Using my quarterback metric with 2021 weights (the weights change very little from year to year), I’ve run the numbers after week 11 in the NFL. Players with five or more qualifying games are included.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami, 8 games, 63 average. How much of this is Tagovailoa breaking out in his third season and how much is having dynamic wide receivers? We’ll see soon enough, but 63 is a phenomenal score.
2. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia, 10 games, 59 average. Look for the big payday during the off-season. However, quarterbacks who run as much as Hurts does aren’t known for their longevity.
3. Geno Smith, Seattle, 10 games, 59 average. Smith will get paid as well. You’re looking at a guy from the class of 2013 with only 34 career starts and a 12-22 record heading into this season. This doesn’t happen. So, 37 interceptions in 1006 career passes headed into this season, four in 316 attempts this season. There’s no question that Smith is a big part of why Seattle is in the playoff hunt.
4. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City, 10 games, 57 average. He’s still Patrick Mahomes. Nothing to see here. Move along.
5. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco, 9 games, 57 average. People whisper that he’s soft, can’t stay out of the trainer’s room. This is only the third time he has started more than six games in a season. Yet one of those two previous times, the 49ers reached the Super Bowl. If he were durable, or a trainer could fix that, we’re talking about a franchise quarterback here, available to anyone who wants one.
6. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers, 10 games, 54 average. Herbert is quite durable and it looks like the Chargers have a good one here.
7. Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville, 10 games, 54 average. Rookies should get more of a pass than they do these days. Plus, he should get an extra pass for putting up with the Urban Meyer circus of unprofessionalism last year. Trending the right way now, and the Jaguars haven’t been quite as bad as the record indicates.
8. Dak Prescott, Dallas, 5 games, 53 average. Prescott is a solid top-tier starter in the NFL. Dallas has had some head-scratchers, but when they put it together, you can see a title run in this team.
9. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati, 10 games, 52 average. A little disappointing after last year’s run, but Burrow’s still the man of the future.
10. Andy Dalton, New Orleans, 8 games, 52 average. He represents a huge improvement in New Orleans. The problem is that his occasional bad games are memorable enough that when he’s playing well, which is a good percentage of the time, you can’t quite trust it.
11. Jared Goff, Detroit, 10 games, 52 average. The least popular player in Detroit. Not sure why. He doesn’t play defense.
12. Jacoby Brissett, Cleveland, 10 games, 52 average. A decent job holding the fort for Deshaun Watson. But it’s another lost season there.
13. Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee, 8 games, 52 average. The Titans are likely playoff-bound, with Tannehill managing and an often-good ground game and an often-poor defense. Not that exciting, but Malik Willis has a long way to go before they can even talk about a change.
14. Cooper Rush, Dallas, 6 games, 52 average. A decent job keeping Dallas in the hunt with Prescott hurt.
15. Kyler Murray, Arizona, 9 games, 51 average. He’s not the reason the Cardinals are so disappointing. But he tries to win games single-handedly too often, and there are a limited number of Las Vegas teams in the league willing to cooperate. If he watched more film, he’d know that.
16. Justin Fields, Chicago, 11 games, 51 average. He makes Jalen Hurts look like a pocket passer by comparison. The numbers are steadily improving, but even a big guy like Fields can take only so many hits. I just don’t see him staying in the league very long.
17. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay, 10 games, 51 average. You can never run out of words to say about Brady, whether it’s his longevity or how good he was for so many years. Now he’s middle of the pack, at an age when no previous quarterback has even thrown a pass. Incredible, but I kinda wish he had stayed in retirement.
18. Daniel Jones, New York Giants, 10 games, 51 average. Playing out a declined option year. This was risky, because if he hit it big, the Giants would likely have to franchise him (very, very expensive now) and then hope. He didn’t hit it big, and I’m not sure how the Giants are doing what they’re doing. The injury bug has hit the rest of the team, though, and they don’t look like a playoff team right now. I think Jones belongs in the league, but he’s had 47 starts now and I don’t see greatness.
19. Mac Jones, New England, 6 games, 51 average. The Patriots have a great defense. Jones has regressed a bit in his second year, and perhaps it’s injury. Bailey Zappe is likely not the answer.
20. Josh Allen, Buffalo, 10 games, 51 average. This surprised me. I would have thought he was in the top tier, but his average was 49 last season. He runs far too much and I think it’s already catching up with him.
21. P.J. Walker, Carolina, 5 games, 50 average. As bad as he’s been, Walker was doing… OK. Maybe. Maybe they took him out because they need to ensure the #2 pick. Then they can play Leaf to Houston’s Manning.
22. Marcus Mariota, Atlanta, 11 games, 50 average. While the Falcons clearly brought him in for the short term, he’s good enough to start in the league. A good decision if Desmond Ridder is the guy and just needs time. Third-rounders rarely do that, though.
23. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams, 9 games, 50 average. If Cooper Kupp is sidelined for a while, they had better hide him in the press box, because if he’s standing on the sideline, even in street clothes, Stafford’s going to throw his way. Quite a regression there. Everything about the Rams is worse this year.
24. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 11 games, 50 average. Have you ever seen a quarterback who looked less like he wanted to be on an NFL field? He’ll be 39 in a couple of weeks. Unless he has a secret desire to play out his career elsewhere, it’s time. As much as I hate seeing Brady look average, I really hate seeing a Hall-of-Fame quarterback look this bad, and it’s not just not having a good receiving corps.
25. Derek Carr, Las Vegas, 10 games, 50 average. The Raider pass defense is awful. So awful that Carr may as well be invisible this year.
26. Taylor Heinicke, Washington, 5 games, 49 average. He has been an improvement over the injured Carson Wentz. This might see the Commanders through to a convincing wild-card loss.
27. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh, 7 games, 49 average. Rookies make mistakes, and Pickett has made quite a few. What concerns me more is a Mitchell Trubisky-like approach to getting the ball downfield. We rightly fault Trubisky for checking down too frequently. It appears to be contagious.
28. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota, 10 games, 48 average. Significant regression on a team that’s 8-2 due to exceptional play in one-score games. And often Cousins looks quite good with the game on the line. Strange. That shouldn’t happen outside of the movies.
29. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore, 10 games, 48 average. I’ve often written that everything I think I know about quarterbacking goes out the window with the offense Baltimore runs. We know that offenses benefit from the defenses having to worry about the quarterback run even when he’s not running. I wonder if Baltimore is going to give Jackson the huge contract with guaranteed money. I suppose that depends on the playoffs now.
30. Matt Ryan, Indianapolis, 9 games, 48 average. It hasn’t worked well with the 37-year-old Ryan, one year after trying a 39-year-old Philip Rivers. Stafford will be 35 in a few months. I sense a progression here.
31. Russell Wilson, Denver, 9 games, 48 average. Denver has a Super-Bowl caliber defense. This should have worked. Wilson hasn’t been the worst Wilson in the league this year, but that’s only good enough for 31st on this list. And now they have his contract and fewer high-round draft picks.
32. Mitchell Trubisky, Pittsburgh, 5 games, 46 average. I think the Steelers knew they were bringing in a backup here, so it wasn’t a terrible move.
33. Zach Wilson, New York Jets, 7 games, 44 average. Wilson was the second overall pick last year. 20 games is enough time to have an idea what you have and what you don’t have. What the Jets don’t have is a quarterback capable of starting in this league. Since they do have a very good defense, I thought they’d go back to Joe Flacco, but Flacco put up a 45 average in three games earlier this season, so perhaps they know he’s on the downside of his career.
34. Carson Wentz, Washington, 6 games, 44 average. Did you know that Wentz already has 92 starts in his career? Or that he has a Pro-Bowl level interception rate of under two percent? True enough. But then has both a poor completion percentage and he never seems to throw downfield well. He definitely belongs in the NFL, but not as a starter anymore.
35. Davis Mills, Houston, 10 games, 42 average. The Texans started third-round rookie Mills last year while waiting for Deshaun Watson to do something other than rack up lawsuits and demand a trade… after breaking their bank for him. Picking third overall in a draft without an obvious franchise quarterback didn’t help. Mills came back and the wheels have simply fallen off the bus as they prepare to reload. Now they get to play the Manning/Leaf game, likely with the first overall pick.
36. Baker Mayfield, Carolina, 7 games, 42 average. Mayfield took a huge pay cut to get a starting opportunity in Carolina. He chose poorly. It looked like he was breaking out in 2020, then an injury ruined last season. The Browns traded their future for Deshaun Watson and his suspension. Mayfield got a shot at redemption, and didn’t deliver. So the Panthers will draft another quarterback and Mayfield will have to take the backup tour for the foreseeable future.