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The Quinnen Williams PFF Grade Controversy: A Mark Below the Rest

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This past Sunday, Quinnen Williams had one of the most dominant defensive games in recent Jets memory. The Jets defensive tackle found himself in the backfield almost as many times as opposing quarterback Aaron Rodgers generating 7 pressures, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. Despite being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week, the analytical firm PFF was not as impressed. With PFF grades all the rage around the NFL, many were shocked to see the company give Williams a 64.5 (out of 100) overall. Today, PFF admitted their mistake leading to a larger Quinnen Williams PFF grade controversy.

The PFF Grade Controversy

A new PFF grade controversy seems to pop up every week as fans complain about a surprisingly lower score than they expected for their favorite players. However, PFF has always been firm on their system. which has independent graders watch every snap to grade how well every player impacts the game. Afterwards, they release the overall grade to the public while having advanced grades behind a paywall.

After Quinnen Williams’ seemingly dominant game against the Packers, Jets fans were quite surprised to see their favorite defensive player score a grade associated with a below average to average performance. With Quinnen Williams performing like an all-pro, the grade proved to be quite the shock. Like most teams’ supporters, the fans went to Twitter to express their frustration, where they were answered by Ryan Smith, a PFF Senior Analyst, who had this to say about the grade:

Smith continued to banter with Jets fans challenging them to breakdown “every single one of his snaps” and arguing that Williams had better games against the Ravens, Bengals, Steelers and Dolphins.

A Grade Change

After seeing the outcry over Williams’ PFF grade, the company spent the next couple of days reevaluating before moving his grade up to an 81, the top defensive PFF grade for the Jets for the past weekend.

In a video posted by the company to YouTube, the recent PFF grade controversy was chalked up to a few too many grades being down graded and promises to add in better checks and balances to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The Potential Fallout

The issue with this change, is it can now bring into question every previous grade. How many times were grades given that were either too high or too low but that perhaps didn’t have quite the same reaction to Twitter? Sure, it’s unlikely that other 16 point discrepancies have happened, but for a company that prides itself on their analytical model it raises more questions about their grading system.

Meanwhile, PFF’s Ryan Smith, who covers the rival Dolphins, was quick to walk back his comments.

However, in doing so he potentially left the company open to another PFF controversy. If Ryan wasn’t part of the grading system, why was he commenting on the grade of a player? As a Senior Analyst for the company, his words come from a position of authority, especially when challenging others to watch the All-22 footage before questioning PFF’s grading system.

Furthermore, by commenting that Williams had at least 4 other games that were better it raises even more questions. If one of those grades is now lower than the 81 from Sunday, were those games properly graded?

Which legendary NFL defense would love to resurrect?

1985 Chicago Bears

1985 Chicago Bears

1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

1976 Pittsburgh Steelers

2000 Baltimore Ravens

2000 Baltimore Ravens

2002 Tampa Bay Bucs

2002 Tampa Bay Bucs

1986 New York Giants

1986 New York Giants

2013 Seattle Seahawks

2013 Seattle Seahawks

Moving Forward

In the end, this PFF grade controversy could have and should have been avoided by having someone, somewhere question why the “basic” and even advanced metrics were so different from the PFF grading system.

Instead, questions can now be raised about how effective the grading system is at PFF. Furthermore, the flames of this PFF grade controversy were no doubt flamed on Twitter when a review likely should have happened before comments were released on the subject.

Let us know your thoughts on this PFF grade controversy in the comments below!

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Stephen Leonardi is a passionate Yankees, Jets, Devils and Nets fans. He is an avid writer covering his favorite teams and interesting topics around his favorite sports.