By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts Potentate of Pigskin
Seven coaches and five general managers were fired on Black Monday, the day after the 2012 regular season came to an end.
A total of nine teams canned one, the other, or both.
Tim Tebow could have saved any one of these jobs – if only these coaches and GMs had the nuggets to stand up to tired old conventional wisdom and had the common statistical sense to acquire and put on the field the most misunderstood quarterback in the game today.
Rex Ryan of the embarrassing 6-10 Jets, meanwhile, still survives, despite sticking with Mark Sanchez almost the entire season, in what can only be described as the worst statistical decision any coach has made since Wade Phillips benched Doug Flutie for the 1999 playoffs.
Romeo Crennel (Kansas City), Chan Gailey (Buffalo), Andy Reid (Philadelphia), Pat Shurmur (Cleveland), Lovie Smith (Chicago), Norv Turner (San Diego) and Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona) all met the coaching equivalent of The Turk on Monday.
The Browns, Cardinals, Chargers, Jaguars and Jets bid adieu to their general managers.
Any one of these seven coaches and five GMs might still have a job today if only they had pursued, and played, Tim Tebow. All nine teams would have had better seasons had they only pursued, and played, Tim Tebow.
Ryan and the Jets might be preparing for a wildcard playoff game today instead of searching for answers that are right in front of him, if only they had played Tim Tebow.
Ryan is easily the biggest idiot of the bunch. Almost all those other coaches were stuck with virtually unwinnable quarterbacking situations. Ryan chose to suck. He chose to play arguably the worst quarterback in football while a vastly superior and more productive quarterback festered on the bench.
Mark Sanchez this year produced a 55.3 Real Quarterback Rating, slightly worse than the team’s final Real QB Rating of 57.5, 30th in the NFL. It’s a miracle the Jets won even six games with play that piss poor at the most important position on the field.
Tim Tebow, meanwhile, boasts a career Real QB Rating of 81.2 – an incredible 25.9 points better than Sanchez’s performance in 2012.
And yet Ryan was still too stupid to make the obvious change needed at quarterback and put in the superior player.
Tebow’s Real QB Rating of 81.2 would have been 14th in NFL this year, ahead of playoff bound Baltimore, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Indianapolis, and better than the rating produced by every team that fired its coach or GM.
And yet Ryan let that guy sit on the bench while Butt Fumble Sanchez handled the offense with all but a few notable exceptions.
Real QBR: The best way to measure most important position in sports
There is one eternal truism of NFL history: it’s all about the quarterback. And it’s ALWAYS been all about the quarterback.
You almost always win when your quarterback outplays the opposing quarterback.
And the single best way to measure that performance is by what we call Real Quarterback Rating – it’s essentially the formula for passer rating, but applied to all aspects of QB play: passing, plus rushing, rushing TDs, sacks, fumbles. Passer rating, though very useful, measures only passing, and nothing else.
We also run the stat on the other side of the ball, Defensive Real QB Rating.
Sanchez's butt fumble doesn't show up in passer rating, but it does manifest itself in Real QB Rating.
Folks can quibble with the Real QB Rating methodology. But they can’t quibble with the results unless they want to get crushed by the jack-booted thug of statistical superiority called the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
The reality is that Real Quarterback Rating is probably the most important stat in football.
Teams that won the Real QB Rating battle went 218-37 (.855) in 2012, consistent with year-after-year results.
No stat in football has a higher “Correlation to Victory.” For the sake of comparison, teams that won the turnover battle – a stat ALL analysts agree is critical to success – went 162-42-1 in 2012 (.794).
So winning the battle of QB efficiency is more important than winning the battle of turnovers.
Quarterback efficiency was especially important down the stretch run: teams that posted a higher Real QB Rating went 45-3 in Weeks 15 through 17, according to our Correlation to Victory table.
That’s an awesome .938 winning percentage, for those of you keeping score at home. Hell, the only stat with a higher Correlation to Victory is final score.
Tebow, like all other QBs, wins when he wins the battle of Real QB Rating. We wrote about his victories in this indicator last season on SI.com.
Here’s how Tim Tebow’s career Real Quarterback Rating (81.2) stacks up against that of the Jets and the eight other teams that fired either its head coach or GM on Monday (see the entire Real QB Rating list here):
Real QB Rating: Tebow vs. Teams That Axed Coaches/GMs (NFL rank)
Tim Tebow – 81.2 (would have been 14th in NFL in 2012)
Buffalo Bills – 76.7 (19th)
San Diego Chargers – 74.7 (22nd)
Chicago Bears – 71.5 (24th)
Philadelphia Eagles – 71.3 (25th)
Cleveland Browns – 68.1 (28th)
Jacksonville Jaguars – 65.9 (29th)
New York Jets – 57.5 (30th)
Kansas City Chiefs – 56.7 (31st)
Arizona Cardinals – 54.1 (32nd)
The list is pretty telling: every team that struggled so badly that it was forced to make major changes at the top struggled because their quarterbacks sucked.
The Jets, meanwhile, won six games this year with some of the worst quarterbacking in football. We can only wonder how many more games they would have won had Tebow and his 81.2 Real QB Rating been guiding the offense and not Sanchez and his 55.3 rating.
The Jets might have beat the Texans, Patriots, Titans and Chargers – all otherwise winnable games in which New York quarterbacks suffered multiple turnovers. The 6-10 Jets might have been the 10-6 Jets and a playoff contender today if only Ryan had the sack to make the statistically obvious decision.
By the way, Tebow’s career Real QB Rating would have put the Jets quarterbacking situation clearly within playoff-contender status. They would not have been Super Bowl contenders. But the 2012 Jets certainly could have been playoff contenders.
Real QB Rating: Tebow vs. Playoff Teams (NFL rank)
Washington – 99.9 (1st)
Denver – 98.9 (2nd)
Green Bay – 95.3 (3rd)
San Francisco – 94.6 (4th)
New England – 94.4 (5th)
Seattle – 93.3 (6th)
Atlanta – 93.2 (7th)
Houston – 83.4 (11th)
Tim Tebow – 81.2 (would have been 14th)
Baltimore – 79.1 (14th)
Cincinnati – 79.3 (15th)
Minnesota – 75.5 (21st)
Indianapolis – 72.5 (23rd)
The list is compelling for two reasons. One, it proves the importance of Real QB Rating: the top seven teams in Real QB Rating (every team with a Real QBR above 93.0) are in the playoffs. You cannot say the same about the top seven in scoring offense or defense, for example.
Two, it shows that even four playoff teams might have been better off with Tim Tebow at quarterback, let alone the nine third-rate teams that fired their coaches and/or GMs.
Finally, we know that teams win games more than 85 percent of the time when they win the Real QB Rating battle, that is, when their Real QB Rating is higher than their opponents.
We’ll, here’s a look at the Real QB Rating Differential of every NFL team this season. You’ll notice the top 8 teams and 10 of the top 12 are all in the playoffs. Minnesota and Indianapolis are the only outliers.
You’ll also notice that eight of the nine teams that canned its coach or GM are in the bottom half of the league, including the four worst (Jets, Jags, Eagles, Chiefs). Chicago is the only outlier.
Team O QB Rating D QB Rating Difference
1 Denver 98.89 69.01 29.88
2 Seattle 93.29 65.61 27.68
3 Green Bay 95.3 70.96 24.34
4 San Francisco 94.56 74.08 20.48
5 Washington 99.93 80.02 19.91
6 Atlanta 93.18 74.18 19.0
7 New England 94.39 77.42 16.97
8 Houston 83.35 70.69 12.66
9 Pittsburgh 82 71.19 10.81
10 Cincinnati 79.29 71.45 7.84
11 Chicago 71.5 63.96 7.54
12 Baltimore 79.81 74.21 5.6
13 Carolina 87.1 82.13 4.97
14 New Orleans 91.6 87.5 4.1
15 N.Y. Giants 82.64 83.66 -1.02
16 Dallas 84.14 86.35 -2.21
17 St. Louis 76.79 79.34 -2.55
18 Buffalo 76.68 81.28 -4.6
19 San Diego 74.74 81.07 -6.33
20 Miami 71.04 78.51 -7.47
21 Detroit 77.92 86.21 -8.29
22 Minnesota 75.46 84.67 -9.21
23 Arizona 54.08 64.53 -10.45
24 Tampa Bay 77.04 88.38 -11.34
25 Indianapolis 72.53 84.39 -11.86
26 Cleveland 68.09 80.11 -12.02
27 Tennessee 70.75 84.93 -14.18
28 Oakland 76.55 92.96 -16.41
29 N.Y. Jets 57.47 74.33 -16.86
30 Jacksonville 65.85 86.14 -20.29
31 Philadelphia 71.25 92.87 -21.62
32 Kansas City 56.73 95.54 -38.81
All nine teams that fired its coach or GM would have been better in arguably the most important stat in football had they only played Tebow.
Here's what each team's Real QB Rating Differential WOULD have been with an average Tim Tebow (81.2) at quarterback. The final number (+4, +18, etc.) is how many spots each team WOULD have improved in Real QB Rating Differential with only an ordinary Tebow at quarterback.
Chicago – +17.2 (7th) +4
Arizona – +16.7 (8th) +15
N.Y. Jets – +6.9 (12th) +18
Cleveland – +1.1 (15th) +11
San Diego – +0.1 (15th) +4
Buffalo – -0.1 (15th) +3
Jacksonville – -4.9 (19th) +11
Philadelphia – -11.7 (25th) +6
Kansas City – -14.3 (28th) +4
The average team would have been 8.4 spots better league-wide in Real QB Rating Differential with a merely ordinary Tim Tebow.
Ironically, no team would have improved more dramatically than the Jets: they had a playoff-caliber pass defense, No. 7 in Defensive Passer Rating and No. 12 in Defensive Real QB Rating.
The statistical key to that team's playoff hopes was standing on the sidelines all year long. Rex Ryan simply failed to take it out of his pocket and insert it into the offense.