PFF made a major change to a Chicago Bear last year in the middle of the season, will they do the same to Mitch Trubisky this year?
The grades that Pro Football Focus hand out on a regular basis keep gaining more steam. The NFL’s official twitter account now tweets out weekly “highest graded players” tweets and there’s no quicker way to legitimize what they do than have the NFL buy in.
But should they be legitimizing it? The problem is the lack of transparency with PFF’s grades. PFF sends out their weekly grades and their season long grades, but they don’t track their grades week-to-week. In fact, when you are on their website, once the team’s season grades are updated for the week, you can no longer find season grades anywhere for prior portions of the season.
While that may not seem like a big deal, here’s where they can get into trouble (if anyone is paying attention) and how they can make their grades seem more accurate than they actually are.
Let’s use Kyle Fuller as an example. Last year, Fuller was a surprise with how well he played. It was around late September that people were recognizing that Fuller’s game was impressive and by late October, the conversation had shifted to re-signing Fuller and if he can maintain his CB1 status and how important he was to the Bears.
The problem is, nobody had told PFF yet.
This is a conversation I had with another writer about Kyle Fuller last year. You’ll see the screen grab from November 12th. They had Fuller graded as a blatant failure with a 48.4 rating for the season. Anyone who had watched the Bears to that point knew that Fuller was playing very well and that rating was from ill-informed graders that didn’t know what they were watching.
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By season’s end, Fuller was an 84.3. That is a remarkable turnaround, isn’t it? It’s also very convenient. Let’s do some math. 48.4 was exactly 8 games into the season. Let’s say Fuller scored a perfect 100 for the entire final 8 games (an impossibility), by simple averages, Fuller should only have been able to raise his grade to a 74.2.
I questioned PFF about his mysterious grade and how he couldn’t raise his score that much mathematically and they told me that isn’t how their scores work. When I asked for more detail, they declined to answer.
I’m not sure how averaging grades isn’t how you grade someone. That’s how the entire educational system works across the globe, but not for PFF, so instead we get to receive mysterious grades for players where they were clearly inaccurate, realized they were, and needed to have the grade fixed by season’s end.
That’s a long backstory to bring us to Mitch Trubisky. Currently, Trubisky’s season-long PFF grade is 60.6. He’s receiving a D-. Anyone watching the Bears knows Trubisky is playing better than PFF’s grading system claims he is.
PFF will want their grade to jive more with how the narrative is of how Trubisky is playing. If Trubisky has excellent games in the national games the Bears have upcoming, you’ll bet you’ll see a significant jump in his grade to fit more with what the national media says about his performance.
You’ve seen some of the national media really start to change their tune about him over the last couple of weeks, but there are still some holdouts claiming he isn’t very good and PFF is leading the charge there. If the narrative completely changes on Trubisky over the next couple of weeks, you’ll see a steady climb on Trubisky’s rating and see him settle in probably in the upper 70s by the end of the year.
Feel free to use PFF’s grading system to get some kind of an idea of how players are playing, but keep in mind, those graders are not NFL scouts, they are bloggers looking for a foot in the door, they may have no background in understanding football at all other than what they are taught by the higher-ups at PFF.
Look no further than Kyle Fuller’s mysterious 2017 grade if you wan to question PFF’s grades and I have a feeling we will see a similar change in Trubisky’s grade this season.