The SEC conference had a strong showing in the 2018 football season, culminating with an all-SEC National Championship game. In general, we’ve come to believe that a good football team is anchored by a solid quarterback, but what does that really mean when it comes down to the numbers? Traditionally, we’ve found it easier to quantify a quarterback’s success with a singular number, like the number of touchdowns or passing yards, and more recently, using quarterback rankings calculated with a myriad of statistics. However, combining these key statistics can provide us with a more thorough understanding of just how “good” a quarterback really is.
The below graphic depicts statistics of SEC quarterbacks during the 2018 season in comparison with the other quarterbacks in the conference. The colors range from green to red with the darkest red indicating a player falling way below their counterparts, and the darkest green indicating the player putting up numbers far greater than other quarterbacks in the conference. With the exception of the number of interceptions where the opposite case is true, green indicates better performance and red indicates below-average performance. It’s interesting to note that the four quarterbacks listed at the bottom of the graph, who have more of an overall red trend, are not the starting quarterbacks for their teams. This red trend can be seen as a reason for not starting but is also a likely result of less overall playing time.
Quarterback rankings are calculated using attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns, and interceptions, so it makes sense that we see a correlation between the individual statistics and the ranking. Taking into account the reverse correlation of interceptions, this explains that while Tagovailoa, Lock, and Bentley all have similar separations from other players across the board, Tagovailoa’s relative average number of interceptions provides him with a better overall rating.