Week 16 Report-Card Grades for Every Starting NFL QB
The NFL is full ups and downs, and Joe Flacco gave a great example of that this week. Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have struggled the past few weeks, but all of that was erased with his performance against the New York Giants.
However, not every team got a top-notch performance from its quarterback. The best example of this is Ben Roethlisberger's late-game collapse.
Check out the rest of the article to see how each quarterback graded out this week.
Tony Romo: A
Stats: 26-of-43, 416 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions
Tony Romo played like a quarterback determined to keep his team in the playoff race. However, mistakes by several of his teammates allowed the New Orleans Saints to notch a victory.
Romo was forced to overcome multiple drops by his receivers and a costly fumble by DeMarco Murray.
Despite all the mistakes and overwhelming pressure, Romo put his team on his back and forced the game into overtime. He needs to get a ton of credit for his performance, at least as much as he typically receives for the mistakes he makes.
Eli Manning: C-
Stats: 14-of-28, 150 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
The Baltimore Ravens defense did an excellent job shutting down the New York Giants running game, which put a lot of pressure on Eli Manning. However, Manning and the passing game weren't able to pick up the slack.
The issue was that the team wasn't able to generate the explosive plays it typically produces.
Rueben Randle was the only Giants offensive player to show any type of life. It's obvious that Hakeem Nicks isn't 100 percent, and Victor Cruz couldn't get himself on track after leaving the game with an apparent head injury.
Manning just isn't the same when he doesn't have a running game to lean on and both his star wide receivers are less than 100 percent.
Nick Foles: B
Stats: 32-of-48, 345 yards, one touchdown and one interception
The Philadelphia Eagles have had the same problem all season, and that's a lack of balance on the offensive side of the ball. Andy Reid and company ran an attack that featured a rookie quarterback throw the ball 48 times. They did this with two talented running backs in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown on the roster.
Foles continues to show a ton of promise and the poise to handle any situation. He kept fighting even after he threw an interception.
His play should be enough to earn the starting job heading into next season. He and Jeremy Maclin have developed a nice connection that could be extremely dangerous next year.
Robert Griffin III: B-
Stats: 16-of-24, 198 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
It's obvious that Mike Shanahan and company wanted to ease Robert Griffin III back into the flow of the game. His 24 passing attempts were his fifth-lowest total of the season. He also only had two rushing attempts the entire game.
Washington was able to scale things back because of the strong play of Alfred Morris. He averaged over four yards per carry, which helped sustain drives and eat up the clock.
The offensive line also played a major role. It was able to help keep Griffin upright by only allowing one sack.
This win put the Redskins closer to earning a surprise playoff berth. Next week's game against the Dallas Cowboys will determine the winner of the NFC East.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: C-
Stats: 20-of-35, 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception
Four turnovers, including two from Ryan Fitzpatrick, played a major role in the Buffalo Bills' loss to the Miami Dolphins. This has been a reoccurring theme this season for the Fitzpatrick. His issues started the first week of the season and have continued all year.
Fitzpatrick's struggles wasted another great performance by C.J. Spiller, who averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Bills general manager Buddy Nix has been very vocal about Buffalo's need for a franchise quarterback. It's obvious he doesn't see Fitzpatrick as a candidate to fill that role.
Ryan Tannehill: C
Stats: 13-of-25, 130 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Ryan Tannehill played the role of game manager against the Buffalo Bills. He didn't take many risks and worked to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. Reggie Bush was the biggest beneficiary of this game plan, as he tallied 107 yards and three touchdowns.
It's impressive that Tannehill is able to find any type of success with the lack of explosiveness at the wide receiver position. Armon Binns was just recently added to the roster, and he was targeted four times.
This franchise needs to use this offseason to add talent to the wide receiver position. The Dolphins have a young and talented quarterback, but they need to ensure he's surrounded by talented weapons.
Tom Brady: C+
Stats: 24-of-41, 267 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions
Tom Brady and the New England Patriots came out very flat against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It appears this New England overlooked the Jaguars, and it almost resulted in a loss. Losing this game could've cost the Patriots a shot at a first-round bye.
However, Brady settled down after the first quarter and led the Patriots to another victory.
This win should serve as a wake-up call for New England. I'm sure Bill Belichick will stress the importance of remaining focused each and every week.
This is now back-to-back performances by Brady in which he failed the top the 60 percent completion mark. Brady is typically a very accurate quarterback; this is something that will need to be monitored as we approach the playoffs.
Greg McElroy: D+
Stats: 14-of-24, 185 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Greg McElroy quickly realized what Mark Sanchez was forced to deal with for the majority of the season. McElroy is not only surrounded by limited talent at the wide receiver position, but he was sacked 11 times against the San Diego Chargers.
So much blame was placed at the feet of Sanchez, but this game shows there are more things wrong with this offense than just the quarterback.
This is an offense that can't protect the quarterback, consistently run the ball or generate explosive plays in the passing game.
Ryan Lindley: D+
Ryan Lindley's Stats: 17-of-30, 141 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
The Arizona Cardinals are trying just about everything to find some sort of consistency at the quarterback position. However, they keep turning to players with limited experience to solve the problem. Lindley is nowhere near ready to handle the talent level in the NFL.
His decision-making is a little slow, and he just doesn't feel comfortable in the pocket. This matchup against the Chicago Bears was just too much for him to handle. Chicago easily took advantage of Lindley's inexperience.
Brian Hoyer's Stats: 11-of-19, 105 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
The Cardinals just signed Brian Hoyer to give the team some depth at the position. There's no way he even knows half of Arizona's playbook. However, he showed that he can make good decisions and deliver an accurate football.
Don't be surprised if the Cardinals give Hoyer another shot in the last game of the season.
Colin Kaepernick: C
Stats: 19-of-36, 244 yards, one touchdown and one interception
The San Francisco 49ers went down early to the Seattle Seahawks, which forced them out of their game plan. Colin Kaepernick contributed to the early deficit by throwing an interception returned for a touchdown by Richard Sherman.
San Francisco couldn't afford to dig an early hole facing a hot Seahawks team at home. The biggest issue was the fact that it couldn't feed the ball to Frank Gore. Kaepernick has really relied on the running game to help him avoid mistakes.
This is the issue with inserting Kaepernick into the starting lineup this late in the season: He's forced to deal with the questions surrounding whether he should've replaced Alex Smith. Hopefully he's prepared to deal with a week's worth of controversy.
Russell Wilson: A
Stats: 15-of-21, 171 yards, four touchdowns and one interception
Russell Wilson is leading one of the hottest teams in the entire NFL. At this point, there's no reason to doubt the Seattle Seahawks' chances of making some noise in the playoffs. Wilson has excelled at running the offense and ensuring that others get involved.
The fact that he also does a great job protecting the football is important. It allows the defense to flex its muscles and make game-changing plays of its own.
This was an efficient performance that made a statement to the rest of the NFL, as putting up these type of numbers against the 49ers' elite defense is impressive.
Sam Bradford: B-
Stats: 13-of-27, 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception
Sam Bradford's 80-yard strike to Lance Kendricks accounted for a large chunk of the St. Louis Rams' passing offense.
The Rams pulled off this win because of the play of the defense, especially Janoris Jenkins. He already has four defensive touchdowns this season.
Jeff Fisher has followed the same game plan for the majority of the season. The Rams look to take the air out of the football and avoid mistakes. This doesn't give Bradford a lot of opportunities to stuff the stat sheet.
Bradford is showing good leadership by getting behind this game plan. But I'm sure he'd love a chance to open things up more.
Peyton Manning: A-
Stats: 30-of-43, 339 yards, three touchdowns and one interception
Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have come together to form a very explosive offense. This group can hurt the defense in any number of ways, including the deep strike.
Manning has shown that, with each passing week, he rubs off a little more rust. It's amazing how well he recovered and adjusted to his new surroundings.
This game offered Manning plenty of opportunities to attack the Cleveland Browns defense. Josh Cribbs' fumble and the inefficiency of the Browns offense gave Manning extra possessions.
Brady Quinn: F
Stats: 10-of-22, 162 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions
Brady Quinn failed to take advantage of the impressive performance by Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis. The Kansas City Chiefs ground game tallied a total of 352 yards. Kansas City should've won this game, but Quinn's two interceptions prevented that from happening.
This team's disappointing season can be directly placed on the poor play of the quarterbacks. There's talent on this roster, but the quarterback play puts the Chiefs at too much of a disadvantage.
Quinn's hopes of ever becoming a legitimate starting quarterback the NFL are fading. He isn't capitalizing on the opportunity he has with the Chiefs.
Matt Leinart: D+
Stats: 16-of-32, 115 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Matt Leinart was forced in the lineup when Carson Palmer left with a rib injury. Leinart's inaccuracy and lack of rhythm resulted in only two field goals for the Oakland Raiders offense.
Oakland struggled to convert on third down because Leinart only completed 50 percent of his passes.
However, he didn't get much help from the rest of the offense. Darren McFadden and the running game only produced 47 yards of offense. This allowed the Carolina Panthers defense to focus on shutting down the passing game.
I'm a little surprised that the Raiders didn't give Terrelle Pryor a chance to show where he's at in his development. Everybody already knows what Leinart is capable of.
Philip Rivers: C-
Stats: 11-of-22, 165 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
The only thing Philip Rivers did well in the game against the New York Jets is avoid turnovers. By not turning the ball over, the San Diego Chargers often pinned the Jets offense deep in its own territory, which helped San Diego's defense make plays. It appears that Norv Turner made a point to take the air out of the football.
San Diego has seen too many games slip through its fingers to take unnecessary risks. It's tough to blame Turner for limiting Rivers' attempts.
Rivers must spend this offseason looking for a way to turn things around. This is now two seasons where he played average to below-average football.
Jay Cutler: C
Stats: 12-of-26, 146 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Jay Cutler started off the game slow and basically only put together two or three solid drives. However, the Chicago Bears leaned on their running game and defense to pull off the win against the Arizona Cardinals. In fact, the defense scored 14 of the Bears' 28 points.
Looking deeper into the game shows a bigger problem. Cutler appears to only trust Brandon Marshall, who had 10 more targets than anyone else on the roster. Chicago needs to find a way to get others involved in the game plan.
This game doesn't prove much, as the Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the NFL. It's possible Chicago backs into the playoffs, but the team can't feel good about its chances of making noise.
Matthew Stafford: B+
Stats: 37-of-56, 443 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception
Matthew Stafford put up some impressive numbers against a very aggressive Atlanta Falcons defense. However, the team's struggles in the red zone made it tough for the Detroit Lions to keep pace with Atlanta.
It was interesting to see Stafford all but abandon proper technique and throwing from a consistent arm slot. Too often, he released the ball from an odd angle and without stepping into his throw. This impacted his accuracy in some critical situations.
Detroit's season has been a major disappointment, but Stafford has still played well. The biggest issue for the Lions has been discipline and struggles in the red zone. They had the same struggles again against the Falcons.
Aaron Rodgers: A
Stats: 27-of-38, 342 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Aaron Rodgers continued his strong season with an impressive performance against the Tennessee Titans. He did a good job spreading the ball around to his playmakers and even got Jermichael Finley involved.
This game should serve as a confidence builder for the team's playoff run. The Green Bay Packers are looking to make a run at another Super Bowl victory. Rodgers is the key to the Packers' chances of reaching that goal.
Another positive sign to take from his game is the play of the offensive line. It only allowed one sack—a major improvement from previous weeks.
Christian Ponder: C
Stats: 16-of-30, 174 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
It's amazing that the Minnesota Vikings are on the verge of a playoff berth despite getting uninspiring performances from Christian Ponder. Teams rarely find a lot of success when their quarterback only tops the 200-yard mark six times in a season.
Ponder's biggest issue continues to be his inability to create big plays down the field. However, it's important to note that a lot of that also has to do with the lack of weapons on the Vikings' roster. His top targets consist of average players like Jarius Wright, Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson.
At this point, the Vikings are just looking for Ponder to avoid turnovers and make a play or two each game.
Joe Flacco: A
Stats: 25-of-36, 309 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions
Joe Flacco had one of his best performances when the Baltimore Ravens needed him most. He particularly excelled at attacking the deep part of the field. His 43-yard pass to Torrey Smith in the first quarter really set the tone for the entire game.
This is the first game in awhile in which the Ravens put together a complete performance. The offense and defense fed off each other the entire game.
Flacco absolutely gained some confidence from this game. This is the type of game that could lead to a string of strong performances.
Andy Dalton: B-
Stats: 24-of-41, 278 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions
Andy Dalton didn't have a great performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he stepped it up on the last possession to put the Cincinnati Bengals into field-goal position. His perfectly placed pass to A.J. Green with less than 10 seconds remaining put the Bengals in the position to win the game.
Dalton kept his head held high despite struggling for most of the game. It's that poise that made it possible for him to respond with the game on the line.
It's also important to note that the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is among the best in the league. Dalton was under pressure for most of the game and was sacked a total of six times.
Brandon Weeden: C-
Brandon Weeden's Stats: 12-of-19, 104 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
Colt McCoy's Stats: 9-of-17, 79 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Brandon Weeden was forced out of the game with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Colt McCoy. Neither quarterback was able to produce enough explosive plays to keep pace with the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
The one positive to take out of this game is that both quarterbacks were able to avoid throwing an interception. However, they also didn't take many shots down the field. The longest completion by a Cleveland Browns quarterback went for only 21 yards.
Ben Roethlisberger: D+
Stats: 14-of-28, 220 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
Ben Roethlisberger has now thrown late-game interceptions in back-to-back games that cost the Pittsburgh Steelers a win. Both of those throws were way off target and very uncharacteristic for Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh is now officially out of the playoff hunt, which is something this franchise hasn't had to deal with in recent seasons. There's plenty of blame to go around, but it's tough for a team to overcome poor decisions by its quarterback.
Roethlisberger is still the team's franchise quarterback, but we could see some changes on the coaching staff. It's no secret that Roethlisberger and Todd Haley didn't see eye to eye.
Matt Ryan: A
Stats: 25-of-32, 279 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions
Matt Ryan took advantage of a leaky Detroit Lions secondary right from the start of the game. His 44-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White in the first quarter set the tone for how the rest of the game would turn out. Ryan also did a great job taking advantage of the Lions' three turnovers.
This has been theme all season, as the Atlanta Falcons defense has created a high number of turnovers. This Falcons offense is so explosive that any extra possessions are likely to turn into points.
It's important to note that the Falcons' offensive line did a great job keeping Ryan upright. However, he also deserves some credit because of how quickly he gets rid of the football. It's rare to see Ryan hold the ball too long and take a sack.
Cam Newton: B+
Stats: 18-of-29, 170 yards, one touchdown, one interception, 60 rushing yards and one touchdown
Cam Newton has now led the Carolina Panthers to wins in four of their last five games. He's playing with a lot of confidence, and it shows in the way he runs the game plan. So much of the team's recent success has to do with Newton's ability to limit his turnovers.
It's important to recognize that Newton's success has come despite having limited talent at the wide receiver position. Steve Smith is having a down year and has only tallied three touchdowns so far this season.
As has been the case most of the year, Newton led the team in both passing and rushing yards. He really is a one-man show for the Panthers offense.
Drew Brees: A
Stats: 37-of-53, 446 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions
Drew Brees has put together back-to-back strong performances. It's not a coincidence that his play improved once the majority of the bounty scandal was resolved. That situation was hanging over the team like a dark cloud, and Brees really let it affect him.
The New Orleans Saints are officially out of the playoff race, but they're looking to build some momentum for next season. Putting a damper on the Dallas Cowboys' playoff hopes is a good way to accomplish that goal.
Brees showed a lot of poise in this game, as he and the Saints could've fallen apart once the Cowboys forced the game into overtime.
Josh Freeman: F
Stats: 30-of-54, 372 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions
Josh Freeman has now had back-to-back games with four interceptions. He's struggling with making sound decisions and delivering an accurate ball.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren't built to throw the football 54 times in a game. This is a team that wants to rely on the running game. However, falling behind early and the St. Louis Rams' commitment to stuffing the run forced the Buccaneers to feature a pass-heavy attack.
Freeman still possesses a ton of talent, but Tampa Bay needs to be concerned about his development. His season has been filled with too many extreme highs and lows.
Matt Schaub: D+
Stats: 18-of-32, 178 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions
The entire Houston Texans offense was out of sync against the Minnesota Vikings. This is a team that averages over 141 rushing yards per game, but it only managed 34 yards against the Vikings. The struggles of the running game put a lot of pressure on Matt Schaub.
Schaub struggled all day with his accuracy and his ability to stretch the field. His longest completion only went for 19 yards.
Houston was unable to sustain drives because of Schaub's inaccuracy. Going 1-of-11 on third down is the main reason this team suffered a disappointing loss.
Andrew Luck: C+
Stats: 17-of-35, 205 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions
Andrew Luck really struggled to find a rhythm against the Kansas City Chiefs. He was only able to complete 48 percent of his passes. However, he picked up his play late in the game when the Indianapolis Colts need a game-winning drive.
This is a sign of a poised and talented quarterback who plays in the moment. He knew that his team needed him to make a play, and he delivered.
The Colts clinched a playoff berth with this win, which is an impressive accomplishment because they were only able to win two games all of last season.
Indianapolis might not make much noise in the playoffs this year, but the franchise has a very bright future.
Chad Henne: C-
Stats: 29-of-51, 348 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions
Chad Henne threw all three of his interceptions in the second half of the game against the New England Patriots, with two of those coming with less than four minutes left in the game. Those turnovers allowed the Patriots to hold on to a seven-point lead.
It's confusing to see that Henne finished the game with 51 passing attempts despite the fact that the Jaguars held a lead for almost the entire first half. Henne has shown nothing this season to say he's capable finding success with this amount of passing attempts.
However, it's tough to fault the Jaguars coaching staff for going for the win.
Jake Locker: D-
Stats: 13-of-30, 140 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions
Jake Locker had trouble finding open targets and accurately placing the football. His 43 percent completion percentage and two interceptions allowed the Green Bay Packers to jump out to an early lead.
This game represents how the entire season has gone for the Tennessee Titans and Locker. He just hasn't developed enough as a passer to consistently win games in the NFL. It's the same problem he had in college, as he has yet to figure out how to read a defense and find consistency.
Tennessee must consider making a coaching change and ensure that the guy it brings in possesses a solid background with young quarterbacks.