Monday, October 21, 2013
NFL Week 7 Quarterback Report
By Kevin Seifert
Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Andy Dalton all emerged victorious on Sunday.
Here's our weekly deep-dive into NFL quarterback play. Many thanks to our friends at 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.
Colin Kaepernick Passer rating: 93.2
Analysis: Don't be swayed by a performance that fell short of 200 passing yards and did not include a touchdown pass. There are plenty of other ways for a quarterback to impact a game. Kaepernick was superb in staking the San Francisco 49ers to a 24-0 lead over the Tennessee Titans. By midway through the third quarter, he had completed 11 of 13 passes for 163 yards -- including four third-down conversions in five attempts. He also converted three third downs with his legs, including a 20-yard scramble on third-and-11 and a 20-yard touchdown run. Excluding kneel-downs, Kaepernick rushed eight times for 70 yards.
Josh McCown Passer rating: 119.6
Analysis: For a player with two starts in the past five seasons, McCown turned in a surprisingly efficient and productive game after replacing the injured Jay Cutler. Chicago Bears fans will have to take that as a positive sign if Cutler is sidelined for a long period of time. Based on QBR, it was the NFL's best performance off the bench in four seasons. He completed all 10 of his first-down passes, converting five into first downs, and also had a 98.8 QBR in the fourth quarter (7-of-9 for 115 yards and a touchdown) to keep the Bears in the game. Although he has a reputation for scrambling, and gained 34 yards on three carries, he completed 14 of 17 passes from the pocket and misfired on all four passes he attempted outside of it.
Andy Dalton Passer rating: 135.9
Analysis: What's amazing is that Dalton had one of his better games despite providing several more examples of his deep accuracy issues. He underthrew receiver A.J. Green twice on what could have been touchdown passes, and their 82-yard scoring connection would have been much easier if Dalton had hit Green in stride. Overall, however, he completed 6 of 7 attempts that traveled at least 15 yards downfield. Dalton threw for 372 yards in the game, the third-highest total of his career, and three touchdowns -- all on passes that traveled at least 10 yards in the air. He didn't commit a turnover, took only one sack, and completed 6 of 7 passes in a tight fourth quarter.
Robert Griffin III Passer rating: 105.2
Analysis: This was the closest we've seen to the 2012 version of Griffin. Against the Bears' depleted defense, Griffin totaled 70 yards on eight zone-read plays and finished with 84 rushing yards overall. Four of his called runs netted first downs, and he avoided contact on most of them -- gaining 69 of 70 yards before contact. He also had a strong day passing, completing all nine of his targets to tight end Jordan Reed for 134 yards, and finishing with a season-high average of 10.3 yards per attempt. He completed 6 of 9 passes that traveled at least 11 yards downfield. The return of his double threat helped the Redskins total 209 yards on the ground.
Tom Brady Passer rating: 53.5
Analysis: Brady clearly relished the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, targeting him more times (17) than in any game they've played together. He completed eight, but most were of the short variety (six traveled 10 or fewer yards downfield). After a solid first half, however, Brady took a sack on his first play of the third quarter and had an interception returned for a touchdown on the second play, dropping the Patriots' win probability from 85.2 percent to 65.6. He completed only one pass on third down, dropping his third-down QBR to 35.0 this season, ranking No. 25 in the NFL. Finally, Brady's season-long problems throwing deep continued. He attempted 20 passes that traveled 10 yards downfield but completed only four. You wonder if the Patriots eventually will refocus their passing emphasis as a result. His 48.5 QBR this season is his lowest through seven starts since at least 2006, the earliest data that's available.
Ryan Tannehill Passer rating: 71.2
Analysis: Tannehill had a rough, mistake-filled game in a 23-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills. His first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, and he threw a lazy, poorly-conceived red zone pass a few minutes later that was also intercepted. He completed only 2 of 9 passes as the Dolphins fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter, and he fumbled on a sack with just under three minutes to go in the game with Miami ahead 21-20. That final turnover dropped the Dolphins' win probability from 74.9 percent to 38.4 percent, the single biggest swing in Week 7. Finally, he completed 4-of-11 on third down for a total of 3 yards. Only one of the completions netted a first down.
ROUNDING OUT THE WEEK
Matt Ryan Passer rating: 148.4
Briefly: Playing without receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, Ryan targeted receiver Harry Douglas and running back Jacquizz Rodgers a combined 16 times. He completed 15 of them, including three for touchdowns. Ryan also completed all six of the passes he threw that traveled at least 11 yards downfield.
Cam Newton Passer rating: 136.3
Briefly: Only two of Newton's 17 passes fell incomplete against the St. Louis Rams. He has had better days as a runner -- only one of his six scrambles netted a first down -- but that hardly mattered Sunday.
Aaron Rodgers Passer rating: 117.8 QBR: 83.4 Briefly: Hopefully this makes sense: Rodgers handled the Cleveland Browns' blitz well, throwing two touchdown passes and completing 7 of 11 attempts overall against it. But on the occasions when the Browns put him under duress, Rodgers completed only 2 of 11 passes. That's why teams continue blitzing him; they're hoping to break through, get him under duress and force incompletions.
Joe Flacco Passer rating: 97.1
Briefly: He played a great second half, compiling a 93.9 QBR after mustering a 47.2 in the first half. His performance was especially impressive on the Ravens' game-tying drive -- nine completions in 10 attempts for 60 yards and a touchdown -- and ultimately it was the Ravens' defense that allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to get the game-winning score.
Matthew Stafford Passer rating: 96.6
Briefly: A 357-yard, three-touchdown game brought Stafford's season total to 2,129 yards and 15 touchdown passes (and only four interceptions) through seven games. But his 54.9 completion percentage Sunday was a reminder of a handful of potential big passes he was simply inaccurate on. One that sticks in my head: missing receiver Ryan Broyles over the middle in the second quarter, two plays before David Akers' 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
Philip Rivers Passer rating: 125.2
Briefly: Only four of his 26 attempts fell incomplete against the Jacksonville Jaguars, giving him the second-highest completion percentage (84.6) in his career. Rivers is leading the NFL with a completion percentage of 73.9, almost 10 points higher than his career average.
Alex Smith Passer rating: 75.6
Briefly: A pattern of safe offense has clearly emerged in Kansas City, and Smith executed it pretty well Sunday against the Houston Texans. He completed 21 of 28 throws that traveled within 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, and Chiefs receivers gained 157 yards after the catch. Smith also reacted well on what appeared to be a goal-line alignment mistake, scoring on a 5-yard run in the second quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger Passer rating: 107.2
Briefly: Roethlisberger improved to 10-4 in his career against the Ravens. Did you have any doubt he would lead the Steelers into field goal range on the final drive? He completed 3 of 4 passes for 31 yards, helping to navigate from the 37-yard line to the 24 to set up Shaun Suisham's 42-yard game winner.
Andrew Luck Passer rating: 99.5
Briefly: Instead of focusing on the run, the Indianapolis Colts used their short passing game against the Denver Broncos. Luck was 16-of-25 on passes that traveled 10 yards or fewer past the line of scrimmage, including his three touchdown throws. That might be the Colts' preferred approach if receiver Reggie Wayne (knee) misses extended time.
Russell Wilson Passer rating: 122.1
Briefly: Two sack-fumbles lowered his QBR. Holding the ball can lead either to a mistake or a big play. Wilson also threw three touchdown passes in Thursday's victory over the Arizona Cardinals, including a stunning 31-yard flip to receiver Sidney Rice. It was one of two touchdown passes that traveled at least 15 yards downfield, twice as many as he had thrown in his previous three games combined.
Peyton Manning Passer rating: 96.1 QBR: 57.9 Briefly: The Colts put Manning under duress on 17 of his 53 drop-backs, his highest total in almost four years. Manning also struggled against the blitz for the first time this season. He entered the game completing 75 percent of his passes against blitzes, but on Sunday night he managed just two completions in eight such attempts.
Tony Romo Passer rating: 69.2
Briefly: On an otherwise boiler-plate outing, Romo tied the Dallas franchise record by throwing a touchdown pass in his 20th consecutive game. He also has more career yards (27,485) in his first 100 starts than any quarterback in NFL history.
Mike Glennon Passer rating: 90.7
Briefly: Did someone tell Glennon to look for receiver Vincent Jackson? He targeted him almost as many times Sunday (22) as he had in his previous two games combined (25). Sunday's total was tied for the second-most single-game targets for a receiver in the NFL since the start of the 2006 season.
Jake Locker Passer rating: 92.1
Briefly: The Titans weren't competitive in Locker's first game back from knee/hip injuries. He was compelled to throw a career-high 41 times and amassed 326 passing yards, but most of that production came after the 49ers took a 24-0 lead.
Sam Bradford Passer rating: 93.1
Analysis: Of his 255 yards, 73 came on one pass to receiver Brian Quick. But Sunday's performance means little in the long term after Bradford's ACL diagnosis; he'll miss the rest of the season. It would be difficult to suggest he did enough this season to merit an unquestioned return as next season's starter.
Geno Smith Passer rating: 71.9
Briefly: Smith is the first quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to complete four game-winning drives in his first seven starts. He attacked the Patriots on Sunday, throwing 16 passes of more than 10 yards downfield. He completed seven and did not have any intercepted. (The Patriots intercepted three such passes in the teams' first meeting.)
Case Keenum Passer rating: 110.6
Briefly: As advertised, Keenum was aggressive: The rookie threw five passes that traveled more than 20 yards downfield against the Kansas City Chiefs, almost as many as the Texans had attempted in their past four games (six). He completed three, including one for a touchdown, in a mostly successful debut. His five sacks were a product of holding the ball too long and inexperience against free blitzers.
Thaddeus Lewis Passer rating: 70.1
Briefly: He took four sacks, threw an interception and fumbled twice (losing neither), but Lewis helped shepherd the Bills to a victory in Miami.
Carson Palmer Passer rating: 70.4
Briefly: It's difficult to evaluate Palmer given his teammates' total inability to protect him Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks. He was under duress on a season-high 50 percent of his drop-backs, and six of the seven sacks he took came against the Seahawks' standard four-man pass rush.
Brandon Weeden Passer rating: 48.6
Briefly: Weeden started poorly and didn't get much better against the Green Bay Packers. In the first quarter, he completed only two passes and had six throws deemed off target by video analysis. Overall this season, only Gabbert has a worse QBR than Weeden's 24.9.
Nick Foles Passer rating: 46.2
Briefly: Before giving way to rookie Matt Barkley, Foles was 11-of-29 for only 80 yards, a paltry 2.8-yard average per attempt. His longest pass went 14 yards downfield. In the process, he wiped out any momentum for his possibly taking the permanent job from injured starter Michael Vick.