Monday, September 9, 2013
NFL Week 1 Quarterback Report
By Kevin Seifert
Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert each had very different Week 1 games.
The first of a weekly deep dive into NFL quarterback play. Many thanks to Jacob Nitzberg of ESPN Stats & Information for supplying analysis and data to drive this post. Remember that Total QBR runs on a scale of 0-100. The scale for traditional passer rating is 0-158.3.
Andrew Luck Passer rating: 127.9
Analysis: Luck started off strong, completing his first 10 passes, but his best work came on the most important plays. He completed five of six passes for 61 yards on third downs, and converted another two on scrambles, to compile a near-perfect 99.998 QBR on third downs. For those wondering how the Colts' shift to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton would play out, consider that Luck completed 15 of 16 throws that traveled fewer than 15 yards downfield. He completed two of six passes of at least 15 yards in the air and missed on all three that went at least 21 yards.
Andy Dalton Passer rating: 97.2
Analysis: Dalton threw two interceptions, but one was the result of a tipped ball and the other came after an exceptional anticipation play by Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman. Dalton managed to find receiver A.J. Green for nine receptions and 162 yards, including accurate deep passes of 45 and 42 yards. As with Luck, Dalton excelled on third downs, completing six of eight passes and finishing with a 99.9 QBR on such plays. Five of those completions converted first downs. Another third-down pass resulted in a 34-yard pass interference call to set up a touchdown.
Colin Kaepernick Passer rating: 129.4
Analysis: When the Green Bay Packers took away the read-option, Kaepernick demonstrated how lethal he can be in a pure passing setting. He threw for a career-high 412 yards, including 350 from inside the pocket, and completed almost 70 percent of his 39 attempts while avoiding an interception. Two of his three touchdowns came against heavy Packers pressure of at least six rushers. In 11 NFL starts, including the playoffs, Kaepernick has thrown only five interceptions in 262 career attempts.
Jay Cutler Passer rating: 93.2
Analysis: Playing behind an overhauled offensive line, Cutler was not sacked. In fact, Cutler was highly productive in Marc Trestman's offense against the Cincinnati Bengals' blitz. He completed eight of 10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown when the Bengals sent at least five pass-rushers. He was efficient, finishing with 242 yards on 33 attempts, but was better downfield than you might have anticipated in an offense built around quick throws. A third of Cutler's passes traveled more than 10 yards downfield, and he completed eight of them for 171 yards and a touchdown. He targeted favored receiver Brandon Marshall 10 times but also looked elsewhere to receiver Alshon Jeffery (eight targets), running back Matt Forte (six) and tight end Martellus Bennett (six).
Drew Brees Passer rating: 113.6
Analysis: Brees torched the blitz of the Atlanta Falcons, who sent at least five pass-rushers on 10 dropbacks. The Falcons sacked him once, but of the other nine plays, Brees completed eight passes for 148 yards and a touchdown. He also attacked the Falcons downfield, completing 10 of his 16 passes that traveled at least 10 yards past the line of scrimmage for 251 yards.
Christian Ponder Passer rating: 63.1
Analysis: The good news is that Ponder found receiver Jerome Simpson for passes of 44 and 47 yards, a downfield rarity relative to last season. But Ponder still threw three interceptions and had two others dropped. Two of his three sacks came on drive-killing first-down plays and his QBR on third downs was 0.4; only two of his seven third-down passes converted a first down.
Blaine Gabbert Passer rating: 30.8
Analysis: Gabbert had the worst Week 1 of any NFL starter. He did not complete a pass that traveled more than 10 yards in the air, missing on all six such attempts including one interception, and in total averaged 3.46 yards per attempt. It was the ninth time in the past four seasons that a quarterback has had YPA of 3.5 or less -- with a minimum of 20 attempts -- in a single game. Gabbert was playing with a fractured thumb and a cut that required 15 stitches, but his errant fourth-quarter pass -- intercepted by Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tamba Hali and returned 10 yards for a touchdown -- was the worst of the week in the NFL.
ROUNDING OUT THE WEEK
Peyton Manning Passer rating: 141.1
Briefly: Plenty has been said already about Manning's seven-touchdown performance Thursday night. Four of those scores came on passes against added pressure from the Baltimore Ravens.
Carson Palmer Passer rating: 96.6
Briefly: Palmer targeted receiver Larry Fitzgerald three times in the end zone and connected twice for scores, a welcome sign for the Cardinals. He also took four sacks.
Cam Newton Passer rating: 97.2
Briefly: The Seattle Seahawks held Newton to career lows in passing (125) and combined offense (163). Newton attempted only four passes longer than 10 yards downfield, the second-lowest total of his career.
Matt Ryan Passer rating: 96.8
Briefly: The Saints had Ryan under duress on 12 drop-backs. He threw a touchdown on the first such play but managed only two completions on his next nine drop-backs, including an interception.
Russell Wilson Passer rating: 115.7
Briefly: Wilson's 320 yards were a career high and key on a day when the Seahawks had trouble running the ball. He had five completions (in seven attempts) on passes of at least 15 yards downfield for a total of 127 yards.
EJ Manuel Passer rating: 105.5
Briefly: In his first game back after minor knee surgery, Manuel threw 25 of his 27 passes from the shotgun.
Aaron Rodgers Passer rating: 102.6
Briefly: Rodgers was uncharacteristically unproductive against added pressure, completing only one of six passes when the 49ers sent at least five pass-rushers.
Terrelle Pryor Passer rating: 70.6
Briefly: Of Pryor's 112 rushing yards, 59 came on what appeared to be designed runs and 53 resulted from scrambles. He kept the ball on all five read-option plays the Oakland Raiders ran.
Alex Smith Passer rating: 94.4
Briefly: The Chiefs didn't try to do more than they needed against the woeful Jaguars. Smith attempted 34 passes and finished with 173 yards, giving him the second-lowest yards per attempt (5.09) of the week.
Matthew Stafford Passer rating: 96.8
Briefly: Stafford threw for two touchdowns and had two others reversed on review. On the other hand, he benefited from tailback Reggie Bush's presence. Of his 357 passing yards, 240 came after the catch. His average pass traveled 5.0 yards downfield, the second-lowest rate of his career.
Sam Bradford Passer rating: 100.7
Briefly: Bradford found a friend in new tight end Jared Cook, completing seven of 10 passes he targeted him on for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 148 yards to everyone else.
Geno Smith Passer rating: 80.6
Briefly: Smith was at his best in the fourth quarter, completing seven of 11 passes for 83 yards. His fourth-quarter QBR (76.0) nearly doubled that of the first three quarters (38.3).
Joe Flacco Passer rating: 69.4
Briefly: Flacco had a rough go last Thursday in Denver. He was judged to have overthrown six passes that traveled at least 20 yards downfield.
Eli Manning Passer rating: 102.3
Briefly: Manning threw for 450 yards but his three interceptions scuttled the Giants' chances. His too-early pass on a screen play late in the fourth quarter resulted in an interception return for a touchdown by the Cowboys' Brandon Carr. The Giants' win probability dropped from 20 percent to 0.4 percent on the play.
Tony Romo Passer rating: 90.8
Briefly: Many were surprised by the Cowboys' 49 attempts, even after Romo suffered a second-quarter injury. But they were mostly high-percentage passes. Of that total, 38 traveled 10 or fewer yards downfield.
Ben Roethlisberger Passer rating: 76.7
Briefly: Roethlisberger couldn't get anything going, albeit after multiple injuries around him. All but two of his 33 attempts traveled less than 15 yards downfield. He also took three sacks on third down and didn't convert a third-down passing attempt in the second half.
Josh Freeman Passer rating: 67.9
Briefly: Sunday was the ninth time in 58 career starts that Freeman has completed fewer than half of his passes. All have been losses.
Brandon Weeden Passer rating: 48.4
Briefly: On third downs, Weeden managed four completions in 13 attempts with two interceptions.