AFC South: 2013 Week 4 QB Watch

QB Watch: Colts’ Andrew Luck

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Colts’ quarterback play.

Luck
Rewind: Andrew Luck played his worst quarter of football this season in the first 15 minutes against the Jaguars. He threw an interception and was fortunate the Jaguars were offside on another interception. Both happened on the first two offensive series for Luck. He had a 36.4 quarterback rating after a first quarter in which he also forced some throws and had communication issues with receiver T.Y. Hilton. Luck called his start “terrible.” But Luck, as expected, got it going after the first quarter. He finished the game 22-of-36 for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

Fast-forward: Colts coach Chuck Pagano described Seattle’s secondary as being “huge.” Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are both at least 6-foot-3 and the Seahawks are fifth in the league in pass defense, giving up only 191 yards a game through the air. Seattle is tied for third in the league in interceptions (seven) and is in the middle of the pack in sacks (11). Luck has been sacked only three times in the past two games after going down seven times in the first two games.

On target: Luck had to improve his accuracy this season after averaging 39 attempts a game and completing only 54 percent of his passes his rookie season. He’s taken a significant leap this season, completing 64 percent of his passes on 32 attempts a game. He has completed at least 60 percent of his attempts in three of four games this season. He completed at least 60 percent just four times all of last season.

Prediction: The Seahawks will get to Luck at times, but expect the quarterback to do enough to shake off any frustration that may occur from Seattle’s defense to make the necessary plays in the fourth quarter.

QB Watch: Texans' Matt Schaub

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Houston Texans' quarterback play.

Schaub
Schaub
Rewind: Schaub threw two touchdowns, two interceptions and for 355 yards. A lot of what happened as the Texans' frittered away a 17-point halftime lead wasn't Matt Schaub's fault, but he made a costly error with just less than three minutes left in the game. Up seven, Schaub forced a pass he shouldn't have that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. The score tied the game and Schaub looked rattled the rest of the game and in his postgame interview.

Fast-forward: Though some fans want them to, there has been no thought in the Texans organization to bench Schaub, who is the Texans' best option at quarterback and who has played quite well at times, especially as he led comeback efforts in Weeks 1 and 2. Schaub will have to recover mentally from having thrown a pick-six in each of the past three games. In the past 20 years, three other quarterbacks have done that, but none have done it four weeks in a row. If he lets it linger, that can spell bigger problems for the rest of the season. This week he'll face a 49ers defense that doesn't give up many yards against the pass (190.5 per game), but also isn't as adept at interceptions as the Seahawks. The 49ers have three interceptions this season, only one fewer than the Texans do.

Play action again: The Texans' play-action game is still near the bottom of the league. Schaub's QBR on play-action passing is 22.1, ranking him 28th among eligible quarterbacks. He's attempted 31 play-action passes, ranking him 11th in the NFL, but has only completed 61.3 percent of them, ranking him 18th. Only two quarterbacks have been sacked more often than Schaub (four times) in such situations: Russell Wilson and Jets quarterback Geno Smith.

Prediction: I say Schaub doesn't go interception free in this game, but he also doesn't make history by becoming the only player in the past 20 years to throw a pick-six in four consecutive games. I also predict at least two passing touchdowns for the embattled quarterback.

QB Watch: Titans' Ryan Fitzpatrick

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Tennessee Titans' quarterback play:

Rewind: Jake Locker was outstanding against the Jets, with three first-half touchdown passes and a 130.0 passer rating before he was knocked out of the game with hip and knee injuries early in the third quarter. He was making smart decisions and good throws and New York didn't have an answer. Ryan Fitzpatrick entered with the Titans ahead 24-6 and saw his job at that point as being not to screw it up. He didn't. The team was sluggish after Locker was knocked out, but Fitzpatrick eventually got a deep ball to Nate Washington for a 77-yard touchdown that helped ensure a blowout.

Fitzpatrick
Locker
Fast-forward: Locker is out at least a few games with a sprained hip and a sprained knee on his right leg. That puts Fitzpatrick into the lineup as the starter. Dowell Loggains designed a game plan with the intent of steering things to Fitzpatrick's strengths and away from his weaknesses. He's got a good arm, he's a good athlete and he's smart. This is the most talented defense he's had on his side and the Titans will surely try to establish Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene, if he's available. Backup quarterbacks around the league are weak, and the Titans' situation is about as good as they can hope for.

Interceptions: Fitzpatrick has thrown 81 picks in 75 games and also fumbled 40 times. That's a lot of turnovers. But he has been with the Titans since March and the team believes in its system Fitzpatrick won't need to try to force things and can protect the ball. He'll need to -- the Titans are plus-nine in turnovers, with zero giveaways.

Prediction: I think Fitzpatrick will play well enough for the Titans to have a chance to win. But I expect the Chiefs, who have five picks from five defenders, will find an interception along the way. Fitzpatrick could throw more passes to the middle of the field than Locker has.

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