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Rumblings Bills Grades: The Intro

Explaining the comprehensive player-grading system.

Introducing Rumblings Grades for the 2016 Buffalo Bills season. These will obviously begin with the Bills Week 1 game against the Ravens. I’ll publish the grades for each contest — along with running overall grades as the season progresses -- early every week.

I’ll be assigning number grades to each Bills player on every play this year, so keep in mind... the grades themselves will be inherently subjective. However, they should provide a relatively good idea of which players are struggling and excelling on the field. This system is not precisely how Pro Football Focus grades — they have multiple graders for each game and use a different numbering system — but it’s similar.

The main purpose of this article was to be as transparent as possible with how I’ll grade. Below you’ll find that grades will be assigned in 0.2-point intervals on a scale from -1.0 to +1.0. I’ve provided some broad examples of what type of plays will usually corresponded with each grade. Nothing below is absolutely concrete, hence the aforementioned subjective nature of this undertaking. Also, I won’t wait use All-22 film for a few reasons. Without a doubt, there system is not flawless, but the grades will solely come from what is shown on our televisions. Another impossible-to-erase bug of this system... I won’t know player assignments. I’ll just grade what I see to the best of my ability.

I completed a similar grading project over the final three games of 2015. It was super fun and helped give me a stronger grasp of player performance than ever before.

Enough rambling. Here are the explanations:

-1.0: Complete failure of execution

Examples: Offensive lineman simply doesn’t block defensive lineman. Linebacker gets driven back three or four yards while attempting to get to the running back in what looks like his gap. Running back fumbles football without anyone touching him. Quarterback throws inaccurate pass into double or triple coverage on short route.

-0.8: Significant execution mishap

Examples: Quarterback throws short slant well behind wide open intended receiver. Offensive lineman quickly gets driven back into the quarterback. Cornerback gets caught looking into the backfield, wide receiver runs right past him.

-0.6: Blatant failure to execute

Examples: Quarterback has wide open receiver 10 yards past the line of scrimmage and throws the ball at his feet. Defensive linemen is stymied on his speed-rush attempt, gets pushed well past the pocket, thereby opening a huge running lane to the outside for the running back or quarterback. Offensive lineman basically whiffs on his block attempt.

-0.4: Did not execute somewhat difficult task

Examples: Linebacker fails to get off his block whatsoever. Wide receiver drops accurate short pass. Offensive lineman just gets a hand on defensive lineman to only slightly re-route him before losing the 1-on-1 battle. Cornerback is beaten by a step or two down the field and fails to see the ball go right over his head. Linebacker misses a tackle a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

-0.2: Did not execute but didn’t fail miserably

Examples: Offensive lineman initially holds off defensive lineman, but after a few seconds, the blocker loses his balances and defensive lineman starts to move past him. Quarterback slightly overthrows throws deep out route from far hash. Linebacker gets blown back by lead blocker and only gets off the block after a few seconds.

0.0: Didn't do anything noticeably positive or negative.

Examples: Offensive lineman doesn't have anyone to block. Running back is hit behind the line of scrimmage the moment he touches the ball. Defensive linemen sees quick screen thrown to opposite side of the field immediately after the snap. A quarterback executes simple, short screen pass.

+0.2: Performed a relative easy task well

Examples: Defensive lineman starts to win his battle against an offensive lineman but ball is thrown. Running back narrowly beats a linebacker to the corner to get an extra yard or two before being forced out of bounds. Quarterback accurately throws a intermediate out route on his first read.

+0.4: Performed moderately difficult task well

Examples: Offensive lineman shuts down a counter move or opens a lane with a huge block in the run game. A linebacker stacks and sheds to help make the tackle. A safety shifts through traffic to make a tackle a few yards down field. A quarterback throws accurate pass on deep dig against somewhat tight coverage.

+0.6: Performed difficult task well

Examples: Defensive lineman blows past offensive lineman with either speed or hand use, sacks the quarterback. Wide receiver makes tough hands grab with defender close and gets a good chunk of YAC. Linebacker runs with tight end down the seam, gets in the way of well-thrown pass. Cornerback makes diving pass breakup.

+0.8: Game-changing individual effort and execution

Examples: Defensive lineman beats offensive lineman at point of attack, then swims past the tight end to sack the quarterback as he tries to scramble. Running back makes linebacker miss in the hole, beats a few other defenders down the field for huge gain. Quarterback lofts perfectly thrown pass down the sideline with tight coverage on his receiver. Throw lands just before the safety comes over.

+1.0: Almost unbelievable individual effort and execution

Examples: Quarterback throws 55-yard pass to a spot where only his receiver can catch the football. Running back makes three defenders miss on his way to a long gain. Linebacker sinks into coverage, then changes directions and makes diving interception. Offensive lineman gets two or three blocks downfield on a screen play.

I think I covered just about everything, but definitely feel free to ask any questions in the comment section.