Week 9 Report Card Grades for Every Starting NFL QB
It's impossible to talk about this past week's quarterback performances without mentioning Andrew Luck. He was by far the most impressive performer of the weekend. His record-setting game showed the type of potential he possesses.
Check out the rest of the article to see each starting quarterback's grade for this past week's performance.
Tony Romo: B
Stats: 25/35, 321 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Tony Romo played well enough for the Dallas Cowboys to hand the Atlanta Falcons its their loss of the season. However, the Dallas' inability to convert on third down allowed the Falcons to remain undefeated. Any time an offense goes 3-10 on third down, it's unlikely the team will come out on top.
As for Romo, his strong performance came despite the lack of a running game. Felix Jones and company were only able to manage 65 yards on the ground. This put a lot of pressure on Romo to keep the offense moving.
Despite this extra pressure, Romo did a good job keeping his team in the game. The fact he was able to avoid committing any turnovers was a nice surprise.
Eli Manning: D
Stats: 10/24, 125 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Eli Manning was completely out of rhythm the entire game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His accuracy, touch and timing were all off. The fact that he was unable to complete over 50 percent of his passes is troubling.
This inaccuracy is the reason the New York Giants went 2-10 in third-down situations. New York's inability to sustain drives is why the Steelers were able to make a comeback.
Manning is typically clutch in the fourth quarter, but this week Roethlisberger was able to come up big at the end of the game. Many overlook the fact that Roethlisberger also has a long track record of performing well late in games.
Michael Vick: To Be Determined
Stats: To be determined
Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New Orleans Saints this week on Monday Night Football. Check back after the game to see Vick's grade.
Robert Griffin III: C-
Stats: 23/39, 215 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
This past weekend's game against the Carolina Panthers was one of the toughest of Robert Griffin III's young NFL career. The entire Washington Redskins offense struggled to find a rhythm and make plays in pressure situations.
Griffin had trouble with his accuracy and locating open targets. However, he didn't get much help from his surrounding cast. The wide receiver corps didn't do a great job winning one-on-one battles or finding the open holes in the zone.
This game showed that Washington needs to surround Griffin with better playmakers.
Griffin also must do a better job of protecting himself. He continually risked injury just to pick up a few extra yards. Washington needs him to remain healthy and on the field.
On a side note, I loved the Redskins' throw-back uniforms.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: C
Stats: 25/38, 239 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Last week, Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix stated that he plans on remaining with the team until they find a franchise quarterback. This statement shows the franchise's thoughts on its current quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
With this in the back of his head, Fitzpatrick played an uninspiring game against the Houston Texans. His overall numbers don't look too bad, but it's the lack of efficiency on third down that really hurt the Bills.
Fitzpatrick just wasn't able to move the chains and keep Buffalo's offense on the field. He also struggled to put the ball in the end zone when the Bills were in scoring position.
Ryan Tannehill: B+
Stats: 22/38, 290 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Each week, Ryan Tannehill takes a step forward in his development. He has already exceeded expectations and only continues to improve. The most impressive part of his development has been his ability to limit the interceptions.
Protecting the ball is the main reason the Miami Dolphins had a chance to pull off a late-game win against the Indianapolis Colts. It's also the reason the Dolphins are in position to make a run at the playoffs.
The touchdown pass he threw to Charles Clay showed the type of potential Tannehill possesses. On that play, he delivered an accurate ball with touch.
Tom Brady: A-
Season Stats: 209/320, 2,408 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions
The New England Patriots have suffered some disappointing losses so far this season, and Tom Brady isn't to blame for the Patriots' 5-3 record. He's playing at a high level despite the talks that he's off his game. The truth is that the Patriots offense is still going through some adjustments.
New England's offense is very different from last year. It has a new offensive coordinator in Josh McDaniels, who's a much different play-caller than Bill O'Brien. There's also the fact that Aaron Hernandez has missed a lot of time due to injury, and the Brandon Lloyd-Brady connection has needed time to jell.
Despite these changes, Brady has been able to lead the Patriots to a 32-point-per-game average; tops in the NFL.
Mark Sanchez: D-
Season Stats: 144/272, 1,736 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions
Mark Sanchez is having a pitiful season for the New York Jets. He's struggling with his accuracy, defensive reads and overall management of the offense. His 52.9 percent completion percentage puts him on pace for the lowest mark of his career.
Of course, Sanchez's struggles aren't entirely his fault. The offense lacks a creative game plan and weapons needed for a quarterback to succeed. Tony Sparano and Rex Ryan are committed to running the football, while also developing an uninspiring passing attack. It's hard for a quarterback to play well if the game plan is subpar.
The other issue is that Sanchez is stuck throwing the ball to the likes of Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill and Chaz Schilens. Not one of those players should be a quarterback's No. 1 option at the wide receiver position.
Still, Sanchez's play is putting him dangerously close to losing his starting job.
John Skelton: B-
Stats: 23/46, 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception
John Skelton is in a tough position, because he's stuck playing on an offense with some major issues. He's forced to deal with a lack of a running game and problems along the offensive line. Despite the problems, Skelton kept the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers close.
The presence of playmakers like Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Michael Floyd makes things a little easier on the quarterback. However, Skelton's ability to buy time in the pocket and find open targets is impressive.
Green Bay's defense is much better than last season's, especially in the secondary. This was a major factor in Skelton's decent grade for this week.
Alex Smith: C
Season Stats: 145/209, 1,659 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions
The San Francisco 49ers are in prime position to make another strong run at the Super Bowl. However, a lot of this depends on the play of quarterback Alex Smith. This season has been a series of up-and-down performances. Smith can't continue to play like this if the 49ers hope to reach their goal: winning the Super Bowl.
At this point, the biggest issue facing Smith is consistently making plays down the field. He's not getting the most out of playmakers like Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.
There have been several occasions where one of these players was open downfield, but Smith was unable to make the connection.
Opposing defenses know that the 49ers want to feature a run-heavy attack. This is why it's important for Smith to take advantage when teams stack the box.
Smith is playing average football, and that might not be enough for San Francisco to make a deep playoff run.
Russell Wilson: B
Stats: 16/24, 173 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Because of the strong play of the Seattle Seahawks defense and Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson isn't asked to do too much. However, it's obvious that each week he's becoming more comfortable in this offense. His ability to solidify the quarterback position is one of the main reasons why Seattle is in the playoff hunt.
Against the Minnesota Vikings, he showed that his deep accuracy and overall ball placement is improving. This improvement is important because it forces opposing defenses to respect the deep ball. Without this, Lynch and the running game wouldn't be so effective.
It's also important to note that Wilson seems to be recognizing that he needs to work at avoiding turnovers. Seattle's defense is strong enough that avoiding turnovers can mean the difference between a win and a loss.
Sam Bradford: C-
Season Stats: 153/249, 1,797 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions
Sam Bradford's numbers aren't pretty, but he isn't surrounded by the talent needed to succeed. The St. Louis Rams receiving corps lacks someone who's capable of consistently winning one-on-one matchups. This group's top playmakers include Danny Amendola (who has missed several games with injury), Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens.
All three of these players are solid No. 3 options, but they need other playmakers around them to be effective.
It's also important to point out the struggles of the Rams' offensive line. The unit has allowed the fifth most sacks in the NFL with a total of 23. Bradford doesn't possesses the athleticism to overcome that type of pressure.
While his numbers and production don't tell the whole story, they do show that this is a quarterback who still needs to improve. Hopefully, St. Louis uses its two first-round picks in 2013 on help for Bradford.
Peyton Manning: B+
Stats: 27/35, 291 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions
Despite throwing two interceptions, Peyton Manning had another terrific game. His consistency helped move the offense and put points on the board. The Denver Broncos needed a strong performance by Manning, because Willis McGahee and the running game struggled.
McGahee was only able to average 2.9 yards per carry. This poor production is surprising, because the Bengals placed extra attention on stopping Manning.
That's another reason why this performance deserves a high grade.
Matt Cassel: D
Stats: 19/29, 181 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Matt Cassel continues to play his way out of a job. This will be his last season as the Kansas City Chiefs starting quarterback. His poor play is one of the main reasons the Chiefs have severely underperformed this season.
Cassel completed 65 percent of his passes against the San Diego Chargers, but not one of those topped the 25-yard mark. This lack of big-play ability is one of the main reasons the running game struggled so much. It's hard for even Jamaal Charles to be effective when there's little to no production from the passing game.
This failure falls on the coaching staff and Scott Pioli, as Cassel hasn't shown any signs of being a top-notch quarterback throughout his career. Kansas City should've made a more aggressive move to bring in a backup quarterback with upside.
Carson Palmer: B
Stats: 39/61, 414 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions
Carson Palmer continues to play good football despite getting little help from those around him. The Oakland Raiders just don't have the talent needed to win many football games. If it wasn't for the play of Palmer, the Raiders would likely be winless.
Palmer's 414-yard performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is even more impressive when you look at the fact that Darren McFadden only rushed for 17 yards.
Of course, it's also important to realize that he did all this against a terrible Tampa Bay secondary.
Philip Rivers: B-
Stats: 18/20, 220 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Compared to the rest of the season, Philip Rivers' performance against the Kansas City Chiefs was excellent. However, this wasn't a perfect performance. Rivers threw another terrible interception in the red zone. It's these type of mistakes that have cost the San Diego Chargers wins.
The important thing for the Chargers and Rivers is to look at this game as a positive. They still have a chance to make the playoffs this season, but they need Rivers to significantly improve his play. This game can be used as a building block.
However, it's important to note that the Chiefs are a terrible team. It's tough to put too much stock in success against a team this bad.
Maybe Norv Turner will finally realize that he has a potentially dominant defense and should game plan his offensive attack around that fact.
Jay Cutler: B+
Stats: 19/26, 229 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
On paper, Jay Cutler's performance against the Tennessee Titans looks very impressive. However, the defense's ability to put points on the board helped the offense avoid pressure. The fact is that Cutler and the offense had another slow start.
The Bears must find a way to get the offense going early in the game. This is something that will come back to hurt them later in the season. They were able to survive this week because of the defense, but they can't count on this every week.
Outside of the slow start, Cutler did a good job playing within himself. He understood that they had a big lead and he needed to protect the ball. Overall, this was a solid performance by the entire Chicago Bears team.
Matthew Stafford: C+
Stats: 22/33, 285 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Those fantasy football owners who have Matthew Stafford won't love this performance, but he actually had a good game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The lone negative is the fact his touchdown total remains well below his number from last season.
The key for the Detroit Lions is that Stafford was able to avoid turnovers and help the team get a win. It's also important to note that he appears to be establishing a good relationship with rookie Ryan Broyles. The Lions really need someone to emerge as a consistent playmaker opposite Calvin Johnson.
With all the good teams in the NFC, Stafford must use this game as a springboard for the rest of the season if the Lions hope to make a playoff appearance.
Aaron Rodgers: C+
Stats: 14/30, 218 yards, four touchdowns and one interception
Aaron Rodgers found a way to throw four touchdowns and still look unimpressive. This is because we have such high expectations for Rodgers, but the truth is he wasn't very sharp against the Arizona Cardinals.
It's a rare occasion when Rodgers finishes a game completing under 50 percent of his passes. Some of the issues can be pinned on the wide receivers, but overall, Rodgers needs to do a better job locating the football.
The Green Bay Packers are lucky the Arizona Cardinals hurt themselves with two key turnovers. Because of the hot start by the Chicago Bears, each game the Packers play carries a ton of importance.
Christian Ponder: D-
Stats: 11/22, 63 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Christian Ponder's struggles to make plays downfield are really hurting the Minnesota Vikings. He's both unwilling and unable to consistently throw a catchable deep ball. Of course, the fact that Minnesota lacks great wide receivers is also a factor.
However, Ponder must find a way to increase the explosiveness of this offense. The fact that Adrian Peterson still manages to put up good numbers is amazing. Opposing defenses are constantly playing eight men in the box because they don't fear the deep ball.
There has been some positive signs from Ponder this season, but it's important he takes the next step in his development.
Joe Flacco: C-
Stats: 15/24, 153 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Joe Flacco has cooled off considerably since his strong start to the season. The offense as a whole just isn't producing a lot of explosive plays. This is a real issue, because the Baltimore Ravens defense isn't as effective as it has been in years past.
If it weren't for the Cleveland Browns' poor red-zone production, the Ravens would've lost this game. Moving forward, Flacco must find a way to get back on the right path. Baltimore's season now depends on Flacco's ability to raise his level of play.
The one thing helping Flacco is that he can lean on Ray Rice for help. Rice is having another terrific season.
Andy Dalton: B-
Stats: 26/42, 299 yards, one touchdown and one interception
The Cincinnati Bengals offensive line made it tough for Andy Dalton to get into a rhythm. He was sacked a total of five times by the Denver Broncos defense. However, Dalton did enough to keep the game close until the very end.
His relationship with A.J. Green continues to blossom. This is important because he's the one playmaker on the team who's reliable.
The reason the Bengals lost this game has little to do with Dalton. They lost because of sloppy play. As a team, Cincinnati committed eight penalties for 83 yards.
Brandon Weeden: D+
Stats: 20/37, 176 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions
Brandon Weeden continues to go through plenty of rookie growing pains. His two interceptions played a major role in the Cleveland Browns' loss to the Baltimore Ravens. However, it was the offense's inability to score touchdowns in the red zone that had the biggest impact on the game.
In a game only separated by 10 points, settling for five field goals is a tough pill to swallow.
It's important to note that Weeden has played this entire season without a great surrounding cast. His top wide receivers include inconsistent rookies like Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin. The only real help he gets comes from Trent Richardson.
Ben Roethlisberger: B+
Stats: 21/30, 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Ben Roethlisberger got the best of Eli Manning in a game that featured a lot of defense. The difference in the game was Roethlisberger's ability to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers on two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. This is a big win for the Steelers, as it helps them keep pace in the AFC playoff race.
Despite the fourth-quarter performance, Roethlisberger also helped the Steelers control the clock. Pittsburgh's dominance in time of possession played a major factor in its ability to play well at the end of the game.
Roethlisberger's strong play came despite the fact he was without his top two running backs and Antonio Brown, who left Sunday's game early with a left knee injury.
Matt Ryan: B+
Stats: 24/34, 342 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
The only issue with Matt Ryan's performance against the Dallas Cowboys was that he was unable to put the ball in the end zone. Luckily, the Atlanta Falcons defense was able to hold Tony Romo and company to 13 points.
Ryan's overall numbers were impressive, as he helped keep the offense moving up and down the field. Atlanta was able to establish a running game because of Ryan's ability to put pressure on the back end of the Cowboys defense. Dallas had to respect the fact that Julio Jones and Roddy White are two of the top deep threats in the game.
The Falcons keep pulling off these tough wins. This shows that they're playing well as a team and that Ryan continues to be a great leader.
Cam Newton: B-
Stats: 13/23, 201 yards, one touchdown, zero interceptions and one rushing touchdown
The Carolina Panthers were able to pull off a win against the Washington Redskins because of the play of their defense and the fact that Cam Newton protected the football. Newton's ability to move the offense and avoid mistakes was key.
This isn't a formula that will work each week, however, as the Panthers defense isn't a top-notch unit. However, this can serve as a learning experience for Newton; don't turn over the ball and you'll have a good shot at winning.
Newton must continue to learn from his mistakes, develop and prepare for when the Panthers have a more talented roster.
Drew Brees: To Be Determined
Stats: To be determined
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints take on the Philadelphia Eagles this week on Monday Night Football. Check back after the game to see Brees' grade.
Josh Freeman: B+
Stats: 18/30, 247 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
The day for Josh Freeman became increasingly easier the more Doug Martin touched the ball. Martin's 251-yard performance not only put points on the board, but also opened things for the passing game. Freeman took advantage of every opportunity.
His ability to slowly build a relationship with Vincent Jackson is important for the overall future of the franchise. Both of these players need each other to reach their full potential.
The fact that Freeman was able to keep his composure when the Oakland Raiders were making a comeback is an important step in his development.
Matt Schaub: B+
Stats: 19/27, 268 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Despite the defense and Arian Foster getting all the attention, Matt Schaub plays a major role in the Houston Texans' success. His consistency and sound decision-making allow the other parts of the team to do their part.
Schaub's overall numbers against the Buffalo Bills are an example of how he makes quite an impact. The tone of the game was set by the defense and Foster, but Schaub made plays to keep the Bills honest.
Any time Buffalo tried to stack the box and shut down the running game, Schaub would take a shot down the field. This is the recipe we can expect to see for the rest of the season.
Andrew Luck: A+
Stats: 30/48, 433 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Andrew Luck set the single-game-rookie-passing-yard mark against the Miami Dolphins. His strong play helped the Indianapolis Colts register a win and take a step closer to making a playoff appearance. Luck's record-setting day is impressive, but I'm sure he's more happy with the win.
It's important to note that four of the Colts receivers topped the 70-yard mark. This shows that Luck did a good job spreading the ball around and keeping the Dolphins defense off-guard.
The fact that he's developing a strong relationship with rookies T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen is important. This season is as much about the future as it is the present.
Blaine Gabbert: D+
Stats: 27/38, 220 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions
With each passing week, Blaine Gabbert inches closer to becoming the Jacksonville Jaguars' former starting quarterback. His play continues to show that he has limited potential as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The biggest issue right now is that Gabbert is too inconsistent. An example of a nice throw came on the touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon against the Detroit Lions. However, the touchdown pass was overshadowed by the two interceptions.
It's also troubling that Gabbert is struggling despite having some playmakers on offense. Laurent Robinson, Cecil Shorts III and Justin Blackmon each bring something to the table. There are other quarterbacks out there doing more with much less talent.
Matthew Hasselbeck: D
Stats: 20/35, 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Matthew Hasselbeck and the Tennessee Titans were crushed by the Chicago Bears. The offense's inability to avoid turnovers is the main reason this game got so out of hand. Hasselbeck played a major role in those struggles.
The interception returned for a touchdown by Brian Urlacher was a poor decision by Hasselbeck and completely shifted the momentum. That drive could've been an opportunity for the Titans to get back in the game. Instead, it served as one of many big plays for the Bears.
It's safe to say that once Jake Locker is healthy, he'll be the starting quarterback again. Hasselbeck just hasn't done enough to warrant hanging onto the starting job.