Explaining the Darnold Grades
So that’s what I did. Digging through the All-22 film, I went back and graded every play (pass attempt, sack, rushing attempt) from every one of Darnold’s games, scoring each on a scale of 0-10 (5 representing an average play).
Anything and everything is taken into account. Ball placement. Should-be turnovers. Unlucky turnovers. Protection quality. Play-calling effectiveness. The number of open targets available and their locations on the field relative to the quarterback. Impact of the route-running and ball-tracking by the intended receiver. Down and distance. Field position. Game situation.
Every layer of decision-making is considered. Did Darnold choose the best available option? Did he scan the field to check all possible options? Did he take an over-aggressive shot when a first down was available underneath? Did he check down too early with a potential big play open down the field? Should he have tucked-and-run? Did he take a sack he should not have? Should he have thrown the ball away? Was there absolutely no option available for him to pick up yards, excusing a lack of production?
Simple statistics do not account for any of those factors. Using a manual, play-by-play grading system, many crucial variables that usually go overlooked are being properly valued. Sprinkle in this essential context, and we get a grade that is much more representative of the quarterback’s true performance level than standard box score numbers.
Darnold’s final scores are scaled from 0-to-100, with 50 representing the approximate league average (based on the analysis of other quarterbacks).
Breakdowns of every Sam Darnold performance from 2019-20 can be found at the links above, featuring my overall grade for each game. You will also see:
- Comparisons between my grade, Darnold’s advanced metrics, and his traditional statistics.
- Metrics showcasing how well the team supported Darnold (pressure, drops, run game, field position, etc.).
- Clips of Darnold’s best and worst moments from each game.
- A synopsis of Darnold’s performance explaining how I arrived at the grade.