QBR ranks: Now we're talking, NFC West

Every NFC West quarterback played well enough Sunday for his team to win under the circumstances.

This is verifiable.

Some of those aforementioned circumstances were a bit strange, to say the least.

A 15-yard penalty against NFC West alum Josh Morgan left the Washington Redskins with a 62-yard try for the tying field goal against St. Louis.

Arizona upset New England, 20-18, largely on the strength of its defense and special teams (the Cardinals joined Seattle and St. Louis in blocking punts this week).

Seattle returned its blocked punt for a touchdown early in its 27-7 victory over Dallas, then ran the ball with extreme effectiveness in the second half.

San Francisco was the only NFC West team to start its game with a touchdown drive.

Now that we've established at least some context, let's take our weekly look at how NFC West passers graded out in Week 2 in relation to Total QBR, with NFL passer ratings in parenthesis as a reference point (thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for the charting info):

  • Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers (79.4 QBR, 107.7 NFL rating): Smith completed 20-of-31 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, three sacks and one fumble (an aborted play). The 49ers enjoyed a 56.8 percent success rate on Smith's 37 action plays (dropbacks and rushes). That was the second-highest rate in the NFL for Week 2, trailing only the 62.2 for Ben Roethlisberger. Plays qualify as successful when they gain 45 percent of the necessary yards on first down, 60 percent of them on second down and 100 percent thereafter. The Lions sent more than five pass-rushers just once. Smith made them pay with a 21-yard TD pass to Vernon Davis to end the 49ers' first possession. San Francisco threw on three of its first four plays and found the end zone before a fifth play was needed.

  • Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (76.3 QBR, 112.7 NFL rating): Wilson completed 15-of-20 passes for 151 yards with one TD, no INTs and two sacks. Wilson appeared much more comfortable against the Cowboys than he did against the Cardinals a week earlier. Whereas Arizona sent five-plus defenders after Wilson on 53 percent of dropbacks, Dallas was content to rush four or fewer most of the time. I'm not sure why, but with a single dominant pass-rusher in Demarcus Ware, the Cowboys might feel less reliant on added pressure. Teams are sometimes more comfortable "doing what they do" than copying what worked for a previous opponent featuring different personnel. Whatever the reason, Wilson completed 12-of-15 passes for 130 yards and a TD when Dallas rushed four or fewer. He completed 3-of-5 passes for 21 yards when the Cowboys rushed five or more. Another huge different for Wilson this week: He completed 10-of-11 attempts for 101 yards and a TD on passes thrown outside the yard-line numbers, up from 6-of-17 against Arizona.

  • Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (68.8 QBR, 117.6 NFL rating): Bradford completed 26-of-35 passes for 310 yards with three TDs, one INT and two sacks. Bradford completed all nine of his third-down pass attempts for 92 yards with one TD and seven first downs. His QBR on 10 third-down action plays stood at 97.8, fourth-best in the NFL for Week 2. Bradford completed only 8-of-15 passes with one TD and one INT on first down. His first-down QBR (4.4) was second-lowest in the NFL for the week, ahead of only the 1.0 for Jay Cutler. Bradford's Rams face Cutler's Bears in Week 3. Bradford appears to have found a friend in the Rams' three-wide sets. He has completed 28-of-36 passes (77.8 percent) from these groupings through two games. Only Matt Ryan has a higher completion percentage from three-wide sets. The Redskins' Robert Griffin III finished with a slightly higher overall QBR on the strength of his rushing. Bradford was more effective as a passer despite throwing an INT in the end zone.

  • Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals (21.5 QBR, 82.3 NFL rating): Kolb completed 15-of-27 passes for 140 yards with one TD, no INTs, one sack and one lost fumble (on a scramble). Why the low QBR score when Kolb threw for one TD, rushed for another, took only one sack and rushed six times for 20 yards and three first downs? Defense and special teams won this game for Arizona. A blocked punt set up the Cardinals with first-and-goal from the 2 before Kolb tossed a 2-yard scoring pass on third down. NFL teams are expected to score from that close, so there was relatively little for Kolb to gain from that situation in terms of QBR. Kolb also lost a fumble when he scrambled on third down near midfield with the score tied 6-6. Arizona's defense bailed him out by sacking Tom Brady on the Patriots' next two plays. Kolb completed 5-of-10 passes for 35 yards (3.5 per attempt) on third down, converting three first downs from those passes. As the chart shows, Tom Brady wasn't much better for New England.

The chart below shows how quarterbacks from games involving NFC West teams fared in Total QBR for Week 2, provided they played enough to qualify for inclusion.

The column showing point above average reveals the "number of points contributed by a quarterback over the season, accounting for QBR and how much he plays, above the level of an average quarterback."

2012 Relevant NFC West QBR Ranks: Week 2