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. Location. Accuracy. Should-be turnovers. Unlucky turnovers. Protection. Play-calling effectiveness. Impact of the route-running and ball tracking quality 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 take an over-aggressive shot when a first down was available underneath? Did he check down too early and leave a potential big play on the field? Should he have run? Should he have been able to avoid that sack? Should he have thrown the ball away?
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 in 2019 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, etc.).
- Clips of Darnold’s best and worst moments from each game.
- A synopsis of Darnold’s performance explaining how I arrived to the grade.