NFC West: 2013 Week 5 QB Watch

QB Watch: Seahawks' Russell Wilson

October, 9, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Seahawks' quarterback play.

Rewind: Russell Wilson showcased his running ability with 102 yards rushing Sunday at Indianapolis, equaling the total of running back Marshawn Lynch. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. It meant Wilson had to scramble at times and couldn’t find an open receiver downfield in the Seahawks' 34-28 loss to the Colts. When Wilson runs as much as he did Sunday, it’s tempting fate for an injury. But as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday, Wilson is doing what he has to do behind an offensive front that was missing four starters. He completed only 15 of 31 passes and missed some opportunities with inaccurate throws. Wilson had Golden Tate wide open on the sideline inside the Colts' 10-yard line, but overthrew him. Wilson also ran several times when he didn’t see he had an open receiver downfield, including a deep seam route by tight end Luke Willson that might have been a TD if the throw was made. All of this is a result of the protection problems up front that force Wilson to make quick decisions. It was a rare day when Wilson couldn’t make the clutch play.

Fast-forward: Home sweet home against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at CenturyLink Field, a place where Wilson never has lost. The Seahawks have won 10 consecutive home games under Wilson’s guidance. Center Max Unger should return, which will help stabilize the line issues.

Indoor woes: Wilson is 16-7 in his NFL career, but only 2-5 in domed stadiums, and the Seahawks have three more indoor games this season: at Arizona, St. Louis and Atlanta. The roof over his head probably isn’t making as much of a difference as the teams he’s facing on the road.

Prediction: Look for Wilson to rebound with the passing game this weekend at home against a Tennessee team the Seahawks should beat. It’s possible he could have his best game of the season on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

QB Watch: Rams' Sam Bradford

October, 9, 2013

    A weekly examination of the St. Louis Rams' quarterback play.

    Rewind: In terms of QBR, Sam Bradford had his best game of the season against Jacksonville, posting a score of 60.8. He threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions for a passer rating of 105.3.

    Bradford’s numbers were solid if unspectacular when combined with a 56 percent completion rate. He dropped in a perfect pass to Austin Pettis for a 31-yard touchdown to help close out the Jaguars late.

    The Rams rushed for 143 yards and had some balance for the first time, surely helping Bradford and creating a few more play-action opportunities. That was, perhaps, the most encouraging sign for Bradford and the offense to come out of that game.

    Fast-forward: Bradford and the Rams got a bit of a breather with Jacksonville in town on Sunday, but a trip to face the league’s top-ranked defense in Houston will provide a more difficult task.

    The Texans are allowing just 134.2 yards per game in the air, more than 50 yards fewer than the next-closest team in the league. Behind dominant end J.J. Watt, they’re tied for 11th in sacks with 14 but lead the league in sacks per passing attempt, getting sacks on 11.6 percent of opposing quarterback attempts.

    Ball security: Bradford has been fortunate that opponents have missed their share of interception opportunities, but given how many attempts he’s had in 2013, his interception rate has been a definite positive in his game.

    Bradford has thrown an interception on 1.4 percent of his attempts, tied with Atlanta’s Matt Ryan for fifth-lowest in the league.

    Prediction: This figures to be as difficult a challenge as Bradford will face in the passing game. Watt is the master of the batted pass, and Bradford has had issues in that area. Don’t expect much from Bradford & Co. this week.

QB Watch: Cardinals' Carson Palmer

October, 9, 2013
A weekly analysis of the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback play:

Rewind: While it might be hard to pile on after a win, Carson Palmer still has a way to go to become the player the front office expected him to be. He’s still making poor decisions on passes, throwing all three of his interceptions inside Carolina territory Sunday. Palmer took the blame and said his performance wasn’t “good enough,” but it’s becoming a broken record. The offense will get it “sooner or later,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.

Boy, was I close this week. I tempered expectations and said Palmer would have 250 yards and one touchdown. Well, he got the touchdown on a very nice drive and finished with 175 yards.

Fast-forward: If the Cardinals have struggled to eat up yards thus far, this might be their biggest task yet. San Francisco’s secondary showed its brute strength this past weekend against Houston. The 49ers are ranked second in passing yards allowed per game and fourth in passing yards allowed per attempt. And to top it off, they’re only giving up 3.7 yards per run.

Not a good sign: It’s one thing for a quarterback to be intercepted when he’s pressured; there are defenders in his face, the pocket collapses and his window to find an open receiver shrinks quickly. But it’s another issue for picks to be tossed when the quarterback isn’t pressured, as was the case with Palmer on Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus. Palmer tried to force too many passes to Larry Fitzgerald, or to make the “heroic throw,” as Arians called it.

Prediction: I’m not expecting much out of Palmer, which, in the end, could be a good thing. I say he will throw for 165 yards and a touchdown but the Cardinals will lose because the 49ers will take advantage of Arizona’s slow start.

Just don’t ask me to pick the spread in the Broncos-Jaguars game.
A weekly examination of the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback play.

Rewind: It was a weird one. The 49ers blew out Houston 34-3. The offense was fine, Colin Kaepernick didn’t look terrible. But he completed just six passes and had a stretch of seven straight incompletions. Still, Kaepernick was part of the reason the 49ers won big.

Fast-forward: After a tough early-season slate, the schedule starts to ease a bit. The 49ers host Arizona on Sunday. But Arizona has a decent defense and it can make some things happen against the pass. Kaepernick will need to be sharp.

Back to Smith days? Kaepernick’s predecessor, Alex Smith, was known as a game manager. That’s what Kaepernick was Sunday. The 49ers’ passing game is being affected by a lack of depth. The run game starts this offense and Kaepernick is being asked to enhance it. That may continue for a while before Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree return from injuries.

Prediction: Kaepernick will likely be asked to do more against the Cardinals. I think he will complete 17 of 28 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns.