Newton ranked 5th best in ESPN's Total QBR

Much was made of ESPN's attempt to redefine the QB rating system this offseason, but we didn't really get to see it in practice until now. The metric itself is graded on a 100 pt scale, which operates more like a percentile than a score in its own right. 

For a game, the number can be interpreted as a percentile, so a score of 80 means a quarterback's performance was better than 80 percent of all quarterbacks' games.

In his stellar week one performance against Arizona, Cam Newton scored a 75.7 which was better than any of the other NFC South quarterbacks. Closest to Newton was Drew Brees (71.6), but he blew away Josh Freeman (34.7) and Matt Ryan (27.7). To further put Newton's score of 75.7 in context, Tom Brady's MVP winning 2010 season saw him score a 76.0 on the QBR.

You can view the entire week one rankings here, and after the jump we'll look at what defined Newton's score

The 'meat and potatoes' of ESPN's total QBR is a metric known as 'EPA' or 'Expected Points Added'. This metric looks at similar situations across all 32 teams and evaluating what the basic expectation of success should be in these situations. This means that the majority of QBs wont throw a 35 yard completion on 3rd and 27 for example, but should a QB manage it they have proven to go above and beyond the expectation.

In the passing game Newton finished with a +16.3 passing EPA, the highest in the NFL. This was coupled with a -1.8 rushing EPA (lowest in the NFL) and -3.7 in sacked EPA. What does this tell us? In short, Newton was the NFL's best passer by a large margin, but the 5 sacks he took were somewhat costly.

There's one more metric that I really loved seeing next to Cam's name, a +10.8 clutch rating, he was the only QB in the NFL to register a double digit clutch rating, and this shows how when the game is on the line Cam rose to the occasion. 

Over the coming week I'm sure we'll speak a great deal about Newton's game in Arizona, but right now every statistic we have shows he played lights out.

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