Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel completed the 2012 season as the No. 1 ranked quarterback per the all-new QBR ratings created by ESPN. The ratings were not in effect on a weekly basis until this season, but were applied after the fact to the individual quarterbacking performances for 2004 through 2012. What fun! They bring back some old memories, raise questions, and are tremendously interesting study materials for pro scouts, mock drafts and fantasy players, alike.
As a former college QB, I’ve always considered the “passing efficiency” ratings of the past to be poor indicators of a quarterback’s actual abilities. Their presumed projections at the next level often fell short of the results rendered. The fact that Johnny came out on top in this new system gave the QBR instant credibility, as who can really argue with the massive numbers and the eleven wins — not to mention the Heisman Trophy? One could surmise a group of statisticians came together and said, “Just look at this guy! He is our model. Whatever he did in 2012 will be the criteria for QBR. Let’s stick to that, incorporate it as we would a video game, and get to work.” Done!
So Johnny’s Heisman season becomes the College QBR standard, one which every quarterback in the country wishes he could lead. What, you don’t think quarterbacks concern themselves with such trivialities? The Manning Award will use the QBR, in part, to determine the next Manning Award winner who, as fate would have it, was Johnny Manziel in 2012. You’d better believe these players check it weekly, and so do their coaches and upcoming opponents. Additionally, there is included in the rankings a complete unknown; a young guy from Old Dominion running the “Raid” and doing tremendously well, sort of like finding those diamonds in the rough.
Is it absolutely necessary to be a dual-threat QB like Manziel to finish on top? Can a guy like Zack Mettenberger of LSU, who has been known to have trouble getting out of his own way, ever win it? Would Andrew Luck have been anywhere close? I mean, is it truly a “best all-around” athlete award instead of a pure “sit in the pocket” style of award?
Well guess what — Andrew Luck did finish at the top of the rankings in 2010. I don’t believe he did this with a whole lot of help from his legs dashing upfield on the Zone Read, either…not at Stanford. They play “multiple-set with multiple personnel packages” football at Stanford, very similar to Alabama. As Luck would have it, he’s also turned himself into a pretty good NFL guy.
So who led all the quarterbacks in QBR during the 2011 season? Russell Wilson did. You may have heard of him as well. Yep, and you’d better believe the Pros saw Johnny’s name up there for last season with some pretty darned fine NFL quarterbacks as his predecessors. And speaking of Mettenberg, he has had individual games ranking him third and seventh this season already.
Johnny, however, started 2013 rather slowly. In fact, he didn’t start at all, apparently. Following the Rice game in which he played only the second half, he didn’t even register. But the man’s climbing. He’ll get there. It’s what he does. The trick will be getting A&M to rise in its rankings correspondingly.