In trying to quantify a quarterback’s production and efficiency in one convenient stat, ESPN created QBR — a proprietary metric that aims to capture everything a quarterback does (passing, rushing, sacks taken, turnovers, etc.) in the course of the game. It isn’t perfect, by any means. But it provides us with a data point for comparing the NFL’s starting quarterbacks.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s share some encouraging news regarding Justin Fields’ development through the lens of QBR. Because Fields’ 76.5 QBR being the fourth best among NFL quarterbacks in Week 5 (h/t Bill Zimmerman) is worth celebrating. Get your party favors ready. We’re having a ball to kick off game week after seeing Fields take legitimate forward steps. And that this stat and ESPN’s other metrics confirm the growth warm my heart.
The only quarterbacks who had a better QBR than Fields’ 76.5 in Week 5: Josh Allen (86.1), Jacoby Brissett (90.8), and Kirk Cousins (77.6). Fields’ QBR number was higher than Aaron Rodgers (53.2), Tom Brady (46.2), Justin Herbert (40.6), and Trevor Lawrence (32.0). But perhaps more important than that, Fields’ 76.5 QBR is a 42.2-point improvement from his Week 4 showing against the Giants. And it represents a 39.5-point increase from his 37.0 season-long QBR.
But it wasn’t just QBR showing that Fields was a baller on Sunday.
Per ESPN’s data for Week 5, Fields…
- Was the league’s most clutch rushing quarterback, by ESPN’s RUN stat which values “clutch-weighted expected points added through rushing.”
- Earned a 3.5 PAA that was tied for the fourth-best in Week 5. PAA accounts for points a QB contributes, accounting for QBR and how much they play, above the level of an average quarterback.”
- Posted a 6.7 EPA that was also fifth best among QBs this week. EPA is the “total expected points added with low leverage plays, according to ESPN Win Probability model, down-weighted.”
- Owned the 4th best RAW number among quarterbacks. RAW a.k.a. Raw Quarterback Rating, “values quarterback on all play types on a 0-100 scale” and isn’t adjusted for opposing defenses faced.
We knew Fields had a day on Sunday. That Week 5 line (15/21 (71.4%), 208 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 9.9 yards/attempt, 118.8 passer rating … plus 8 rushes and 47 yards) passed a bunch of important tests. It passed our eye test for improvement. The traditional metrics bear out that Fields had a pretty darn good game. And the advanced numbers suggest Fields aced the test the Vikings threw at him. This is the kind of stuff we’ve been wanting to see.
All of this to say that not only was Fields legitimately great on Sunday, he was significantly better than he had been all season. We realize they won’t all be oil painting for a developing quarterback. And we know that growth isn’t linear. But we also know not to take for granted when a forward step happens before our very eyes.