Sizing up NFC West QBs in the red zone

February, 7, 2013
2/07/13
11:10
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Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III are the subjects for Scott Kacsmar's recent look at multidimensional young quarterbacks.

The piece examines the manner in which these quarterbacks run the ball, with emphasis on the types of hits they absorb. Their throwing ability will be more important in the long run, of course.

"Had Kaepernick been able to complete more passes in the red zone," Kacsmar writes of the San Francisco 49ers' quarterback in Super Bowl XLVII, "he would probably have a Super Bowl ring right now."

No doubt about it.

With that in mind, I've put together charts showing how primary NFC West quarterbacks fared in the red zone.

The chart at right shows Wilson and Kaepernick completing less than half of their red zone attempts during the postseason. The chart below shows how Alex Smith, Wilson, Kaepernick, Arizona's Kevin Kolb, St. Louis' Sam Bradford and Arizona's John Skelton fared on red zone passes during the regular season.

Almost all quarterbacks will have a strong touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone. Completion percentage and sacks are two often key variables. Rushing ability is an increasingly key one. The 49ers appeared to have a promising quarterback run set up during their final drive, but the play clock ran low, leading to a timeout.

Smith had a higher completion percentage in the red zone recently. He found tight end Vernon Davis on a timing throw for the winning touchdown against New Orleans in the playoffs last season. Since that game, Smith has completed 64.3 percent of his 28 red zone passes with 10 touchdowns, one interception, two sacks, a 97.5 NFL passer rating and 87.5 Total QBR score. That was up markedly from his 2011 regular-season totals in the red zone: 24 of 60 passing (40 percent) with eight touchdowns, one interception, five sacks, an 80.6 passer rating and 20.2 QBR score.

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