There might not be many moments this season in which we don’t at least worry a little about the Patriots defense. But how high should the worry really be when we’re talking about Brock Osweiler as the opponent?
The greatest quarterback of all time will play Sunday night in Denver. Brock Osweiler is not the greatest quarterback of all time.
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The very tall, very bad quarterback is back under center for the Broncos after a one-year stint with the Texans, setting up a Sunday night meeting against the Pats in which he’ll be making his second start of the season.
The Patriots, who have dealt with major injuries and underwhelming play on defense, have faced a pretty wide range of quarterbacks this season, a group that’s included some strong players in Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson and Alex Smith. They’ve also faced a couple of bad quarterbacks and some big names who might be having down years.
Among the 33 quarterbacks who have played enough to qualify for the lead in ESPN’s Total QBR stat, the Patriots have faced as many quarterbacks ranking in the bottom half as they have in the first. That group breaks down like this:
Deshaun Watson: 81.3 QBR (No. 1 in NFL)
Alex Smith: 62.8 QBR (7th)
Drew Brees: 58.5 QBR (11th)
Matt Ryan: 57.6 QBR (14th)
Josh McCown: 50.9 QBR (19th)
Cam Newton: 49.5 QBR (20th)
Philip Rivers: 40.2 QBR (23rd)
Jameis Winston: 39.5 QBR (24th)
The worst-ranking quarterbacks with enough playing time have been DeShone Kizer, Mike Glennon, C.J. Beathard and Trevor Siemian, all of whom have QBRs of under 30 and none of whom the Patriots have faced this season.
Osweiler’s 21.2 rating in last week’s start against the Eagles would put him second-to-last in the league if he qualified, so it’s fair to say he will be the worst quarterback the Pats will have faced through nine games.
Here’s how the four QBs they’ve faced in the bottom half have fared against New England:
McCown: 31/47, 354 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 72.9 QBR (24-17 Patriots win)
Newton: 22/29, 316 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 87.3 QBR, 44 rush yards, rush TD (33-30 Panthers win)
Rivers: 17/20, 212 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 49.7 QBR (21-13 Patriots win)
Winston: 26/46, 334 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 19.6 QBR (19-14 Patriots win)
The takeaways there: With the exception of Rivers, all have thrown for 300-plus yards on the Pats, which in McCown’s and Winston’s cases were due to the volume of passes thrown in losing efforts. Newton, who has had a lot of bad games this season and has also been limited at times by a September ankle injury, was fantastic against the Pats.
But it took an outlier of a performance (this season, anyway), for Newton to lead his team past the Pats, as McCown, Rivers and Winston all took losses.
Also, only one of those quarterbacks didn’t throw at least one interception (Winston). Of the group of quarterbacks they’ve faced having better seasons, Watson (two picks) was the only one to be intercepted against the Pats.
Anyway, the point of all of this is to remind you Alex Smith (368 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT) has had the best performance of the season against the Patriots. He’s good and you stink if you won’t admit it.