QBR ranks: Sticking with Russell Wilson

October, 1, 2012
10/01/12
8:18
PM ET
Russell WilsonDilip Vishwanat/Getty ImagesThere are no changes planned in Seattle as Pete Carroll said he'll stick with Russell Wilson.

Russell Wilson will remain the Seattle Seahawks' starting quarterback whether or not backup Matt Flynn has a healthy enough throwing elbow to play.

That was the word Monday from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

Wilson was culpable to varying degrees in the three interceptions that helped doom Seattle to a 19-13 defeat at St. Louis in Week 4. The final one, thrown after Seattle had moved 45 yards on eight plays toward a potential winning score, resulted from tight end Anthony McCoy tripping before the ball arrived.

Sticking with Wilson for now is the right call, in my view. Among the reasons:

  • Team record: The Seahawks are 2-2. That is a reasonable record for them given the schedule to this point. The season is not slipping away.
  • Offensive philosophy: Carroll is the one choosing to play conservatively on offense. Why replace Wilson without giving him a chance to do more than manage the game? Has Wilson failed, or has the offense failed?
  • Flynn's situation: Carroll sought to clear up confusion over Flynn's sore elbow. He told reporters the team didn't know whether Flynn's elbow could withstand a full week of practice. He said this was because Wilson, as the starter, was getting all the practice reps, leaving little opportunity to evaluate Flynn. Fine, but the team could easily hold throwing sessions for Flynn outside of practice. Reading between the lines, I'd say it's pretty clear Flynn is still having issues.
  • It's only four games: Back in 2010, about half the season went by before Carroll and veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck reached a comfort level with one another. Carroll wasn't comfortable opening up the offense. "It took some time for us to get together in our thinking, Matt understanding us and us understanding Matt," Carroll said following a Week 11 game that year. "I think we have cut him loose." The dynamics are different now, but there's still a process involved.
  • Late-game promise: Seattle has trailed in the final minutes of three games this season. Wilson moved the team downfield in every case. Better play from his receivers might have made the difference at Arizona. Wilson was moving the team effectively in the late going Sunday when McCoy tripped, leading to the pick.

I'm sure others feel differently. A game at Carolina in Week 5 will tell us more.

With that, let's take a look at how NFC West passers graded out for Week 4 in relation to Total QBR, with NFL passer ratings in parenthesis as a reference point (thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting info):

  • Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (47.2 QBR, 63.3 NFL rating): Bradford completed 16 of 30 passes for 221 yards with no touchdowns, one interception, two sacks and two rushes for minus-2 yards. Bradford did complete passes on third-and-long. His third-down passing stats remain impressive this season, but they do not reflect the seven sacks he has taken on that pivotal down. Only one quarterback has taken more this season (Kolb has eight). QBR assigns some of the blame for sacks to the quarterback. Sacks weren't a big problem for the Rams against Seattle. Bradford took responsibility for the interception he threw, but receiver Brandon Gibson presumably played some role in the miscommunication. The Rams scored on a fake field goal and three real ones, including record-setting attempts from 60 and 58 yards.
  • Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (46.4 QBR, 78.1 NFL rating): Smith completed 12 of 21 passes for 143 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions, two sacks and two rushes for 12 yards, including one for a first down. The relatively low QBR score -- 50 is average -- affirms what we saw in the game. San Francisco posted a 34-0 victory over the New York Jets on the strength of factors beyond the quarterback. Backup Colin Kaepernick factored as a runner.
  • Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals (30.6 QBR, 84.0 NFL rating): Kolb completed 29 of 48 passes for 324 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He took eight sacks and had no rushing attempts. The way Kolb finished was what mattered most for the Cardinals. His 15-yard scoring pass to Andre Roberts on fourth-and-10 forced overtime. It also atoned for the brutal pick Kolb threw while targeting Larry Fitzgerald in the end zone while Arizona held a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
  • Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (16.8 QBR, 45.8 NFL rating): Wilson started quickly. His passing played a role in moving Seattle down the field for an 80-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Very little went right from that point forward. The Seahawks asked little from Wilson and got little in return. Wilson's athleticism didn't translate to hurting the Rams with his feet. Wilson ran seven times for only 14 yards, managing one first down. Defenders closed ground on him quickly.

The chart below shows how quarterbacks from games involving NFC West teams fared in Total QBR for Week 4, provided they played enough to qualify for inclusion. Ryan Tannehill's performance for the Dolphins against Arizona came as the greatest surprise from Week 4 games involving NFC West teams. He generally handled the Cardinals' blitzes well, carrying the offense to a degree reflected by his QBR score (82.7 out of 100).

The column showing point above average reveals the "number of points contributed by a quarterback over the season, accounting for QBR and how much he plays, above the level of an average quarterback."

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