Variability in QB play - comparing Prescott, Jones, Hurts, Mahomes, Burrow & Allen (2021&2022)

The purpose of this analysis was really to compare the varibaility in QB performance week to week in the NFL. I wanted to specifically compare Prescott to his major NFC East peers Jalen Hurts and Daniel Jones, and also to compare him with some of the top performing QBs in the league - Mahomes, Allen and Burrow.

The analysis involves every games each QB has played in the 2021 and 2022 seasons. QBR is used as the metric for comparison - whilst there are many critiques of QBR, it does encapsulate all aspects of QB play, and is a better metric than some as long as you are comparing QBs who play complete (rather than partial) games of football.

Each graph below contains all the data points for each QB across the two seasons, but with one of the QBs highlighted for easier analysis.

Dak Prescott:

So, let's start with Dak. As we will see with the other QBs, variability in play is fairly common, but it particularly stands out for Dak. As you can see, he fluctuates quite wildly from week to week, from high end QB play to very poor performance. There is a small period of consistently good play towards the end of the 2021 season, but other than that, he is up and down all the time. On the plus side, he manages to produce multiple games in the high 90's.

Jalen Hurts:

Through most of the 2021 season, Hurts QBR scoring suggest an average to poor QB. Towards the end of 2021 and into the start of 2022, Hurts performance started to fluctuate more wildly - more akin to Dak. Capable of great and poor play. For most of the 2022 season, Hurts was consistently good witht one poor performance thrown in. He doesn't quite reach Dak's highs, but he is consistently hovering in the 70-80 range.

Daniel Jones:

Daniel Jones, started the 2021 season fairly well, but was then pretty atrocious for most of the year. He has improved in 2022, but that improvement has been from a consistently poor QB to an inconsistent QB capable of very good and very poor play. He has shown himself capable of reaching new heights on a semi-consistent basis, but is probably still more likely to be poor than good (just about).

Patrick Mahomes:

Welcome to elite QB play. 2022 is definitely better than 2021, but you are pretty consistently going to get good to elite play from Mahomes on a pretty regular basis. He is consistently above 80 for QBR, which is just about as good as it gets.

Joe Burrow:

So this is the surprising one - at least when using QBR as the metric for comparison. Burrow looks just as inconsistent as Dak, He is perhaps not as bad as Dak at his worst, but neither is he as good as Dak at his best. His performance fluctuates all over the place with very little consistency at all.

Josh Allen:

Nowhere near the elite play provided by Mahomes, but easily the 2nd best performer in terms of consistency. Apart from a few occasional blips, you are probably going to get a 60-80 QBR from Allen most weeks, with the occasional top end performance thrown in.


Put them altogether and you get the graph below. If you just look at the 2022 season, there is clear separation between Mahomes, Hurts and Allen versus Prescott, Burrow and Jones. In terms of pure numbers, Prescott does have the highest variance of all 6. Probably most concerning in relation to the NFC East, Hurts is not a million miles away from Mahomes in terms of 2022 play.

One final caveat, there is no doubt that QBR places a fair bit of emphasis on rushing yards and sacks - it is an 'efficiency' metric after all. As a result, it is probably worth adding those numbers just for completeness.

Dak - 146 & 182 yds; 30 & 20 sacked

Hurts - 784 & 760 yds; 26 & 38 sacked

Jones - 298 & 708 yds; 22 & 44 sacked

Mahomes - 381 & 358 yds; 28 & 26 sacked

Burrow - 118 & 257 yds; 51 & 41 sacked

Allen - 763 & 762 yds; 26 & 33 sacked

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.