• Tua has a day: Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa generated 0.559 EPA per play in Week 1, the best mark in the NFL.
• Matthew Stafford shows off the arm: Stafford threw 11.3 yards down the field on average, and eight of his completions went for 15 or more yards. In all, 66.2% of Stafford’s passing yards came via the air, third in the league.
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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Quarterback is the most important position on the field, but we can often get stuck in their most recent blunders or successes, making it difficult to come up with an objective ranking.
This analysis utilizes a statistical technique called Bayesian Updating. It is a method PFF has used many times, notably when we looked at the 2018 and 2019 draft classes. With Bayesian Updating, we can use individual results to project PFF grades and expected points added (EPA) per play.
You can find details of how Bayesian Updating is implemented here, including a primer on how we build a posterior belief (or projection) based on historical quarterback results before updating those beliefs for each quarterback with their actual NFL results on a play-by-play basis.
The rankings in the table below are based on the posterior means of quarterback ratings (their raw grade on each play) and EPA. The posterior mean estimates the mean based on information from prior beliefs and observed data. The rankings are based on their projected average EPA and average rating for the next week.
Here is how the league's quarterbacks stack up after Week 1. It's important to note that there is just one game in this sample, so look for the likes of Joe Burrow and Josh Allen to bounce back as the season progresses. For now, this provides a look at who exceeded and fell short of expectations in NFL Week 1.
2023 Week 1 Analytical Quarterback Rankings
Most efficient passer: Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa generated 0.559 EPA per play in Week 1, the best mark in the NFL. Stafford and Purdy weren’t far behind him at 0.446 and 0.409, respectively.
Tagovailoa was also the most accurate quarterback in Week 1, posting the highest accurate-plus (perfect ball placement, per PFF's QB charting) throw rate at 30.9%.
Purdy let the ball do the work for him, as 78.4% of the 49ers quarterback's passing yards came through the air rather than after the catch.
If you want to look at consistency, Trevor Lawrence is your guy. 61.8% of his plays generated a positive EPA, five percentage points higher than the next quarterback. He also had a completion rate of 77.4%, the second-highest in the league.
Explosive passer: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Tagovailoa was in a league of his own in Week 1, but Matthew Stafford wasn't too far behind, as he produced five big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays across 39 dropbacks.
Stafford threw 11.3 yards down the field on average, and eight of his completions went for 15 or more yards. In all, 66.2% of Stafford’s passing yards came via the air, third in the league.
Best under pressure: Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Jared Goff posted the highest passing grade under pressure this week at 82.4. He finished seventh in EPA per play and completed almost 67% of his passes under pressure, with one big-time throw and no turnover-worthy plays.
Carrying the team: Mac Jones, New England Patriots
There is no metric that quantifies the quarterback’s performance relative to the rest of the offense, so I took a look at the grades of the offense without the quarterback and compared it to the grade of the quarterback.
Mac Jones had the biggest difference in PFF grade between himself and the Patriots offense (12.8). He had the highest grade (80.5) among Patriots offensive players who played at least 10 snaps, finishing sixth at his position in the same metric.