NFL Week 5 Report Card Grades for Every Starting QB
Week 5 featured both good and bad performances by NFL quarterbacks, and it became clear that several careers are headed in opposite directions.
The Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck had his first come-from-behind win, while Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had another performance that showed he doesn't have a bright future in the league.
Check out the rest of the article to see how each team's quarterback performed this week.
Tony Romo: C-
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Stats: 101-for-151, 1,148 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions
The first quarter of this season has played out much like the rest of Tony Romo's career. He has shown signs of excellence but has also looked terrible.
Maybe the biggest thing to take from the first four games is that Romo just doesn't have the ability to run a smooth and error-free offense.
A lot was made of the receivers' mistakes against the Chicago Bears, but the quarterback is responsible for ensuring everyone is on the same page. Romo doesn't deserve all of the blame, but he's the leader of the offense.
One bright spot for the Dallas Cowboys is that they hold a 2-2 record. They're absolutely still in the hunt for a playoff spot.
Eli Manning: A-
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Stats: 25-for-37, 259 yards, three touchdowns and one interception
The New York Giants could've been in a lot trouble if they weren't playing the Cleveland Browns. Allowing any team to jump out to a 17-7 lead usually spells difficulty.
However, Eli Manning and company were able to settle down and mount a comeback.
Manning continues to overcome multiple injuries at the wide receiver position to find success. With Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden out of the lineup, Rueben Randle was able to make an impact.
Enough can't be said about a quarterback who makes those around him better.
Michael Vick: B-
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Stats: 20-for-30, 175 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
The entire Philadelphia Eagles offense is out of sync; it appears to be heading into each game without a strong game plan. This has a lot to do with the way quarterback Michael Vick plays, but also with the play-calling.
Philadelphia's offensive line struggles to provide Vick with good protection. Yet the Eagles run a lot of plays designed to attack the deep part of the field. They don't establish a rhythm, and it's why they have trouble putting points on the board.
The Eagles need to start drawing up more underneath routes and running the ball. This offense needs to go through LeSean McCoy, not Vick.
One positive to take from this game is the fact that Vick was able to avoid throwing an interception. However, he did lose two fumbles, which impacted the outcome of the game.
Robert Griffin III: C
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Stats: 10-for-15, 91 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Robert Griffin III had an efficient game but failed to put up the type of production needed to win. He was also knocked out of the game with a head injury, which is something the Washington Redskins must monitor closely.
Griffin could've easily avoided the injury if he just threw the ball away or ran out of bounds. He needs to learn how to protect himself, as his ability to make plays with his feet is only a small portion of what he brings to the table.
Washington had a much better chance to win this game if Griffin was able to avoid injury. So, this was an average performance hindered by his decision to risk injury.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: F
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Stats: 16-for-26, 126 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to show that he isn't capable of consistently winning football games. His play has lined up with the rest of the Buffalo Bills' performance this season: disappointing.
The biggest issue plaguing Fitzpatrick is his trouble making proper reads. Too often, he throws the ball into coverage, which results in an interception. The Bills defense isn't strong enough to overcome the mistakes made by the team's quarterback.
Buffalo has to be thinking about targeting a quarterback in the upcoming draft. It's seen enough of Fitzpatrick to know he's not the long-term answer at the position.
Ryan Tannehill: B+
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Stats: 17-for-26, 223 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Ryan Tannehill continues to take steps in the right direction. The most important improvement has been his ability to avoid turnovers.
It's obvious that Tannehill is gaining confidence each and every week. This is key because confidence plays a major role in the development of a young quarterback.
Because of the talent the Miami Dolphins have on defense, it's possible this team can surprise a lot of people.
Keep in mind that Tannehill is putting up decent numbers without a true No. 1 receiver. Brian Hartline has some talent, but he's anything but a top-end playmaker.
Mark Sanchez: To Be Determined
Tom Brady: A-
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Stats: 23-for-31, 223 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
The New England Patriots continue to change with the times and keep opponents off guard.
Heading into the season, they featured a running back group that didn't have an established No. 1 back. Therefore, everyone expected Tom Brady to throw the ball 50 times a game.
However, the past two weeks have been the exact opposite, with the running game dominating the attack. This has allowed Brady to pick his spots and make plays when he's needed most. This ability to adjust to any offensive attack is why he's such a special player.
Unlike Peyton Manning, Brady doesn't need a specific system to find success. He's just a good quarterback that knows how to run an offense.
Kevin Kolb: B-
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Stats: 28-for-50, 289 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
The fact that Kevin Kolb was able to make it through the game against the St. Louis Rams is amazing. Most quarterbacks can't handle being sacked nine times in a single game.
What is more impressive is that Kolb was able to keep the game close and avoid throwing any interceptions.
There's talk that the Arizona Cardinals may turn to John Skelton after the bye week (per ESPN.com). However, that would be a mistake.
Kolb is by far the more athletic of the two quarterbacks. Skelton wouldn't survive long behind that offensive line. And since Kolb is currently playing effectively and often managing wins, making a quarterback switch now would only slow the team's momentum.
Alex Smith: A
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Stats: 18-for-34, 303 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Alex Smith rebounded this weekend after a few weeks of less-than-stellar performances. He took advantage of a poor Buffalo Bills defense, and his play helped the San Francisco 49ers score 45 points, by far the most they've scored this season.
It's encouraging to see that Smith and Michael Crabtree are building a strong relationship.
Crabtree's development is key to the 49ers' chances of winning a Super Bowl. He is by far the most talented wide receiver on the team, which is why Smith needs to make an effort to target him more.
Don't expect many more of these performances moving forward. The 49ers are built to win with their defense and running game. They just need Smith to play his part and perform in pressure situations.
Russell Wilson: D+
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Stats: 19-for-25, 221 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
The Seattle Seahawks pulled off the win against the Carolina Panthers, but questions marks still surround Russell Wilson.
His struggles avoiding turnovers almost cost the Seahawks this game, and Seattle needs a quarterback that does a better job taking care of the football.
This team has the defense and running game to make a run at the playoffs. The Seahawks can't afford to deal with Wilson's rookie mistakes much longer if they hope to reach that goal.
At some point, Seattle is going to give Matt Flynn a chance. The team gave him too much money to not take a look at what he can do in a regular-season game.
Sam Bradford: D
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Stats: 7-for-21, 141 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Sam Bradford's poor performance was overshadowed because the St. Louis Rams were able to pull off a win against the Arizona Cardinals.
He only managed to throw for 141 yards, and 67 percent (95 yards) of those yards came on two passes. The fact is, the Rams really won this game because of the play of their defense; it's tough for a team to win when its quarterback completes less than 35 percent of his passes.
To be fair, Bradford doesn't have the type of weapons needed to open up the offense. His top targets include Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis and Chris Givens. Nobody in this group is capable of consistently winning one-on-one matchups.
However, a quarterback needs to complete more than seven passes in a game. There's plenty of high school quarterbacks across the country that surpass that number on a weekly basis.
Peyton Manning: A-
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Stats: 31-for-44, 345 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Peyton Manning did his part against the New England Patriots, and if not for a late fumble by Willis McGahee, he might have led a comeback.
The issue is that the Denver Broncos as a team are getting off to terrible starts. It's tough for any squad to come back from a 24-point deficit.
Manning is still trying to work out the kinks with his new teammates, and that might be a reason the Broncos are getting off to such slow starts.
Next week's game against the San Diego Chargers is arguably the biggest of the season for Denver. This will be the Broncos' opportunity to put themselves back into the AFC West race.
Matt Cassel: F
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Stats: 9-for-15, 92 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions
Matt Cassel gave the Kansas City Chiefs another terrible performance before being knocked out of the game with a head injury. He continued his trend of turning the ball over and failing to make impact plays.
This injury might be the excuse the Chiefs were looking for to give Brady Quinn a chance.
The Chiefs had high expectations for this season, but Cassel's play is part of the reason they have been such a disappointment. This team has plenty of weapons on offense, and Cassel should be playing much better football.
Look for Kansas City to target a quarterback in the first round of the 2013 draft.
Carson Palmer: C+
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Stats: 99-for-162, 1,081 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions
Blaming Carson Palmer for the struggles of the Oakland Raiders offense is a mistake. He's playing good football but isn't getting a lot of help from his supporting cast.
The Raiders receiving corps has dealt with a lot of injuries, and its top two targets have rarely been on the field at the same time.
Because of the injuries to Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, Palmer has been forced to target players like Rod Streater and Juron Criner. Neither are great route runners or completely comfortable in the offense.
Darren McFadden is also struggling to help Palmer. He's only averaging 3.5 yards per carry, a number that is deceiving because it includes a 64-yard run. Remove that run, and McFadden is only averaging 2.4 yards per carry.
Philip Rivers: B-
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Stats: 27-for-42, 354 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Philip Rivers remains on one of the more interesting career paths in the NFL.
He finds a way to finish the season with good-looking numbers but struggles from game to game. The biggest issue is his inability to pull out a win in closely contested games.
Not all of this is Rivers' fault, as his teammates also struggle making plays in pressure situations. Ryan Mathews continues to make mistakes and fails to help his team win games. He's the type of player that drops a pass in a key situation.
However, the San Diego Chargers rely on Rivers to lead the offense.
Jay Cutler: B-
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Stats: 23-for-39, 292 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears offense still need the defense to win football games. They look to that unit to provide a spark and confidence. In the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the offense was stagnant until the defense scored a touchdown.
It's obvious that Cutler is very comfortable throwing the ball to Brandon Marshall. However, he needs to start using his other targets more. He can expect to see Marshall double- and even triple-teamed if he continues to be the team's only playmaker.
Don't overlook the role Matt Forte plays in Cutler's success. His ability to run the football and make plays out of the backfield helps the Bears offense sustain drives.
Matthew Stafford: C+
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Stats: 114-for-173, 1,182 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions
Stafford's struggles putting the ball in the end zone are a major reason why the Lions are 1-3.
Detroit doesn't have the type of defense that's capable of dealing with these offensive struggles. The Lions lack the talent in the secondary to keep teams from scoring. Stafford and company must find a way to put more points on the board.
One of the biggest issues with the offense is its inability to convert on third down. Stafford's completion percentage drops to 58.7 percent in third-down situations. The Lions need to start keeping drives alive, and that starts with Stafford.
Aaron Rodgers: B
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Stats: 21-for-33, 243 yards, three touchdowns and one interception
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense did most of their damage in the first half. The lack of production in the second half allowed the Indianapolis Colts to mount a comeback, and this is starting to become a bit of a trend for Rodgers.
The Packers have a very explosive offense, but they go through stretches of poor execution. This is part of the reason why Green Bay has struggled so far this season.
Rodgers is still an elite quarterback, but he must find a way to overcome those dry spells.
Christian Ponder: B
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Stats: 25-for-35, 258 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions
Christian Ponder's accuracy and good decision making are the main reasons the Minnesota Vikings are 4-1 and sitting on top of the NFC North. A major key to his success is the fact that he's playing within the system and not forcing the issue.
He understands that this is a team with a good running game, but it lacks multiple playmakers at the wide receiver position. This is why Ponder makes good use of Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph, two players that can consistently make plays in the passing game.
At some point, Ponder will need to increase the explosiveness of the offense. This is the one part of his game that needs to improve.
He's hit or miss when he takes shots down the field. However, he's showing improvement each and every week.
Joe Flacco: C-
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Stats: 13-for-27, 187 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
It wasn't pretty, but Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens were able to pull off a victory against the Kansas City Chiefs.
This game was more about defense and controlling the clock than making explosive plays. Ray Rice's six yards per carry helped dictate the flow of the game.
No quarterback is capable of having a perfect season. It's a long season, and sometimes a player just doesn't bring his A-game.
Look for the Ravens to make a point of getting Flacco off to a fast start in the next game. They were able to win this game without much offensive production, but they'll need Flacco and the passing game to produce in the future.
Andy Dalton: D+
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Stats: 26-for-43, 234 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
The Cincinnati Bengals offense struggled to get things going against the Miami Dolphins. More importantly, Andy Dalton threw two interceptions and failed to outperform rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Losing the turnover battle almost always results in a loss.
Dalton needs to do a better job protecting the football. Cincinnati's defense kept the game close, but the turnovers made it tough for the Bengals to limit the Dolphins' points.
One key was that Dalton was still able to get the ball to A.J. Green. Despite dealing with extra attention from defenses, Green and Dalton keep making plays.
Brandon Weeden: C
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Stats: 22-for-35, 291 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions
The Cleveland Browns knew that when they gave quarterback Brandon Weeden the starting job, he'd have plenty of ups and downs. His highs and lows are visible over the course of any game, especially the most recent against the New York Giants.
He showed his potential with his 62-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon, and then he showed his inexperience with the two interceptions.
One area of concern is his struggle converting on third down. He just isn't able to move the chains and consistently put the Browns in position to score points.
Ben Roethlisberger: B-
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Stats: 21-for-37, 207 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Ben Roethlisberger had a hard time producing explosive plays against a tough Philadelphia Eagles defense. However, he worked his late-game magic to ensure the Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off an important victory.
This type of performance is what we expect to see from Roethlisberger, but that doesn't make it any less impressive.
Pittsburgh finally was able to establish a strong running game. This is largely why Roethlisberger and the passing game weren't asked to do much.
Moving forward, Roethlisberger only figures to benefit from the presence of a running game.
Matt Ryan: B+
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Stats: 34-for-52, 345 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Matt Ryan was able to overcome a slow start and help lead the Atlanta Falcons to a victory. He did an excellent job taking what the defense gave him.
The Washington Redskins focused on shutting down Roddy White and Julio Jones, so Ryan targeted Tony Gonzalez.
It was nice to see Ryan fight through some adversity and still play at a high level. This is something he'll have to do again if the Falcons want to make a Super Bowl appearance.
Atlanta's offense has the potential to be the most explosive unit in the league. This is mainly due to Ryan's presence on the field.
Cam Newton: D+
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Stats: 12-for-29, 141 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
It appears that the defensive coordinators around the league have found a way to slow down Cam Newton. His play has been filled with mistakes, poor decisions and a lack of focus.
Actually, the biggest issue might be that he lacks confidence.
Newton hasn't dealt with much failure in his football career; he's used to winning games and playing at a high level. Unfortunately for Newton, the NFL is made up of players with similar experience and athleticism. He'll need to become a smarter player if he hopes to have long-term success in the league.
The future remains bright for Newton, but he must work his way out of this funk.
Drew Brees: A
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Stats: 29-for-45, 370 yards, four touchdowns and one interception
Drew Brees breaking Johnny Unitas' record of 48 straight games with a touchdown pass means that Brees will go down as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
He reached this milestone despite the terrible start to the New Orleans Saints' season. As much as Brees would like to enjoy this accomplishment, he's likely more worried about getting wins for his team.
The Saints have the offensive firepower to make a playoff run. However, they need the defense to pick up its play.
Josh Freeman: D
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Stats: 65-for-119, 790 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions
Josh Freeman is off to a poor start this season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's only completing 54 percent of his passes, which is making it difficult for the offense to score points.
That low of a completion percentage is the reason the Buccaneers struggle to sustain drives.
Exacerbating the situation are the issues the Buccaneers are having establishing a running game. On the season, Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount are only averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
These factors contribute to the Buccaneers having one of the least explosive offenses in the league.
Freeman must start playing better if he hopes to have a future in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers will have to look in a different direction if he's unable to take a step forward in his development.
Matt Schaub: To Be Determined
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Stats: To Be Determined
Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans face the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Because of the struggles of the Jets defense, Schaub will have plenty of opportunities to make plays.
Andrew Luck: A-
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Stats: 31-for-55, 362 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
The Indianapolis Colts started the game lacking the spark needed to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers. However, Andrew Luck and company came out in the second half with increased hustle and were able to mount an impressive comeback to upset the Packers.
Reggie Wayne is quickly becoming Luck's favorite target, while proving he's far from finished. These two have already put up big numbers this season.
Luck deserves a lot of credit for his game-winning touchdown drive. During that drive, he made some plays with his feet and delivered the ball with accuracy.
In all, this game showed the potential Luck possesses.
Blaine Gabbert: D
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Stats: 17-for-33, 142 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions
Blaine Gabbert just doesn't have the consistency needed to win football games. He lacks the confidence to take shots down the field and the accuracy to work the intermediate routes. His interception to Charles Tillman exemplified his problems placing the football.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need to think about going in a different direction with the position. Nothing Gabbert has shown in his two seasons with the team says he's ever going to develop into a winning quarterback.
Finding success in the NFL depends on the play of the quarterback. This is why Jacksonville can't spend much more time developing Gabbert.
Matthew Hasselbeck: D-
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Stats: 26-for-43, 200 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Matthew Hasselbeck is still a serviceable quarterback, but he can't win a game on his own. This Tennessee Titans team just doesn't have the talent level needed to compete on a weekly basis.
The defense has taken a lot of the blame, but the offense hasn't held up its end of the bargain. This is a group that struggles to sustain drives and produce explosive plays.
Opposing defenses are able to close in on the line of scrimmage and make it tough for the Titans to establish a rhythm.
Chris Johnson is also getting a lot of blame. However, it's hard to establish a running game when the defense doesn't respect the pass. Johnson is consistently facing eight men in the box.