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XTRA910 audio: Skelton hurt Seahawks

9/8/2012

Additional thoughts on John Skelton after discussing the Arizona Cardinals quarterback, among other subjects, during a weekly Friday conversation with Dan Bickely and Mike Jurecki on XTRA Sports 910 AM in Phoenix:

A few quarterbacks gave the Seattle Seahawks problems last season.

Arizona's John Skelton was one of them, especially in the clutch.

Skelton, scheduled to start the Cardinals' regular-season opener against Seattle on Sunday, posted relatively unimpressive raw passing stats during a 23-20 overtime victory against Seattle in Week 17 last season. He completed 22 of 40 passes for 271 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

2011 Total QBR vs. Seattle (100 max)

A closer look at Skelton's performance showed him making key contributions to help his team win. Skelton picked up 19 yards on five rushes, helping to limit sacks to two. He completed third-down passes for 26, 26, 22 and 18 yards. He converted on fourth-and-2 in overtime.

Though Skelton finished the game with a mediocre 74.1 NFL passer rating, clutch plays helped him score a much more impressive 70.7 out of 100 in Total QBR, which measures how quarterbacks affect win probability (50 is average). For example, QBR would value a 10-yard gain on third-and-9 over a 10-yard gain on fourth-and-11. It would value a 20-yard touchdown pass in overtime far more than a 90-yard scoring pass during a blowout.

The chart, from ESPN Stats & Information, shows QBR figures for Skelton and other quarterbacks against Seattle last season. One column shows QBR for all plays. The other breaks out QBR for more critical situations.

"A team whose QBR in a game is 70 should win the game about 70 percent of the time," ESPN's Dean Oliver explained. "A team with a QBR for the whole season of 35 should, as a rule of thumb, win about 35 percent of its games."

Skelton's QBR against Seattle was 8.2 on 22 plays deemed to have come during less critical situations. The figure was 91.0 on 27 plays in more critical situations.

"He's a challenging player because he does move well and he's very strong and tough in the pocket," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters this week. "He has real good sense of making things happen after the normal rhythm of a play -- not so much to take off and run, but to find space. We have a lot of respect for them playing with him."

Arizona is 6-0 at home when Skelton starts. However, the QBR figures Skelton posted against Seattle did not carry over against other opponents last season. He was at 29.1 overall against other teams, including 47.1 at home and a league-worst 14.4 on the road. Those figures suggest Skelton must play more like he did in the clutch against Seattle if he hopes to remain the Cardinals' starter over the long haul.