QBR ranks: Kevin Kolb over Alex Smith

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
10:19
AM ET
I've expanded the weekly look at QBR to include stats for quarterbacks opposing NFC West teams. That seemed particularly appropriate following Tony Romo's clutch performance for Dallas against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2.

Romo led the NFL in QBR for Week 2 after leading the Cowboys to a dramatic comeback victory over the 49ers in overtime. The chart does not show which player ranked third in QBR for the week. His name: Matt Hasselbeck, who also ranks third in the NFL for the 2011 season, largely because he's been outstanding on third down.

Quick thoughts on why NFC West passers graded out as they did in Week 2, with NFL passer ratings in parenthesis as a reference point:
  • Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals (52.0 QBR, 92.5 NFL rating): Kolb completed 17 of 30 passes for 251 yards with two touchdowns and one interception during a 22-21 defeat at Washington. He took three sacks and fumbled. For the second week in a row, Kolb finished with a pedestrian QBR despite putting up good pure passing stats. The second-down interception he threw in Redskins territory was costly. QBR also docked Kolb hard for the sacks he took. I thought Kolb held the ball too long on two of them.
  • Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (41.4 QBR, 99.1 NFL rating): Smith completed 16 of 24 passes for 179 yards with two touchdowns and one interception during a 27-24 overtime defeat. NFL passer rating says Smith played an outstanding game. QBR thought Smith turned in a below-average performance (50 is average), largely because Smith took six sacks, some very costly. He also threw an interception.
  • Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks (28.2 QBR, 82.4 NFL rating): Jackson completed 20 of 29 passes for 159 yards and no interceptions during a 24-0 shutout defeat. He made little to no impact on the game and his QBR reflects as much. Albert Larcada, analytics specialist for ESPN, explained that the Seahawks haven't been getting the expected rushing production from their quarterback. Larcada: "From 2008-10, only Michael Vick added more points per play to his team via scrambles than Jackson. This season, Jackson is in the bottom half of qualified QBs with his scrambling."

Overall, QBR lined up more closely with what I saw than the case had been last week, when Kolb left a positive overall impression with me, but not at all with QBR.

Romo, Ben Roethlisberger and Rex Grossman outranked their NFC West opponents in Week 2, although not by much in the case of Grossman against Kolb.

For the season, Smith ranks 17th and Kolb 18th, with Sam Bradford 28th and Jackson 29th. Those rankings generally reflect team records to this point in the season. From 2008-10, teams whose quarterbacks had higher QBRs won 85.7 percent of games, compared to 79.4 percent for NFL passer rating, 78.4 percent for turnover differential and 70.7 percent for total yards.

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