NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 10 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 11.
2023 stats: 9 games | 68.9 pct | 2,347 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 15 pass TD | 8 INT | 316 rush yds | 7 rush TD | 4 fumbles
Stats-scanners will claim fraudulence when seeing Hurts standing atop these rankings, but I’m not writing this solely off numbers. If you watch the tape, you’ll see a quarterback doing some seriously special things behind the wheel of the Eagles offense. Hurts hasn’t quite reached his MVP-contending form of last season, but he’s not far off that mark right now. The Eagles are the NFC leaders because of Hurts (and his favorite target, A.J. Brown), not in spite of him, and I look forward to him justifying this notion in the weeks ahead. You’ll see.
2023 stats: 9 games | 68.6 pct | 2,442 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 17 pass TD | 8 INT | 258 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles
It’s weird to finish a week of games and realize I didn’t see Mahomes play football. It’s also been a bit of a strange season for Kansas City -- not because it’s not winning, but because it has encountered some surprising variance in style of play and production. In some weeks, Mahomes is a stat-stuffing machine, but in others, he’s just been OK. It’s fine, because the Chiefs are 7-2, but it’s not a runaway MVP season for Mahomes, making for an interesting backstretch to the 2023 season.
2023 stats: 9 games | 69.5 pct | 2,609 pass yds | 8.5 ypa | 19 pass TD | 7 INT | 33 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles
I fully expect Tagovailoa to continue to produce big numbers down the stretch, in part because of Miami’s remaining schedule. He’s certainly doing an excellent job in Mike McDaniel’s offense, relying on his cast of pass-catchers and delivering on-target throws that allow them to catch and run, but his struggles against quality opponents make me less than certain about Miami’s ultimate ceiling. Tagovailoa has run into some occasional turnover issues, but the good has undoubtedly outweighed the bad. I’m very curious to see how he handles two dates with the stingy Jets defense within the next five weeks; those could be the games that make or break his case for MVP.
2023 stats: 9 games | 70.7 pct | 2,415 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 17 pass TD | 6 INT | 135 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble
When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Prescott was engulfed in flames on Sunday. The stats speak for themselves: 26 of 35, 404 pass yards and four touchdowns. Frankly, the tape was even better than the numbers. Outside of an inconsequential interception, Prescott could do no wrong, hitting his targets so consistently, he even found CeeDee Lamb for a 17-yard completion thrown off one foot because he’d lost his balance yet still put the ball where Lamb needed it. On one of his four touchdown passes, Prescott stepped into a heave of a throw to Michael Gallup, and Gallup won the race to the end zone, curving back inside a defender to catch it. Everything went Prescott’s way, which was a product of his fantastic accuracy, which was especially impressive when throwing on the run. That was the best detail of his entire performance, which saw Prescott rolling right and left to deliver precise passes no matter the depth or field position. He’s truly cooking right now, and it’s outrageously fun to watch.
2023 stats: 9 games | 61.6 pct | 2,626 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 15 pass TD | 2 INT | 86 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles
The Texans’ Week 10 win over the Bengals is the game that will get the casuals on board. There’s no hiding from the spotlight now, C.J. This showing wasn’t as statistically stellar as Stroud’s previous outing, but we can’t expect a player to break records every week. What mattered more to me was how Stroud truly went toe to toe with Joe Burrow and a Bengals defense that has caused plenty of problems for passers this season. Sure, Stroud threw an interception, fumbled away possession and effectively opened the door for Cincinnati to get back into the game, but the rookie’s clutch gene is undeniable. Faced with a daunting scenario in the final two minutes, Stroud once again led a desperate yet measured drive, connecting with Dalton Schultz for a big gain and Noah Brown for the most important pickup of the day, setting up Matt Ammendola’s game-winning field goal. The most important aspects of Stroud’s game (accuracy, poise, versatility) still stand out on a weekly basis, and he needed all of them to take down Cincinnati for a huge Texans victory. If you’ve read this weekly column, you already know I’m sold. And soon, the rest of the football world will be, too.
2023 stats: 10 games | 70.3 pct | 2,177 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 10 pass TD | 5 INT | 481 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 10 fumbles
Sunday’s loss to the Browns was the first game I can recall in which I felt as if Jackson wasn’t in his full form. The numbers don’t tell the full story -- 13 of 23, 223 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions; eight carries for 41 yards -- and the scoring summary certainly doesn’t back up this notion, but as I watched Jackson deal with Cleveland’s defense, he didn’t seem like as big of a threat as usual. The Browns largely contained his scrambling ability and were surprisingly effective in pressuring him. Jackson missed a few throws (including a would-be touchdown to Zay Flowers that landed about a yard and a half out of reach), and his first interception was pretty ugly. The second mattered more, of course, as part of Cleveland’s frantic comeback, but what concerned me most about Jackson and the Ravens is their tendency to fall apart in the fourth quarter of these types of games. I expect Jackson to elevate them in these moments, and he just hasn’t, which is disappointing when considering how great he’s been otherwise.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Lamar needed a bounce-back performance after Baltimore's stunning loss to Cleveland in Week 10, and he delivered. In addition to running for 54 yards on nine carries, Jackson completed 16 of his 26 passes for 264 yards, including a pair of scoring tosses just before halftime that promptly gave the Ravens an 11-point lead at the break. Baltimore ultimately cruised to a 34-20 win that wasn't even as close as the final score might lead you to believe.
2023 stats: 9 games | 67.0 pct | 2,208 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 14 pass TD | 6 INT | 81 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles
I needed to take a walk after watching Texans-Bengals. Burrow’s return to prominence certainly wasn’t a fluke, but this game was stressful because of its tumult. Burrow threw a gorgeous touchdown pass on Cincinnati’s opening drive, then ran into rough waters, throwing two interceptions (including one in the end zone that looked as if it might seal the Bengals’ fate). He needed to channel his inner hero to drag the Bengals out of an unexpected hole. Burrow’s touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase was magnificent because of how he pulled it off, sensing and rolling away from pressure to his left, finding Chase downfield, flipping his hips and dropping a dime into the bucket between two defenders, giving Chase the perfect catch-and-run angle for a score. I was pretty convinced Burrow was going to emerge victorious from a classic comeback effort -- until Tyler Boyd dropped what should have been a game-winning touchdown. Burrow couldn’t have put it on him any better, but that’s the way the prolate spheroid bounces sometimes. Deep down, I’m hoping we see this matchup again in ... the playoffs?! Yes, the playoffs.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Burrow began Thursday night's divisional showdown with Baltimore by helping Cincinnati gain a 10-7 lead via a touchdown pass to Joe Mixon, then promptly exited due to a wrist injury that kept him out for the remainder of the game. His line before he departed was solid (11 for 17, 101 yards, one touchdown), but his absence was glaring when watching backup Jake Browning attempt to keep the Bengals in a game that ended in a double-digit loss. And then on Friday, Cincinnati's worst fear became a reality: Burrow is out for the season.
2023 stats: 9 games | 68.4 pct | 2,507 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 14 pass TD | 5 INT | 11 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 2 fumbles
The Lions showed the full potential of their offense at SoFi Stadium. Goff played much like he has for most of the season, executing Ben Johnson’s well-schemed offense in a controlled fashion. He ended the day with two touchdowns to his credit, including a gorgeous pass over the middle to tight end Brock Wright out of play-action. It was one of those throws that will wow an onlooker, and it proved to be a crucial connection in a game that ended with a last-second field goal. Goff has been incredibly sharp in 2023, doing exactly what is asked of him at a relatively high level. On Sunday, the Lions needed him to do so from start to finish to win, and Goff delivered.
2023 stats: 9 games | 67.1 pct | 2,349 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 17 pass TD | 5 INT | 113 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles
Herbert was dialed in against the Lions, delivering on-target passes both from the pocket and on the run. His best throw was a pure display of his rare arm strength, an absolute laser fired down the seam through Detroit’s Cover 3 defense for a spectacular touchdown pass to Jalen Guyton. The game reminded me of Herbert’s Week 1 showing against Miami. Unfortunately for Herbert, Week 10 also ended in a heartbreaking, narrow defeat. But unlike a lot of the games the Chargers have played in 2023, Herbert was the last person deserving of blame for the loss. His 323 passing yards and four touchdowns proved he did his part, even helping Los Angeles overcome his only blunder (a pass intended to be thrown away that ended in an interception). If Herbert has to perform at that level every week to give the Chargers a chance to win, it’s not going to be pretty. But it will certainly be thrilling.
2023 stats: 9 games | 67.3 pct | 2,120 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 9 pass TD | 6 INT | 223 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles
Speeding up Lawrence is the way to beat him. It’s not a novel concept by any means, but it was clearly effective in Jacksonville’s loss to San Francisco. An under-pressure Lawrence started firing short-range fastballs to intended targets in the second half of the game, producing one of his two picks. When he’s flustered, Lawrence loses some of what makes him special, and against a good defense that denied even some of his best attempts, it made for a frustratingly disjointed experience for the QB in a blowout loss. His 17-of-29, 185-yard, two-interception passing line matched the tape. It’s not causing me to worry about Lawrence. I just believe San Francisco’s defense implemented a fantastic game plan for the matchup. Sometimes, that’s just how things go in this league.
2023 stats: 8 games | 59.7 pct | 2,070 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 8 pass TD | 7 INT | 68 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles
It was a real bummer to see Stafford suffer a thumb injury that kept him out in Week 9. Fortunately, he’s expected to return this week. Prior to the injury, he was playing some of the best football of his career despite not being in the most advantageous situation with the Rams. What was more discouraging to me, though, was the perception of Stafford among the general football public. The Rams aren’t a great team, but Stafford was playing great football before his injury, elevating an offense that isn’t stocked with a ton of talent, even if critics judged him unfavorably by relying solely on his stats and Los Angeles’ record. I don’t expect the latter to improve much, but hopefully he can at least convert some of the haters and make them realize he’s still excellent when healthy.
2023 stats: 10 games | 70.3 pct | 2,600 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 19 pass TD | 11 INT | 246 rush yds | 7 rush TD | 4 fumbles
Allen has a turnover problem, folks. He leads the league in interceptions (11) and giveaways (14), and his mistakes directly contributed to Buffalo’s loss on Monday night. I’m not sure what the problem is with Allen, other than him trying to do too much. He’s missing targets, making poor decisions and even struggling to hand the ball off to his running backs. Allen’s first interception wasn’t his fault -- Gabe Davis should’ve caught the pass -- but the rest of the giveaways can be pinned on Allen, a quarterback who has too often been visibly frustrated after games played by a team that is supposed to be contending. As much as I want to see Allen and the Bills live up to their potential, I’m twice as irritated by watching them struggle to execute, especially when I’ve seen them do it at a high level over multiple years. And because the Bills depend so heavily on Allen, it will be up to him to lift them out of this increasingly concerning situation, especially after the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey.
2023 stats: 10 games | 66.5 pct | 2,783 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 17 pass TD | 9 INT | 174 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles
The Commanders are 1-2 in their last three games, but if you attempted to guess the outcomes based on Howell’s stat lines in each of those contests, you’d have reason to believe they went 2-1 or even 3-0. He’s been remarkably sharp of late, with a passer rating of 103.0 in the last three weeks. In fact, his worst statistical showing came in the one game Washington won (Week 9 over New England). So, what happened against Seattle on Sunday? Well, Howell struck early with a touchdown pass to Brian Robinson Jr., encountered difficulty for the next two quarters, then rediscovered his out-of-structure magic in the final quarter and a half, completing 14 of his final 23 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly helped the Commanders reach overtime, thanks to his touchdown strike delivered over the middle of the field to Dyami Brown, but Washington’s defense couldn’t prevent Seattle from reaching field goal range for the game-winning kick. Howell is playing quality football right now, and he deserves more credit than Washington’s record suggests.
2023 stats: 9 games | 64.6 pct | 2,143 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 14 pass TD | 5 INT | 134 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles
Last week, I was disappointed to learn from a plugged-in Tampa-area source (and longtime close friend) that fans down there are starting to think the Buccaneers should turn to Kyle Trask to jump-start the offense. The problem is not -- and never has been -- Baker Mayfield. He’s playing quite well, all things considered, and did more than enough to help them win against the Texans in Week 9 (a game the Bucs lost in heartbreaking fashion). Fortunately for everyone involved, Tampa Bay next faced a Titans team that didn’t present the same challenge. Mayfield capitalized, posting another respectable outing (18 of 29, 278 yards, two touchdowns, one arm-punt of an interception). He would have had another touchdown if Mike Evans had held onto the ball in the end zone, but Mayfield keeps chugging along as the leader of an offense that still struggles to run the ball. He is already producing a return that’s exceeded realistic expectations in Tampa Bay. I’ve very much enjoyed watching him try to will the Bucs to victory. He’s earned his place in the QB Index.
2023 stats: 9 games | 65.3 pct | 2,171 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 11 pass TD | 7 INT | 66 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles
It might not please Seahawks fans to read this, but I think we’re finally settling into Smith’s realistic range after a season and a half with him as the starter. He’s essentially the present-day representative of the Dalton Scale, the embodiment of where acceptable play starts for a quarterback. You can win games with Smith, and he’s going to win some of them for you. You can reach the playoffs with Smith, and perhaps you can go even further if you have Smith, capable offensive weapons and a good defense. That’s Seattle in a nutshell, which is why Sunday’s game felt strangely fitting. Full disclosure: I watched the game twice, because at the end of the first viewing, I felt as if I’d missed roughly 35 minutes of action just because I couldn’t recall anything remarkable about it. But the second half is where things changed. That’s where Smith has thrived of late, in the key moments when the game reaches its late stages and the Seahawks need their quarterback to make a play. I remember prime Dalton doing something similar in his day. Smith was nearly perfect in the second half, completing 15 of his 20 passes in the final two quarters for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He led them on two go-ahead scoring drives before taking over with 52 seconds left in a tie game, promptly completing two big passes to DK Metcalf to move them into range for the eventual game-winning field goal. The game wasn’t a masterpiece from start to finish, but Smith came through in the clutch.
2023 stats: 9 games | 68.8 pct | 2,329 pass yds | 9.3 ypa | 15 pass TD | 5 INT | 107 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles
The bye week was good to Purdy and the 49ers, who quelled concerns regarding their standing among the NFL’s elite by traveling to Jacksonville and dominating the Jaguars. We saw Purdy return to the form that had him in the top 10 of the QB Index early in this season, calmly delivering strikes to George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and Kyle Juszczyk for touchdowns. He wasn’t flawless, and the going wasn’t quite as easy as the score indicated, but after nearly a month of worrisome results from Purdy, it was comforting to see him get closer to his peak form against a defense that was known for forcing turnovers entering Week 10.
2023 stats: 9 games | 67.9 pct | 1,806 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 18 pass TD | 4 INT | 231 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles
Monday night’s win was the kind of game Broncos fans envisioned when they learned Wilson would be their new quarterback. The numbers won’t wow anyone, but the tape tells a tale the stats don’t fully represent. Wilson was crafty (mostly out of desperation), but instead of his creative acts producing disasters, they served as pieces worthy of public display. Wilson’s ability to adjust on the fly and produce under pressure lifted the Broncos to the win, including when when he tossed a rainbow pass toward Courtland Sutton, who came down with it (and a phenomenal toe drag) for a touchdown. It was the least probable touchdown of the Next Gen Stats era, no less. This was the first time in Wilson’s Denver career in which I saw him take command and lead the Broncos from the clutches of defeat into the warm embrace of victory. And it might serve as a turning point for a team most left for dead a month ago.
2023 stats: 6 games | 61.4 pct | 1,115 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 7 pass TD | 4 INT | 142 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles
There might not be a streakier player in the NFL than Watson. He was rather awful in the first half against the Ravens, completing 6-of-20 passes for 79 yards and a pick-six on the second play of the game. To make matters worse, he appeared to injure his ankle just before halftime, setting up for a nightmare scenario after the break. Instead, Watson flipped the entire script, going a perfect 14 for 14 in the second half and keying a shocking comeback that saw the Browns fall behind 24-9 and 31-17, then rattle off 16 unanswered points to win, 33-31. Watson used the full scope of his abilities to propel the Browns, scrambling for key pickups, extending plays with his legs, finding open targets downfield and perhaps most importantly, protecting the ball well enough to preserve Cleveland’s comeback hopes. This has been Watson’s arc in almost every game he’s played this season, too: Tough first half, promising third quarter, and a heater of a fourth quarter to close things out. It made for quite a ride for Browns fans. They were 5-1 with him as the starter before news of his season-ending shoulder injury broke on Wednesday. Now, they’ll have to pray that Dorian Thompson-Robinson can come close to matching Watson, just when Watson appeared to be returning to form.
2023 stats: 10 games | 63.6 pct | 1,995 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 11 pass TD | 5 INT | 368 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 11 fumbles
Dobbs followed up his incredible Vikings debut with an absolutely electric first half on Sunday, completing 18-of-22 passes for 220 yards and a strike of a touchdown pass over the middle to T.J. Hockenson. Dobbs resumed his role as a magical improviser, helping the team convert 4-of-6 third downs in the first half and scrambling frantically for a rushing touchdown. But after building a commanding 27-3 lead, Minnesota shifted into conservative mode. Dobbs completed just 5-of-12 passes for 48 yards in the second half, nearly allowing the Saints to pull off a comeback. It wasn’t his fault as much as it was a product of Minnesota’s decision to avoid risk, but it would’ve really capped a fantastic day had they kept their foot on the gas. Regardless, Dobbs is 2-0 with the Vikings (1-0 as a starter) and is living up to any and every expectation set for him when he arrived via trade.
2023 stats: 10 games | 65.9 pct | 2,231 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 10 pass TD | 4 INT | 33 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles
I’ve come to realize my main gripe with Carr: He’s not looking toward his best teammates enough. Sure, he feeds Alvin Kamara underneath plenty, but Chris Olave is too often a nonfactor when he should be playing a starring role. Carr didn’t connect with Olave on Sunday until his final throw, which, to his credit, was a gutsy attempt that preceded him exiting due to injury. However, I couldn’t help but notice how much more involved Olave was in New Orleans’ efforts after Jameis Winston entered the game, helping spark a comeback attempt that only failed because Winston threw two interceptions. Carr completed 13-of-18 passes for 110 yards, but couldn’t finish off drives before leaving the contest. For a quarterback expected to solve New Orleans’ biggest problem, Carr isn’t living up to that standard.
2023 stats: 9 games | 61.3 pct | 1,616 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 6 pass TD | 4 INT | 37 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble
Pickett would probably be further along in his development if he regularly received assistance from the ground game like he did against the Packers. While the Steelers churned out 205 net rushing yards, Pickett was left only to convert when needed. He did so with a late scramble, and found a way to get George Pickens involved again, but overall, it was a quiet day for the second-year passer, who finished with 126 passing yards. The Steelers’ offense is still uninspiring, which isn’t really Pickett’s fault. After all, who’s going to blame a quarterback forced to heave prayers to teammates in one-on-one coverage down the sideline on second- and third-and-10 so often? He’s playing in a bogged-down system, so there’s only so much we can go off of. The good news: The Steelers are 11-3 in one-score games with Pickett as their starter. So, they have that going for them, which is nice.
2023 stats: 1 game | 59.4 pct | 249 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 33 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles
It didn’t take very long into Week 10’s win over Atlanta to see just how badly the Cardinals missed Murray. He brought the juice and an increased potential Arizona hasn’t seen in 2023, not even in Joshua Dobbs’ greatest moments. Murray’s stats (19 of 32, 249 yards, one interception) exceeded what most might expect from a quarterback taking the field for the first time since suffering an ACL injury nearly a year ago, and his only mistake -- an interception --was a product of a bit of rust and uncertainty that’s typical of a player who hasn’t played in a long time. Fortunately, Murray seemed to settle in rather quickly over four quarters and saved his best plays for last, covering 68.9 yards of distance on a looping, frantic 13-yard scramble for a crucial first down, then connecting with rookie tight end Trey McBride for a 33-yard gain that set up the game-winning field goal. The Cardinals are going to be worth watching for the rest of 2023 if for nothing more than to see how Murray lifts this team. It’s been a rough year, but it was clearly a better group with Murray out there, and he has a job to prove he’s worthy of keeping, too.
2023 stats: 9 games | 63.7 pct | 1,721 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 8 pass TD | 6 INT | 44 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles
Sometimes, a backup quarterback thrust into the starting role just needs to avoid wrecking a game. That was the story of Minshew’s performance in the win over New England in Frankfurt, Germany, where Minshew completed 18-of-28 passes for 194 yards and one interception. The pick was a product of Minshew believing in his abilities a bit too much and watching Jahlani Tavai prove him wrong, tipping a floater intended to travel over him, and instead deflecting off the linebacker’s hand and into the arms of Myles Bryant. That was Minshew’s worst decision of the day, and because they were playing the Patriots (and had Jonathan Taylor at their disposal), it didn’t end up hurting the Colts much. Occasionally, that’s all we should expect from a backup. Just don’t mess it up, pal.
2023 stats: 9 games | 58.7 pct | 2,009 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 14 pass TD | 10 INT | 182 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles
Sunday's loss to the Steelers explains where Love is right now with the Packers more than any other to this point in his first season as a starter. There are moments of pure beauty, like when he dropped a perfect pass over two defenders to Jayden Reed for a touchdown, or when he lofted a pass over the defense to Romeo Doubs in the back corner of the end zone for a score, or even when he found Luke Musgrave down the middle of the field on a drive that ended in a field goal. Heck, even his off-balance desperation heave to Reed late in the game showed off his natural arm talent. That has too often been the case with Love in 2023, as he’s almost guaranteed to doom the Packers in must-win situations. He threw two interceptions on their final two drives in a four-point game, with his first being deflected by Patrick Peterson into the waiting arms of Keanu Neal for a pick, and the last ending in a game-sealing turnover. Love has natural talent; that can’t be denied. But the late errors have been a massive issue for him, so much that his three picks thrown on the Packers’ final drives lead the league. And that’s not a category in which anyone wants to exist as the leader.
2023 stats: 9 games | 59.8 pct | 1,863 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 5 pass TD | 6 INT | 184 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 9 fumbles
The final score Sunday night doesn’t reflect it because Wilson and the Jets couldn’t convert their best scoring opportunities -- a common theme of this season -- but I’ll give Wilson plenty of credit for playing much better than he did in a dreadful performance a week earlier. He performed with much more confidence this time around, completing 23-of-39 passes for 263 yards. His interception tanked his stock in the QB Index, though. Wilson tried to fit a pass into an incredibly tight window on second-and-8 from the edge of Las Vegas’ red zone in a one-score game, dooming New York’s best chance of taking the lead. He got one more shot at the end and worked hard to maximize it, scrambling through chaos to buy enough time to heave a final pass toward the end zone, but that was the entire night for Wilson in a nutshell: Nice try, but it’s not enough.
2023 stats: 3 games | 56.1 pct | 699 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 13 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles
It’s going to be tough for any rookie quarterback to find success when his team both cannot run the ball nor discourage an opposing defense from blitzing. Levis faced a blitz on 56.8 percent of his dropbacks in Sunday’s loss to the Bucs. That’s the third-highest blitz rate the Buccaneers have recorded in the last four seasons. Todd Bowles sensed an opportunity to obliterate a rookie’s sense of comfort and used it to his advantage. That was the tale of the game for Levis, who deserves credit for standing tall in the pocket amid such circumstances. It’s going to be a tough watch if this is the environment in which he’s forced to operate the rest of the season.
2023 stats: 4 games | 63.5 pct | 675 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 3 INT | 6 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles
Jets safety Jordan Whitehead lured O’Connell into committing a turnover when he sat back and made the rookie think he had enough space to complete a pass underneath to Davante Adams, driving down on the route as soon as he saw O’Connell commit to the throw. That was the worst outcome of the night for O’Connell, who was otherwise unremarkable, save for a well-placed jump ball to tight end Michael Mayer for the only touchdown of the night for either team. The best thing O’Connell can do is avoid sinking the ship. He did so on Sunday night.
2023 stats: 3 games | 55.4 pct | 498 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 68 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles
Arthur Smith has found himself with an unenviable decision at quarterback heading into the bye week. Though he gave it his best effort, Heinicke struggled mightily against the Cardinals outside of one touchdown drive in which he scrambled for 11 yards, then tossed a beauty to Scott Miller for a score. He finished with 55 yards on 8-of-15 passing, making for a paltry 3.7 yards per attempt, before exiting with a hamstring injury. Desmond Ridder entered and led a go-ahead touchdown drive, but he did little else to restate his case to start in the loss. It’s a tough time in Atlanta right now.
2023 stats: 10 games | 65.4 pct | 2,031 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 10 pass TD | 10 INT | 96 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles
The loss to the Colts effectively captured the 2023 season for Jones. He had his positive moments, finding targets down the sideline and over the middle for key completions that might lead one to believe he’s figuring it out, but just when things are starting to shift in favor of Jones and the Patriots, he grossly underthrows a back-foot pass intended for an open Mike Gesicki in the end zone and watches it fall a full five yards short of its target. Unfortunately for Jones and the Patriots, the person standing there to catch the ball was wearing a horseshoe on his helmet, ending the Patriots’ best drive of the day in disappointment. The Patriots are a bad team, and Jones isn’t helping their cause. The fact Bill Belichick benched Jones for Bailey Zappe near the end of a one-score game is telling. The two-win Patriots now appear primarily worth monitoring to check on whether Jones might finish the season with his job.
2023 stats: 5 games | 65.7 pct | 859 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 3 pass TD | 6 INT | 109 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles
I believe we’ve completed the process of assessing Tyson Bagent in 2023. He’s a decent backup quarterback whose athleticism can be used to his advantage, but he’s not going to seriously elevate a team enough to consider him a legitimate starter. It’s a good thing we arrived at this conclusion, too, because some were just starting to contemplate dipping their toes into the mysterious, often treacherous waters of a lake whose creatures have claimed many a rational thinker, a body of water I call Losers’ Lake. It might deserve a better name, sure, but then again, those who enter learn too quickly that the grass is not, in fact, greener. Justin Fields is the guy and is expected to start this week. We, the football-viewing world, thank you for your contributions, Mr. Bagent, and look forward to you finding consistent employment as a QB2 for (at least a few) years to come. Oh, and congratulations on leading the Bears to a win over the Panthers. I don't believe that game deserved much more than a couple of sentences.
2023 stats: 8 games | 62.8 pct | 1,560 pass yds | 5.4 ypa | 8 pass TD | 7 INT | 135 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles
It’s now Week 11, and most everything is still difficult for the Panthers. Frank Reich is taking back play-calling duties after previously giving them to OC Thomas Brown. None of that matters much to me, except for how it affects Young’s development. Right now, he’s starting to develop some bad habits (his throwaways are really ugly, and that’s far from the only example). I fear the Panthers have entered a fragile period in Young’s career and might not even be aware of it. Their record isn’t the biggest concern. Helping Young stack a few positive blocks entering 2024 most certainly should be. I just don’t know how they get there. Their offensive line is bad, the weapons are lackluster, and the play-calling is uninspired. The Panthers lack an identity and are expecting a rookie to magically fix it. They might break his wand in the process, if they aren’t careful.
2023 stats: 3 games | 57.4 pct | 260 pass yds | 4.8 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 70 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles
I felt so much pity for DeVito when watching the loss to the Cowboys because he simply never had much time to do anything. Knowing the best way to shut down New York’s offense was to fluster a rookie quarterback, Dallas blitzed DeVito on over 50 percent of pass drops, and it showed. DeVito was pressured on half of his pass attempts and was sacked five times. With Saquon Barkley struggling to find room to run early, it became painfully evident the Giants were going to have an incredibly tough time moving the football. DeVito did adjust somewhat, reducing his process to deciding between options A or B: fire in the direction of his first read or take off on a scramble. This is what helped the Giants put together a seven-play, 91-yard touchdown drive that ended in a DeVito throw to Lawrence Cager for a touchdown. Otherwise, it was a rough day, to say the least, and it’s likely not going to get much better for the Giants in a massively disappointing 2023 campaign.