ESPN has dubbed this the Year of the Quarterback, because apparently the most celebrated position in sports doesn't get enough time under the spotlight. When can we expect the Month of the Defensive Tackle? Week of the Punter?
Of course, football fans from around here are witnessing two of the greatest quarterback seasons in history with Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson. Both are leading their respective leagues in a mysterious statistic known as quarterback rating. It's essentially an efficiency formula that combines a quarterback's completion percentage, passing yards, touchdowns and interceptions.
Wilson owns a QB rating of 199.3, well ahead of the NCAA single-season record of 186, set by Colt Brennan of Hawaii in 2006. That Brennan achieved his rating in a wacky run-and-shoot offense where he threw 559 passes tempers the achievement a little bit. Wilson may not throw half as many times this year, even if the Badgers' run-first offense ends up in the Big Ten title game.
Rodgers' 128.8 rating is also on pace to break a single-season record: Peyton Manning's 121.1, set in 2004. That number isn't comparable to Wilson's rating, however, because the NFL limits the completion percentage in its formula at 77.5%. A quarterback who completes 80% of his passes, as Rodgers did against Minnesota two weeks ago, doesn't get any more credit than one who completes 78%.
As part of its celebration of signal callers, ESPN has unveiled a new stat called Total Quarterback Rating, building in factors like sacks and "clutch weight," which attempts to measure how much pressure a quarterback is under using game time and "closeness." A-Rodg dominates there as well, with an 87.2 compared to second-place Drew Brees at 77.6.
And of course Rodgers still leads the league in jersey sales, which might be the most telling ranking of them all.