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Quarterback Power Rankings Week 1

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Welcome back, everyone. This is the second 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: Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team (NEW)

LANDOVER, MARYLAND – JANUARY 09: Quarterback Taylor Heinicke #4 of the Washington Football Team warms up before the start of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of the NFC Wild Card playoff game at FedExField on January 09, 2021, in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

PFF Grades: 46.9 Overall (30th), 50.3 Passing (30th)

Taylor Heinicke has played pretty well in his NFL experience, but most of that comes from one playoff game against the Buccaneers last season. Heinicke plays with swagger, but at a certain point, he needs to put it together for weeks at a time. When he proves his stability, he will be moving up in the rankings.

No.31: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (-14)

PFF Grades: 57.7 Overall (29th), 57.3 Passing (28th)

It was a rough debut for Trevor Lawrence as he launched a trio of interceptions. His stats ended up looking fine, but he padded his stats heavily in an uncompetitive fourth quarter. Lawrence flashed his potential, but it was not as consistent as it needs to be moving forward. The future is bright, but the present is still dark.

No.30: Zach Wilson, New York Jets (-9)

PFF Grades: 63.2 Overall (23rd), 61.3 Passing (24th)

Zach Wilson had a rocky first half, but he rebounded nicely in the second half. Perhaps the turning point of the game was an early deep ball to Elijah Moore. If Moore hauls it in, the Jets likely score. Moore dropped the pass, and the Jets had to punt. Wilson had a clean second half, but the offensive line will need to play better. Wilson flashed outside of the structure, but he can only be so good with a turnstile of an offensive line.

No.29: Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts (+0)

PFF Grades: 60.1 Overall (27th), 65.3 Passing (23rd)

For the most part, Carson Wentz was unable to do much against a rather stingy Seattle defense. While he did not have any turnover-worthy plays, he did lose a fumble on a botched exchange. Wentz did fire a pair of touchdowns, but the second touchdown was a meaningless garbage time touchdown to Zach Pascal. Wentz was fine compared to his 2020 version, but he is a long way away from where he used to be in 2017.

No.28: Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers (+4)

PFF Grades: 70.1 Overall (17th), 79.4 Passing (8th)

Outside of one fumble lost on a run play, Sam Darnold had a strong debut with the Panthers. He had a trio of big-time throws, resulting in one touchdown and a total of 279 passing yards. He averaged 8.0 yards per attempt and had an otherwise efficient game. There is an added caveat needed that this game was against the Jets, but Darnold did show some of the potentials that had lured both the Jets into drafting him at number three and the Panthers into trading a second-round pick for his services.

No.27: Daniel Jones, New York Giants (+0)

PFF Grades: 65.1 Overall (21st), 70.1 Passing (17th)

Daniel Jones did lose yet another fumble, but his passing was fairly solid. He launched 22 completions for 267 yards and one touchdown, being hurt by a trio of drops from his pass-catchers. As a whole, Jones still has room to grow, but Week 1 was encouraging from a passing perspective. He certainly needs to clean up his fumbles, but the arm talent is there for sure.

No.26: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)

PFF Grades: 38.0 Overall (32nd), 38.2 Passing (32nd)

As a whole, it was a rough day for Ben Roethlisberger. He failed to have a big-time throw, and he had a pair of turnover-worthy plays. He had an inordinately low 38 PFF grade, which might be a tad unfair, but the Pittsburgh offense was the weaker unit against Buffalo. Moving forward, Rothlisberger‘s production will likely outlast his talent based on the receivers he has around him.

No.25: Tyrod Taylor, Houston Texans (+5)

PFF Grades: 71.1 Overall (16th), 68.4 Passing (19th)

In one of the strangest games of the week, Tyrod Taylor came out guns blazing against the Jaguars. Taylor launched three big-time throws with just one turnover-worthy play. He had a pair of touchdowns and threw for almost 300 yards. While Taylor’s tenure in Buffalo was marred with game management skills, Taylor flashed an ability to take over the game if necessary. It will be interesting to see if Taylor can keep this up against different competition.

No.24: Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos (+7)

DENVER, CO – AUGUST 28: Courtland Sutton #14 of the Denver Broncos celebrates with Teddy Bridgewater #5 and Tim Patrick #81 after a second-quarter touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL preseason game at Empower Field at Mile High on August 28, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

PFF Grades: 85.7 Overall (4th), 84.9 Passing (3rd)

Teddy Bridgewater had one of the weirdest games in recent memory. After a putrid season with Carolina last season, Bridgewater came out and played exceptionally well against a solid Giants defense. He completed 78% of passes for 264 yards in a pair of touchdowns, not turning the ball over. If he can keep this performance up, Denver could be a playoff contender based on how strong the defense and surrounding weapons are.

No.23: Jared Goff, Detroit Lions (+3)

PFF Grades: 66.7 Overall (20th), 65.4 Passing (t-21st)

Jared Goff had a fiery performance, going for 338 yards in a trio of touchdowns. He did have a pair of turnover-worthy plays, but these can be offset by his three big-time throws. Goff is in no man’s land with the lack of weapons, but he should be competent enough to keep his job until Detroit drafts an heir. Goff is not necessarily a bad quarterback, but he lacks the upside to be a top 20 quarterback most weeks.

No.22: Andy Dalton, Chicago Bears (+2)

PFF Grades: 63.1 Overall (t-24th), 58.1 Passing (27th)

Andy Dalton is perhaps the greatest artifact of quarterback talent improving over the last 10 years. Dalton’s play hasn’t wavered much in the last decade, but he has consistently slid down quarterback power rankings as more talented quarterbacks have joined the fray. Dalton is by no means a bad quarterback, but when a certain Justin Fields is sitting behind him on the depth chart, Dalton looks overmatched. The Bears should start Justin Fields as soon as possible, but they are unlikely to bump Dalton for Fields.

No.21: Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins (+1)

PFF Grades: 57.8 Overall (28th), 54.5 Passing (29th)

Tua Tagovailoa didn’t have the best game in Week 1. Facing a stubborn New England Patriots defense, he tossed one big-time throw and a pair of turnover-worthy plays. All is not lost, however, but he will need to improve moving forward. Week 2’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills gives Tagovailoa ample time to get his game up.

Tagovailoa is technically ranked the highest of the bottom 12, but the group is nearly inseparable. It should be quite fluid from week to week.

No.20: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (+8)

PFF Grades: 89.5 Overall (t-2nd), 87.9 Passing (2nd)

Jalen Hurts had the best game of his young NFL career as he led the Eagles to a huge win over the Falcons. Hurts finished second to just Brady in both offensive PFF grade and passing grade. He had a pair of big-time throws, three total touchdowns, and an adjusted completion percentage of 90%. Hurts was sharp both inside and outside of the structure, and if he continues to play this well, the Eagles can win the NFC East.

No.19: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (+6)

PFF Grades: 71.2 Overall (15th), 73.2 Passing (16th)

Jimmy Garoppolo was the only starting quarterback to end Week 1 without a big-time throw or turnover-worthy play. Garoppolo continued to be walking mediocrity as he tossed one touchdown on 25 attempts, and an 80-yard bomb to Deebo Samuel. While he did end up with 314 yards, a 12.6 yards per attempt mark, most of this came after the catch on targets to Samuel. Garoppolo didn’t necessarily play poorly, but he left a lot to be desired. 49er fans are patiently waiting for a Trey Lance.

No.18: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (-3)

PFF Grades: 60.4 Overall (26th), 59.7 Passing (26th)

Matt Ryan and the Falcons had one of the worst games imaginable during week one. Ryan failed to throw a touchdown, and he had zero big-time throws. As a whole, he ended up averaging fewer than 5 yards per attempt with just 164 passing yards on 35 attempts. His average to slightly below average PFF grade reflects just how incompetent the Atlanta Falcons are at the whole football ordeal.

No.17: Mac Jones, New England Patriots (+5)

PFF Grades: 78.3 Overall (11th), 76.6 Passing (13th)

Outside of his first NFL snap, Mac Jones came into the NFL as an average quarterback. Unlike the other rookies that had ups and downs, Jones had metronomic efficiency. While the Patriots did lose, Jones had a few poor plays. This seems emblematic of his future success with the Patriots as he may not have as high of a ceiling as the likes of Wilson or Lawrence, but he has a steady floor.

No.16: Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints (+2)

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – JANUARY 03: Quarterback Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints shares a smile following their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 03, 2021, in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

PFF Grades: 89.5 Overall (t-2nd), 81.1 Passing (6th)

Jameis Winston had one of the weirdest statistical performances in recent NFL history. He launched five touchdowns, but he only completed 14 passes. He only had one big-time throw, but he had zero turnover-worthy plays. For Winston, it was the first time he went a full game without having a turnover-worthy play since 2018. After the 2019 season that he had 40 turnover-worthy plays across 16 games, it was a breath of fresh air for Winston not to put the ball in harm’s way.

No.15: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (-3)

PFF Grades: 80.9 Overall (8th), 79.7 Passing (7th)

Kirk Cousins had yet another solid day at the office. He fired over 350 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Cousins likely would’ve walked out of Cincinnati with a victory had an ill-timed fumble not occurred. Cousins generally has this unfortunate luck, but he cannot be blamed for Minnesota’s loss. Cousins had yet another game with a passer rating above 100, meaning he has the most games with a pass rating above 90.0 since the beginning of 2020.

No.14: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (+2)

PFF Grades: 69.7 Overall (18th), 67.0 Passing (20th)

Joe Burrow had a pretty standard performance in his first game back off a torn ACL. He was able to link up with Ja’Marr Chase for over 100 yards and a big-time touchdown. After last season, Burrow seems to have made strides with pushing the ball down the field, but it was just one game against Minnesota. Moving forward, expect Burrow to get more of his feel back in the pocket and continue to be a polished passer.

No.13: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (-6)

PFF Grades: 64.3 Overall (22nd), 61.0 Passing (25th)

Ryan Tannehill struggled mightily against the Cardinals. However, not all of this was his fault. His usually strong offensive line folded under the pressure of Chandler Jones and company and conceded pressure after pressure. Tannehill ended up with three turnovers including a pair of lost fumbles from the swipe of Jones. Tannehill was unable to link up with his superstar weapons in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, so the offense was operating from behind early.

No.12: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders (-1)

PFF Grades: 74.9 Overall (14th), 76.9 Passing (12th)

Derek Carr ramped up his production in overtime, ending with 435 passing yards in a pair of touchdowns. While he did have one of the most unfortunate interceptions in NFL history, he was able to exact revenge by throwing a touchdown against the Ravens in overtime. After Carr had some early-game struggles, the offense opened up with car hooking up with Bryan Edwards on several occasions on key drives. As a whole, Carr is one of the more consistent quarterbacks in the NFL, and he showed such on Monday night.

No.11: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers (-1)

PFF Grades: 84.7 Overall (5th), 83.8 Passing (4th)

Justin Herbert did not have the most intimidating stat line as he only threw one touchdown and had one big-time throw, but he ended up with a top-five passing grade during the week. Herbert played a controlled game plan behind a sturdy offensive line performance. While it was far from his flashiest of games, Herbert showed progression in his ability to play from a clean pocket.

No.10: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (+4)

PFF Grades: 84.5 Overall (6th), 79.2 Passing (9th)

Kyler Murray led the week with six big-time throws, but he did have a turnover-worthy play, an interception. Murray tossed four touchdowns and added a fifth on the ground, completing one of the most well-rounded games of the week. He averaged 9.0 yards per pass attempt and had a stellar performance against a rather disappointing Titans defense. Moving forward, Murray could be in play for an MVP if he keeps up this pace.

No.9: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (+4)

PFF Grades: 79.7 Overall (9th), 78.9 Passing (11th)

Matthew Stafford was electric in his Rams debut. He had the best passer rating among starters with a sterling 156.1 mark. He had a trio of touchdowns, and he had the second-highest yards per attempt, just trailing Garoppolo. He had a trio of big-time throws to match his touchdowns, and he completed 77% of his passes. This is perhaps the best offense Stafford has ever been in, and expect Stafford to put up video game-style numbers for the rest of the season.

No.8: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns (+1)

PFF Grades: 75.1 Overall (13th), 75.2 Passing (t-14th)

While many will point to Baker Mayfield‘s final throw and infer that he had a terrible game, Mayfield was the better quarterback through three quarters. While Browns fans would like Mayfield to be the better quarterback through all four quarters, his competition was the best quarterback in the NFL. Mayfield was sharp and decisive, and one throw at the end should not dictate how you view his entire performance.

No.7: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (-2)

PFF Grades: 63.1 Overall (t-24th), 65.4 Passing (t-21st)

Lamar Jackson was the key piece of the Ravens’ offense once again. With a slew of injuries to running backs and inconsistency from his number one target Mark Andrews, Jackson had to improvise. Out of structure, he was excellent. He had a beautiful touchdown throw to Marquise Brown and he had one of his prettiest deep balls ever to Sammy Watkins. Jackson was bitten by a trio of fumbles, losing two of them. Even with the fumbles, Jackson was making play after play for the Baltimore offense, and he did not have an interceptable pass.

No.6: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (-2)

PFF Grades: 67.6 Overall (19th), 68.9 Passing (18th)

Josh Allen had a rough day at the office against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he was pressured significantly, it was perhaps his worst game since 2019. Allen was unable to link up with his receivers down the field, and the Bills’ offense was stagnant. While this was a bad performance, keep in mind that it was against the Steelers. Few teams have a defensive line as dominant as Pittsburgh, so Allen should bounce back throughout the rest of the season.

No.5: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (+3)

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 20: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws a touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin #89 during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in the game at AT&T Stadium on October 20, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

PFF Grades: 77.6 Overall (12th), 79.1 Passing (10th)

Dak Prescott was one of three quarterbacks to have five big-time throws during Week 1. He did have a pair of turnover-worthy plays, but out of the approximately 5 million dropbacks he had in his first game coming off of injury, it was to be expected. Prescott’s stats look ridiculous as he threw for more than 400 yards and a trio of touchdowns. If the Cowboys continue to have this skewed game script, Prescott could set the passing yards record by the middle of November.

No.4: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+2)

PFF Grades: 93.0 Overall (1st), 92.0 Passing (1st)

Tom Brady was the only quarterback of the week that had at least four big-time throws and zero turnover-worthy plays. Brady was tied for second in big-time throws with five. He tossed four touchdowns and 379 yards. While he did have two interceptions, one was at the end of the half on a Hail Mary attempt. The other was a deflected to a running back. These are far from Brady’s fault. Moving forward, Brady could challenge to being the number one quarterback in this ranking. Keep in mind, Brady is 44 years old.

No.3: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (-2)

PFF Grades: 43.3 Overall (31st), 44.0 Passing (31st)

Aaron Rodgers had perhaps the worst game of his NFL career. He launched a pair of interceptions, notching zero touchdowns and eventually being benched for Jordan Love. While Rodgers will fall for the moment in the power rankings, he should have a bounce-back game against the Lions. Do not be surprised if Rodgers is flirting with the top spot once again by the end of September. Every quarterback, including those in competition for being the greatest of all time, has a bad week.

No.2: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (+1)

PFF Grades: 79.1 Overall (10th), 81.2 Passing (5th)

Russell Wilson has the highest big-time throw rate outside of Murray this week. While Murray had one interceptable ball, Wilson stayed away from the turnovers. It appears that Wilson and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron are a perfect match as Wilson terrorized the Colts defense to the tune of 254 yards on just 23 pass attempts. In his 18 completions, four found the end zone including a pair of beautiful deep balls to Tyler Lockett.

No.1: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (+1)

PFF Grades: 81.0 Overall (7th), 75.2 Passing (t-14th)

Patrick Mahomes jumps back to number one based on the performance of Rodgers. Mahomes was strong through most of the game and he even had a 75-yard touchdown to Tyreek Hill. Other than that, it was a standard day at the office for Mahomes. He launched a trio of touchdowns and accumulated 337 passing yards. Expect him to massacre the Ravens on Sunday Night Football.


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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.