Every week throughout the 2020 season, we'll revisit the biggest storylines around the NFL's quarterback play and try to add proper context to PFF grading and traditional stats.
Before we start, here are a few disclaimers to aid in the understanding of the PFF system and its interaction with box score stats.
- There's no doubt that quarterback play is the biggest driver of passing production, and most people are conditioned to have a picture of how well a quarterback played based on the five basic box score stats — completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns and interceptions.
- The reality is that the best quarterbacks will rise to the top, or close to it, statistically over time, but in one-game samples or even full seasons, there are other forces at play that heavily influence those numbers.
- The PFF grade is here to isolate the quarterback's play away from his playmakers, playcaller, opposing defense and anything else that could influence his statistics. We give credit for good throws regardless of the result, and we do the same for bad throws. The PFF passing grade has proven to be one of the most stable passing metrics available, and we believe adding proper context to every play is crucial for long-term player evaluation.
Week 3 is in the books, so here's a look at some of the top stories from the NFL's return.
[Editor's Note: PFF's advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]
Grades vs. Stats: Lamar Jackson's last two games
Nothing sums up the difference between PFF grades and quarterback “production” than Lamar Jackson's last two games.
Against the Houston Texans in Week 2, Jackson finished with a 64.1 PFF passing grade to go with a 113.9 passer rating and 8.5 yards per attempt. This week against the Kansas City Chiefs, Jackson posted a similar passing grade at 61.1, but his passer rating was just 73.1, and he averaged a paltry 3.5 yards per attempt.
How could Jackson leave both games with similar grades but completely different stat lines and subsequently a completely different narrative about his performance? First, to be clear, Jackson was not good in the Chiefs game, but he wasn't 3.5-yards-per-attempt bad.