As free agency was kicking off, our very own Jordan Reid asked a question:
Is Kirk Cousins a franchise QB?
— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 27, 2018
Back in March I took an initial crack at answering this question by defining franchise QB
A franchise quarterback is one who consistently elevates his supporting cast (vs being propped up by them).
At the time my data set was limited to 2016 and 2017 game grades and I defined the supporting cast as the snap weighted PFF grades of the other players on offense.
Fast forward and once again Kirk Cousins is the lightening rod for a discussion centered on defining franchise/elite quarterback this time with Evan Silva as the catalyst.
#Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is camouflaging & compensating for severe deficiencies around him & elevating his teammates.
To me, this is *the definition* of "elite" quarterback play.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 15, 2018
I asked Evan if he’d define his “supporting cast” variables and he did as follows:
Based on Evan’s input, I updated my supporting cast parameters to include
- QB Pressure Rate
- Team Yards per Carry
- Team Points Allowed Per Game
- Receiving Weapons Quality (PFF grade weighted by % of team yards)
My methodology for defining the relationship between a quarterback’s performance (as defined by PFF grade) and his supporting cast is as follows:
- Aggregated 2013-2017 QB Pressure Rate, Yards per Carry, Receiving Summary, and QB Summary data from PFF.
- Pulled Team Points Allowed Per Game data from Pro Football Reference.
- Conducted a linear regression between QB performance and the supporting cast variables.
- Used the regression coefficients to apply the appropriate weight to each variable.
- Created an expected QB performance model based on strength of the supporting cast.
Wake up!!! We’re done with the math and on to the results:
- The relationship between supporting cast quality and QB performance is significant (r-squared – 0.4641). Almost half of a quarterback’s performance can be explained by the quality of his surroundings.
- The quality of a QB’s receiving targets is by far the most significant factor. Pressure Rate and Points Allowed make up the next tier with Yards per Carry being the least significant by a wide margin.
- BREAKING: Drew Brees and Tom Brady are really good at football.
- Matt Ryan AND Russell Wilson are likely both underrated. Someone please tell Pete Prisco and Mike Freeman.
- (Healthy) Aaron Rodgers is a beast. His average performance in his healthy seasons would bump him into first place.
As to the question of Kirk Cousins as an elite or franchise QB, he is ranked 8th based on his performance from 2015-2017 which lands him in Tier 3 for that time period.
Thanks for reading. The next article will focus on 2018’s supporting casts and QB performances.
Feel free to hit me up @brownjayson on Twitter with any questions, comments, or concerns.
QB Performance Relative to Expectation (2013-2017):
Best QB Performances (2013-2017):
Best Supporting Casts (2013-2017):