Fed up with the antiquated nature of the standard quarterback rating statistic, ESPN has been championing its new QBR ("total quarterback rating") metric over the past several days. The explanation for it is long and convoluted, and quite frankly, I haven't yet found the time to carefully read through every detail of the new statistical formula.
Here's what we do know, practically, about the new QBR statistic: it speaks favorably (sort of) to Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Certainly, it speaks fairly.
ESPN has applied the metric to quarterback play during the 2010 season, and Buffalo's starting quarterback finished No. 17 in the ranking, sliding in ahead of players such as Mark Sanchez, Jay Cutler and Matt Hasselbeck. Here's the problem, however: Fitzpatrick still grades out as slightly below average in the metric.
Fitzpatrick's 48.7 QBR is slightly below the 50 that ESPN touts as an "average quarterback" - and it rates a full 27.3 points behind the NFL's highest-graded quarterback in the metric, Tom Brady. This, I believe, is a fair evaluation of Fitzpatrick's 2010 season: he was good at times, poor at others, and probably a middle-of-the-pack quarterback.