Green Bay started the season 5-2 and seemed on its way to another playoff berth. But in the first quarter of the team’s eighth game, Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone. The Packers lost that game (technically on Rodgers’ ledger as the starter), and have struggled ever since. In his stead, Seneca Wallace went 0-1, Scott Tolzien went 0-1-1, and then Matt Flynn got a chance to lose on Thanksgiving against the Lions before salvaging a win against the Falcons last Sunday.
Unsurprisingly, Green Bay is much worse without Rodgers. Using his .625 winning percentage as a starter this year, we might presume that the Packers would have won 3.125 out of the team’s five games that he’s missed. Instead, Green Bay has won 1.5 out of five games; that means Rodgers would have provided 1.625 Wins Above the Other QBs on the roster. (If we did not count the Bears game as a Rodgers game, then Rodgers would have provided 2.79 Wins Above the Other QBs.) Rodgers has been ruled out for the Packers’ pivotal week 15 showdown with the Cowboys; a loss there would bring Rodgers’ value up to 2.25 Wins Above the Other Green Bay QBs.
Where does that rank all time? The biggest discrepancy belongs to the 2002 Rams. The Rams started 0-4 under reigning NFL AP MVP Kurt Warner, and then lost the team’s next game when Jamie Martin started in relief of an injured Warner. For the sixth game, the team turned to Marc Bulger, who led the 0-5 team on a five game winning streak before suffering a finger injury just as the starting quarterback was ready to return. Warner started games 11 and 12, but another injury forced Martin started game 13; St. Louis lost all three games. Bulger then returned and won his 14th start. At that point in the year, St. Louis was 6-0 under Bulger and 0-8 under everyone else. In game 15 against Seattle, Bulger was hurt on the St. Louis’ fourth play from scrimmage; Martin came in and the team lost 30-10. The final game of the year was a meaningless one and started by Scott Covington, although Martin took most of the snaps in a victory over the 49ers.
All told, St. Louis went 6-1 in Bulger starts (including the Seahawks game), while the other Rams quarterbacks posted a 1-8 record. Since we would project a 1-8 team to win just 0.78 out of 7 games, Bulger is given credit for being 5.22 Wins Above the Other QBs for the team.
The table below shows all quarterbacks from 1950 to 2013 to produce at least 2 Wins Above the Other QBs for their team. The formula to calculate WAOQBs is simply the difference between the winning percentages with and without the starting quarterback multiplied by the number of starts by the quarterback or by the other quarterbacks on the team, whichever number is smaller.
|Year||Tm||Quarterback||Rec w/ QB||Rec w/o QB||WAR|
|1952||RAM||Norm Van Brocklin||6-0-0||3-3-0||3|
A couple of polarizing figures in recent history make the cut. In 2011, Tim Tebow went 7-4 for the Broncos while Kyle Orton went 1-4, in a season none of us fully understood. And in 2009 and 2010, the Titans went 12-6 under Vince Young, and 2-11 under Kerry Collins and 0-1 under Rusty Smith.
Another interesting name on there is Jay Cutler. In 2011, he went 7-3, while backups Caleb Hanie and Josh McCown combined for a 1-5 record for the Bears. This year, Cutler is 4-4 as the starter, while McCown has posted better numbers and has a 3-2 record. Chicago is giving the start this weekend to Cutler, in a move that is ripe for second guessing.