Stats & Info: Ryan Fitzpatrick

What challenges await new AFC coaches?

July, 25, 2013
Eight NFL teams welcome new head coaches to the sideline this season. We take a closer look at some of the challenges those coaches will face. Here’s a look at the AFC (the NFC can be found here.

Buffalo Bills: Doug Marrone
2012 record: 6-10

Big addition: Kevin Kolb and E.J. Manuel were brought in to compete at quarterback, and either should add a vertical element to the Bills offense. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick joined the Bills in 2009, his 25.4 completion percentage on throws deeper than 20 yards downfield is worst in the league.

One headache: Are two rookies (Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin) enough to improve the Bills receiving corps? Despite using more three-plus wide receiver sets than any other team last season, Bills wide receivers recorded the sixth-fewest receiving yards (2,152).

Key stat: The Bills allowed 3.5 yards per rush before first contact on rushes between the tackles last season, worst in the NFL. The Bills haven’t finished a season better than 26th in that category since the start of 2009.

Cleveland Browns: Rob Chudzinski
2012 record: 5-11

Big addition: From Week 10 to the Super Bowl, no player had more sacks than Paul Kruger (12). He and first-round pick Barkevious Mingo will help the Browns transition to a 3-4 defense.

One headache: Is Brandon Weeden the right quarterback to run a Norv Turner offense? Weeden overthrew or underthrew receivers on 45 percent of his throws at least 15 yards downfield last year, third highest in the league.

Key stat: The Browns' defense allowed a 28.7 Total QBR last year, third best in the league. However, the offense ranked 30th in third-down conversion percentage (30.7 percent).

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gus Bradley
2012 record: 2-14

Big addition: Luke Joeckel will immediately bolster a Jaguars offensive line that allowed 50 sacks last season, third most in the league.

One headache: Now that they can protect quarterbacks better, they need to find one. Jaguars quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne combined for a 34.8 Total QBR, one of only five teams worse than 40.0.

Key stat: The Jaguars used four or fewer pass rushers on 80 percent of opponent dropbacks last season, fifth-highest in the NFL. Although the Jags depended on standard pressure, they averaged a sack once every 32.9 dropbacks, worst in the NFL.

Kansas City Chiefs: Andy Reid
2012 record: 2-14

Big addition: Alex Smith posted career highs in completion percentage (70.2 percent) and yards per attempt (8.0) last year. Smith’s completion percentage was best among 36 quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

One headache: Jonathan Baldwin caught 42 percent of his targets last season, the worst catch percentage among 162 players with at least 40 targets. Free-agent signee Donnie Avery wasn’t much better, with the fifth-lowest catch percentage among 44 players with at least 100 targets.

Key stat: The Chiefs' defense allowed 893 rush yards after contact last year, the most of any team in the league. Only the Colts allowed more 20-yard rushes (21) than the Chiefs' defense (19).

San Diego Chargers: Mike McCoy
2012 record: 7-9

Big addition: Free-agent tackle Max Starks and first-round pick D.J. Fluker will help create holes in the running game. The Chargers averaged 1.9 yards before contact per rush last year, one of two offenses to average fewer than 2.0.

One headache: Robert Meachem will carry a cap hit of $6.9 million this year, 11th-highest among wide receivers. Six Chargers were targeted more than Meachem (32) last year, and he tied for 181st in targets among all players.

Key stat: Philip Rivers has to control the ball better. Rivers fumbled 15 times last year, most in a season since Jon Kitna had 17 in 2007.

NFL combine: the long and short of things

February, 21, 2013

Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports Trindon Holliday was the shortest player in the NFL last season (5'5"), but he came up big in the playoffs, where he picked up a pair of return touchdowns against the Ravens.
On-field workouts at the 32nd annual National Invitational Camp, also known as the NFL Combine, will begin Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

There will be plenty of talk about heights, weights, wingspans and waistlines, but what does it all mean?

Is 6'5" really SHORT by offensive line standards? (yes)

Can a pass-rusher succeed if he's less than six feet tall? Elvis Dumervil (5'11") thinks so.

Here's everything you wanted to know about the NFL Combine:

There's no more iconic drill at the combine than the 40-yard dash. But what does it mean when a guy has "4.3 speed"?

If a player truly runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds flat, he's in a small club. Since 2006, only six players have run a true 4.3-second 40-yard dash (or better), led by RB Chris Johnson (4.24).

While Johnson is a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, and only Adrian Peterson (7,508) has more rushing yards than Johnson over the last five seasons the rest of the names on this list have combined for zero Pro Bowl selections, and only Jacoby Ford, DeMarcus Van Dyke and Darrius Heyward-Bey are still active in the league.

Among QBs, it's no surprise that Robert Griffin III owns one of the best marks. The former Baylor track star ran a 4.41 at last year's combine, but since 2006, that's only the second-best time at his position.

Another QB from the Lone Star State, Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal, ran a 4.35 in 2006. McNeal finished his NFL career with just one rushing attempt for eight yards.

The Wonderlic is a 50-question test administered to all combine participants that measures cognitive ability. The time limit is 12 minutes.

A score of 20 is indicative of “average” intelligence and roughly equivalent to an IQ of 100. Former Bengals punter Pat McInally, who attended Harvard, is the only NFL prospect known to have scored a perfect 50 on the test.
Miguel Cabrera
Among QBs drafted over the last 2 years, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick each scored 37, while Jake Locker (20) and Cam Newton (21) were less successful.

Although Wonderlic scores are not released to the public, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (another Harvard alum) is reported to have scored a 48, the highest among active players.

The combine is full of remarkable performances, positive and negative.

Last year, DT Dontari Poe boosted his draft stock when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds after weighing in at 346 pounds. He also showed off his strength with 44 repetitions on the bench press.
Miguel Cabrera
In 2007, receiver Calvin Johnson wowed scouts with a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash...wearing borrowed shoes, as he'd originally intended not to run.

On the other hand, linebacker Vontaze Burfict shocked scouts in the wrong way last year with his time of 5.09 in the 40-yard dash.

In 2009, offensive lineman Andre Smith left the combine without informing officials. It was announced inside the stadium that his whereabouts were "unknown."

It all begins again on Saturday, when more than 300 invited prospects begin on-field workouts in Indianapolis.

Patriots, Brady return to past success

September, 30, 2012

AP Photo/Gary Wiepert
Tom Brady beat the Bills on the ground and in the air.

For about 30 minutes, it seemed a possibility that the Buffalo Bills would beat the New England Patriots for the second straight season.

That evaporated very quickly in the second half of a game for which the final score was a 52-28 rout.

This was a historically-significant win for the Patriots. Let’s take a closer look at what made it so noteworthy.

First time for everything
This marked the first time the Patriots scored 45 points in the second half of a game. It’s the first time any team scored 45 points or more in the second half since the 1972 Cincinnati Bengals did so against the Oilers .

And a second time for everything too …
Brandon Bolden (137 rush yds) and Stevan Ridley (106) are the first Patriots teammates with 100 rushing yards in a game since Nov. 23, 1980 (Don Calhoun & Vagas Ferguson).

This also marked the second straight week that the Patriots had a pair of 100-yard receivers (in this case: Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski).

We can combine the two notes and get the following stat, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Patriots are the second team in NFL history with a pair of 100-yard rushers and a pair of 100-yard receivers in the same game. The other was the Green Bay Packers against the Detroit Lions in 2008.

The 52 points are also the second-most scored against the Bills at their home field.

The only other time in franchise history the Bills allowed 50-or-more points at home was Week 11 in 2007 (November 18) in a 56-10 loss to the Patriots.

Offensive Key to victory: Between the tackles
Ridley, Bolden and even Tom Brady on one play, shredded the Bills’ interior run defense.

The Patriots gained 200 of their 247 rushing yards between the tackles, the
third-highest yardage total of any team since the start of the 2008 season.

The Patriots 200 yards rushing inside the tackles was more than the Bills had allowed in their first three games of the season (166).

Offensive Key to Victory II: Brady’s deep touch
Brady found his range downfield in the second half. Brady threw two of his three touchdowns on passes at least 15 yards downfield. Both of Brady’s deep touchdowns came against five or more pass rushers.

Brady had a much better time throwing the ball downfield than he did in the first three games of the season, as the chart on the right shows.

Last season, Brady had the third-highest completion rate on throws of 15-or-more yards (51 percent).

Brady also finished 3-for-4 for 61 yards when the Bills sent five or more rushers.

He has now thrown a touchdown in 36 straight games, tying Brett Favre for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

This just in if you wish to add it…

Brady completed 17-of-22 passes for 269 yards and accounted for three touchdowns when the score was tied or the Patriots were trailing on Sunday. He had a 99.3 Total QBR when the Patriots were trailing. His Total QBR when the Patriots trailed in their other three games this season was 65.3

Brady is now 19-2 all-time in his career against the Bills.

Defensive Key to Victory: Defending the empty backfield
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had success passing with an empty backfield in the first 30 minutes, with five completions in nine attempts, but that fortune faded away in the second half. Fitzpatrick completed just 1-of-9 passes with an empty backfield in the final two quarters, threw two interceptions and was strip-sacked as well.

Fitzpatrick finished with a very unusual line- four touchdowns and four interceptions. He is the first quarterback in Bills history to post that line in a game and the first to ever post such a line against the Patriots.

Coincidentally, the last quarterback with a four-touchdown, four-interception game was Brady in the loss to the Bills last season.

Chris Humphreys/U.S. PresswireTim Tebow has steamrolled opponents in his four wins this season

Who’s the best fourth-quarter quarterback in the NFL this season?

Statistically speaking, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow just misses rating the best.

The fourth-quarter QBR leaders feature an unlikely top three, with Tebow (86.4) sandwiched between New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (86.9) and Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (86.2).

Those three rank just ahead of two quarterbacks who would be expected to be on this list, since they rank 1-2 in Total QBR-- Drew Brees (83.3) and Aaron Rodgers (82.1).

Tebow sits second, on the strength of the Broncos fourth-quarter comeback wins over the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets.

Some notes on topics related to Tebow’s comeback magic:

Tebow vs Elway

When comparing the first eight starts in the careers of Tebow and John Elway, Tebow compares quite favorably, as you can see in the chart on the right.

The win over the Jets was the already third fourth-quarter comeback for Tebow in his first eight starts.

Elway didn’t have his first fourth-quarter comeback effort until his ninth start.

That was a doozy: a 21-point fourth-quarter rally to beat the Baltimore Colts, 21-19 on December 11, 1983.

Tebow the passer vs Tebow the runner

Tebow’s QBR on his pass attempts this season is a meager 12.2. How bad is that? It ranks 36th among the 37 quarterbacks who met the qualifier of 100 action plays, ahead of only Indianapolis Colts quarterback Kerry Collins (10.4).

Tebow’s QBR on rushes and scrambles is 77.7, which trails only now-injured Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (83.9) and Josh Freeman (81.1)

How good should the Broncos be?

Tebow ranks 29th among quarterbacks in Total QBR at 35.1 (one spot behind Mark Sanchez), 30.3 in the five games he’s started. Based on using that number as an estimated winning percentage (one of the purposes of the stat), the Broncos should have won no more than two of the five games. They’ve won four of them.

In each of the four wins, Tebow has completed fewer than half of his passes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the second starting quarterback to win four games in which he had a completion percentage below 20 percent. The other was Aaron Brooks in 2003. The last quarterback with more such wins was Phil Simms with five for the 1986 Giants.

Looking beyond Tebow
There are other factors involved in the Broncos recent success:

• Broncos runners other than Tebow are averaging 4.6 yards per carry (137.8 rush yards per game) in the last five games, after averaging 4.3 yards per carry (94.4 rush yards per game) in their first five.

• The Broncos defense has allowed just five offensive touchdowns in the four wins with Tebow starting (they allowed 14 in the five games scored by Kyle Orton).

The Broncos pass defense has been above-average. They have allowed a Total QBR of 41.2, in these five contests (12th-best in the NFL), and had a key interception return for a touchdown in the win over the Jets.

• Key special teams plays accounted for the go-ahead scores in two of the Broncos wins: Matt Prater’s 52-yd game-winning field goal in overtime against the Dolphins and Eddie Royal’s 85-yard punt return in the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders.

Line of scrimmage key to QB play, winning

November, 1, 2011
Total QBR is often used to evaluate the best quarterbacks, but it does more than that, shedding insight on how teams are winning. QBR accounts for sacks and scrambles along with when the quarterback throws the ball, making it correlate strongly to winning.

By charting the pressure quarterbacks face, how much time they have to throw, and how many rushers were sent, we also have the ability to understand the line of scrimmage. In combination with QBR, we can then tell a story about how the line of scrimmage relates to winning.

Tom Brady is statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the league, with the second-best Total QBR of 76.6. But how much of Brady’s success is due to having a scheme and offensive line combination that is superior to other teams?

If he had to face the pass pressure that Jay Cutler faces in Chicago, we estimate that Brady’s QBR would decline to 62.5 and the Patriots would lose about 19 points as a result.

Matt Hasselbeck
Hasselbeck has the fourth-best Total QBR this season (73.1), after posting a 45.4 in 2010. One reason for his improvement is that he has been pressured the least of any quarterback and has done well in these situations.

Matt Hasselbeck
He has a total QBR of 84.5 when not under pressure, compared to the league average of 73. A big part of his success is a scheme that gets the ball out of Hasselbeck’s hand quickly. The Titans take 2.36 seconds to attempt a pass, one of the best marks in the league.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
The team that takes the shortest amount of time to throw is the Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick, also a top-10 quarterback according to Total QBR, has to get the ball out so quickly because Buffalo’s offensive line is the second-worst in the league at allowing pass pressure within three seconds in the pocket.

Tim Tebow
Tebow will be the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback for at least one more week, despite his league-worst QBR of 12.8. Tebow has been pressured on 39 percent of his action plays, the highest rate among regular starters, and hasn’t done well in those situations, with a QBR of just 7.6.

Tim Tebow
The problem does not seem to be with his offensive line, as the Broncos are fifth-best in the NFL at allowing time in the pocket without pressure. The Broncos do take the second-longest in the league to throw the ball, which is partly a result of the receiver not getting open. But it took Kyle Orton 2.60 seconds to get a throw away, while it takes Tebow a league-high 3.64 seconds.

Tebow’s QBR when not under pressure is just 18.9. The other quarterbacks with QBR values under 50 when not pressured are Kyle Boller, Luke McCown, Kerry Collins, Blaine Gabbert, A.J. Feeley, Donovan McNabb, and Charlie Whitehurst. Every one of these guys has either lost their starting job or filled in for the starter due to injury or them losing their job.

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

No average Joe for Week 3 Total QBR

September, 26, 2011
Week 3 featured 11 quarterbacks who passed for over 300 yards and two, Tom Brady and Eli Manning, who threw four touchdowns. Among the standout quarterbacks, Joe Flacco separated himself from the bunch with 389-yard performance that helped him earn the top QBR of the week.

As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a quarterback’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 quarterback’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.
Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco – 87.9 Total QBR on 66 action plays

Flacco had the best QBR of week 3, thanks in most part to his first-quarter performance. Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens blew the St. Louis Rams out of the game early, rendering their play in the second half relatively moot. While the game was still in question Flacco was dominant, going 8 for 13 for 181 yards and three touchdowns in the first quarter. Flacco’s three touchdowns travelled 18, 30 and 41 yards in the air, respectively, adding to the credit he received on those plays in QBR.

The game was Flacco’s third-highest QBR of his career, and the best since his rookie season.

Even with the game out of control early in the second half, Flacco continued to be very involved in the offense. Flacco ended the game with 66 action plays (defined as any offensive play where the QB had direct involvement), 12 more than his previous career-high of 54.

Eli Manning – 81.2 Total QBR on 29 action plays
Manning had the second-highest QBR of the week with an 81.2. Manning did great in clutch situations. He was 6 for 7 for 114 yards with two touchdowns on third downs. Coincidently, he was also 6 for 7 with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and also completed his only pass in the red zone for a touchdown to Ahmad Bradshaw, though much of that was done by Bradshaw after the catch.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 80.8 Total QBR on 50 action plays
Similar to Manning, Fitzpatrick was also great in clutch situations. He was 4 for 5 for 127 yards in the fourth quarter, 9 for 11 with one touchdown on third downs and 2 for 3 with two touchdowns in the red zone.

Tom Brady – 71.2 Total QBR on 50 action plays
While Brady’s 71.2 QBR is an above average game for most, it was the second-worst performance by Brady in his last 12 regular season starts. His four interceptions (including a pick six) cost the Patriots almost eight points, more than any other QB this season.

Brady made up for these interceptions with strong passing numbers aside from the mistakes. During the NFL passer rating era (post-1973) there have been 499 games in which a QB threw at least four interceptions. Brady’s 86.0 NFL passer rating is the seventh-highest of those 499 games and the second-highest in the previous 22 seasons.

Looking beyond passer rating numbers and into the situational football QBR is based on, Brady completed both of his fourth down passes for first downs (one for a touchdown). Both completions came on the Patriots final drive to tie the game.

Flacco, Manning, Fitzpatrick and Brady may have all put up big numbers, but not every quarterback had great QBR success on Sunday.

Matt Ryan – 33.4 Total QBR on 55 action plays
Ryan’s red zone play was instrumental in the Atlanta Falcons loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Matty Ice” was far from clutch in the red zone, a stark contrast from his performance during the first two weeks of the season.

QBR vs. NFL Passer Rating
The team with the better Total QBR went 13-2 on Sunday and has won 83.0% of games this season. The team with the better NFL passer rating went 9-6 on Sunday and has won 74.5% of games this season.

Since 2008 the team with the better Total QBR has won 85.7% of games. The team with the better NFL passer rating has won 79.3% of games.
The Buffalo Bills are hosting the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon in what has turned into an unlikely early-season battle for first place in the AFC East.

This will be the 103rd meeting between the Patriots and Bills, but according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it will be the first time both teams are unbeaten (excluding meetings in season openers).

The Patriots have dominated this divisional battle in recent years, with 15 consecutive wins since a Week 1 loss in 2003. That streak is tied for the fourth-longest win streak by one team over another in NFL history.

This game also features the two best quarterbacks in the NFL this season, according to ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating. Total QBR measures all plays made by a QB (passes, rushes, sacks, fumbles, penalties, etc.) and accounts for when those plays are made in a game.

Tom Brady already holds the NFL record for most combined passing yards in the first two games of the season (940), and needs 282 yards Sunday to set the record for most pass yards in the first three games of a season.

However, he’ll be without one of his favorite receivers, tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is expected to miss the game with a sprained knee. Since the start of last season, the Patriots have a league-leading 40 targets and 22 touchdowns to tight ends in the red zone.

Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick is tied for the NFL lead with seven TD passes this season. The only Bills QB to throw more touchdown passes in the team’s first two games was Jim Kelly, who had eight in 1991.

But the Bills are more than just a pass-happy offense, as the team also has the top-ranked ground game. Fred Jackson leads the NFL with four carries of at least 20 yards, while the team’s 165 yards after contact is the second-highest total in the league.

A Bills win would give them their first 3-0 start since starting 4-0 in 2008. They failed to maintain their momentum that season, however, as they lost nine of their final 12 games and missed the playoffs.

The Patriots are looking for their first 3-0 start since 2007. That year New England won 18 straight games before their perfect season ended with a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.

Eagles have enviable backup option for Vick

September, 22, 2011

Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesIf Michael Vick doesn't return Sunday against the New York Giants, Andy Reid can take solace in the fact that he has one of the top backup quarterbacks in the NFL according to Total QBR: Vince Young.

The Philadelphia Eagles are optimistic Michael Vick will be able to return Sunday against the New York Giants after suffering a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons. Vick returned to the practice field Thursday, one day after his replacement against Atlanta, Mike Kafka, took all of the first-team snaps in practice. That same day, newly acquired backup Vince Young returned to practice after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason.

Kafka, drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft, did not see any regular-season action for the Eagles in 2010. That was one of the reasons Philadelphia signed Young as a backup QB.

While we don’t know who will start for Philadelphia on Sunday – signs point to Vick – we can analyze just how lucky the Eagles are to have Young as a backup.

As a refresher, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a quarterback'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, on which 50 is average.

Young’s Total QBR of 64.2 from 2008-10 is only a slight drop-off from Vick's (65.9). In that span, Young ranked 11th among the 75 quarterbacks with at least 100 action plays. Obviously, 100 action plays is a relatively small sample size, but since we are dealing with backup quarterbacks, there has to be some cutoff regarding what can be determined as an appropriate minimum value for assessing backups.

There are 14 teams in the NFL that have a backup with at least 100 action plays over the last three years. Among those teams, the Eagles have the fourth-smallest drop-off in Total QBR from starter to backup in moving from Vick to Young. The three teams with a "more favorable" backup situation feature three young QBs who are either playing very well (Ryan Fitzpatrick) or are considered the future of the franchise (Matthew Stafford and Colt McCoy).

A quick glance at the QBR leaderboard from the previous three seasons shows that Young actually rates higher than 22 other starting quarterbacks. That group includes Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Kevin Kolb and Mark Sanchez.

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

Brady has most total value of Week 1 QBs

September, 13, 2011

Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Tom Brady passed for a career-high 517 yards in the Patriots 38-24 win over the Dolphins on Monday.

After leading the league with a Total QBR of 76.0 in 2010, reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady had an exceptional performance Monday in Miami, throwing for 517 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-24 New England Patriots victory. His Total QBR was 88.6, giving him his seventh game with a Total QBR above 85 over the past two seasons, the most such games in the NFL in that span. Brady had eight games of 85+ Total QBR during his record-setting 2007 regular season. He actually finished that season with a Total QBR of 85.1, which is nearly incredible for a single season.

For a complete explanation, read our guide to Total QBR.

Although Brady’s 88.6 on Monday was still an excellent Total QBR, it ended up as just the third-highest of Week 1, behind Ryan Fitzpatrick's 91.2 and Aaron Rodgers's 91.1. There are three main reasons for this.

Total Quarterback Rating is a rate statistic, not a counting statistic. Brady had 59 action plays to accumulate his eye-popping numbers; Fitzpatrick (33) and Rodgers (44) had far fewer. So on a per-play basis, Fitzpatrick and Rodgers were slightly more efficient.

Brady was hurt significantly by throwing an interception in the third quarter of a 7-point game that was returned 51 yards to the Miami 9, setting up the tying score. This negative play dropped his in-game rating from 91.9 to 78.2. Neither Fitzpatrick nor Rodgers committed a turnover, let alone one that impacted their team’s chances of winning so significantly. Without this turnover, Brady would have had the highest Week 1 Total QBR.

Brady’s biggest play in terms of yardage was, of course, the 99-yard completion to Wes Welker. This put him over 500 passing yards for the game. Since the Patriots were already up 14 points with about six minutes to play in regulation and 81 of the yards came after the catch, Total QBR does not reward Brady as much as the box score or fantasy stats do for that specific play.

The better indicator for how special Brady’s game was is using his clutch-weighted expected points added. Basically, this represents how many net points above average a QB effectively added to his team over the course of the game. For perspective, Matt Ryan led the NFL with 93.3 clutch-weighted EPA in 2010, which comes out to 5.8 clutch-weighted EPA per game.

Brady had BY FAR the highest clutch-weighted EPA of any quarterback in Week 1 this season. He effectively added 13.2 clutch-weighted points in a game the Patriots won by 14, meaning he basically WAS the difference in the game. You’ll see that he added many more points than Rodgers (8.6) or Fitzpatrick (5.5), but those quarterbacks were slightly more efficient on a per-play basis than Brady was.

Best and worst of Week 1 Total QBR

September, 12, 2011

John Rieger/US Presswire
Ryan Fitzpatrick's 91.2 Total QBR is the fifth-highest in a team's season opener in the NFL since 2008.

Week 1 of the NFL season concludes with two games on Monday Night Football – New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (7 ET) and Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (10:15 ET). Let’s take a look back at the best and worst Total QBR numbers, so far, from this weekend.

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.

We begin with the best -- the Buffalo Bills' Ryan Fitzpatrick (91.2 Total QBR). Fitzpatrick had a very efficient day in the Bills’ 41-7 blowout victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, going 17-25 with four touchdowns and no turnovers (he did fumble once, but recovered it himself). Thirteen of his 17 completions went for first downs, over two-thirds of his passing yards (139 of 208) came in the air, and the Bills went 4-5 on scoring TD in the red zone.

Fitzpatrick finished with an excellent Total QBR of 91.2, his third-highest in a single game since 2008 (min. 20 plays). It was also the highest in the NFL thus far in Week 1 (barely edging out Aaron Rodgers’ 91.1), and the fifth-highest in a season opener since 2008.

On the other end is Indianapolis Colts QB Kerry Collins (2.3 Total QBR). In his first start for the Colts in place of the injured Peyton Manning, Collins recorded the lowest Total QBR of the week with an abysmal 2.3. Interestingly, he had an 82.3 NFL passer rating -- almost exactly at last season’s NFL average passer rating (82.2), and higher than that of his opposing QB in Week 1, Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans (78.5 NFL passer rating).

Here are a couple reasons why Total QBR is the more complete and accurate representation of Collins’ performance:

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Kerry Collins had a 2.3 Total QB in his first start for the Colts as Peyton Manning's replacement.

•  Collins took three sacks for 25 yards, which are negative plays for his team. Total QBR takes sacks into account; NFL passer rating does not.

•  Collins fumbled three times (losing two), including twice on consecutive offensive plays (one sack, one mishandled snap) when the game was still close early in the first quarter. Both of those fumbles gave Houston possession inside the Indianapolis 20-yardline. Total QBR takes into account these major negative plays; NFL passer rating does not factor in fumbles.

•  When the game was still within reason in the first quarter and early second, Kerry Collins went 5-for-5, but for only 34 yards. Only one of those completions resulted in a first down. When the game was out of hand (Colts down by 24 or more points), Collins threw for 163 of his 197 total yards and nine first downs (including his one TD) -- essentially meaningless outcomes. NFL passer rating counts each of those attempts as the same; Total QBR takes into account the time and score on each play to gauge how important it was to deciding the game’s outcome and weighs it accordingly.

By looking at Collins’ overall performance in the context of the game, Total QBR accurately penalizes Collins for hurting the Colts early on when the game was still close. Even though NFL passer rating shows differently, Collins did MUCH less to help his team than Schaub did, and Total QBR accurately gauges that (Schaub finished with a Total QBR of 71.0 for the game).

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

Two ways Bills can hang with Patriots

December, 25, 2010
The matchup of the 12-2 New England Patriots and 4-10 Buffalo Bills may not be as lopsided as it seems.

The Patriots do have a weakness or two, at least statistically. Here are two that the Bills might have an opportunity to exploit on Sunday afternoon.

The play-action pass can be useful
The Patriots young defense has struggled to defend the play-action pass this season. Our video review shows that opponents have successfully completed 77 percent of their passes when going to play-action, the highest completion rate in the league, and far above the league average of 63 percent.

Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has not used the play-action pass with great regularity this season, but he has been reasonably effective in those situations, completing 62 percent of his throws. He's averaged almost 10-yards-per-pass without throwing an interception in his 37 attempts.

Any third down is makeable
The Patriots have struggled all season in stopping opponents on third down. Teams are converting 49.2 percent of third-down opportunities against the Patriots, easily the worst rate in the league.

It's also the worst third down percentage by any team since the 1995 Cleveland Browns allowed teams to convert 49.6 percent of third down chances. That Cleveland team, coincidently enough, was coached by current Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and went 5-11.

Green Bay converted 11 of 19 third downs on Monday in keeping that game close, despite being without starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Fitzpatrick will hope for the same success.

New England’s defense has been exposed on third-and-long situations (7+ yards to go), despite its efforts to protect against the pass.

The Patriots have brought four or fewer pass rushers in third-and-long situations 72.7 percent of the time, the third-highest percentage in the NFL. But they have still yielded 10 passing first downs, tied for third-most in the league.

The Bills are primed to exploit this. Ryan Fitzpatrick ranks among the best when facing third-and-long, when four-or-fewer pass rushers are coming at him. His 18 passing first downs are tied for fourth-most and his 103.1 passer rating is sixth-best among quarterbacks with at least 30 attempts in those situations.

Vick, Freeman under Center of Attention

November, 5, 2010
Our weekly look at quarterbacks who are under the center of attention.

After missing the last three games with a rib cartilage injury, Michael Vick is back in the lineup for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. Vick has always been known for his running skills and has been one of the more dynamic quarterbacks outside the pocket. But would you believe this year he's been more effective inside the pocket? Among quarterbacks with at least 80 attempts inside the pocket, Vick has the highest passer rating at 110.8, with all six of his passing touchdowns coming in this situation.

Brett Favre
Last season, Brett Favre had a renaissance year as he threw 33 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions, becoming the only quarterback in NFL history to have that many touchdowns and that few picks in a single season. So far, this year has been the polar opposite. He has thrown seven touchdowns to 11 interceptions, the most in the NFL. His 11 picks trail Warren Moon's 16 in 1997 at age 41 for the 2nd-most in a single season among quarterbacks who played a season at age 40 or older. The record belongs to Vinny Testaverde, who threw 20 in 2004 for the Dallas Cowboys at age 41.

It's the 4th quarter, your team is trailing, you turn to ... Josh Freeman? The numbers say yes. This season, Freeman has a 100.1 passer rating with his team trailing in the fourth quarter, well above the league average of 75.7. Freeman has four touchdown passes in those critical moments, tied with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Alex Smith for the most in the NFL.

He and the Pittsburgh Steelers take to the road on Monday Night Football (ESPN, coverage begins at 7 ET) at the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger enjoys his trips back to Ohio, where he was born and played college ball at Miami (OH). In his NFL career, Big Ben is a combined 11-2 in games played in the state of Ohio. The unfortunate thing is that both of those losses came in his last two games in the Buckeye State, both last year.

Under Center of Attention: Matt Ryan

September, 23, 2010
As we get ready for another wild week in the NFL, which QBs are under center … of attention?

Matt Ryan had a passer rating of 117.3 in the Atlanta Falcons rout of the Arizona Cardinals in Week Two. Since coming into the league in 2008, Ryan has 10 games with a passer rating of 100.0 or better, and he's 10-0 in those games. Over that same time, Ryan is one of 14 QBs who have enjoyed at least 10 games with a rating that high, but not many of them have a perfect record.

The QBs with the most such games are Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers with 19 each. They are a combined 43-14 in those games.

• It turns out that Michael Vick WILL start Sunday for the Philadelphia Eagles against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

VickFrom the Elias Sports Bureau: Among quarterbacks with at least 50 starts since 2001 (Vick's rookie year), only David Carr has been sacked more frequently than Vick. He's been sacked once every 10.2 pass attempts, while Carr has been sacked once every 9.5 pass attempts. Vick has been sacked eight times so far this season, which ties him with Matt Moore of the Carolina Panthers for the most in the NFL.

• Vick replaces Kevin Kolb as the Eagles starter while Moore gets benched in favor of rookie Jimmy Clausen. Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable announced on Wednesday that Bruce Gradkowski will start over Jason Campbell this week against the Arizona Cardinals, and Jake Delhomme still hasn't practiced. If Seneca Wallace starts again for the Cleveland Browns, it would be the first time since 1998 that seven teams started one QB in the season opener and a different QB in the third game of the season.

• Joe Flacco tied a team record on Sunday when he threw four interceptions in the Baltimore Ravens loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It was the third time in his career that he threw at least three interceptions in a game. He's been able to bounce back immediately after each of those horrific performances:

October 19, 2008: Flacco passes for 232 yards with a TD and no interceptions in the Ravens 27-13 road win over the Miami Dolphins.
December 13, 2009: Flacco throws for 230 yards with a TD and no interceptions in a 48-3 home blowout of the Detroit Lions.

• Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will start for the Buffalo Bills, went to school at Harvard. He's one of two players from Harvard who have thrown a pass in the NFL. The other? The immortal Pat McInally, who threw four passes in his 10 seasons as the Cincinnati Bengals punter.

• The Dolphins are 2-0 and haven't needed to rely on Chad Henne to help them win games. In the third and fourth quarters thus far, Henne has thrown for just 98 yards, the fewest of any QB with at least 20 attempts. Maybe it's a continuation of last year, when Henne ranked 21st out of 34 qualifying QBs in 2nd half passer rating at 69.5.

• Shaun Hill gets the start when the Lions visit the Minnesota Vikings, but don't expect much from Hill on the long ball. He's just 1-for-9 on passes thrown more than 20 yards downfield this season. Don't laugh Matt Cassel, you're 0-for-6 in that situation.