Welcome back, everyone. After a brief hiatus, the 32 starting quarterbacks will be ranked once again.
No.32: Mike Glennon, New York Giants
Mike Glennon is just the run-of-the-mill NFL backup. He is slated to start Week 6 while Daniel Jones goes through the concussion protocol. Jones, when healthy, has been playing like a top-half quarterback. If he was healthy, Jones would rank No.15.
Glennon severely restricts the offensive upside that the Giants had flashed in recent weeks. It is an unfortunate turn of events for the Giants.
No.31: Jacoby Brissett, Miami Dolphins
Jacoby Brissett is another backup-tier quarterback. He has come in and not been a catastrophe, but he has a generally easier game plan to tackle than other quarterbacks in the NFL. He ended Week 5 with a 5.0 overall PFF grade, so he is far from bad, but like Glennon, he limits the ceiling of the offense he is in.
Tua Tagovailoa could play this week, but Brissett will be counted for this.
No.30: Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Geno Smith wraps up the backup-turned-starter tier for now. Unlike Glennon and Brissett, Smith will be tasked to take over for the long term. Russell Wilson, who would have been No.1, is out for at least the next four weeks, and he could be out until early December. Smith had an average performance against the Rams. He threw an unlucky interception after his receiver fell, but Smith should not be terrible.
No.29: Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team
While Taylor Heinicke is officially the backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick, Heinicke is likely the bottom of the realistic starter tier in the NFL. After keeping the lid on mistakes through the first two weeks, Heinicke has 10 turnover-worthy plays in the last three weeks. In this frame, he is the lowest-graded starter, and his 10 turnover-worthy plays are four more than any other quarterback.
No.28: Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold ranks second in turnover-worthy plays over the last four weeks, and he is quickly deteriorating. He has a higher rate of big-time throws than he did with the Jets, though, so all is not lost. This is the best Darnold has played in the NFL, both grade-wise and stats-wise, but it is trending in the wrong direction. Darnold had the lowest yards per attempt in Week 5, and he had three turnover-worthy plays.
No.27: Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Jared Goff had his first bad performance of 2021. While his first four weeks were far from special, he was not bad. He was painfully average. In Week 5, Goff had three turnover-worthy plays, and he struggled to a 64.3 passer rating. Average quarterback play is one thing, but when Goff has an ugly game as he did this week, the Lions are the worst team in the NFL.
No.26: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
While Chicago did win, it was far from Justin Fields’ best effort. He avoided turnover-worthy plays, but he only had one big-time throw. He completed 12 of 20 passes for just 111 yards and one touchdown. Fields has posted a sub-52.0 overall grade in three of the last four weeks. The future is bright, yes, but the present is dull for the Ohio State product.
No.25: Zach Wilson, New York Jets
After a relatively successful Week 4, Zach Wilson returned to his usual rookie form. Despite 32 pass attempts, Wilson failed to hit 200 passing yards. He threw an interception for the fifth-straight game, his ninth of the season. He has a turnover-worthy play in each game, including a trio of them in Weeks 1 and 4. Wilson will tend toward a boom-or-bust playstyle, but it was a bust this week.
No.24: Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
The stat line ended up being reasonable. Trevor Lawrence posted a 92.1 passer rating. However, he graded in the 40s, tallying more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws for the fourth time. Lawrence has a higher floor at the moment than Wilson (hence him being ranked ahead), but he will need to consistently show that floor to move up more.
No.23: Davis Mills, Houston Texans
Your guess is as good as mine. Davis Mills had one of the worst quarterback performances in recent history in Week 4. It was vomit-inducing. However, Mills decided to bounce back with an electric game against the Patriots. Mills avoided turnover-worthy plays, tossing a pair of big-time throws. He graded in the 80s, and he had one of the best stat lines of the week. Wow.
No.22: Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had zero big-time throws through four weeks. Trey Lance fired a pair against Arizona, so at least there is some progress. Lance had his best-graded game of the season, but he is not here because of the grade. He is here based on the floor he brings to the rushing offense. As a pure thrower, Lance has a lot of room to grow, but he gives San Francisco a capable floor, much like a rookie Lamar Jackson.
No.21: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is having a strange season. On one hand, he has multiple big-time throws in each of the last four games. On the other hand, he has multiple turnover-worthy plays in three of those four games. Regardless, he had a good performance against the Broncos on the stat sheet. He averaged 10.1 yards per attempt, lofting a pair of touchdowns to add to 253 yards.
No.20: Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts
While this blurb was written before PFF released Carson Wentz’s grade, it should be reasonably high. Other than a strip-sack, Wentz played his best game of the season. He was accurate to all levels of the field. His stats are slightly inflated because Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman broke off big plays, but Wentz did put them in a position to succeed. Indianapolis ended up losing, but it was not Wentz’s fault.
No.19: Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos
After a horror show of a performance against Baltimore, Teddy Bridgewater bounced back with another grade in the 70s. He threw his first interception of the season in the fourth quarter, but he had to force the throw. As a whole, Bridgewater’s level-headedness is perhaps the biggest reason why he remains in the top 20. He is almost always close to the average with Week 4 being a major outlier.
No.18: Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts has multiple big-time throws in all five games he has played. This has come at the cost of six total turnover-worthy plays, but Hurts has played well in 2021. While he did not have a passing touchdown against Carolina, he tacked on a pair on the ground. Hurts has been everything the Eagles could have hoped for in a decent starting quarterback. He has the upside to be better, but for now, he is solid.
No.17: Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Mac Jones earned his second-career 70.0+ grade despite posting three turnover-worthy plays. His stat line was far from dominant, but he did complete 70.0% of his passes for the fourth time in five weeks. While the other rookie quarterbacks have been total boom-or-bust so far, Jones has had some semblance of consistency. He has yet to grade outside of the 58.0 to 79.0 window.
No.16: Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
Jameis Winston has been excellent at attacking down the field in recent weeks. In the last two weeks, Winston has averaged over 9.0 yards per attempt and launched seven big-time throws. He only has one turnover-worthy play in those games. Winston fired four touchdowns against Washington, but one was on a Hail Mary. As a whole, Winston has kept the mistakes to a minimum while adding a new dimension to the Saints’ offense.
No.15: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Through three weeks, Matt Ryan was a full-on disaster. He had one big-time throw to five turnover-worthy plays. In the last two weeks, Ryan has posted PFF grades in the 90s, and he has six big-time throws to zero turnover-worthy plays. He has six passing touchdowns and over 600 passing yards in those games. It seems that Kyle Pitts has been introduced to the offense, so perhaps Ryan will maintain (or improve) his ranking.
No.14: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
After a horrific Week 4, Baker Mayfield answered in the positive direction. He earned his fourth grade of 70.0+ and avoided turnover-worthy plays. He surpassed 300 yards for the first time on the season, and he added a pair of touchdowns. Mayfield has yet to have an elite performance, but he has been a good quarterback in four of five weeks.
No.13: Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
After three strong performances, Ryan Tannehill slipped into an average game. Granted, Tennessee did not need Tannehill to be exceptional, he was underwhelming. He only attempted 22 passes, going for 197 yards and a touchdown. He had zero big-time throws and one turnover-worthy play. Ironically enough, he had his best passer rating of the season while posting his worst PFF grade.
No.12: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
To Derek Carr’s credit, he has at least three big-time throws in each game this season. However, some of these have been undone by his turnover-worthy plays. Week 5 was more of the same. He had three big-time throws, but he ended with a grade in the 60s. On the whole, Carr is having a great season, but it is losing momentum (much like Las Vegas as a whole).
No.11: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
Kirk Cousins posted his first zero turnover-worthy play game since Week 1 (although he did throw an interception). He had a sterling 88.5 PFF passing grade. On intermediate throws, Cousins earned a 92.8 grade, completing seven of nine attempts. Cousins will have more dominant games statistically, but this game passed the eye test with flying colors.
No.10: Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford’s overall PFF grade has fallen in each of the last five games. Against Seattle, Stafford had an ugly red-zone interception to his former teammate Quandre Diggs. It was Stafford’s third turnover-worthy play of the season and a key reason why he had a grade in the 60s. He ended with 365 passing yards, but a decent chunk of that can be attributed to poor secondary play and stellar work by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
No.9: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
After earning a pair of 89 passing grades, Joe Burrow came back to earth with a 70.2 passing grade. He had two beautiful big-time throws, but they came at the cost of three turnover-worthy plays. Burrow had a miscommunication that turned into an interception in overtime, but the Bengals would not have been in that situation without several missed kicks from both teams.
No.8: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
The top eight quarterbacks are incredibly difficult to rank, but currently, Patrick Mahomes is the least effective of the five via the eye test. Sure, he has 16 passing touchdowns, but these are circumstantial rather than based on Mahomes’ greatness. He has just six big-time throws compared to five turnover-worthy plays. Against Buffalo, Mahomes turned the ball over three times, although none fit the turnover-worthy play criteria.
No.7: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen was spectacular against the Chiefs. He launched five deep big-time throws and posted a 99.3 grade on passes beyond 20 yards. He ended with an overall 92.3 grade. Allen has yet to have a game without a turnover-worthy play, but he has countered that with five multi-BTT games. Allen is developing a strong case for MVP statistically, and the eye test has matched in two of the last three weeks.
No.6: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Statistically, Kyler Murray is slowing down slightly, but he is still playing quite well. He has posted a 70.0 passing grade in all five games, and he has not had a turnover-worthy play since Week 3. He is likely still the leader in the clubhouse for MVP, but other quarterbacks are trimming the gap with high-profile performances. Murray does have an impressive 15-to-3 ratio of big-time throws to turnover-worthy plays to his name.
No.5: Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Week 5 was Justin Herbert’s fourth with an overall grade of 83.0 or better. Herbert has not put the ball in harm’s way since Week 2. In this three-game stretch, Herbert has thrown 11 touchdowns and added another on the ground. Through five weeks, Herbert has an elite 90.0 grade, bolstered by his nine big-time throws. Herbert is in the pack of MVP candidates behind Murray.
No.4: Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady has yet to register a turnover-worthy play by PFF’s grading system. While I disagree with this, I do think his grades are accurate. Brady had perhaps the best game of his career, statistically, against Miami. He terrorized Miami for 400 yards and five touchdowns, the first time he has gotten to both marks in a game. On the season, Brady has a 93.4 overall grade, 92.2 passing grade, and 18 big-time throws.
No.3: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott posted his fourth three-touchdown game of 2021. He added three big-time throws and a season-high 82.0 passing grade. Prescott has been incredibly efficient in the last four weeks. He has posted 8.5 yards per attempt in each game, overcoming a relatively low number of attempts. Prescott has earned a passer rating above 100 in each of the last three weeks. Like Herbert and Allen, Prescott is in the second tier of MVP candidates.
No.2: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson’s grades have yet to come in, but he continued his hot stretch into Monday night. Against Detroit and Denver, Jackson won with the deep ball. Against Indianapolis, he won the short and intermediate games. Jackson smashed his career-high in passing yards (442) and tallied over 500 total yards. While he was rather poor at reading the option, Jackson more than made up for his shortcomings with his passing. Over the last 15 quarters (plus overtime against Indianapolis), Jackson has been the NFL’s best passer.
No.1: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers overcame his trouble spot in Cincinnati, posting his season-high in passing yards. He added a pair of touchdowns and helped Davante Adams to a legendary receiving day. Rodgers was particularly efficient in the intermediate range. He had an 80.3 grade, completing eight of 11 passes for 142 yards.
The top eight quarterbacks had an argument of earning the top spot, so think of them as a tier rather than a ranking.
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