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Thursday, September 12, 2013
QBR and Sam Bradford

By Nick Wagoner

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- ESPN Insider Mike Sando posted an interesting look Insider at the disconnect between Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's glistening traditional quarterback rating and the very average number he registered in his total QBR last week against Arizona.

Bradford
Bradford
In the piece, Sando lays out the reasons why Bradford's 100.7 rating might be a bit inflated but also why the 50.4 QBR could also be a bit on the low side. It's important to note, first of all, that Bradford's QBR took a big hit for the pick-6 he threw on a play action boot intended for tight end Lance Kendricks early in the third quarter.

That play itself dropped Bradford's total QBR nearly a whopping 18 full points.

The idea of QBR is to take into consideration factors that a normal rating doesn't. In this case, Bradford' isn't penalized greatly by the traditional rating system because it only registers the interception as an interception. No weight is given to the outcome of the interception or how it changed the game. QBR attempts to account for the fact that the play turned into a touchdown and in turn gave Arizona a better win probability.

Without spoiling too much of what Sando wrote -- the piece is definitely worth a read for anyone with Insider -- it's hard to argue with his conclusion that the value of a performance such as the one Bradford had against the Cardinals is just fine with the Rams even if QBR doesn't necessarily agree.

As Sando points out, the numbers tend to normalize over the course of a season and Bradford has traditionally had a solid interception rate.

Perhaps what's most important to take away from Bradford's Sunday performance was how he fared in the fourth quarter in leading the Rams to a comeback win. We covered that ground a bit earlier this week but Rams coach Jeff Fisher discussed the idea that Bradford's late-game heroics actually should carry a bit more weight.

"Especially when you put a two-minute drive together to get points to win the ball game," Fisher said Wednesday. "I think the best thing he did -- he did a lot of good things in the game -- just to shrug off the interception return for a touchdown and come back and go 9-for-9. That shows a lot, experience and confidence. His position’s hard to play and sometimes those things are going to happen, but you can’t let them affect you. So, he came back and made plays.”

QBR takes into account a lot more than just yards, completions, attempts, touchdowns and interceptions. One thing it can't account for, like many advanced statistics, is how a player performs under pressure. That's a test Bradford clearly passed against Arizona.