Welcome back, everyone. This is the third of a weekly installment that aims to rank the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.
The number in parentheses refers to last week’s ranking.
No.32: Jacob Eason, Indianapolis Colts (NEW)
Entering his second season, Jacob Eason will be making his first start on Sunday. Eason does face a soft defense in Tennessee, but if last week is anything to go off of, Eason does not feel ready to be an NFL starter. With an injury to Carson Wentz that could keep him sidelined for a short period, Eason might make the next few starts. This could go wrong for Indianapolis, or they could capitalize on not having a quarterback that thinks he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Colts know that Eason has his limitations, and they may be more likely to use a game plan that is conducive to winning rather than trying to get Wentz to be 2017 Wentz again.
No.31: Davis Mills, Houston Texans (NEW)
Davis Mills was taken in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft. He was Houston’s first pick used in the draft. Mills is more of a project than a prospect at the NFL level, so keep low expectations for the former Stanford Cardinal. Mills played about a half last week against the Browns, and he looked fairly pedestrian. He did score a touchdown, but it came at the cost of a pair of turnover-worthy plays.
No.30: Jacoby Brissett, Miami Dolphins (NEW)
Jacoby Brissett has made many starts in the NFL, but he is new to the Miami Dolphins. Brissett is taking over for an injured Tua Tagovailoa for week three. Brissett is the traditional low-ceiling, high-floor veteran option. With Brissett at the helm, Miami is slightly less equipped to use their variety of weapons including a returning will fuller. Brissett will give Miami a chance to win, but he lacks some of the upside that a second-year quarterback like Tagovailoa brings to the table.
No.29: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (NEW)
The final new entrant to the list, Justin Fields will be making his starting debut in place of an injured Andy Dalton. Fields played in both Week 1 and Week 2, but he generally struggled. He was the only quarterback to not score in his debut, and he had to wait until Week 2 to add a rushing touchdown. Last week, he launched a poor interception en route to one of the lowest PFF grades among starters. While Fields is incredibly athletic and should provide some rushing floor, temper your expectations for the Ohio State product.
No.28: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (+3)
Trevor Lawrence moves up three spots because several new quarterbacks enter the fray. Through two games, Lawrence has been wildly inconsistent. He leads the NFL in bad throw percentage, and he has five picks to show for it. Lawrence has been launching deep ball after deep ball well beyond his intended receiver, sometimes throwing it to a defensive back. This gunslinger mentality will lead to some exciting highlights, but Lawrence will be digging a hole for himself against good defenses.
No.27: Zach Wilson, New York Jets (+3)
Like Lawrence, Zach Wilson has taken nicely to the giving aspect of quarterback play. Wilson gifted the New England Patriots with a quartet of interceptions in Week 2. While the first two were on batted passes down the field, the last two were two of the worst throws in recent NFL history. Wilson and his play-caller looked overmatched at times as they kept dialing up an incredibly stupid game plan despite having the offensive line of a peewee football team. Wilson has the talent to succeed at the NFL level, but some of the pieces around him, particularly on the offensive line, struggled mightily.
No.26: Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (-3)
Jared Goff begins a run of mediocre to slightly below-average quarterbacks. Goff had an OK start to the season with solid performances against both the 49ers and Packers. He lacks competent decision-making from time to time, but he generally gives Detroit a fair shot to not get blown out in any given week. He had a few weather-related turnovers against the Packers, but Goff is still the same average quarterback he was with the Los Angeles Rams.
No.25: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (+1)
After showing his age against the Buffalo Bills, Ben Roethlisberger had a solid game against the Raiders. He was able to uncork several deep balls to varying efficiency. He was bitten by the turnover bug and the injury bug, but he stayed in the game and put it in a valiant effort as the Raiders upset Pittsburgh. Moving forward, Roethlisberger gives the Steelers the best chance to win, but it comes at a cost. He will likely need to lean on the surrounding talent to be successful.
No.24: Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team (+8)
Taylor Heinicke would be significantly higher in the rankings had he chosen to be sponsored by Heineken. Instead, Heinicke missed the opportunity of a lifetime and is now sponsored by Bud Light.
Jokes aside, Heinicke plays with immense swagger at the quarterback position. He knows as well as anyone that he is not as physically talented as the upper echelon quarterbacks, but this does not stop him from thinking he can hang with the big boys. Unlike the talented players at the top of the list, Heinicke knows his limits and will push them to the brink. He can push the ball down the field, and he has a little wiggle when he runs.
No.23: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (-3)
While Jalen Hurts does slide down three spots in the rankings, this is due to supernova explosions from other quarterbacks. Hurts came back to earth a little bit after a stellar Week 1 performance, but he does provide upside as both a passer and a runner. He still has some of the same issues that played him in 2020, but he is raising the floor of what he can do on the field. His chemistry with receivers such as DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins is admirable considering they’ve only played a handful of NFL games with each other now.
No.22: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (-3)
As usual, Jimmy Garoppolo is the epitome of average NFL quarterback play. If one looks at expected numbers, Garoppolo leads one of the better offenses in the NFL. However, when one focuses their attention on Garoppolo himself, Garoppolo is the most painfully average player to grace the gridiron. Any success found in San Francisco is schemed by Kyle Shanahan or helped out by the likes of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.
No.21: Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (-5)
Jameis Winston came crashing back down to earth after a heroic five-touchdown effort during Week 1. In Week 2, he looks like the Winston of old, tossing a pair of ugly interceptions to the Carolina defense. Winston will likely have this week-to-week volatility that will make his presence in the rankings look like more of a yo-yo than an actual quarterback. For every week that he looks explosive and throws were several hundred yards and/or multiple touchdowns, he will have a week that he looks like elephant dung.
No.20: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (-2)
Another NFC South quarterback slides in here as Matt Ryan is coming off of a three-interception game against the Buccaneers. While the last two of the interceptions were not necessarily Ryan’s fault, the game as a whole was ugly from the former MVP. Ryan did throw a couple of touchdown passes against the vaunted Buccaneers defense, but when it mattered, Ryan folded like a house of cards. Ryan lacks the elite arm talent that puts some among the upper echelon quarterbacks, but he still processes the game at a fairly high level.
No.19: Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers (+9)
Sam Darnold has flown up the rankings with his consistent play. In three years with the New York Jets, Darnold rarely approached this level of consistency for five minutes let alone two full games. There have been a couple of ugly turnovers, but they have come less often than they did in his Jets days. Darnold has been able to push the ball down the field to some success including a long touchdown to Robby Anderson against the Jets. Congratulations to Darnold for not being the worst quarterback in the NFL anymore.
No.18: Mac Jones, New England Patriots (-1)
Much of New England‘s offense through two weeks has been schemed, and Mac Jones has adamantly followed the scheme. There have been a couple of ugly fumbles, but for the most part, Jones has kept the ship afloat. He has led the offenses to score enough points in both games. They had a narrow win against a good Dolphins defense and a 19-point win against the Jets. There is an obvious ceiling with what Jones brings to the table, but competent offensive coaching can get the most out of a quarterback who rarely turns the ball over.
No.17: Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos (+7)
Perhaps the funniest point of Teddy Bridgewater being the No.17 in the rankings is that the Carolina Panthers technically downgraded from Bridgewater to Darnold even though Darnold has been very good this season. Bridgewater is a super-charged version of Jones. He rarely turns the ball over, even less than Jones probably will, and he takes a few extra shots down the field. As of writing, Bridgewater is second in intended air yards per attempt, uncharacteristic of Bridgewater through the first several seasons of his career. Bridgewater does have the weapons that facilitate his deep field bombing, but it seems strange for Teddy Two Gloves to be among the league leaders in intended air yards.
No.16: Daniel Jones, New York Giants (+11)
Daniel Jones is one of the biggest jumps in power ranking history, moving from 27 to 16. This jump was facilitated by an incredible performance against the Washington Football Team defense. Jones let a bevy of deep shots fly, and all of them hit their mark. If Darius Slayton had a competent brain and two working hands, Jones would’ve had a gaudy stat line against one of the better defenses in the NFC. Instead, Slayton wanted to try out as the Butterfingers spokesperson, and Jones was left with a solid stat line and an excellent PFF grade.
No.15: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (-1)
The wheels came off for Joe Burrow against the Chicago Bears. The second-year signal-caller threw not one, not two, but three consecutive interceptions on three pass plays. Outside of this horrendous stretch, Burrow is the run-of-the-mill competent NFL quarterback that he had been in 2020 and Week 1, but it unraveled rapidly when the Bears decided to start picking passes off. This is uncharacteristic of Burrow, and it does not warrant him falling too much in the rankings, but he needs to stop turning the ball over.
No.14: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (-1)
Ryan Tannehill is Daniel Jones 2.0 this week. Tannehill had a great stat line regardless, but it would have looked significantly better had the referees not been blind. Tannehill launched a perfect ball to Julio Jones in the end zone who stayed in bounds to catch the football. The referees disagreed, ruling that Jones was out by the slimmest of margins. Tannehill lost 30 yards and a touchdown on that play. Regardless, he is one of the highest-graded quarterbacks from Week 2, and he improved mightily from his weak one to buckle against the Cardinals.
No.13: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (+2)
While Tannehill was being screwed over by referees, Kirk Cousins was being given the middle finger by his kicker. After leading a clutch drive that could have won the game, Cousins and the offense gave way to Greg Joseph. In the eyes of everyone except Minnesota‘s announcer, he missed the kick. Then, Minnesota’s announcer took a minute to reflect on his life choices and realized that the ball did not go through the uprights. This sent the Vikings to 0-2 and sent Cousins into depression.
No.12: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (-1)
Justin Herbert had an electric day against the Cowboys, tossing four big-time throws. He also had a great day throwing to the Cowboys, having a trio of turnover-worthy plays. The worst of which came in the red zone as the Chargers were aiming to take the lead. Instead, Herbert targeted a Cowboy defensive back, and the Cowboys won the game on a long field goal. Herbert is incredibly talented, but he is perhaps the most aware of his talent. This means that he often will try to force passes into places where passes should not be forced.
No.11: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (-2)
For those of us that watched Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions for the last 12 years, this is the most Stafford performance in the history of Stafford. The stats look fine, aided by good receiver play, but you were left wanting more. Stafford was fine, but he needed to be better against the Colts’ defense they did not seem to want to show up to the game. Stafford certainly has his fair share of highlight-reel throws with the Rams so far, but he does have a propensity to turn the ball over or make uncharacteristically bad throws.
No.10: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (-2)
Baker Mayfield has a shtick as a quarterback. In the early part of the game, he makes the worst decision imaginable. This often ends with an interception. Last season, this catastrophic error resulted in the injury to Odell Beckham. On Sunday, Mayfield instead took the brunt of a hit as he tried to tackle Houston’s defensive back. Mayfield dislocated his shoulder, popped it back into place, and came back to not miss a pass for the rest of the game. As of writing, Mayfield leads the NFL in completion percentage.
No.9: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (-3)
Josh Allen led the Bills to the most unconvincing 35-point win in the history of sports. Despite winning by five full touchdowns, the Bills still managed to disappoint offensively. Allen looked inaccurate and uncharacteristically slow. He did have a relatively productive day, but he had an ugly interception, and his general inaccuracy was reminiscent of 2018 Allen or 2019 Allen. For the sake of Bills fans and the same management that paid him a large sum of money this off-season, Allen needs to regain how to throw the football accurately. All is not lost because he was awesome last season, but the candlewick is thinning.
No.8: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (+2)
For as great as Kyler Murray is, he often overshadows this with his ability to make horrendous throws. Against the Vikings, Murray gift-wrapped Nick Vigil a pick-six. Despite Murray’s charitable act, the Vikings did not win the game because of their kicker. Had Joseph made the field goal, Murray would’ve been painted in a slightly more negative light. While it may have been unfair to paint Murray in this light because he is not a member of the defense, he did have the ugly interception.
No.7: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders (+5)
Derek Carr has been taking as many deep shots as any quarterback in the NFL so far. While Carr is generally a calculated risk-taker, Carr has been throwing with reckless abandon through two weeks. He has dissected a strong Ravens secondary and a strong Steelers secondary in quick succession. Even when getting pressured behind his makeshift offensive line, Carr still finds the ability to hit the likes of Henry Ruggs deep down the field. He may not keep this going like some of the other quarterbacks that are coming up on the list, but it has been a hot start for the Fresno State product.
No.6: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (+1)
After one miscommunication and perhaps the ugliest decision in the history of organized football, Lamar Jackson played an essentially flawless game. For three quarters, he sliced through the Kansas City rush defense and hit pinpoint passes including a jump pass to Marquise Brown. While Jackson’s overall passing grade was dragged down by the aforementioned interceptions, he turned it up to 11 as a rusher. He galloped for over 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a game-winning touchdown with three minutes to go after he “landed” a flip into the end zone. Jackson has some limitations as a passer, but when he is running at full strength, he is perhaps the scariest quarterback in the NFL.
No.5: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (+0)
Dak Prescott was slightly disappointing against the Chargers. He failed to throw a touchdown, and he sailed one pass into the hands of Asante Samuel Jr. Outside of this, he played a fairly mediocre game. It was far from special, and Prescott even failed to throw for his patented 400 yards. However, Dallas got a rare victory after Prescott led them into field-goal range in the dying moment. Too bad Minnesota does not have a kicker like Greg Zuerlein.
No.4: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+0)
The leader in the MVP clubhouse, Tom Brady has been clinical through two games. He has been so clinical in fact that this might be the best he has ever played. Keep in mind, Brady has a trio of MVPs, a bevy of passing records, and five Super Bowl MVPs to his name. Despite this, his nine-touchdown in two weeks start is his best, and is one of the best in NFL history. He may not be able to keep this up as Tampa faces tougher defenses, but he will break the passing yards record in Foxboro in two weeks. He is 499 yards away.
No.3: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (+0)
After Aaron Rodgers‘ blowup against the Saints, he was back to being normal Aaron Rodgers on Monday night against the Lions. He had several big-time throws including one beautiful downfield ball to Davante Adams. He also whizzed a touchdown by a linebacker and was able to hold onto the football unlike his counterpart in Jared Goff. With Rodgers’ one blowup start out of the way, it is time for Rogers to go scorched-earth through the rest of the season and into the playoffs until the inevitable NFC championship game loss.
No.2: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (+0)
In regulation, Russell Wilson was sensational. He was hitting Tyler Lockett on deep balls, and he was doing usual Wilson things. However, when the game got to overtime, Shane Waldron forgot that he had a brain. This resulted in a horrendous drive by Seattle that almost ended with Wilson being tackled in the endzone for a safety. By the grace of blind refereeing, the refs ruled that Wilson was stopped at the 1-yard line instead of in the end zone, and the Seahawks were able to punt the ball away. It was a strange call, nothing out of the ordinary as mentioned in the Tannehill blurb.
No.1: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (+0)
Patrick Mahomes had an uncharacteristically weird game against the Ravens. The surface-level stats look great as he threw for three touchdowns and almost 350 yards. However, he was unable to hook up with Tyreek Hill, and a lot of his production came after the catch. Two of his three touchdowns were more on the receiver than Mahomes himself. He did have one long touchdown to Demarcus Robinson that was caught in the end zone, but it likely should’ve been intercepted by one of the two Ravens standing within two feet of Robinson. These are minor complaints about the NFL’s top quarterback, but if he continues to play like this, he might be knocked No.2.
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