Skip to main content

Air Index

Presented By

NFL QB Index, Week 14: Joe Burrow knocking on door of top three; Tom Brady doing Tom Brady things

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 13 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 14.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 6

2022 stats: 12 games | 65.7 pct | 3,808 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 30 pass TD | 8 INT | 283 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Sunday's tight loss to the Bengals was more about Joe Burrow climbing into a new stratosphere of quarterbacking than Mahomes stumbling. Kansas City's polestar could only watch as Travis Kelce was stripped on a 19-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter, setting the table for a 10-play, 53-yard, go-ahead touchdown march by Burrow and Co. Mahomes certainly wants another shot at the third-and-3 scramble on the following drive that saw him tripped up by Joseph Ossai short of the sticks. The failed conversion -- a truly great defensive play by Ossai -- prompted a 55-yard Harrison Butker field-goal try that sailed wide. Kansas City never saw the ball again. Mahomes would also surely trade style points off his Jordan-esque soar to paydirt for one more shot at glory, but that's what January's for, silly. 

He's still my vote for MVP. 

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 3

2022 stats: 12 games | 68.1 pct | 2,940 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 20 pass TD | 3 INT | 609 rush yds | 9 rush TD | 9 fumbles

The face of the league's most versatile offense, Hurts can do it all. One week after gashing the Packers for 157 yards rushing -- the leading chunk of Philly's 363 ground yards against a winded Green Bay outfit -- Hurts demoralized Tennessee's defense for 380 yards through the air in a fireworks display starring a revenge-fueled A.J. Brown. Running an attack that ranks fourth in yards per drive and second in points per march -- and, thanks heavily to Hurts, first in ground-game DVOA -- Philly's second-year starter is much more than a viable MVP candidate. He's fully arrived for a team that just a year ago was still evaluating his future as a pro. His growth is stunning:

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 5

2022 stats: 12 games | 64.1 pct | 3,406 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 25 pass TD | 11 INT | 581 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 10 fumbles 

In workmanlike fashion on Thursday Night Football, Allen took care of business against an overmatched Patriots squad. It was promising to see Buffalo's do-everything leader supported by James Cook and a ground game that piled up 132 yards without asking Allen to run for more than 20. Dialing up a season-high 37 runs made plenty of sense for a Bills squad angling to keep its quarterback fresh after Buffalo's third travel game in 12 days. That the Bills won all three of those tells you plenty about this team and Allen, who said: "We could have used every excuse in the book, but our guys work extremely hard. We care about each other. We care about each other's families, and I think when you have that type of love in the locker room, you're going to find ways to win football games."

The victory in New England, a once unbeatable foe, didn't require a superhuman effort. The contrast between Allen (and his bandmates) and Mac Jones (and his) was overt. Yes, Josh lost a fumble. Allen always finds a way out of the mire, though, hitting Stefon Diggs on a swath of chain-moving gains. And then the impossible: Allen's incredible across-the-body scoring strike to Gabe Davis that simply laughed off how the human body is supposed to function. The Bills and their quarterback are still working through a few things -- Allen's turnovers must diminish -- but I trust them to figure it out in time for January. 

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 3

2022 stats: 12 games | 69.1 pct | 3,446 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 25 pass TD | 8 INT | 224 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 4 fumbles

The Joe Burrow experience on Sunday boiled down to one play: Facing third-and-11 with 1:59 on the clock and gripping a three-point lead, Cincy's cold-blooded starter needed to nail a throw or risk allowing a classic Mahomes comeback. With the enemy soaring in, Burrow lasered a tight-window shot to a defender-draped Tee Higgins for 14 yards. The timeout-spent Chiefs were cooked, downed for the third time in 2022 by a Bengals team sporting a quarterback who drips confidence. Drives, quarters, games, seasons and destinies boil down to making that kind of throw in the NFL. The Bengals have that guy, turning them into a team minus a ceiling. 

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 3

2022 stats: 10 games | 68.1 pct | 2,859 pass yds | 9.0 ypa | 21 pass TD | 5 INT | 35 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The implosion against the 49ers rallied the haters, but Tua's tough day doesn't unravel a season's worth of otherwise-stellar play. Being without tackles Terron Armstead and Austin Jackson predictably proved to be a disaster for a team shredded on Sunday by Nick Bosa. Niners defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans made it his mission to disrupt Miami's passing-game timing with a heavy dose of press coverage over the first two quarters. Tua won early with his 75-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield. From there, though, Ryans coaxed a career-low first-half CPOE (-26.2%) out of the Dolphins signal-caller, per Next Gen Stats. 

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 7

2022 stats: 7 games | 67.9 pct | 1,563 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 13 pass TD | 7 INT | 71 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Prescott wasn’t asked to rescue the planet during an all-out America’s Team explosion against the Colts. He threw a trio of touchdown passes -- including a pretty, on-the-move, third-and-long lob to Michael Gallup -- before giving way to backup Cooper Rush. He also tossed a risky one-on-one ball taken away by Stephon Gilmore and was lucky the Colts didn’t challenge an underthrown pass that looked (to my eyes) like a pick by Indy’s Isaiah Rodgers. Prescott might force a few throws, but he also operates as the skilled maestro of a balanced offense that ranks first in points per drive, touchdowns per drive rate and third-down success rate since his return from injury in Week 7. 

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 10

2022 stats: 12 games | 72.7 pct | 3,169 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 22 pass TD | 6 INT | 243 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles

Geno delivered on Sunday against the Rams, piling up a career-high 367 yards and three scores in a tilt that saw him author a 10-play, 75-yard game-winning touchdown drive. Smith remains uncowed by testing the field vertically, piling up 219 yards, all three of his touchdowns and a passer rating of 154.9 on passes of 10 or more air yards. Unstoppable when in unison with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, Geno shrugged off an early-game sideline spat with rookie runner Kenneth Walker III to concoct an important stretch-run victory inside his likely Comeback Player of the Year campaign. 

Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 23

2022 stats: 12 games | 66.2 pct | 3,332 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 16 pass TD | 3 INT | -7 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Nothing felt more Bucs-esque than Tampa's 16-play, 72-yard, eight-plus minute opening drive suddenly drying up at the New Orleans 3 to force a ho-hum field goal. The squad's next seven marches included five punts, a fumble and an ugly Brady pick. One of those punts -- a head-scratching fourth-quarter boot from the New Orleans 40 -- elicited heavy disdain from the fans at Raymond James Stadium. TB12 was the picture of frustration, melting down on the sideline as Tampa's season -- and maybe his last -- sat drenched in gloom.

What happened next will forever be pasted into the GOAT SCRAPBOOK: Brady crafting a pair of touchdown drives over the game's final five minutes to fell a stunned Saints outfit and keep the Bucs at the forefront of the woeful NFC South.

Football miracles: We love them.

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 2

2022 stats: 12 games | 61.7 pct | 1,896 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 13 pass TD | 10 INT | 905 rush yds | 8 rush TD | 13 fumbles

The Packers have owned the Bears for eons. They now understand the future is a mystery after seeing Fields test them with a flurry of explosive jabs on Sunday:

Fields wasn't perfect. His first pick was a game-altering Jaire Alexander takeaway triggered by less-than-pristine route running from St. Brown. His second interception was a final-seconds deep shot into traffic. There's room to grow. But Fields -- seen as a bottom-five quarterback in September -- also earned PFF's highest grade among passers in Week 13.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 3

2022 stats: 12 games | 66.7 pct | 3,339 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 20 pass TD | 7 INT | 135 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Herbert was sabotaged Sunday behind a banged-up line missing stalwart center Corey Linsley, right tackle Trey Pipkins and star bookend Rashawn Slater. The QB absorbed five sacks and 14 total hits in a game he still nearly tied in the final minutes with a host of additional L.A. starters out of the mix. It’s beginning (beginning?) to feel like every season ever in Chargers Land. 

Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 18

2022 stats: 13 games | 64.3 pct | 2,864 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 22 pass TD | 9 INT | 67 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

We’re set for another week of Rodgers after his banged-up bod survived Sunday’s win over the Bears. The bye should help, but it’s tantalizing to think about a genuine look at Jordan Love if (and when) Green Bay absorbs another defeat. That’s not how this works, though, with Aa-Rod certain to slow dance with the media until the regular season wraps -- the Packers on the outside looking in -- prior to another offseason’s worth of will-he-or-won’t-he-join-us-again-in-2023 drama. 

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 11

2022 stats: 12 games | 64.6 pct | 2,933 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 18 pass TD | 9 INT | 58 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Cousins earns points with teammates for his third-and-9 blast up the gut of New York's defense for an angry-run conversion that saw him willingly smash into a Jets defender. He also chose to absorb blistering punishment to give his second-quarter deep connection to Jalen Reagor a chance. Half the guys on this list would have been snowed under. Cousins then carved out a 27-15 fourth-quarter lead over Gang Green with a sharply placed toe-tapper to Justin Jefferson. Yes, the Vikings go to sleep for marches at a time. Yes, Cousins is waging through one of his lesser seasons. Yes, he’s also found a way to make the plays that matter most -- often just in time -- for a Vikings team now a mildly insane 9-0 in one-score games.

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 2

2022 stats: 12 games | 65.6 pct | 2,834 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 17 pass TD | 6 INT | 211 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles 

Lawrence's three-week joyride hit a wall in Sunday's wipeout loss to the Lions. Jacksonville's young starter underwent an MRI on his left foot Monday after being twisted to the ground in ugly fashion just before halftime. Rugged as can be, Lawrence returned to the field after intermission to throw a touchdown pass, but Jacksonville’s offense -- with the game script tossed in a blender -- is under pressure to turn it around against an agitated Titans defense. Lawrence’s season is about overall growth and clear steps have been made. 

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 11

2022 stats: 10 games | 64.9 pct | 2,117 pass yds | 8 ypa | 11 pass TD | 4 INT | 81 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

What went through the mind of Tannehill as Jalen Hurts, laced with superior weapons, turned A.J. Brown into a Titans killer in Sunday’s easy Eagles romp over Tennessee? After emerging rookie Treylon Burks was concussed during a touchdown grab, Tannehill was left throwing to just three active wideouts in Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Robert Woods and C.J. Board. The trio combined for 16 yards, although there’s a lot to like in rookie right end Chig Okonkwo. Still, Tanny’s in a bind when Derrick Henry is held to 30 yards amid a sea of unnegotiable third-and-longs. 

Maybe the next general manager will dial up more help. 

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 7

2022 stats: 12 games | 64.9 pct | 3,022 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 19 pass TD | 7 INT | 42 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Goff's oft-sturdy effort against Buffalo on Thanksgiving Day was snowed under by his ugly late-game missed connection with D.J. Chark. No such malarkey unfolded in Sunday's utter destruction of Jacksonville's defense. Goff embarrassed the Jaguars with a rash of big-boy throws to Chark and Amon-Ra St. Brown. The latter would be a household name if he played in Dallas. Who cares about the Cowboys, though, when the Lions freight train comes rumbling downhill to separate anything in its way? Goff is a week-to-week proposition that leaves coaches and fans with a wandering eye, but there's no arguing his production in Detroit's well-suited attack.

Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 9

2022 stats: 12 games | 62.3 pct | 2,980 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 20 pass TD | 8 INT | 77 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Two weeks running, Carr has worked himself out of a corner. He powered his way back from a pair of early interceptions in Week 12's overtime win over the Seahawks. On Sunday, Carr overcame an early pick-six to make magic with the unstoppable Davante Adams (8/177/2). There's a resilience to Carr that can't be denied, but it certainly helps when Josh Jacobs is running for 144 yards at 5.5 yards per pop and resembling a just-discovered offspring of Jim Brown.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Derek Carr's beguiling, inexcusable interception before halftime isn't the only reason Vegas was nipped in shocking fashion by the Rams, yet it tells me everything I need to know about a Raiders team that refuses to operate as the sum of its parts. It's not hard to imagine a 2023 version of this squad that moves on under center. 

Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 4

2022 stats: 10 games | 66.3 pct | 2,359 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 14 pass TD | 7 INT | 415 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles

Bye Week Report: Only the Bears and Zombie Rams have produced fewer wins than Arizona among NFC teams. Set to face talented defenses from New England, Denver and Tampa over the next three weeks, Murray and the disjointed Cardinals attack must run the table for any shot at the playoffs. Chalk that up as a total pipe dream for an offense still struggling to provide a proof of concept inside a largely lost season for Kliff Kingsbury and his fiery signal-caller. Changes loom.

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 4

2022 stats: 12 games | 66 pct | 2,365 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 11 pass TD | 4 INT | 522 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Daniel Jones put his name on 271 of New York's 316 total yards in Sunday's tie with the Commanders. He helped author 14 of the club's 20 first downs. His six incompletions on 31 attempts included a spike and a drop. With Saquon Barkley in a slump, Jones led the team in rushing and made the play of the day with a 55-yard rocket to Darius Slayton, the longest completion for the G-Men in the Next Gen Stats era. Slayton also dropped a catchable fourth-quarter deep shot that would have set the stage for a potential game-winning field goal. Point the blame elsewhere.

Andy Dalton
New Orleans Saints · Year 12

2022 stats: 10 games | 66.9 pct | 2,252 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 15 pass TD | 7 INT | 54 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The Saints' offense strikes me as a bizarre mix of disorganized chaos and derring-do. Somehow, this version of Dalton fits right in. The Glowing Ginger Man cooks up a batch of throws weekly that remind us he's more than just a patch. Against the Bucs, Dalton cleanly connected on a 30-yard, quarterback-to-jackknife scoring strike with Taysom Hill and continued his spicy chemistry with undrafted wideout Rashid Shaheed (4/75). Dalton also oversaw a pair of dying three-and-outs amid Brady's magical comeback. The Saints struggle to score points -- and have left Alvin Kamara by the side of the road -- but harbor true hope for tomorrow in star rookie wideout Chris Olave. It's anyone's guess if Dalton will be around to feed him the ball come 2023.

Mike White
New York Jets · Year 5

2022 stats: 2 games | 62.4 pct | 684 pass yds | 8 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 9 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

On a Jets team looking for a leader under center, here’s what Mike White said about New York missing too many scoring opportunities in a gut-wrenching loss to Minnesota

“My job as a quarterback is to put our team in the best position, and that’s scoring when we’re in the red zone. It starts with me. I gotta figure out how to put the ball in the end zone, and if we do that, I think we win the game.”

Here's what teammate Garrett Wilson said about Mike White: 

I'd go to war for that boy. He’s got something special about him.”

Nobody knows if White is a long-term thing in New York, but he's the right thing right now

Taylor Heinicke
Washington Commanders · Year 5

2022 stats: 7 games | 61.8 pct | 1,444 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 9 pass TD | 5 INT | 67 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Got a quarterback crush you can't logically explain to others? I’ve got mine.

Heinicke is an imperfect on-field being, lofting his share of turnover-worthy lobs into the fray. Then Washington’s quarterback makes a throw that reminds you why he’s in the NFL and not a help desk technician at Cisco. Heinicke’s fourth-and-4 burner to Curtis Samuel with the game on the line -- a toss that happened when he was on the run, being chased down by evil men in Giants unis -- was a next-level throw. Nobody’s calling him Peyton Manning, but Heinicke is a big ol’ ball of fun. 

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers · Rookie

2022 stats: 9 games | 65.2 pct | 1,797 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 4 pass TD | 8 INT | 209 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Three of Pittsburgh's biggest yardage outputs have come in their past four games. Same goes with points scored, first downs and yards on the ground. Rinse and repeat with Pickett's yards per attempt and passer rating, while the young starter set a franchise rookie record Sunday with 128 straight throws without a pick. Pickett is growing weekly inside an offense featuring a gaggle of players on their first NFL contracts.

Tyler Huntley
Baltimore Ravens · Year 3

2022 stats: 2 games | 84.4 pct | 187 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 41 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The brightest news for the Ravens: Lamar Jackson will be back. His knee sprain is not expected to be a season-ender. In his place, Huntley gives the offense a functional stand-in who made a string of big plays in Sunday's 10-9 squeaker over the Broncos. Packed into a game-sealing touchdown march with a minute on the clock, Huntley expertly pulled off a fourth-and-2 fake handoff to Devin Duvernay before blasting ahead for the first. On the following snap from the Denver 15, the third-year passer made one of Sunday's most underrated throws, pump-faking a lob to Kenyan Drake before hitting the runner in space for a 13-yard gain to the 2-yard line. With 31 ticks remaining, Huntley then blasted into the end zone. With divisional games against the Bengals and Browns -- and two against the Steelers -- over the next five weeks, Huntley gives the Ravens a chance.

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · Year 6

2022 stats: 1 game | 54.5 pct | 131 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 21 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Watson was a mess in Houston against his former employer. His current one better hope this isn't the player Cleveland swapped a boatload of picks -- and a chunk of the fan base -- for before paying the quarterback a fully guaranteed $230 million. It's no surprise Watson's game was sloppy after a 700-day hiatus -- he sat out the 2021 campaign and was suspended 11 games this year for violating the league's personal-conduct policy -- but Deshaun appeared lost in the weeds with a rash of balls thrown at the feet of his receivers and an ill-advised pick in the end zone. Only John Wolford filed a lower passer rating than Watson's career-worst 53.4 mark on a day that saw Houston's totally-lost attack outscore Cleveland's 12-6. He looked uncomfortable. Plenty of Browns fans feel uncomfortable about this entire situation.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 2

2022 stats: 9 games | 68.1 pct | 1,963 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 7 pass TD | 7 INT | 88 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

His Thanksgiving explosion in the rear-view mirror, Jones returned to Earth inside a confused, poorly run offense that failed to trick the Bills last Thursday night. It's unusual to observe a Patriots attack this out of whack, triggering pangs of in-house distress. Watching Jones bubble up with emotion and agitation along the sideline -- appearing to say, "Throw the f------ ball! The quick game sucks!" -- aligns with season-long whispers over Mac's frustration in a post-Josh McDaniels scheme that struggles to plop out first downs after finishing sixth in scoring a year ago. Jones insisted his outburst wasn't directed at anyone in particular (read: play-caller Matt Patricia, working as an offensive coach for the first time in 17 years), but he also pleaded to be "coached harder," saying of Thursday's mess: "We didn't do anything good enough." This vibes as a lost campaign for an otherwise-promising second-year passer.

Marcus Mariota
Atlanta Falcons · Year 8

2022 stats: 13 games | 61.3 pct | 2,219 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 15 pass TD | 9 INT | 438 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 8 fumbles

CTRL+ALT+DEL on the Mariota experience. Sunday’s fizzle-out against the Steelers was a carbon copy of countless other middle-of-the-road starts by the veteran stopgap. Saved only by mathematical oddities in a terrible NFC South, the Falcons have nothing to lose by rolling with rookie Desmond Ridder. If the plan is to make one more push for the division, even more reason to search for a spark under center! Arthur Smith finally opened the door to a change on Sunday, telling reporters: “We’ll evaluate everything. Every job is open.” 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Desmond Ridder will take over as the Falcons' starting quarterback when the team returns from its bye to face the Saints in Week 15, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.

Matt Ryan
Indianapolis Colts · Year 15

2022 stats: 11 games | 67.8 pct | 2,875 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 13 pass TD | 13 INT | 70 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 14 fumbles

It never made sense to sit Ryan for Sam Ehlinger. It makes plenty of sense for the bye-week Colts to roll with Nick Foles. Ryan was battered by the Cowboys on Sunday night, throwing three picks and then getting smashed on a strip-fumble during an unholy 33-point fourth-quarter beatdown by Dallas. Ryan still makes throws that remind you of who he was, but 2022 Matty Ice has accounted for 14 fumbles -- five of them lost -- and a league-high 13 picks. It’s no fun watching him crunched weekly by human giants. 

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 11

2022 stats: 11 games | 60.1 pct | 2,558 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 8 pass TD | 5 INT | 158 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Wilson turned in one of his better performances of the season against Baltimore, missing just five of his 22 throws, yet Denver still squeezed out just three field goals in another energy-suck of a loss. Updates on his disastrous campaign inside a low-octane, paint-by-numbers offense are mood-killing reminders of what appears to be the priciest miscalculation in Broncos history. 

Sam Darnold
Carolina Panthers · Year 5

2022 stats: 1 game | 57.9 pct | 164 pass yds | 8.6 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 3 rush yd | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Bye Week Report: Hanging on by a hair in the NFC playoff race, the Baker Mayfield-free Panthers now roll with Darnold as their latest lead dude under center. If he can avoid calamity, the next five weeks present a precious chance for Darnold to prove he belongs. Not as a Week 1 starter in 2023 -- those days are history -- but as a journeyman backup staving off a second career as a slightly apathetic hedge fund assistant. 

John Wolford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 4

2022 stats: 2 games | 61.3 pct | 390 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 1 pass TD | 3 INT | 32 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Playing quarterback for the Rams is a grueling task in 2022. Wolford survived a lingering neck injury and banged-up ankle against Seattle on the same day coach Sean McVay announced that Matthew Stafford is dealing with a spinal cord contusion. Don't expect to see Stafford again -- maybe ever? -- in a Rams jersey. We're bound to get another taste of mobile Bryce Perkins, but Wolford on Sunday showed chemistry with Tutu Atwell and Brandon Powell and oversaw a ground game that used a handful of creative wrinkles to pound out a season-best 171 yards. Fourteen of those yards came on a fourth-and-2 dash by Wolford that saved a nine-play, 75-yard go-ahead touchdown march in the final frame. Wolford also tossed a pair of picks in the tough loss, but he made the Rams vaguely watchable -- no small task during a bleak campaign.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: In the end, it wasn't John Wolford, but a newly minted Rams passer who stole the show ... What Baker Mayfield accomplished on Thursday night is why I adore the NFL. The improbable nature of a jettisoned, down-on-his-luck quarterback -- his career considered all but over -- flying to Los Angeles and running roughly 20 practice plays with strangers before torching Vegas on national television: Chalk it up as a set-apart sports moment and another reminder that pro football will always be a place for players to rewrite the narrative, reshape one's destiny and stand high above the doubting public.

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Rookie

2022 stats: 4 games | 63 pct | 276 pass yds | 6 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 2 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Disaster strikes! Seen Sunday morning as a full-fledged Super Bowl contender, the Niners now roll with Purdy at the motherboard after losing Jimmy Garoppolo to a foot injury. April's "Mr. Irrelevant" burns on center stage as a coached-up product of Kyle Shanahan. 

Purdy was far from a disaster in the win over Miami, academically flinging dump-off scores to open targets Kyle Juszczyk and Christian McCaffrey. The Iowa State product showed the ability to cycle through his reads and rip the quick release in the face of pressure. Case in point: His heater to George Kittle with a defender set to destroy the newbie passer. It’s TBD whether Purdy can make this offense sing, but he’s surrounded by star players, a dominant defense and one of the game’s true quarterback whisperers in Shanahan. "He’s played against the best defense in the league for the past 13 weeks,” said Niners linebacker Fred Warner. “He’ll be fine." 

Kyle Allen
Houston Texans · Year 5

2022 stats: 2 games | 59 pct | 416 pass yds | 5.3 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 13 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Davis Mills became an exhausting visual, but any sense of freshness attached to Allen has withered into nothingness. Despite his 53.5 passer rating somehow outshining the 53.4 figure carved out by a hyper-rusty Deshaun Watson, Allen went out of his way to sink the Texans with the rare pick-six/fumble-six combo on Sunday. In unsurprising news on Wednesday, Lovie Smith announced that the Texans are turning back to Mills, who at least seems to have a legitimate future as Houston’s No. 2 after the organization invariably drafts a different human to play the role of next year’s starter. 

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter.

The Air Index presented by FedEx ranks NFL quarterback performances all season long. Check out the weekly FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote after Sunday Night Football.

Related Content