 performance, Carr has settled back into a conservative approach that has seen him post an average depth of target of just 6.7, tied for fourth-lowest in the NFL this season.
So, it’s because he hasn’t turned the ball over a lot? Because it would seem to me that his 19 ranking for positively graded throws would be more indicative of what his ranking should be.
His rankings in terms of stats is pretty poor. He is 21st in passing yards (699), 26th in yards per completion (7.1), 17th in touchdown passes (4), 17th in first down percentage (37.8), 23rd in completions of 20 or more yards (8), and 19th in passer rating (93.9).
But since none of those stats seem to matter to PFF for their ranking, let’s look at the turnover thing.
Take these three quarterbacks; Jimmy Garoppolo, Josh Allen, and Jared Goff. All three have led their teams to 3-0 records. Also three quarterbacks with each among the 6th most interceptions this season.
They have Garoppolo ranked 10th, Goff 17th, and Allen is 21st. Wins aren’t a QB stat, technically, but aggressively leading teams down the field to get wins certainly matters.
Last season the QB with the most interceptions was Ben Roethlisberger with 16 picks thrown. He also happened to lead the NFL in passing yards (5129) and was 5th in the league with 34 touchdown passes.
Andrew Luck had the second most interceptions (15), but also had the second most touchdown passes (39) behind only MVP Patrick Mahomes. Both he and Roethlisberger led their teams to winning records.
So, you can see ranking Carr as the 7th best QB in the league based on that metric is completely flawed. Carr hasn’t thrown more picks because he dinks and dunks his way through games. Sure, that isn’t entirely his fault, much of it is the offense he’s in. But keep in mind Rich Gannon won an MVP in this offense. Check downs aren’t always the play that’s called, but check downs are often what we get.
Sometimes the PFF rankings serve only to muddy the waters. I can’t see anything useful in this one. If I were them, I’d use this to fix the metrics I use to put these things together.