Billick, of all people, disses passer rating
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 18, 2010
By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts passer rating enthusiast
The Bears beat the Dolphins, 16-0, Thursday night, asserting themselves as a key contender in the NFC while making the playoffs highly unlikely for Miami. Brian Urlacher and Co., meanwhile, wake up Friday morning with the No. 1 scoring defense in football (14.6 PPG).
No surprise in either instance, at least not to the all-knowing Cold, Hard Football Facts. As we noted in our real and spectacular picks, "an unproven quarterback against a fairly stiff defense should spell a frustrating night for Miami in a low-scoring affair."
What did we get? A frustrating night for Miami in a low-scoring affair.
What did come as a complete surprise – a shock really – was NFL Network analyst Brian Billick's clueless commentary after the game.
"We can admit quarterback rating is useless," said the former Ravens coach to his postgame panel. "I've never seen a more useless number than quarterback rating."
Are you f"ing kidding us, Brian? You, of all people, dissing the indicator to which you owe your entire career?
Forget, for a moment, that there is no such thing as quarterback rating (save for our impending new Real Quarterback Rating which we discussed early this week).
No, there is only something called passer rating – an indicator that measures only a quarterback's passing efficiency and nothing else. And that's the indicator that Billick meant to rip with his ignorant comments Thursday night.
Sure, passer rating is an awkward number with an unnecessarily complex formula used to obtain it. And passer rating lives in its own little statistical vacuum. A so-called "perfect" passer rating of 158.3 could not be more arbitrary. And, kind of like spelling your name right on the SATs, you get a 39.6 passer rating simply for showing up and failing to complete any of your passes.
So we get that part, Billick.
But passer rating is anything but useless. Quite the contrary. The guys at the Pro Football Hall of Fame who created passer rating actually hit on something quite compelling. For all its gimpiness, passer rating is an indicator that has an incredibly high correlation to success on the football field.
Billick, for his part, was over-reacting the fact that Miami's losing quarterback, Tyler Thigpen, had a marginally higher passer rating Thursday night than Chicago's winning quarterback, Jay Cutler (64.8 to 63.4). His reaction was kind of like the a-hole you work with who bitches about global warming every time the mercury tops 90 in, you know, July or something.
No indicator is perfect 100 percent of the time. And passer rating missed the mark a bit in the Bears-Dolphins game. But over the long term, passer rating is an incredible indicator of success in most circumstances.
And here's the real surprising part: Billick, if anybody in NFL history, should know just how important passer rating is! In fact, Brian Billick should bow down to the Gods of Passer Rating everytime he looks at his shiny Super Bowl ring.
After all, Billick is one of history's great beneficiaries of passer rating. He'd be just another above-average coach (.556 winning percentage) if not for the fact he was lifted to a Super Bowl victory with the 2000 Ravens on the strength of one of the great passer-rating success stories in NFL history.
You know passer rating is important as an offensive indicator. And you know it's incredibly important as a defensive indicator – most notably through our groundbreaking and quite brilliant use of Defensive Passer Rating as a Quality Stat. Time and again, great teams boast great Defensive Passer Ratings.
It should all be so clear to a guy like Billick – yet is not. Odd.
His famous Ravens, who fielded the stingiest defense in the Live Ball Era (10.3 PPG) were cut up by 2,997 passing yards in 2000. Seven teams were better, so the 2000 Ravens were an indistinct pass defense through the truly useless measure of yards allowed.
However, his legendary 2000 Ravens become very interesting when you study them through the very, very useful indicator of Defensive Passer Rating. You quickly see that it was one of the best defenses in football, with an awesome 62.5 Defensive Passer Rating. Only two teams that year were better: the 11-5 AFC East champ Dolphins (57.5) and the 13-3 AFC Central champ Titans (62.0). Notice a trend here, Brian? Great Defensive Passer Ratings. Great teams.
All three teams reached the playoffs behind shutdown defenses that made opposing quarterbacks wildly inefficient.
But it's in their remarkable postseason that Billick's Ravens really highlighted the all-encompassing importance of passer rating.
Baltimore's four opposing playoff quarterbacks were utterly dominated, with 0 TD, 10 INT and a miniscule 33.45 passer rating. Baltimore QB Trent Dilfer, everybody's favorite Super Bowl-winning whipping boy, actually played quite well by his standards: 3 TDs, 1 INT and an ordinary (but above-average for him) 78.97 passer rating.
In other words, the Ravens dominated in the postseason – outscoring opponents 95-23 – because they dominated the passer-rating wars. They produced a truly unbelievable 45.52 advantage in Passer Rating Differential – a Quality Stat with an incredibly high correlation to victory.
In other words, Billick is one of history's great beneficiaries of the statistical importance of passer rating. Yet he is completely oblivious to its importance.
Chicago's 16-0 win over Miami Thursday night was one of those rare times when a team that lost the passer rating battle won the game. And, as noted above, the difference was microscopic (Miami had a +1.4 advantage in Passer Rating Differential).
But even in this instance, Billick should have been wide-eyed about the importance of passer rating. In fact, examples of its importance abounded: Chicago entered the game No. 1 in the NFL in Defensive Passer Rating (66.67 entering the Miami game).
It was a fact that Cold, Hard Football Facts readers embraced and one reason we knew that the Bears would become yet another example of a road underdog that we successfully indicated would win outright this year.
This defensive dominance is also the single-biggest reason why the Bears are 7-3 today, atop the Black & Blow Division, and in possession of the stingiest defense in football as of today (14.6 PPG).
Throughout the broadcast and various pre- and postgame shows, meanwhile, other analysts routinely touted one of the current interesting passer rating streaks in football. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is 17-0 as a starting quarterback when he produces a passer rating of 100 or better. It was a stat provided media outlets by the NFL; we had it here this week in the stat-packed week 11 game capsules. Those types of streaks are not uncommon because, well, passer rating is not useless: it has a very high correlation to victory.
Billick had to be aware of this little Cutler factoid. It was repeated over and again Thursday night.
But we could forgive him that one trespass. But we can't forgive him for spitting in the face of the indicator to which he should bow down every day.
The shining moment of Billick's career was winning Super Bowl XXXV as head coach of the Ravens. It was a moment owed to his team's complete domination of the passer rating wars.
If he knew the importance of passer rating (on both sides of the ball), if he knew that the statistical signature of his 2000 Ravens was their dominance of passer rating, Billick might still be on the sidelines today and not behind a desk spouting his statistical ignorance.
Forearm Shiver: the CHFF Blog
- Hockey Announcer Gone Wild: You Want To Party (Maybe) With This Guy
- Best Pass Defense Ever: Ronde Barber And The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Reese Witherspoon Arrest Video: Hot, Bothered And Handcuffed
- Sam Adams In A Can, Just In Time For Summer Drinking Season
- Live From Radio City: Reporter Punks NFL Draft Fans
- The 5.0 Club: Best Rushing Teams in NFL History
- Sieves: The Worst Run Defenses In NFL History
- Monsters of the Midway: We Need The Chicago Bears More Than Ever
- Boston, Sports, Patriotism And Terror
- The 100 Stingiest Defenses In Football History
- NFL Crown Rule: Will It Dethrone Rushing King Adrian Peterson?
- Year Of The Offensive Tackle: Not Always The 'Safe' Draft Bet
- Draft Habits: NFL Teams Covet LBs, Duped By False Temptress WRs
- Big Tease: 2012 New England Patriots And NFL's History Of Offensive Failures
- Epic Fail: The Wide Receiver Draft Class Of 2012
Must See Videos