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Pro Football Focus passer rating pegs Tyrod Taylor as undervalued quarterback

PFF’s system had Taylor rated higher than his finish in traditional QB rating in 2016.

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Opinions of Tyrod Taylor’s play are among the most polarized of any quarterback in the NFL.

Because of that, I’m always looking for ways to better gauge the quality of his on-field performance as a quarterback to further the — occasionally heated — discussion

Pat Thorman of Pro Football Focus, one of the brightest football minds on Twitter, especially when it comes to fantasy football, wrote an article on the four quarterbacks undervalued by traditional passer rating.

Of course passer rating is a household football statistic.

But PFF brilliantly takes passer rating a step further:

“PFF’s quarterback rating teases out dropped passes, throwaways, and spiked balls, while it factors in air yards. It gives the quarterback more credit for what he deserves, and us a better read on performance.”

That explanation, and therefore the PFF QB Rating itself, is much more sensible than the “normal” QB Rating in which a perfectly thrown dropped pass counts the same as a throw air-mailed over a receiver’s head. The inclusion of air yards is vital as well. A two-yard pass with 50 yards after the catch that ends with touchdown shouldn’t count the same for the quarterback as a perfectly placed, 52-yard rocket into the end zone for a score.

Here’s where it gets interesting for Tyrod. From Thorman’s article:

“Taylor has a six-spot gap between where traditional passer rating pegged his 2016 performance (20th) and how PFF’s QBR rated him (14th; 90.3).”

(Taylor’s 20th-best QB Rating was among 37 QBs who took at least 25% of their team’s snaps in 2016.)

Thorman noted Tyrod finished 9th in PFF’s QB Rating (93.2) in 2015 and added this tidbit:

“Taylor’s pass attempts per game ranked 35th in 2015 and 33rd in 2016. The Bills threw the league’s fewest passes last season and were second-to-last in 2015.”

In 2016, the Broncos — with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison -- finished 17th in the NFL with 570 pass attempts. The season before that, under Dennison’s guidance, Denver threw it 606 times, good for 13th-most in the league.

Thorman’s probably correct to assume Tyrod will attempt more passes this season than he did in either 2015 (380) or 2016 (436).

The statistic-loaded article finished with this figure:

“Taylor ranked second in deep ball passer rating in 2015 while Sammy Watkins accounted for 48 percent of his deep targets.”

Back in 2015, Tyrod targeted Watkins 91 times overall. That year, Watkins averaged 10.9 yards per target, an astounding figure. For perspective, Odell Beckham Jr.’s highest yards-per-target average was 10.0 in 2014. Watkins 10.9 yards-per-target average in 2015 was the exact same as Julio Jones’ yards-per-target average last season.

Watkins had 1,047 yards on 96 targets in 2015. Since 1992, when targets became an official statistic, only seven other receivers reached 1,000-plus yards receiving on fewer than 100 targets.