QBs under duress: One key to 2012 season

Good morning. Week 1 is finally here for the NFC West.

We haven't always agreed upon how the 2012 NFL season is likely to play out. We do know quarterbacks will play leading roles in determining outcomes.

Every team will be looking to pressure the opposing quarterback into mistakes. Every quarterback will be looking to make the best of difficult situations.

With that in mind, I've put together a chart showing how certain quarterbacks fared last season when under duress. ESPN Stats & Information defines these plays as those when defensive pressure forced players to throw early, off-balance or when they were getting hit. These plays exclude sacks.

Note that Arizona's John Skelton ranked 10th in Total QBR among qualifying quarterbacks, one spot behind Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. His relative effectiveness in these difficult situations affirms the Cardinals' decision to name him the starter after losing two key offensive tackles to season-ending injuries.

Seattle backup Matt Flynn isn't listed because he had only eight such plays last season. Flynn did well on those eight, however. He completed 4 of 7 passes for 139 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His QBR on these plays was 98.5 out of 100. But with only eight plays, the sample size wasn't large enough to warrant inclusion on the chart.

Former Seahawks starter Tarvaris Jackson struggled on these plays, setting the bar low for rookie Russell Wilson.

St. Louis' Sam Bradford ranked 33rd out of 34 quarterbacks, ahead of only the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez. He wasn't throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, of course. The Rams still need him to fare better in these situations. Having Danny Amendola back from injury should help.

We'll revisit this one during the season, which is finally here.