On paper, it appears Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Buffalo Bills and Mark Sanchez of the New York Jets had solid, Week 1 debuts. Both were winning quarterbacks and combined for six touchdowns and more than 500 yards passing on Sunday.
But upon closer review, ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating says there was a very wide margin between the two performances. Fitzpatrick (91.2 out of 100) was nearly flawless, according to the QBR, while Sanchez's mistakes led to the fourth-lowest QBR (17.6) in the NFL.
Fitzpatrick was 17-of-25 for 208 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-7 win over Kansas City. His only mistake was a fumble that was recovered by Buffalo. Sanchez threw for more yards (335) but had fewer touchdowns (two) in a 27-24 win over Dallas. But more importantly, Sanchez made several bad plays that nearly cost the Jets the game.
Sanchez's interception to Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee was returned 37 yards and led to a Dallas touchdown in the fourth quarter. Sanchez also lost a fumble late in the game after being sacked. The QBR takes into account "Clutch Weight," which values how quarterbacks perform when the game is on the line. Sanchez was minus-3.9, while Fitzpatrick was 5.5.
In the end, both quarterbacks won with their respective teams. But Fitzpatrick was much more efficient in Week 1. He beat out Aaron Rodgers (91.1), Matthew Stafford (87.4) and Joe Flacco (79.6) for the best performance to start the 2011 season.
Will Fitzpatrick have a monster year? And should Fitzpatrick be in the conversation with Sanchez and Chad Henne as the No. 2 quarterback in the AFC East behind Tom Brady? I'd like to hear your thoughts.