NFL Nation: 2013 Week 4 QB Watch NFC

QB Watch: Redskins' Robert Griffin III

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
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A weekly analysis of the Washington Redskins’ quarterback play.

Griffin
Rewind: Robert Griffin III continues to up his game a little bit as the season progresses. He still makes mistakes; he still fails to pull the trigger at times. Just like last season. He’s still developing as a passer. But he’s starting to incorporate his legs, and that made enough of a difference against the Raiders. He carried the ball in the zone read twice for 8 yards. Another 9-yard carry was negated by a hold, but on the play Griffin showed quickness and shiftiness he did not show when the season started. Griffin completed 18 of 31 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown, good for a 91.7 passer rating. Griffin made a couple of plays with his legs but more by avoiding the rush, sliding in the pocket or stepping up in the pocket. He did each of those, and in each case it resulted in positive gains, none bigger than the 28-yard dump-and-run to Roy Helu after Griffin sprinted from pressure.

Fast-forward: The more Griffin plays, the more he starts to show glimpses of his pre-knee-injury self. He’s not the only one who needs to improve for the offense to excel, or for the Redskins to turn their season around. After the bye week, Griffin will face three defenses currently ranked 20th or worse in Dallas (20th), Chicago (21st) and Denver (25th). All three are ranked 24th or worse against the pass.

Inside the numbers: The Redskins did something rare Sunday. They won a game in which Griffin attempted 30-plus passes, something they had done only once in his young career. When Griffin has attempted at least 30 passes, the Redskins are 2-6. The most passes he threw last season was 39 in a loss to Carolina. But he attempted 30 or more passes only four times last season, a number he’s already matched in 2013. One reason the Redskins won this game was the defense sacking quarterback Matt Flynn seven times and holding the Raiders’ offense to one touchdown. It allowed Griffin and the offense to gather momentum after a sluggish start.

Prediction: Griffin will continue to run a bit more after the bye week. There’s a belief that it would take him approximately two months of playing -- and gaining confidence in his knee -- before he fully returns to normal. That means he’d be a month away, but it also means Griffin is a month removed from the start of the season when neither he nor the coaches wanted him to run. The more mobile he becomes, the more Griffin excels. It’s not just about running, it’s about extending plays, and he’s starting to do that more.

QB Watch: Bears' Jay Cutler

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Bears’ quarterback play.

Cutler
Rewind: Jay Cutler reverted to bad habits in the Bears' loss to the Detroit Lions, and that resulted in turnovers, including a fumble returned for a touchdown by Nick Fairley. Tremendous pressure from Detroit’s pass rush played a role in that. Despite the poor performance (65.6 passer rating, 36.6 QBR), Cutler never let the mistakes snowball. He kept the team in the game, and gave the Bears a chance to tie it late. What’s more encouraging is Cutler’s turnovers didn’t come as the result of poor decision-making. He made the correct reads, but didn’t accurately execute the throws he’s accustomed to making. That’s correctable.

Fast-forward: New Orleans' defense entered Monday night’s game against Miami ranked No. 4, and collected four sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery in that contest. So Cutler faces a daunting task against the Saints, who sacked him six times during a brutal 2011 outing the last time these teams met. Detroit took away short passes, and dared Cutler to beat the Lions with longer throws. Look for the Saints to employ a similar strategy.

Keep believing in Marc Trestman: Cutler exhibits signs that he totally believes in what the Bears are doing offensively, and no longer lets emotion get in the way of performance on the field. That shows Cutler is evolving into the quarterback the team thinks he can be. Cutler appears to have already put Sunday’s game in the past, and looks forward to rebounding. How he responds against the Saints could be a seminal moment in this season, but that will only be possible if the quarterback continues to believe in the coach, the system and the protection.

Prediction: Cutler likely won’t miss on longer attempts in this game, as he did against the Lions, but he’ll be pressured into at least one interception, and will throw a couple of TDs.
A weekly examination of the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback play.

Jones
Kaepernick
Rewind: Colin Kaepernick had a strong bounce-back game in Week 4 in a 35-11 win at St. Louis last Thursday night. In Weeks 2 and 3, Kaepernick struggled and the San Francisco offense combined for 10 points in two defeats. Kaepernick's numbers against the Rams weren’t overwhelming -- he was 15-of-23 for 167 yards and two touchdowns -- but the 49ers had success on the ground, and Kaepernick made plays when needed.

Fast-forward: Kaepernick and the 49ers play against Houston at home on Sunday night. The Texans are somewhat vulnerable against the pass. That means the key for the 49ers will be their offensive line, which played at a high level in St. Louis after slumping the previous two weeks. Houston’s J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing cannot take over. If they do, Kaepernick may be uncomfortable all game.

Third-down success: The 49ers are hoping Kaepernick can stay hot on third downs. In St. Louis, Kaepernick throttled the Rams on the key down. He was 7-of-10 for 98 yards and both of his touchdown tosses were delivered on third downs.

Prediction: Kaepernick will be better at home in this game than he was in a Week 3 loss to the Colts. While his receivers are still an issue, I think Kaepernick gets the job done. I see him going 21-of-32 for 276 yards and two touchdown passes.

QB Watch: Giants' Eli Manning

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the New York Giants' quarterback play.

Manning
Rewind: Sunday was another "blah" day in what's turning out to be a rough year for Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Under pressure pretty much all day, he completed 18 of 37 passes for 217 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Of the 217 yards, 69 came on a touchdown pass to Victor Cruz. Manning's completion percentage has gone down in each game this year, though he has thrown only two interceptions the past two weeks after throwing seven in the first two.

Fast-forward: The Giants' next game is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have allowed more passing yards (1,300) than all but one team in the league. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 107.2 against the Eagles this year, with nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions. Philadelphia has 10 sacks through four games.

Historically bad: Manning's Total QBR, according to ESPN Stats & Information, is 30.0 this season, his lowest through four weeks in the last eight seasons. Remember, that's on a scale of zero to 100, with 50.0 an average mark. His completion percentage of 56.3, if carried out for the rest of the year, would be his lowest since 2007. He's on pace to throw 24 touchdowns, which would be his fewest since 2008, and 36 interceptions, which would shatter his career high of 25 set in 2010.

Prediction: If he can't get it going this week against the Eagles, Manning may be in for the worst year of his career. I say he picks apart Bradley Fletcher & Co. to the tune of more than 300 yards and three touchdowns. Hakeem Nicks finally gets on the board.

QB Watch: Saints’ Drew Brees

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the New Orleans Saints’ quarterback play:

Brees
Rewind: Drew Brees had his best game of the season in another vintage “Monday Night Football” performance (30-of-39, 413 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions). He has now won nine straight Monday night games and has led the Saints to 11 consecutive prime-time wins at home. He also tied his own NFL record with nine straight 300-yard games overall.

Brees has thrown for 1,434 yards (second in the NFL) with 10 touchdowns (third) and four interceptions. His Total QBR rating of 74.9 ranks fourth.

Fast-forward: Brees will have to prove he can take this show on the road the next two weeks with difficult tests at the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots. Brees has been solid on the road (22-10 in the regular season since 2009), but not quite as prolific as he is inside the Dome. Weather conditions shouldn’t be a big issue -- but the opponents might be. The Bears lead the NFL in takeaways for the second straight year with 14, so far.

Still surprised? Saints coach Sean Payton and receiver Marques Colston both insisted that they don’t take Brees’ performances like these for granted. … Well, maybe a little bit.

When asked what level of expectation he has for Brees, Colston said, “It seems to keep growing. He’s a guy that, I say this time and time again, he comes to work and really prepares day in and day out. So it’s really not a surprise anymore for us to see the kind of games like he had [Monday] night. He’s so precise. So it’s kind of become the norm. You kind of lose sight of the fact that what he does on a day-to-day basis is really extraordinary.”

Prediction: Maybe he’ll fall short of another 413 yards and four touchdowns, but Brees is so locked in right now that he’ll help the Saints pull out a tight victory. Something like 300 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, perhaps.

QB Watch: Seahawks' Russell Wilson

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Seahawks' quarterback play.

Wilson
Rewind: The Seahawks should be thankful Russell Wilson escaped uninjured after the onslaught he weathered all day against the Houston Texans' defense in the 23-20 overtime victory. Seattle was down three starters on the offensive line, and it showed. Wilson didn’t have time to breathe, much less find open receivers downfield, most of the day. But as he has done so many times, Wilson took charge in the end and found a way to move the football. He rushed for 53 yards, including getting a first down on a fourth-and-3, on a 98-yard fourth-quarter TD drive. Sunday was the seventh time in Wilson's 22 starts the Seahawks have come from behind in the fourth quarter, although officially this one took OT to win it.

Fast-forward: Statistically speaking, it's bound to be better than the Houston game where Wilson threw for only 123 yards and had a 49.7 passer rating. But this week could be another tough test for him, a 10 a.m. PT road start against a strong Indianapolis Colts team. In three of Seattle's four victories this season, Wilson has gotten off to a slow start in the first half. The Colts likely will try to make it four-of-five by blitzing early and testing the backups on the offensive line.

Dome woes: This is another indoor game for Wilson, which hasn’t been good for him. Wilson is 16-6 overall in the NFL, but even with last week’s win indoors at Reliant Stadium, Wilson is 2-4 in domed stadiums.

Prediction: Wilson still will have to improvise at times to avoid the pass rush and make plays without his starters at offensive tackle. But rookie right tackle Michael Bowie is bound to play a little better this week after being thrown to the wolves (or lone wolf) at Houston and being forced to take on J.J. Watt in Bowie’s first NFL start. If Bowie improves and Wilson gets a little more time to throw, he probably will find a way to win.

QB Watch: Eagles' Michael Vick

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Eagles' quarterback play:

Rewind: It isn't easy for a quarterback to look good when Peyton Manning is conducting his master class in the position on the same field. And Michael Vick didn't look all that good Sunday against the Denver Broncos. He was not the reason for the Eagles' 52-20 loss -- not by a long shot. But he wasn't able to put the necessary points on the board to compete with Manning. Vick's numbers: 14-of-27 for 248 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Four of Vick's passes were dropped.

With the game out of hand, Nick Foles played in the fourth quarter. He looked good, completing three of four passes for 49 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown to Jeff Maehl.

Vick
Vick
Fast-forward: Vick and the Eagles return to the familiar territory of the NFC East for Sunday's game against the winless New York Giants. The Giants have the 19th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, and they have not been able to get steady pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That should give Vick a perfect opportunity to lead his team back toward the winning path. Coach Chip Kelly has blamed the Eagles' offensive trouble mostly on the lack of pass protection. The Giants' inability to generate pressure should allow Vick time to operate.

All or nothing: Vick had a career game against San Diego, as speedy DeSean Jackson was allowed to run freely through the secondary. Since then, Kansas City and Denver locked up Jackson with physical play and safety help. Vick has not been able to work the short passing game that was a hallmark of Kelly's Oregon offenses. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Vick was just 5-for-11 on throws traveling 5 or fewer yards. He was 9-for-10 on such throws in the opener at Washington.

Prediction: Vick has said he will take the lead in making sure his teammates don't let the embarrassment of Sunday's loss linger. He will have to follow up with a good performance on the field. The guess here is that he will take advantage of the Giants' puzzling lack of a pass rush to deliver his best performance since the San Diego game.

QB Watch: Vikings' Christian Ponder

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Minnesota Vikings' quarterback play:

Rewind: With Christian Ponder out because of a rib injury, Matt Cassel turned in the kind of performance the Vikings had been waiting for at the quarterback position. The backup went 16-for-25 for 248 yards, tossing a pair of touchdowns to Greg Jennings and becoming the first Vikings quarterback to post a turnover-free game this season. He helped the team achieve some balance on offense, with Adrian Peterson running for 140 yards, and as the Vikings went into their bye week, Cassel threw open the question of who would start on Oct. 13 against the Carolina Panthers.

Ponder
Ponder
Cassel
Cassel
Fast-forward: The Vikings will have to determine if Ponder is healthy, first of all, after he broke a rib that the team's medical staff deemed too close to his heart to allow him to play last week. Ponder said he would be ready to play against the Panthers, adding doctors told him he'd need about 10 days before his ribs would be set in place again, but coach Leslie Frazier said on Tuesday that Ponder is still hurt, adding he would have to show he is ready to go by next Friday for the Vikings to start him against Carolina. Cassel could cause Frazier to keep Ponder's threshold high; he made some throws that Ponder has so far been unable to make, and turned Greg Jennings into a legitimate weapon for the first time this year. While Ponder could return to the lineup, the job won't be handed to him at this point.

Managing the reaction: It was probably expected that players would be complimentary of Cassel after he quarterbacked the Vikings to their first win of the season, but the number of offensive players -- from Greg Jennings to Adrian Peterson -- who spoke up about Cassel's command in the huddle might speak to a larger point. If Ponder is healthy enough and Frazier goes back to him, he might have to sell his team somewhat on the idea that Ponder is the best hope for the Vikings to get their season turned around. A large section of the fan base is certainly clamoring for Cassel to start against Carolina, so Frazier will have to do some consensus-building if he goes with Ponder.

Prediction: The Vikings still seem tied to Ponder -- perhaps out of a desire to make a definitive ruling on whether the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft can play the position or not. If Ponder is healthy enough to play, the guess here is that he starts against Carolina, despite Cassel's solid performance and the support it seems to have engendered. If Ponder gets the start, he'll need to bring his level of play up against the Panthers to hang onto the job going forward.

QB Watch: Cardinals' Carson Palmer

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Cardinals' quarterback play:

Palmer
Rewind: For the first half against Tampa Bay, Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer couldn’t move the ball. He got hit on the game’s first play. The Cardinals then went three-and-out in five of their seven drives in the first two quarters. But after halftime, Palmer settled down and began working through his progressions and not focusing in on one receiver. The Cardinals moved the ball until Palmer threw two interceptions to end potential scoring drives deep in Bucs' territory.

Well, I was pretty close to being dead on. I said last week if Palmer got hit, then a repeat of the New Orleans game would take place. Palmer got sacked on the opening play, and the first three-and-a-half quarters were a replay of the game in the Big Easy.

Fast-forward: If there’s one thing Palmer needs to know about the Panthers on defense, it’s that they’re coming up the middle. They’re ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game (seventh), rushing yards allowed per play (eighth), sacks per pass attempt (fifth), first downs allowed per game (sixth), fourth-down percentage (tied for first), red zone percentage (tied for second), goal-to-go percentage (seventh), points allowed per game (third) and point differential per game (sixth).

Under pressure: It’s the same with any quarterback: The more they get pressured, the less they play like themselves. Even coach Bruce Arians didn’t think Palmer had “happy feet” after getting hit on the game’s first play. But the stats show Palmer seems to back down when the defensive pressure rises. His passer rating was 16.5 when pressured compared to 80.8 when not pressured, according to Pro Football Focus. He was hit four times and pressured six.

Prediction: I might get out of the prediction business. The deep ball will be open for the Cardinals, who will need to spread the field to relieve some pressure up front. I’ll say 250 yards in front of the home crowd and one touchdown.

QB Watch: Cowboys' Tony Romo

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Cowboys’ quarterback play:

Rewind: Tony Romo was efficient in the Cowboys' 30-21 loss to the San Diego Chargers, completing 27 of 37 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns, but he was limited by a lack of opportunities. The poor outing by the defense resulted in Romo running only seven plays in the third quarter and just 14 by the time there was 6:49 to play in the game. When the Cowboys did have the ball, they were done in by drops and penalties that forced the end of drives. Romo was sacked three times, matching his season high, but two were coverage sacks and not the fault of the offensive line.

Romo
Fast-forward: The Broncos are allowing 316 yards per game through the air so far this season, but some of that is a function of how well their Peyton Manning-led offense is playing. Opponents are forced to throw the ball to play catch-up, and Denver is content to allow some yards. But the Broncos are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 57.8 percent of their passes, and their six interceptions are tied for sixth in the league. And that has come without Champ Bailey, who has yet to play this season. Romo has been careful with the ball so far, with just one interception in 152 pass attempts, and is completing 72 percent of his passes.

Matching wits: This game will be billed as Romo versus Manning, but Romo will have to avoid trying to match Manning throw for throw and score for score. He has to make sure he does not give the Broncos any short fields to work with, while also being aggressive enough to take shots. He’s done this before actually. In just the fourth start of his career in 2006, he beat Manning, who brought an undefeated Indianapolis Colts team to Texas Stadium, 21-14. Romo wasn’t great, but he was effective, completing 19 of 23 passes for 226 yards with no touchdowns and one pick. The Cowboys held the ball for 33 minutes, 42 seconds thanks to a persistent running game (36 carries, 117 yards).

Prediction: I said Romo would have his first 300-yard game last week against San Diego and he didn’t, so I’ll make the claim this week that he reaches that mark. A possible return of Miles Austin will help, but Dez Bryant will give the Broncos' secondary trouble. Romo has at least one touchdown pass in 17 straight games and has 59 multiple-touchdown games in his career. He will get to 18 and 60 against Denver, but it’s hard to imagine it will be enough to beat Manning.
A weekly analysis of the Lions’ quarterback play.

Stafford
Stafford
Rewind: After three weeks of brilliant play, Matthew Stafford took a small step back Sunday -- but it didn’t matter for Detroit as the Lions beat the Bears 40-32 in an impressive overall offensive performance. Stafford completed 23 of 35 passes for 242 yards, a touchdown, an interception and two fumbles -- one of them lost. That fact that this game -- in which he completed 65.7 percent of his passes -- is considered an off game for him illustrates how far he has progressed this season.

Fast-forward: Now comes the challenge. For all of Detroit’s streak-breaking this season, winning at Green Bay would firmly place the Lions among the NFL’s playoff contenders. Even though Detroit has not had success in Green Bay, Stafford has. He threw for a team-record 520 yards and five touchdowns at Lambeau Field in 2011 and completed 27 of 45 passes for 264 yards last season. He’s a 60.6 percent passer at Green Bay in his career.

Quick decisions: Part of Stafford’s success this season has been his fast, smart decisions. He has the shortest time before pass among regular starters in the NFL this season at 2.75 seconds, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and he also spends the least amount of time in the pocket (2.18 seconds). That he’s completing 64.1 percent of his passes -- and it’d be higher if not for a 7.1 percent drop rate by his receivers -- tells how good he has been this season.

Pass protected: The other reason -- and we’ve written about this before -- is his pass protection. Yes, he’s getting the ball out early, but in some ways he doesn’t have to. He’s been sacked on a league-low 1.9 percent of his drop backs -- more than a full percentage point better than Peyton Manning, who is in second place. He’s also been sacked a league-low three times. Short pass play calls to Reggie Bush and Joique Bell have helped, but much of the progress is due to the line and the quarterback.

Prediction: For the first time this season, Stafford truly struggles at Green Bay. He still throws for 275 yards, but most of it is trying to rally his team from an early deficit due to Aaron Rodgers’ success. He throws a couple of interceptions and only one touchdown.

QB Watch: Buccaneers' Mike Glennon

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback play.

Glennon
Rewind: In his NFL debut, Mike Glennon completed 24 of 43 passes for 193 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Glennon looked confident early on as he replaced Josh Freeman. But that poise disappeared in the fourth quarter as Glennon was intercepted twice and the Bucs squandered a 10-0 lead and lost to Arizona.

Fast-forward: One of the reasons the Bucs let Glennon start against Arizona was to give him some film to work with during this bye week. I don’t think the Bucs will have Glennon start working on the Eagles, the next opponent, yet. They’ll have him work on correcting some of the mistakes he made against the Cardinals.

Prediction: Glennon’s a bright guy, and the extra week of preparation should only help him improve. But there still is a lot of room for improvement, and Glennon is going to be a work in progress for the rest of the season.

QB Watch: Rams' Sam Bradford

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A weekly examination of the St. Louis Rams’ quarterback play.

Rewind: Rams quarterback Sam Bradford had his worst outing of the young season last week against San Francisco. He came under heavy pressure for the second week in a row as the Rams’ offensive line struggled to create a healthy pocket and the Rams’ inability to run the ball put the onus on Bradford to make things happen.

Bradford
Bradford
It was a task Bradford wasn’t up to as he completed 46.3 percent of his 41 pass attempts for a meager QBR of 24.6.

On the few occasions where opportunities for big plays presented themselves, Bradford struggled. He missed a wide-open Austin Pettis for what should have been an easy touchdown and underthrew Brian Quick on a deep ball that ended up as an interception.

Fast-forward: It would help Bradford if the Rams could get some semblance of a run game going. It could happen this week as Jacksonville’s run defense is the worst in the league, allowing more than 164 yards per game on the ground.

The Jaguars are 11th in the league in pass defense but 22nd in yards allowed per attempt, meaning teams are having success when throwing but most aren’t doing it as much because of their success running it.

First things first: We’ve documented the struggles of Bradford and the Rams on third down this year but it’s also worth noting his success throwing on first down. Given that the Rams have done little to create decent third-down situations with the run game, a modest proposal of throwing on first down might be advised.

Through four games, Bradford is completing almost 69 percent of his 74 attempts with a QBR of 69.2 on first down compared to 44.7 percent of 47 attempts with a QBR of 3.8 on third down. Perhaps continued success on first down could lead to improvement on third.

Prediction: The Rams will find enough success on the ground for Bradford to take some steps forward from a rough week last week. But don’t expect big, flashy numbers when it’s all said and done.

QB Watch: Packers' Aaron Rodgers

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Green Bay Packers' quarterback play.

Rodgers
Rodgers
Rewind: Aaron Rodgers had the bye week to stew over his performance in the Week 3 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals. That game snapped Rodgers’ NFL-record streak of 41 games without multiple interceptions. He threw two against the Bengals, although one was the result of a poor route on a slant by receiver James Jones.

Fast-forward: Since he became a starter in 2008, Rodgers has never lost a game that he has completed against this week's opponent, the Detroit Lions. In that stretch, he has an 8-1 overall record against them, but the only loss came when he was knocked out of the Dec. 12, 2010, game at Ford Field because of a second-quarter concussion. The Packers lost that game 7-3.

Big numbers: In nine career starts against the Lions, Rodgers has a combined passer rating of 111.4 and has completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 2,285 yards with 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

Prediction: Rodgers will continue his dominance of the Lions, who are allowing 268 passing yards per game. Rodgers will exceed that. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in four of his past five regular-season games dating to last season and will make it five of six on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

QB Watch: Falcons' Matt Ryan

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Falcons’ quarterback play:

Ryan
Ryan
Rewind: Matt Ryan passed for a career-high 421 yards while completing 34 of 54 passes in the Falcons’ 30-23 loss to the Patriots. But Ryan admitted missing on some key passes in the red zone. On his team’s final drive into the red zone, Ryan was 1-of-4 for 3 yards. The Falcons were 1-of-6 in terms of red zone efficiency.

Fast-forward: The Jets don’t have shutdown corner Darrelle Revis anymore, so at least Ryan can attack the entire field come Monday night. Although the Jets have struggled as a team, their defense is capable of causing problems. Ryan completed 16 of 34 passes for 152 yards and a quarterback rating of 69.7 in a 10-7 win the last time he faced the Jets (2009).

Not-so secret weapon: Ryan obviously found his comfort zone with Tony Gonzalez the last time out. He targeted Gonzalez a team-high 14 times Sunday, and
Gonzalez responded with 12 catches for a career-high 149 yards with two touchdowns. When Gonzalez draws added attention, it gives Ryan’s other targets one-on-one matchups. Ryan understands how valuable Gonzalez is to the offense’s success, so expect him to keep looking the tight end’s way.

Prediction: Ryan will get more help from his receivers after they dropped eight passes against the Patriots. And expect Ryan to improve his precision in the final quarter. Right now, he ranks 23rd in the league in fourth-quarter passing, completing 36 of 57 passes for 502 yards with one touchdown, three interceptions, and a QB rating of 75.3. He needs his line to hold up, though.

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