By Jerrell Richardson
There are a lot of statistics that are tracked in the NFL these days, and while some of them are deceiving, one telling category is the recently established quarterback rating (QBR). It was designed in 2011 by ESPN to measure the degree to which a quarterback contributes to scoring points for his team, combined with the most important statistic of them all, winning.
While the formulas are complicated, the results aren’t. The quarterback on top of this list, by a considerable margin, is Peyton Manning, who nobody will argue is the best playing the position at this time, so the math works. It’s this same system that shows how great Colin Kaepernick has played this season. But in the past two weeks he has done something that not even the great Manning has been able to pull off – post consecutive 99.0 or better ratings.
The highest score a quarterback can earn under the QBR system is 100, and the past two weeks, Kaepernick looks like he is playing with a cheat sheet. It all started in Week 7 against the Tennessee Titans when he completed 13 of 21 attempts for 199 yards, and earned himself a 99.0. He then managed to top himself this past week, earning an unheard of 99.8.
Not only is Kaepernick the only quarterback in the history of the league to pull this off in back-to-back weeks, but both performances were the highest of the 2013 season.
Some will point to the fact that one game was against the Jacksonville Jaguars, easily the worst team in the NFL, it still comes down to execution. This season the Jaguars have played several top tier passers including Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Phillip Rivers, and Peyton Manning, with Wilson as the only one to even come close to Kaepernick’s day. So Kaepernick does not get an asterisk due to his opponent, and if anything, gets extra credit for doing a number on a Titans defense that is currently the eighth overall defense in the NFL.
Kaepernick’s play against the Jaguars places him in the record books behind Carson Palmer, Tom Brady and Michael Vick as the best games ever from a quarterback, and while he has elevated his play to near perfection in the past two games, Colin Kaepernick has quietly put together an impressive 2013 campaign.
How Kap Stacks Up
There are only two quarterbacks with a higher season QBR then Kaepernick. The first is no surprise in Manning, and second, while somewhat of a surprise, is no real shocker in Phillip Rivers. For the season, Kap is at a solid 75.2, putting himself ahead of the likes of the elite Drew Brees (fourth) and Aaron Rodgers (seventh) and also in front of second year standout Andrew Luck. It also has to be noted that Alex Smith, whose team is undefeated and is getting way too much credit for his teams streak has a season rating of 48.5, which ranks him 18th. This should be no surprise as Smith will always be a game manager.
While the running game is obviously the identity and staple of the 49ers offense, it’s also no coincidence that in the two 49er defeats this season, Kaepernick’s ratings been awful. Against the Seahawks in week 2 he had the worst rating by any quarterback that week with a 14, and against the Colts he posted an 11.8. However, when they win he has been near the best. Take away the past two weeks when he was on another level, and in the team’s four other wins he was in the top five twice (Weeks 1 and 4) and 10th and 14th, respectively. So while the coaches must feed the running game the ball, it also comes down to the efficient play of Colin Kaepernick.
All In A Day’s Work
While he has done something that was never done before, the formula that lead to Kaepernick’s numbers is really nothing new or complicated. In the past two weeks he has protected the ball and taken what the defense has given him. With a solid team around him this is exactly what he needs to do for this team to win. When his numbers dipped and the team played poorly it was because the offense was centered around the passing attack and the arm of Kaepernick. The offense has decided to go back to the run, which has allowed Kaepernick to flourish and the results have been, well, record breaking.
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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.