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Bruce Nolan’s QB STEW: the final 2023 results are in

Is this the first year STEW doesn’t predict MVP?

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

The final results are in. The 2023 NFL regular season is over, and that means it’s time to reflect on the final QB STEW rankings.

For the uninitiated, QB STEW is a metric amalgamation I concocted in an attempt to have the flaws of one metric accommodated in the formula by the presence of another metric.

You can find the original article with reasoning here.

Josh Allen’s still elite despite raw interception numbers

One of the main purposes of QB STEW is to drive home the idea that a singular metric, no matter how holistic it attempts to be, is insufficient for capturing how a quarterback plays. Every attempt to accommodate for a specific factor brings with it a drawback. The only way to counter these drawbacks is to inject other metrics that can help cover up the weaknesses and provided a well-rounded and balanced look at the quarterback.

20 years ago, the season that Josh Allen had wouldn’t have been viewed as favorably as it should have.

That’s because passer rating was the dominant quarterback metric of the time and it’s heavily impacted by interception count. So, too, is Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt. Both metrics do a good job of their intended purposes but have specific flaws, and it’s only through the usage of things like Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade (which would not penalize Josh Allen for a well-thrown ball that bounces off of Gabe Davis’ hands and into the arms of a defender) or QBR (which would weight an interception thrown 30 yards down the field on third down differently than an interception thrown on 1st & 10 in the shadow of your own end zone) that we can help balance out the shortcomings in those specific metrics.

Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and QBR have a tendency to trend directionally together, so them both placing Allen at three is expected. The main driver for Allen this year that was different than last is his completion percentage over expectation: Last year, Allen ranked 12th in the metric and this year he’s second. I’d make an argument that he’s actually making better-quality throws on the whole this season than last (which may be related to a mid-season 2022 elbow injury) despite the interception count, and this would reinforce that idea.

The curious case of Brock Purdy

Purdy should probably win MVP. He had a historically efficient season relative to his peers and one of the best STEW scores we’ve seen that surpasses former MVPs. He’s defeating the “system quarterback” label for this season by performing at a level inside Kyle Shanahan’s offense that we haven’t seen since Matt Ryan won his MVP with the Atlanta Falcons.

But voters think wins are a QB stat. They’ve proven this time and time again. When combined with a recency bias, the fact that Lamar Jackson “beat” Brock Purdy soundly in a primetime game the Baltimore Ravens played against the San Francisco 49ers recently leads me to believe that for the first time since its inception, a QB will win MVP and it will not be the QB with the best STEW score.

Jackson has been fantastic this season — the Ravens are the AFC one seed, and Baltimore beat the Niners soundly straight-up recently. That’s going to be the argument and why I believe Lamar Jackson will get his second MVP trophy.

...and that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I’m Bruce Nolan with Buffalo Rumblings. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @BruceExclusive and look for new episodes of “The Bruce Exclusive” every Thursday on the Buffalo Rumblings podcast network!