NFC North: Quarterback Report

NFC North Week 14 Quarterback Report

December, 10, 2012
NFC North passing wasn't pretty in Week 14, but Total Quarterback Rating can help us flesh out the performances of our four starters. Let's take a closer look with an assist from Jacob Nitzberg of ESPN Stats & Information:

Aaron Rodgers
Passer rating: 80.7
QBR: 82.7
Action plays: 32
Comment: To me, Sunday night was an example of how QBR tells a fuller story. Rodgers didn't throw a touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions, limiting his passer rating, but two big scrambles helped boost his QBR. Both came on third down, one converting a first down and the other ending in a 27-yard touchdown. QBR heavily credited the scoring run; if Rodgers had not gained yardage, the Packers were looking at a difficult 45-yard field goal in the snow. Rodgers was effective on mid-range throws, completing five of six that traveled between 11 and 20 yards in the air. His biggest mistake was fumbling on a sack at the Lions' 21-yard line on the Packers' first possession.

Matthew Stafford
Passer rating: 74.7
QBR: 57.1
Action plays: 53
Comment: Like the rest of the Lions, Stafford struggled in the fourth quarter Sunday night. Based on QBR, it was his second-worst fourth quarter of the season. When the Lions were trailing by one score, Stafford completed 1 of 4 passes for 5 yards, and both of his third-down throws were incomplete. Since Week 9, Stafford's fourth-quarter QBR is the fourth worst in the NFL after he spent the first eight weeks of the season near the top of the league's rankings. It's no surprise, then, that the Lions tied an NFL record for losing three consecutive double-digit leads. On the plus side, even with a depleted roster, Stafford was able to target receiver Calvin Johnson on 13 passes and complete 10 of them for 118 yards.

Jay Cutler
Passer rating: 57.0
QBR: 20.8
Action plays: 52
Comment: Cutler's two interceptions accounted for the two biggest swings in the game, positive or negative, based on ESPN's win probability tool. That makes sense intuitively as well. The first set up the Minnesota Vikings at the Bears' 5-yard line, resulting in a touchdown, and the second was returned for a touchdown outright. In a 21-14 game, those plays loomed large. Cutler did not have much success against the Vikings' blitz, completing 1 of 8 passes against it for 10 yards.

Christian Ponder
Passer rating: 53.8
QBR: 25.3
Action plays: 24
Comment: The good news: Ponder committed only one turnover, on a deep throw to receiver Jarius Wright, and took only one sack. Otherwise, Ponder seemed an afterthought in a game plan that called for 32 rushes on 53 non-kneeldown plays. Ponder didn't complete a pass that traveled longer than 9 yards in the air. Over his past five games, in fact, Ponder has completed one of 21 attempts of 15 yards or more, including 17 consecutive incompletions.

With one team on a bye and another set to play Monday night, this Quarterback Report hits 50 percent of our targets. We don't control the schedule, however. We just play it. Look for a review of Chicago Bears quarterback Jason Campbell on Tuesday, probably embedded in the Bears' Free Head Exam.

Thanks once again to Jacob Nitzberg for his help in compiling this post.

Aaron Rodgers
Passer rating: 106.4
QBR: 35.5
Action plays: 37
Comment: Sunday marked the fifth fourth-quarter comeback victory in Rodgers' career, a relatively low figure that is muted by his 48-24 record overall as a starter. Passes of 40 yards to tight end Jermichael Finley and 22 yards to Randall Cobb highlighted the final drive, which gave Rodgers an 82.2 QBR in the fourth quarter. But in a testament to the two-deep look the Lions showed all game, the pass to Cobb was Rodgers' only completion that traveled more than 20 yards in the air. A late second-quarter interception, and an early sack/fumble in the third quarter, helped lower his overall QBR. The interception, in fact, dropped the Packers' win probability by 15 percent because it negated a likely scoring drive and gave the Lions a chance to pad a 10-7 lead.

Matthew Stafford
Passer rating: 54.0
QBR: 19.8
Action plays: 52
Comment: Stafford's inaccuracy on a third-quarter pass to tight end Tony Scheffler led to an interception returned for a touchdown, which ESPN calculated to be the biggest swing play of the game. It dropped the Lions' win probability from 71.3 percent to 38.5 percent. Stafford's overall completion percentage of 43.6 was his lowest since Week 13 of 2009. He completed only five of the 26 passes he threw that traveled more than 5 yards in the air and took five sacks, three of which came on third down.