The third-year signal caller hit on 9-of-11 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 47-14 season-opening win over Western Michigan. His backup, J.J. McCarthy, may have gone viral for his arm strength, but McNamara passed his first test of the year with flying colors.
It seems the staff over at Pro Football Focus (PFF) was impressed by McNamara’s work as well. They designated him their highest-graded Power Five quarterback of Week 1, beating out Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez, Kentucky’s Will Levis, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett and Auburn’s Bo Nix.
If you’re unfamiliar with PFF’s grades, they have become a major part of football discourse over the last decade or so. The system evaluates “evaluates every player on every play during a football game.”
“Each player is given a grade of -2 to +2 in 0.5 increments on a given play with 0 generally being the average or ‘expected’ grade,” PFF says. “Each position has its own grading rubric so our analysts know how to put a grade on the various expectations for a quarterback on a 10-yard pass beyond the sticks or what the range of grades might look like for a frontside offensive tackle down blocking on a “power” play.
“There is then an adjustment made to the “raw” grades to adjust for what the player is “expected” to earn given his situation on the field”
Highest-graded Power Five QBs in Week 1:
1. Cade McNamara, Michigan – 93.0
2. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska – 92.3
3. Will Levis, Kentucky – 92.0
4. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh – 91.2
5. Bo Nix, Auburn – 90.1 pic.twitter.com/eeOKvTI1lq
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 5, 2021
Of course, with most types of analysis, there is some subjectivity to this grading system. Some of the quarterbacks behind McNamara had better pure numbers than the Reno, Nev. native, and the Maize and Blue quarterback may have missed another touchdown on one play by checking down instead of throwing downfield to an open receiver.
However, McNamara rating so highly here at least partially backs up what the eye test seemed to show during the game. He did a satisfactory job in only his second career start.
“He moves our team,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said post-game, via The Michigan Daily. “All the drives he’s been in — we score points when he’s out there.”
McNamara will have a chance to lead the Wolverines to a 2-0 start when they host Washington Saturday night in primetime.