Stats & Info: Kyle Orton

Rodgers pulls dramatic win from likely loss

December, 30, 2013

Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers was conspicuous by his presence in the Packers’ victory over the Bears.
In his first game since he hurt his collarbone in a Week 9 loss to the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers on Sunday added to his lore.

His 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight with less than a minute left raised the Green Bay Packers’ win probability from 40.7 percent to 99.5 percent. After Cobb’s score, the Packers held on to beat the Bears and win the NFC North.

The fourth-down touchdown pass was the biggest play in terms of win probability added (58.8 percent) in Rodgers’ career and one of the biggest plays of the 2013 season. The Packers converted three fourth-down situations on their final drive, becoming the second team this season to convert three fourth-down plays on a drive (the Saints did so on a fourth-quarter drive in Week 15 against the Rams).

The Packers finished the season in wild fashion to make the playoffs. Their playoff chances were 5.5 percent after a 30-point loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Packers won three of their final four games, including a one-point victory over the Cowboys in which Green Bay overcame a 23-point halftime deficit and 1.7 percent win probability.

Another tide-turning pass for Cowboys
Kyle Orton followed a fourth-and-nine touchdown pass to Dez Bryant (which created a 23.5 percent win probability swing) with an interception that dropped the Dallas Cowboys’ win probability from 44.3 percent to 5.8 percent (-38.5 percent).

The Cowboys’ regular-season finale was a fitting conclusion to their season. Cowboys quarterbacks threw nine fourth-quarter passes that swung the team’s win probability by at least 20 percentage points in either direction, the most such passes of any team this season.

Chargers rewarded for risky decision
With the score tied in overtime of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers converted a fourth-and-two at their 28 on a fake punt. If the Chargers had not converted and been stopped for no gain, the Chiefs would have had the ball at the Chargers’ 28 needing a field goal to win. The Chargers’ win probability at that point would have dropped to 19.1 percent.

Since 2008, NFL teams have converted 18-of-27 fake punts (66.7 percent), including 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) fourth-down fake punts needing two or fewer yards.

Ryan Succop could have all but eliminated the Chargers from the playoff race with a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation. The Chiefs’ win probability was 61.3 percent before the kick, and Succop had been 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) in his career on field goals between 40 and 45 yards.

QBR shows Manning is consistently superior
Peyton Manning posted a 95.4 Total QBR against the Oakland Raiders, his fourth game with a Total QBR greater than 95.0 this season, most in the NFL.

Manning finished this season with a Total QBR of 82.9, his fourth season with a Total QBR greater than 80.0 since 2006 (as far back as we have data). The rest of the league’s quarterbacks have combined to post four such seasons during that span (min. 500 action plays).

Redskins finish with a new low in expected points
The Washington Redskins’ offense added -28.8 expected points to the team’s net scoring margin in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the New York Giants, Washington’s worst offensive output in a game since 2006.

Kirk Cousins was limited to a 38.8 completion percentage (19-of-49) and an average of 3.5 yards per attempt. Cousins and the offense were forced to punt on their first five possessions (four of them after three downs). Their only points came on field goals after short drives beginning at New York’s 18- and Washington’s 46-yard lines. Washington averaged 3.4 yards per play (its second-worst of the season) and committed four turnovers.

The Redskins are the only team this season to finish in the bottom 10 in offensive, defensive and special teams EPA.

On the flip side, the Giants’ defense had its best performance of the season. Defensive EPA takes into consideration how the defense keeps the opponent from moving the ball, forces turnovers and scores. By that measure, the Giants’ defense contributed 28.8 points to the team’s net scoring margin. It was the second-best defensive EPA performance by any team this season.

No Romo spells trouble for Cowboys

December, 23, 2013

AP Photo/James D. SmithA source tells ESPN that Tony Romo will miss the remainder of the season.

The day after throwing a game-winning touchdown to put the Dallas Cowboys in a winner-take-all game against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday night, Tony Romo’s luck took a drastic turn.

A source tells ESPN that Romo will miss the remainder of the season with a back injury. Here is a look at how much he will be missed in Big D:

Romo vs. all others
It has been all Romo in Dallas since 2006. He made his first career start in Week 8 of that season. He has missed 13 games since becoming the starter.

Jon Kitna (nine games), Brad Johnson (three) and Stephen McGee (one), have started in relief of Romo since 2006. They have won a combined six of those 13 starts while enjoying far less success throwing the ball.

Romo has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season, tied for the second-highest total in Cowboys’ history and five shy of the team record, which he set in 2007. Romo is the only quarterback in team history to throw for 30 or more touchdown passes in a season. He's done so three times.

The replacement
The Cowboys have two quarterbacks on their roster – Romo and Kyle Orton. Orton is 35-34 in 69 career starts, but he has not started since Jan. 1, 2012.

Orton signed with the Cowboys prior to the 2012 season and has not been seen much since. Romo has thrown 98.7 percent of the Cowboys’ passes since then – the 11th highest rate for any quarterback in the NFL.

Orton has attempted just 15 passes over the last two seasons and those came in a pair of blowouts when the Cowboys were trailing by 24 points.

In 2011, he started eight games for the Denver Broncos (five) and Kansas City Chiefs (three). Orton had a 59.5 percent completion percentage that season (ranked 20th in the NFL), 7.0 yards per attempt (17th), and a total QBR of 52.4 (18th).

Can they still rely on the pass?
Few teams lean on the pass as much as the Cowboys have this season.

Dallas owns the fifth highest dropback percentage this season at 66 percent. The Cleveland Browns have the highest percentage at 70 percent.

The Cowboys may have to change it up and feed running back DeMarco Murray on Sunday night. This season, 17 running backs have averaged more rushes per game than Murray’s 15.4, despite the fact that Murray is averaging 5.4 yards per rush.

Manning's upgrades for the Mile High city

March, 8, 2012
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports that the Denver Broncos are one of the 12 teams that has reached out to Peyton Manning.

Here are two reasons, using Next Level statistics, why Manning would be a significant upgrade over Tim Tebow.

Since the start of the 2008 season, 60 quarterbacks have attempted at least 200 passes that traveled less than 15 yards in the air. Denver’s Tim Tebow is 124-230 on such throws. That’s a completion percentage of 53.2, which ranks 59 out of 60 quarterbacks. (Only Derek Anderson has a lower percentage, 53.2.) Manning’s completion percentage of 74.4 is the best in the NFL.

And while there’s no doubt which QB is more mobile, Manning is quicker than Tebow in one important category. From 2008-10, Manning dropped back to pass against four or fewer pass rushers 1,399 times and was sacked just 21 times. Tebow, in 1,106 fewer drop backs, has been sacked 24 times.

One factor that might work against Manning is the Broncos have been better when they run the ball more than they throw it. With Kyle Orton the last two seasons, the Broncos dropped back to pass more than 65 percent of the time; however, they were just 6-15 in games started by Orton. In 2010-11, the Broncos were 8-6 with Tebow as their starting QB, throwing just over 46 percent of the time.

In 2010, Manning took every snap for the Colts, and he threw the ball 63.8 percent of the time.

McNabb can still thrive under pressure

October, 19, 2011

Steven Bisig/US Presswire
Donovan McNabb (who lost his starting job this week) has the best QBR (67.5) among quarterbacks (minimum 10 action plays) in pressure situations this season.

Nothing disrupts even the best quarterbacks like defensive pressure. Teams that can keep their quarterbacks protected obviously are more likely to benefit from that quarterback’s performance.

However, when the pocket breaks down, who are the quarterbacks who have been able to keep their composure and make a play? And which offenses have been the best (or worst) at protecting their signal-callers by limiting sacks, scrambles and duress/hits on them?

• The top QBR (minimum 10 action plays) for a player this season in pressure situations is 67.5 for Donovan McNabb. The worst is 0.1 for Mark Sanchez. This difference in QBR is worth about 34 points and both have felt the heat over 50 times this season, implying that McNabb would have saved the Jets about 34 points thus far.

Michael Vick
• The QB who has been under the most pressure is Michael Vick, with 102 plays. He has performed admirably in these situations, with a QBR of 49.5. As a league, the average QBR in these situations is 7.0 and it happens about 11 times per team per game.

• Matt Hasselbeck and Tom Brady have been pressured on the fewest percentage of plays. Brady has handled it better with a QBR of 8.3, whereas Hasselbeck has just a QBR of 1.6 in these situations.

• The Tennessee Titans offense has been under the least pressure this season (15.6 pct of action plays), followed by the New England Patriots (17.3 pct), Dallas Cowboys (17.6), Cincinnati Bengals (18.4), and Buffalo Bills (19.2).

• On the other end, the five offenses whose quarterbacks are under pressure the most are the Philadelphia Eagles (35.0 pct), Chicago Bears (34.0), Miami Dolphins (33.0), St. Louis Rams (32.6), and Minnesota Vikings (31.9). The combined record of those teams is 7-21.

• In Denver, Kyle Orton has been under pressure 38 times and had a QBR of 1.8. Tim Tebow has been under pressure 7 times with a QBR of 70.0. This advantage would be bigger if the Denver Broncos were under pressure more often, but they generally have faced less pressure than average.

• Ben Roethlisberger is known for keeping plays alive and, when he does keep them alive to avoid a sack, his QBR is 66.6, fifth in the league among quarterbacks with 30 action plays. Nonetheless, he has taken 18 sacks (one behind Jay Cutler), and his QBR under all pressure including sacks is just 11.1, better than average but not going to win a lot of games.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN's "Year of the Quarterback" page.

Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images
Measuring a QB’s rushing contributions -- such as Tebow’s -- is an advantage Total QBR has over other rating systems that look only at a quarterback’s passing statistics.

Tim Tebow was named the starter for the Denver Broncos on Tuesday. This comes with the Broncos standing at 1-4 and after Tebow staged an unsuccessful comeback Sunday, having entered the game in the third quarter with the Broncos down 13.

Tebow might lose his credibility as the most famous backup QB in history by stepping into the starter slot. But will he lose his credibility as a quarterback?

Quarterbacks in the NFL often get graded on their win-loss records, which appears to be why the 1-4 Kyle Orton is out. But win-loss record is reflected quite strongly by ESPN’s QBR statistic as well, with it correlating to winning at more than 85 percent. So evaluating Tebow on QBR should be some reflection of his ability to improve the Broncos' win-loss record.

Tebow posted an 83.2 QBR in his partial comeback Sunday. This -- along with Week 15 last season -- is as good a game as he has had, but a very small sample. It’s like a pinch hitter hitting a home run in his only at-bat. That 83.2 is better than Aaron Rodgers’ 82.1 against the Atlanta Falcons because Tebow was efficient. It doesn’t mean, though, that he is a star. The San Diego Chargers weren’t ready for him, and they were winning by two touchdowns when he entered the game. Tebow was good for a quarter and a half.

Tebow started the last three games in 2010 for the Broncos, too. You know what his QBR was in his first start then? An 83.3. Almost exactly the same as Sunday’s performance. Both performances were more about Tebow’s running than his passing. Both performances had him completing about half his passes, losing the game, but getting a touchdown by land and a touchdown by air and setting off a revolution with calls of “Tebow is coming! Tebow is coming!”

Whoa! Tebow is becoming a hero before the battle is even fought. After his opening game in 2010, he did win his second one, albeit with a lower QBR of 58.5. In his third game, his QBR dropped to 31 and the Broncos lost. His interception rate increased from zero to one to two across the three games. His running continued to make him look like a hero because it is his individual effort to run, but passing wins in the NFL and that was on the decline. Total tally: one win, two losses, QBR of 58.7 with a downward trend.

Tim Tebow is not Aaron Rodgers. Even if he now has five and a half quarters of QBR around 80, he has a lot more quarters around 50. That’s better than Orton, but not by a lot. The Tebow Revolution might have begun, but it’s a long way from succeeding.

To see why Total QBR favored Tebow over Rodgers, click here.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN's Year of the Quarterback page.

Smith leads 49ers to win and top QBR

October, 10, 2011
Alex Smith
While six starting quarterbacks were enjoying their bye week, Sunday was no day of rest for Alex Smith. The 49ers quarterback not only led his team to their most lopsided win since Super Bowl XXIV, but also topped the Week 5 QBR list.

Alex Smith’s Career Day (98.2 Total QBR)
Alex Smith had a solid day by the traditional stats but an extremely efficient day by Total QBR. On the first three drives he was on the field, Smith led the 49ers to two touchdowns, with the other drive coming up empty after Frank Gore lost on a fumble on the Tampa Bay 11 (obviously not Smith’s fault).

On his nine action plays on those three drives, Smith was excellent, going 6-7 for 92 yards (71 air yards) with five first downs (including a 26-yard TD strike to Delanie Walker). Not only that, but Smith helped draw a 24-yard pass interference penalty that set up San Francisco with a 1st-and-goal at the 1 before their third touchdown to put them up 21-3.

Smith played fine from that point on (2 TD, 0 sacks, 0 turnovers), but the 49ers had an over 95 percent win probability on the rest of his plays. Since the game was way out of hand at that point, those later plays were weighted much less toward his overall game rating than his incredible start was.

Smith finished with a spectacular Total QBR of 98.2, the highest of his 27 career games since 2008. Not only that, but Smith’s 98.2 rating was the highest by a QB in a single game this year (minimum 15 action plays).

Tim Tebow (83.2 Total QBR) Makes Case To Be Broncos’ Starter
Tim Tebow came in for Kyle Orton at halftime and almost led the Broncos back from a double-digit deficit against the Chargers. Both quarterbacks were on the field for six drives. Orton led the Broncos to just three points while he was on the field (the Broncos' only first-half TD came on a defensive return) and threw an interception, while Tebow led the Broncos to two touchdowns and had no turnovers.

While Tebow's rally fell just short, he finished the game with an excellent Total QBR of 83.2, while Orton's ineptitude resulted in a paltry score of 5.1.

As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average.

- For a game, the number can be interpreted as a percentile, so a score of 80 means a QB’s performance was better than 80% of all QB games.

- For a season, a Total QBR of 65 or better is roughly Pro Bowl level and a rating of 75+ is MVP level.
Tim Tebow
John Fox is just beginning his tenure with the Denver Broncos, but he may have already dodged his first controversy for now in choosing Kyle Orton to be his starting quarterback over Tim Tebow.

During the offseason, Orton was the subject of numerous trade rumors, and many observers expected Tebow to become the Broncos starter.

But after the first week of training camp, it appears Tebow's stock has plummeted even further and his path to the starting job remains blocked.

Tebow started the final three games of the 2010 season when Orton was sidelined with a rib injury. In those games, Tebow threw four touchdowns and three interceptions and completed only 49 percent of his passes. Tebow did have a highlight in leading the Broncos to a comeback win against Houston in Week 16.

Was that enough to warrant the starting job over Orton?

Fears about Tebow’s arm strength and unconventional throwing motion may have been realized if you examine how he handled more difficult throwing situations last season.

Tebow threw a pick every 26.5 attempts toward the sideline last season (two out of 53 attempts), the sixth-worst ratio in the NFL among those quarterbacks with at least 50 such attempts.

Orton's rate was twice as good as he threw an interception every 55.5 passes towards the sideline (four in 222 attempts).

Orton also clearly outplayed Tebow when rushed by five or more pass rushers last season.

Both of Tebow’s interceptions against five or more pass rushers occurred in the Broncos’ season-ending loss to the Chargers.

The second of the two occurred in the third quarter and led to a Ryan Mathews touchdown run that was ultimately the difference in the game (Broncos lost by five, 33-28).

Tebow supporters will tout his unique skill set, which was most apparent in the red zone last season. His penchant for frequently keeping the ball to himself near the end zone resulted in a very efficient conversion percentage. During 10 trips to the red zone, Tebow threw for three touchdowns and rushed for five while throwing just one interception.

Orton proved more adept at passing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, throwing for 13 touchdowns in 69 red-zone trips, but wasn't able to match Tebow's 80 percent touchdown percentage.

-- Jason Starrett contributed to this report.
Bears at Lions

No question that Julius Peppers, along with help from Israel Idonije, has helped to restore the Chicago Bears’ defense to the top of the NFL. The Bears have been tough against the pass this season (16 interceptions, T-2nd in NFL), and have executed on the defensive line to near perfection.

Their ability to be effective without the blitz has been one of Chicago's strengths. When sending four pass rushers or fewer, the Bears are allowing just six yards per pass attempt and a passer rating of 68.0. Both are first in the NFL in those situations.

Falcons at Buccaneers

Much has been made of Matt Ryan’s 19-1 home record. On the road, however, Ryan and the Falcons are just 10-11.

This week against Tampa Bay, Ryan might be able to expose the Buccaneers on long passes down the middle. Tampa Bay is 28th in passer rating allowed on throws between the numbers of more than 15 yards.

If the Falcons can establish the run early and force the safeties to cheat closer to the box, Ryan might look deep over the middle for a big day. Ryan is the most accurate quarterback this season on deep throws inside the numbers.

Jaguars at Titans

Maurice Jones-Drew has been one of the few successful running backs this season against a loaded box (opposing defense bring more defenders into the box than the offense has blockers). Jones-Drew has averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 37 rushes this season against a loaded box, and 10 of those runs resulted in first downs. And since 2008, only Thomas Jones (18) has more rushing touchdowns against a loaded box than Jones-Drew’s 15.

Broncos at Chiefs

When opponents put at least seven men in the box, the Kansas City Chiefs are averaging 4.9 yards per rush, second-best in the NFL.

The extra men in the box also have helped Dwayne Bowe find open space. Bowe has scored a league-high nine touchdowns with at least seven men in the box at the snap.

On defense, the Chiefs saw the best and worst of Kyle Orton in Week 10, but mostly the best. Kansas City stuck with a standard pass rush of four or fewer on 63 percent of dropbacks, and Orton responded with four touchdowns and a 155.1 passer rating. When the Chiefs sent five or more, Orton completed just 33 percent of his pass attempts with a passer rating of 47.2.

Raiders at Chargers

With a season-ending injury of Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell will be back at quarterback for the Raiders. Campbell performed well in the Raiders’ 35-27 win over the Chargers in Week 5. He was most effective when the Chargers played the pass: Campbell completed 7-of-8 passes for 120 yards (118.8 rating) when San Diego had at least five defensive backs on the field.

In that Week 5 win, Campbell received a solid dose of the Chargers’ 3-4 base defense, completing 4-of-8 passes for just 26 yards. On the season, Campbell has faced a 3-4 defense on nearly 29 percent of his dropbacks, and the results have not been good. He’s completed 47.2 percent of his passes when facing a 3-4 defense with just one touchdown and a passer rating of 56.3.
Philip Rivers

For the Chargers, Philip Rivers has established himself as an MVP candidate this season, but he has been hindered in one area. Rivers has thrown eight of his nine interceptions when throwing the ball 15 yards or more downfield. The eight interceptions on deep balls are tied for the most in the league with Aaron Rodgers.
Our weekly look at quarterbacks who are under the center of attention.

They will meet again on Sunday as the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots play for the eighth straight year.

As far as this season goes, both have been efficient with short passes over the middle of the field. Coincidentally, both have thrown 37 passes of 10 yards or fewer in that direction and both have yet to throw an interception.

But Manning is slightly more efficient, ranking first in completion percentage at 83.8 on those plays (minimum 15 attempts).

Michael Vick
The renaissance of Michael Vick continues as he has dazzled both with his arm and his legs. But he's also been playing smart, throwing 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions through the Philadelphia Eagles' first nine games.

Since 1970, Vick is one of five QBs with at least 100 pass attempts without an interception in the first nine games of a season. His 11 touchdowns are the most of those five QBs. The only thing to keep in mind is that Vick has played in only six of the nine games.

With all due respect to Vick and his ability to run, there's another QB who can scamper quite well. Aaron Rodgers has rushed for 12 touchdowns in the last three seasons, by far the most in the NFL over that span. During that same time period, there has only been one quarterback to rush for more yards than Rodgers' 696 -- David Garrard of the Jacksonville Jaguars with 776.

Yards through the air should be aplenty on Monday Night Football as the NFL's top two quarterbacks in pass yards will be on the field at the same time.

Philip Rivers' 2,944 yards are the second-most by a quarterback in the first nine games of a season in NFL history. Kyle Orton's 2,806 yards are the most by a Broncos signal-caller in the first nine games of a season. But for Orton, his yardage is the most by a QB who won three games or fewer in the first nine games of a season since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

Brady, McNabb under Center of Attention

November, 12, 2010
Our weekly look at quarterbacks who are under the center of attention:

Brady will look to use play action to help confuse the Pittsburgh Steelers defense, which will try to pressure him from all sides. Play action has been one of Brady's strong points this season. He has six touchdown passes and zero interceptions on attempts out of play action. That's as many touchdowns as he threw all of last season in 55 fewer attempts.

Donovan McNabb
For the second time this season, McNabb will face his former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Monday Night Football. In Week 4, McNabb completed just 8-of-19 passes for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception, which was good for a 60.2 passer rating. Among qualifying quarterbacks this season (14 pass attempts per team game played), the NFL average passer rating is 85.9. McNabb has finished with a rating lower than the league average in seven games this season. That's tied for the most in the department with the Arizona Cardinals' Derek Anderson. Last year, McNabb had a total of six games with a rating that low or worse.

Cutler was only sacked once in Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. In two games this season in which Cutler was sacked only once, he has five touchdown passes and no interceptions. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cutler has been sacked at least once in each of his last 14 games played. The only quarterback with a longer active streak is former Chicago Bears quarterback Kyle Orton with 15.

Last week, Sanchez helped the New York Jets to a comeback victory over the Detroit Lions with a strong fourth quarter and overtime. He completed 10-of-18 passes for 144 yards from the fourth quarter on, his most pass attempts and yards he's ever thrown for in the fourth quarter and overtime. In fact, with 74 attempts in that situation, he's one shy of his total from all last season. The accuracy was a surprise because this season, Sanchez's 45.9 completion percentage in the fourth quarter and overtime is only better than Jimmy Clausen among quarterbacks with at least 40 attempts.

Under Center of Attention: Chasing Marino

October, 15, 2010
Our weekly look at quarterbacks who are under the center of attention.

Three quarterbacks have thrown for 1,600-or-more yards through five games this season: Philip Rivers (1,759), Kyle Orton (1,733) and Peyton Manning (1,609). Each of them now has more yards through their first five games than what Dan Marino had through the first five games of his 5,084-yard record-setting 1984 season. Can this trio keep up the pace? Two years ago, Drew Brees had 1,673 yards through five games, but he finished just 15 yards shy of Marino’s record.

Let’s look at other quarterbacks who are under our center of attention for Week 6.

Drew Brees
The Saints offense isn't off to the explosive start of the 2009 team, averaging less than 20 points per game in 2010, after scoring nearly 40 points per game in their first five games last season. With teams playing deep coverage more often against the Saints, Brees has been forced to throw shorter passes. No player has thrown more passes at or behind the line of scrimmage than Brees's 51 this season. Compare that to last year, when through the first five games Brees threw just 20 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage.

The rookie is scheduled to make his first NFL start Sunday when the Cleveland Browns face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns will be the first team to start three different quarterbacks this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Colt McCoy will become the 16th different starting quarterback used by the Browns since their return to the NFL in 1999. That will break the tie with the Miami Dolphins for the most in that span. McCoy can't do much worse that the others. Since 2008, Browns quarterbacks rank last in completion percentage, passing touchdowns and passer rating.

The Dallas Cowboys will try to avoid a 1-4 start when they face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Despite having lost three of their first four games, the Cowboys boast the NFC's top-ranked passing offense, averaging 326.3 yards per game and 7.2 yards per attempt, with Romo throwing for 1,346 yards through the first four games. Since 1970, Romo is just the third quarterback to throw for at least 1,300 yards and have one or fewer wins in the first four games of a season. The others were Hall of Famers' Dan Fouts in 1983 and Joe Montana in 1982. The Chargers finished the 1983 season 6-10 (though they were 5-5 in Fouts' starts) while the 1982 49ers finished that strike-shortened season 3-6.
ESPN NFL Research Coordinator Russell Baxter's Top Five Things to Know as heard this morning on Mike & Mike in the Morning .

• The Detroit Lions have lost 23 straight road games dating back to 2007. The NFL record for consecutive road losses is 24, set by the Lions from 2001 to 2003.

• The Baltimore Ravens have just three takeaways in five games this season, but have limited each of their opponents to 17 points or fewer.

Brett Favre
• Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre has committed 10 turnovers (seven interceptions, three lost fumbles) in four games, after committing just nine turnovers in 16 regular-season games last season.

• After starting 1-12 in 2009, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-2 in their last seven games dating to last season.

• Denver Broncos QB Kyle Orton has thrown for at least 300 yards in four of five games this season. (In 49 games from 2005 to 2009, Orton had just three games where he threw for at least 300 yards.)

Cowboys 1-3 start not all Romo's fault

October, 12, 2010
For all of the blame that will be leveled on QB Tony Romo after the team's loss to Tennessee on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked horrible in home losses to the Chicago Bears and Tennessee Titans.

Wade Phillips' unit didn't get many takeaways last season, and this season they haven't stopped many clubs through the air. This season, Dallas is in the bottom half of the league in sacks after finishing in the top seven in each of the last three seasons. And only two teams have fewer interceptions than the Cowboys' two.

When a quarterback has a 400-yard passing game, it looks great on the resume and lousy on the ledger. There have been seven such performances this season and those quarterbacks are 1-6. The lone win came when Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans beat the Washington Redskins in OT, defeating 400-yard passer Donovan McNabb in the process.

The Buffalo Bills’ new-look defense continues to be a liability, giving up 200 yards or more on the ground for the third straight week, and at least 30 points for the fourth straight game. The Bills defense allowed each of those numbers just four times all of last season.

When it comes to the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, turnaround may be fair play for one of last season's most opportunistic teams. On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals totaled three return touchdowns (offensive fumble recovery, defensive fumble recovery, interception) in their win over New Orleans. Last season, the Saints allowed three return touchdowns in 16 games.

By the way, the Cardinals have looked awful on the road and are down to an undrafted rookie free agent quarterback. But sometimes we forget the Cardinals have not had a losing season under head coach Ken Whisenhunt, dating to 2007.

Cleveland Browns' QB Jake Delhomme remains a turnover machine. Starting with his implosion for the Carolina Panthers in the 2008 NFC Divisional Playoffs, Delhomme has committed 31 turnovers (27 interceptions, four fumbles lost) in his last 14 games.

While the Kansas City Chiefs certainly have their offensive limitations, their defensive unit, under coordinator Romeo Crennel, has made major strides. Kansas City has yet to give up 20 points in four games so far this season. Last season its defense allowed at least 20 points in four of their first five games (all losses).

Denver Broncos' QB Kyle Orton continues to pile up the passing yards, but what does it really mean? Let’s not forget that the Saints QB Drew Brees threw for 5,069 yards in 2008, but finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Denver is tied for last place, two games behind the AFC West leader.

Dating back to last season, QB Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 5-2 in their last seven games. The Bucs opened the 2009 season 1-12 and used three different quarterbacks along the way (Byron Leftwich, Josh Johnson and Freeman) before the latter took over for good.
The Seattle Seahawks have been around since 1976.
Leon Washington has been a member of the Seahawks for three weeks.

But on Sunday, he became the franchise's all-time leader in kickoffs returned for touchdowns when he returned two against the San Diego Chargers in the Seahawks' 27-20 win. Washington returned the first one 101 yards, and his second one went for 99 yards.

You read that correctly. Entering 2010, Seattle as a franchise had returned eight kickoffs for scores by eight different players. (Washington is also the New York Jets' all-time leader with four kicks returned for touchdowns. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Washington is the only player who is the all-time leader in kickoffs returned for touchdowns for two different teams.)

Washington is the 10th player in NFL history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. (Ted Ginn Jr. and Josh Cribbs both did it in 2009.)

He has returned six kicks of six since 2007, tied with Cribbs for the most in the NFL over that span.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Washington, along with Cribbs and Ginn Jr. last season, are the only players in NFL history with two touchdowns of at least 99 yards in a game.

As for the Chargers, they are now 6-8 in the month of September under Norv Turner, and 27-10 after the first month of the season.
• Michael Vick threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in the Philadelphia Eagles' 28-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It's the first time in Vick's career that he's thrown three touchdowns and run for another in the same game.
It's also the first time he's had two touchdown passes of at least 40 yards in a game (61 yards to DeSean Jackson, 45 yards to Jeremy Maclin), and the first time he's thrown for at least 250 yards in back-to-back games.

• The Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning has thrown three touchdowns and no interceptions in each of his first three games. From the Elias Sports Bureau: Manning is the first player in NFL history to throw three or more touchdown passes without an interception in each of his team’s first three games of a season

• Austin Collie has a TD reception in each of the Colts' first three games. The only other players to do that in franchise history are Marvin Harrison in 1999 and Lenny Moore in 1961.

• With the Denver Broncos' Kyle Orton (37-for-57) and the Chargers' Philip Rivers (29-for-53) each throwing 50 passes, there's now been seven instances this season where a quarterback has thrown the ball at least 50 times. Teams are 1-6 in those games.