- Bill Barnwell
Quarterbacking is the ultimate pass/fail class. Sure, you might get a good grade for completing 85 percent of your passes, but most fans judge quarterbacks by their wins and losses.
And that's not fair. Sometimes, a quarterback has everything to do with a team winning a game. Sometimes, he makes only a limited contribution. But because he plays the most important position on the field, he gets as much credit for the win in the record books as someone who throws six touchdowns. You'll never hear someone talk about Ray Lewis' win-loss record, even though he's contributed more to Ravens wins than any QB has. Popular analysis just doesn't work that way.
At the extremes, though, everyone can understand that a quarterback doesn't deserve a whole lot of credit. We submit for your consideration, then, one Derek Anderson of the Cleveland Browns.
In Sunday's 6-3 win over the Bills, Anderson took apart an injury-riddled Bills defense -- twice. His 18 drop backs yielded two completions, 14 incompletions, an interception and a sack. He picked up 23 passing yards in the process.
How could the Browns win with such poor play from their quarterback? Well, obviously, they held the other team to a single field goal. They got great special teams play, especially from punter Dave Zastudil; his final punt, a mishit, was muffed by Bills returner Roscoe Parrish and recovered by the Browns, who then enjoyed a game-winning field goal from venture capitalist and part-time kicker Billy Cundiff before the ex-Cowboys kicker booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds. It wasn't a pretty victory.
Was it the worst performance a quarterback has put up in a recent victory, though? That's another question altogether. Because he turned the ball over only once, Anderson's dismal performance didn't even rank as the worst overall performance of the week; that belonged to a more familiar target, whom we'll get to later. But Anderson finished 26th in our Quick Reads on the day, with minus-94 passing DYAR, and no other winning quarterback fell lower than 16th and 9 DYAR (Jake Delhomme). Anderson's QB rating -- which is a flawed statistic -- was 15.1.
The king of winning ugly, though? Donovan McNabb. In a 2007 game against the Dolphins, McNabb made it through two quarters before spraining his ankle and missing the remainder of the game, which later was won by A.J. Feeley, who fortunately was up against the eventual 1-15 Dolphins in the debut game of then-rookie John Beck. McNabb's totals: 3-of-11 for 34 yards and two interceptions. His quarterback rating: a microscopic 0.4.
Of course, there's no skill in winning these games; quarterbacks who put up a rating of less than 20 with 10 passes or more have a record of 10-68. The only thing they led their teams to was the brink of disaster. Fortunately for Anderson, the rest of his team was up for a challenge, and the opposing team didn't offer much more.
On to skill-position analysis:
For the detailed skill-position breakdown by FBO -- with comments -- you must be an ESPN Insider.
Football Outsiders' Quick Reads study for Week 5 reveals much, including: Roddy White is an elite WR, Larry Johnson really misses the Chiefs' old O-line, it might be VY time in Nashville and there was actually a QB worse than Derek Anderson on Sunday.