QBR ranks: Sacks dragging down NFC West

An NFC West game produced a notable quarterback performance for a second week in a row.

Baltimore's Joe Flacco left St. Louis with the highest QBR of any quarterback in Week 3, pending the Monday night game between Dallas and Washington. The Cowboys' Tony Romo had produced the highest QBR for Week 2 in beating San Francisco.

The "Total EPA" column in the chart below refers to the expected points each quarterback added to his team through passing, rushing, sacks and penalties, adjusted for situations.

The 17 sacks Alex Smith, Tarvaris Jackson, Kevin Kolb and Sam Bradford took this week significantly dragged down their ratings, a subject we covered in some detail Friday. The QBR formula assigns to quarterbacks slightly more than half the blame for sacks. Even if the offensive line or other non-quarterbacks were guilty for allowing pressure, quarterbacks often can mitigate damage by either throwing away the ball or quickly finding an outlet receiver.

QBR has docked Kolb harder than any quarterback in the league for the sacks he has taken through Week 3. Jackson and Smith also rank among the most penalized in this area.

Quick thoughts on why NFC West passers graded out as they did in Week 3, with NFL passer ratings in parenthesis as a reference point:

  • Alex Smith, 49ers (47.5 QBR, 85.6 NFL rating): Smith completed 20 of 30 passes for 201 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He took five sacks, but also completed key passes during a fourth-quarter drive to the winning touchdown. Smith has posted a 91.3 NFL passer rating for the season, but the 11 sacks he has taken have dragged down his season QBR to 49.0, close to average.

  • Tarvaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks (43.8 QBR, 60.0 NFL rating): Quarterbacks have passed for 152 touchdowns with 91 interceptions and an 86.7 NFL passer rating this season. Though Jackson finished his game against Arizona with a 60.0 NFL rating, his performance was much closer to average by QBR standards. That is because QBR, while docking Jackson for the sacks he took, rewarded him for his rushing touchdown while discounting the interception he threw on a Hail Mary pass before halftime. Jackson's NFL passer rating for the season would jump from 73.7 to 82.2 without the two picks he's thrown on meaningless Hail Mary passes. Those plays did not significantly affect his QBR.

  • Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals (40.3 QBR, 69.6 NFL rating): The QBR formula punished Kolb more than it punished any other quarterback for sacks taken Sunday. That is because those sacks negatively impacted the Cardinals' chances for winning to a greater degree than sacks taken by other quarterbacks.

  • Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams (12.0 QBR, 62.8 NFL rating): By NFL passer rating standards, Bradford was more productive than the Seahawks' Jackson. But with the Rams losing 37-7 and Bradford having little bearing on the outcome, his QBR was the lowest for any of the 30 quarterbacks with games Sunday.

For the season, Smith ranks 17th, same as last week. Kolb fell from 18th to 20th. Bradford fell from 22nd to 25th. Jackson climbed from 29th to 26th.

Teams with higher QBRs went 13-2 on Sunday, compared to 9-6 for teams with better NFL passer ratings.

2011 Relevant NFC West QBR Ranks: Week 3