QBER/Week 16: The Curious Case of Ben Roethlisberger

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIJanuary 1, 2010

(QBER is short for Quarterback Efficiency Rating, a more comprehensive, easily understood rating system that I devised to place the emphasis where it belongs—the ability of a quarterback to advance the ball, avoid negative plays, and score touchdowns in comparison to his peers. A rating of 100.0 is the league average.)



Few quarterbacks have put up better raw numbers than Ben Roethlisberger this season. Selected the Pittsburgh Steelers' most valuable player by his teammates, he ranks among the league leaders in completion percentage, pass yardage and yards per pass attempt.  


Who thought they would live to see a Steelers quarterback pass for 503 yards in one game? Even more impressive, Roethlisberger did it outdoors with an ordinary offensive line in front of him.


Nonetheless, Roethlisberger has never ranked higher than 11th in QBER at any time this season. Because what the numbers don't say is, Big Ben has more negative yards than any quarterback in the league, and that has significantly reduced his effectiveness.


Although not entirely his own fault, Roethlisberger has lost more yards on sacks (330) than any QB in the league. He has lost 137 yards on interception returns, also the highest total in the league.


In addition, Roethlisberger has had three turnovers returned for touchdowns. Only Jason Campbell and Jake Delhomme (four apiece) have more in the league.


Roethlisberger ranks among the best quarterbacks in the leaguehe was the real Super Bowl XLIII Most Valuable Playerbut until Big Ben and company limit the number of negative plays, he may never get the recognition he deserves. 


The QBER leaders through Week 16 of the regular season:


1. Philip Rivers 137.8

2. Peyton Manning 135.1

3. Drew Brees 134.9

4. Aaron Rodgers 134.8

5. Brett Favre 131.2

6. Donovan McNabb 128.1

7. Tom Brady 125.2

8. Tony Romo 124.1

9. Matt Schaub 121.2

10. Eli Manning 114.968

11. Vince Young 114.967

12. Kyle Orton 113.5

13. Ben Roethlisberger 113.3

14. Joe Flacco 111.4

15. Carson Palmer 108.6

16. Kurt Warner 108.4

17. Matt Ryan 109.2

18. Alex Smith 101.3

19. David Garrard 93.4

20. Jason Campbell 88.9

21. Jay Cutler 88.3

22. Matt Cassel 85.19

23. Matt Hasselbeck 85.15

24. Chad Henne 84.1

25. Brady Quinn 82.3

26. Marc Bulger 79.7

27. Josh Freeman 68.5

28. Matthew Stafford 68.0

29. Mark Sanchez 65.9

30. Jake Delhomme 47.1


A few observations:


  • Peyton Manning lost more than chance for an unbeaten season last weekend, when Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell benched the starters in the second half. Manning dropped out of first place in the QBER race as well. For the first time this season, Philip Rivers is the most efficient signal-caller in the league. Since Week 10, the San Diego Chargers quarterback has produced 13 net touchdowns and been sacked only seven times in a span of 206 pass plays.
  • It’s too early to write off Matt Cassel, but it’s safe to say his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs has been a disappointment. The Southern California product has cracked the top 10 in QBER only once this season, and in last seven weeks, he has not been higher than 18th place. Cassel signed a six-year, $63-millon contract after he and linebacker Mike Vrabel were acquired from the New England Patriots in return for a first-round draft pick last spring.
  •  The Carolina Panthers may have found their quarterback of the future. In his first four starts, Matt Moore posted a QBER of 138.2, which would lead the league if he had enough attempts to qualify. In 124 pass plays, Moore has totaled seven net touchdowns. Predecessor Jake Delhomme had four net TDs in 350 pass calls.
  • Although the NFL passer rating formula does not take them into account, the ability of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to make plays with his feet has had no small role in his success. The leader of the Pack has run for 302 yards and three touchdowns on intended pass plays. Both totals lead the league.
  • Of the top eight players on the QBER list, eight will be in the playoffs. And Matt Schaub could make it 9-of-9 this weekend.  


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