Separating fact from fiction on Week 1's volatile QB performances

Week 1 was a polarizing three-day stretch for quarterbacks around the NFL, and that’s putting it nicely. While four quarterbacks posted a Total QBR of 75 or higher, paced by the unlikely Alex Smith, 14 posted figures at or below Russell Wilson‘s 34.9 mark. One former Pro Bowler even posted a Total QBR under 1.0, a figure no starter dared to dip below last season. A whole bunch of passers will need to brush off some ugly performances.

In most cases, one week isn’t going to tell us very much of anything. Josh McCown should probably get used to the neighborhood in which his 31.1 QBR resides, but Tom Brady‘s not posting a 34.3 QBR the rest of the way, even if that’s what he did in Week 1.

There are a few quarterbacks, though, who posted particularly notable Week 1 performances, both good and bad. Whether they were returning from injury or entering a year of great expectations, they made headlines hat might not match up with a deeper look at their performance. Let’s run through some of those passers and get a closer glance into what Week 1 really suggested about their season to come:

It’s difficult to do any worse than Dalton did on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. He finished the day with an 0.6 Total QBR, the worst mark since Peyton Manning’s 5-for-20, four-pick start against the Chiefs in 2015 that cost the future Hall of Famer his starting job for the rest of the regular season. An 0.6 QBR is “Let’s see what Brock Osweiler can do” bad.

Dalton went 16-of-31 for 170 yards with four interceptions and a fumble in the 20-0 loss. If you don’t prefer QBR, his passer rating was 28.4, and his adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) was -1.0. The Bengals would have been about as effective taking a knee on Dalton’s 36 dropbacks on Sunday as they were actually trying to attempt forward passes. Dalton is not going to be this bad all season, but how much of what we saw Sunday was his fault?

The four interceptions stand out, and they’re hardly promising. One was a pass booted seemingly miles into the air by the helmet of Terrell Suggs, whom we’ll get to in a minute. It’s hard to pin that one on Dalton.

The other three are easier to pin on the Red Rifle, with two looking particularly amateurish. The first interception came on a pass tipped by inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, who appeared to fool Dalton. Onwuasor sprinted toward the line for a play-action pass but recovered nicely. He took one step toward Joe Mixon in the flat, which was just enough for Dalton to think he had a throwing lane, but by the time he got the ball out, Onwuasor was standing between Dalton and A.J. Green. A tipped pass can go anywhere, but there just wasn’t a window for this throw.