Week 5 Report Card for All NFL Starting Quarterbacks
Before we get to the grades for all the starting quarterbacks in the NFL, I want to get one thing of my chest. I hate the bye week, and for one simple reason.
I know players need rest, but fans don't need the bye week.
OK, back to the grades, and I want to warn you this week, quarterbacks were all over the place. There were performances that were nothing short of heroic, and there were efforts that had me searching for a letter below F.
Remember, assigning grades should go beyond statistical numbers to what a player meant to his team's overall performance.
I will even assign grades to the starting quarterbacks who did not play this weekend due to the bye, based on where they stock stands at this moment.
1. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
With a sprained left foot that had him in a walking boot during the week and a pronounced limp on Sunday, he still completed 24-of-34 passes for 228 yards and FIVE touchdowns. Yes, Pittsburgh was helped by a productive running game even without Rashard Mendenhall, but Roethlisberger stepped on the gas when he needed to and made sure this game wasn't even close.
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
There is not a better quarterback in the NFL right now than Aaron Rodgers.
It's really that simple.
And it's not because he completed 26-of-39 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers' come from behind 25-14 victory over the Falcons. Those numbers are extremely impressive, but what defines Rodgers is that when he needs a big play, there is no throw he won't make.
James Jones doesn't even have to break stride because of the accuracy of Rodgers' throw, which takes this from being a big play to a 70-yard touchdown.
3. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Strangely enough, the much-maligned quarterback who was chosen ahead of Rodgers in the 2005 NFL Draft, Alex Smith had a productive if not gaudy day for the surprisingly 4-1 San Francisco 49ers.
Smith only attempted 19 passes, but he completed 11 of them for 170 yards and three touchdowns as the Niners dismantled the Buccaneers, 48-3.
As long as coach Jim Harbaugh can rely on the running game (Frank Gore had 20 carries for 125 yards and rookie Kendall Hunter added nine carries for 65 yards), he is able to put Smith in the right spots to succeed.
4. Michael Vick, Philadelphia
It's official. The city of Philadelphia feels like a morgue.
Not only did the Phillies choke through a first round playoff exit despite a franchise-high in wins, but the "dream team" is now 1-4 after a 34-31 loss to Buffalo, and the starting quarterback deserves his share of the blame.
On the surface, completing 26-of-40 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns and accumulating another 90 yards on the ground looks like a great day, until you see that Vick threw four interceptions.
Vick's laser beam right into the hands of Buffalo linebacker Nick Barnett that was quickly returned for a touchdown was inexcusable and probably put this game out of reach. The bottom line is that with the Philly defense looking completely outmatched, this team can't afford Vick to make mistakes.
He made plenty of them on Sunday.
5. Jason Campbell, Oakland Raiders
While Campbell did throw two touchdown passes, 15 completions out of 35 attempts isn't going to win many ball games. Even though running back Darren McFadden had a pedestrian day numbers wise with 51 yards on 16 carries, its the threat of McFadden that makes this offense work.
6. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Schaub had a chance to prove that he was an elite quarterback without Andre Johnson this week.
He didn't accomplish that.
Yes, he threw for 416 yards, but on 51 attempts, of which he completed just 24. His two touchdown tosses were offset by a pair of interceptions, especially the last one that was picked off by Raiders' safety Michael Huff in the endzone to end the game.
The Texans missed an opportunity to take sole control of the AFC South with a victory, and part of the blame has to fall on Schaub.
7. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills
Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-27 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown, which says he was efficient, but not spectacular, in the Bills' victory over the Eagles.
This is where statistics are somewhat misleading. Fitzpatrick was efficient in the first half, but after the first drive of the second half, he was barely adequate enough not to blow a 17 point lead.
Want proof. He had a pair of short completions that his receivers turned into 20 yard gains, but every pass he attempted was either incomplete or good for four yards or less. A few of the passes went for negative yardage because he couldn't go down the field.
Look, no one is belittling what the Bills have done in going 4-1, but there are some cracks in the foundation, and Fitzpatrick has looked much more like a game manager than a game winner in the team's last two games.
8. Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Hasselback completed 29-of-49 passes fo 262 yards and a touchdown and an interception in the team's loss to the Steelers. His quarterback rating was a below average 72.
Hasselbeck was probably due for a return to Earth after his otherworldly first four weeks of the season, when he didn't have a quarterback rating under 93.
Still, the Titans didn't compete with the Steelers, and Hasselbeck deserves his share of criticism after the praise heaped his way during the last month.
9. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For the past year, the national media experts have told you how Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman is one of the emerging superstars in the NFL.
Well, he isn't.
Or at least isn't yet. What other conclusion could you reach about a quarterback that has thrown only three touchdowns and six interceptions this season?
The Buccaneers were embarrassed by San Francisco, and Freeman's inability to connect with his wide receivers was glaring.
10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
What determines an "A+" grade for a quarterback? Well, there are a lot of factors. Some factors are measurable and others aren't. But, let's take a quick look at how Drew Brees stacks up in the Saints' 30-27 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
High completion percentage? 71.1 percent. Check.
More touchdowns than interceptions? Two touchdowns against one interception. Check
Passer Rating? 100.1. Check
Game-winning driving? Eight completions out of nine attempts for 80 yards ending with a six-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Pierre Thomas. Check.
11. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
If I had to predict Blaine Gabbert's statistics in the team's 30-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, I honestly might have guessed that he completed 15-of-28 passes for 221 yards with a touchdown. In other words, a perfectly mediocre effort.
I might have also predicted a couple of interceptions, but his fumble of a bad snap at the end of the game will do.
Gabbert is a non-distinguishable rookie quarterback. What else did Jacksonville expect at this point? Probably nothing. At least he is getting experience.
12. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Ho-hum. Brady threw for 300 yards (actually 321), the Patriots put up 30 points and won another game.
Actually, Brady had only one touchdown pass, which is pretty unusual for a quarterback who had 13 coming into the game.
But, you get the point.
Certainly, BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushing 27 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns was key to the team's 30-21 victory over the New York Jets, but ultimately, it's hard to find fault with Brady, even when all of his passes aren't crisp.
13, Curtis Painter, Indianapolis Colts
It was a tale of two halves for Mr. Painter.
In the first half, Painter completed 12 out of 17 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns
In the second half, Painter completed 3-of-10 passes for 40 yards and zero touchdowns.
14. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
This might come across as a little harsh.
However, Philip Rivers has to be better if San Diego expects to make the playoffs and make some waves when it gets there.
Rivers' statistics look fine on the surface. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown, but he had a crucial interception returned for a touchdown in the first quarter and lost fumble that gave Denver life late in the game.
Eventually, these mistakes will come back to haunt Rivers and the 'Bolts.
15. Donovan McNabb, Minnesota Vikings
It was a battle of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks and teammates in Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb.
The similarities don't end there. The Eagles stole, I mean traded, for second-round draft picks for both players.
And the key likeness between the two is neither is capable of leading an NFL team right now.
For his part, McNabb emerged the winner with his Vikings in a 34-10 rout thanks to running back Adrian Peterson's 29 carries for 122 yards and three touchdowns. McNabb completed a whopping 10 passes out of 21 attempts for 169 yards. At least he didn't throw an interception.
16. Kevin Kolb, Artizona Cardinals
Kolb completed 21-of-42 passes for 232 yards. The distressing part for the Cardinals were his two interceptions, a lost fumble and being sacked four times.
Kolb has six interceptions and three lost fumbles in five games. After the game, Kolb said, "It's not one person making a lot of mistakes."
Yes it is, Kevin.
17. Tavaris Jackson, Seattle Seahawks
Jackson was having a pretty solid game against the New York Giants in the team's 36-25 victory. He had completed 15 out of 22 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown against an interception before a pectoral muscle injury forced him out of the game in the third quarter.
Whether its the injury or the fact that Charlie Whitehurst played well (11-for-19 for 149 yards and a touchdown) in relief, it might be a while before we see Jackson again.
Grade: B (although incomplete would be a justifiable grade)
18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Think I was hard on Josh Freeman earlier?
Well, "Matty Ice" has been living off his reputation way too long.
When your starting receivers are Roddy White and Julio Jones, you better be able to complete more than 18 out of 32 passes for 167 yards with one touchdown and two interception.
Apparently, "Vanilla Ice," my new moniker for Ryan, until he plays better, can't.
19. Eli Manning, New York Giants
The good news for Manning: He thew for 420 yards and three touchdowns.
The bad and ultimately defining news for Manning: He threw three interceptions, including the last one on a potentially game-winning drive that was picked off and returned for a 94-yard interception that sealed the deal for the Seahawks.
20. Kyle Orton, Denver Bronocs
How bad was it for Kyle Orton in the team's loss to the Chargers?
He completed six passes. He threw for 34 yards and an interception.
He was replaced by Tim Tebow to start the third quarter. Tebow only completed four passes, but he threw for a touchdown and ran for another.
It doesn't seem like Orton will get the starting job back anytime soon if at all.
Grade: F- (I don't think there is an F-, but really, Orton was worse than an F.)
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City certainly didn't start well on Sunday in going down 17-0 to the winless Indianapolis Colts, but the Chiefs and Matt Cassel certainly rebounded.
Cassel threw four touchdown passes, including two in the second half to lead an epic comeback. Well, at least until you consider it was against Indy.
22. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
The "Sanchize" looked like anything but in his 16-for-26 for 166 yards performance against a team in New England that entered the game with the NFL's worst defense.
The Jets can't run the ball. The Jet's can't pass the ball. Shh, don't tell Rex.
23. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Can we at least slow down the hype on Cam Newton for a second?
Yes, he has thrown for a ton of yards (1,610 on the season), but this is a quarterback who has completed 58.2 percent of his passes and has six interceptions to go with seven touchdowns.
On Sunday, he was a modest 16-for-31 for 224 yards with touchdowns and an interception.
No one is saying he stinks, but before anyone wants to anoint him as the next chosen one, here is one more statement for you.
The Panther are 1-4, and last time I checked, the quarterback is the leader of the team.
24. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton provides an interesting contrast to Newton. His numbers are clearly not as good but not as different as you might think.
Dalton has thrown for a lot less yards (1,610 to 1,047). But, Dalton has completed 59.2 percent of his passes and thrown for six touchdowns with five interceptions.
Most importantly, the Bengals are 3-2. Now, you would be accurate to say that the Bengals are a better team than the Carolina Panthers minus the quarterback position, but it's also fair to say that Cincinnati and head coach Marvin Lewis have exactly what they need out of the quarterback position in 2011.
Sunday's 30-20 victory over Jacksonville was a perfect example. Dalton completed 21-of-33 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. He also converted a key fourth and six with a pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham to keep the eventual game-winning drive alive.
25. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco might be one of the more interesting quarterbacks on this list.
On the one hand, he has had a steady hand of leadership with a 3-1 team. He also has thrown seven touchdowns against three interceptions.
On the other hand, Flacco is only completing 49.3 percent of his passes, which is simply not acceptable.
The reality is that Flacco has had two very good games against Pittsburgh and St. Louis and two statistically horrible games against Tennessee and the New York Jets. Going forward, expectations are high when you have Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith and Ed Dickson as targets in the passing game.
26. Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins
The book on Matt Moore is pretty thin at this point.
We know that he is that he is in a tough spot, replacing an injured Chad Henne on an 0-4 team.
He completed 17-of-26 passes with no touchdowns and an interception in his relief duty a week ago in a loss to San Diego. My guess is that regardless of Moore's talent or lack of talent, the deck is stacked against him, especially with a leaky offensive line that somehow still has Marc Columbo starting at right tackle.
27. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Is there any doubt that if you look up the term "roller coaster" in the dictionary that you would find a picture of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo?
Currently, Romo's stock is down because of the silly interceptions that allowed the Detroit Lions to climb back and beat Dallas 34-30 in Week 4.
In Week 3 on Monday Night Football, Romo was a hero and at the top of the coaster for his gutty performance with a broken rib that enabled the Cowboys to edge the Redskins 18-16.
Maybe next week, Romo returns to the adoration of fans and the media, but for now, he's the inconsistent quarterback that makes ill-advised decisions in crunch time.
28. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
What a difference a year makes.
In 2010, Bradford completed 60 percent of his passes and threw for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns.
So far in 2011, Bradford has completed just 49.7 percent of his passes, 849 yards and three touchdowns.
Now, the passing yards per game isn't that different, but the other stats are. One more statistic to consider is that Bradford was sacked 34 times last season. Already, he has been sacked 18 times and is on pace to be taken down 72 times.
29. Rex Grossman, Washington Redskins
Don't look now, and this was somewhat obscured by the bye week, but Rex Grossman is returning to being, well, Rex Grossman.
His passing yardage has decreased every week from 305 yards in a Week 1 win over the Giants to just 143 yards in a 17-10 win over the hapless Rams.
He has also thrown five interceptions in his last three games, and his quarterback rating has went from 110.5 after week one to 78.7 after four games.
The one saving grace is that the Redskins are 3-1, but that won't last if Grossman continues to regress.
30. Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland is one of the worst 2-2 teams in football history. There I said it. Cue the hate.
But seriously, the Browns have beaten winless Indianapolis and Miami. They played Cincinnati sort of tough before falling by 10 and got smacked by Tennessee 31-13. That's the same Tennessee that was out of the Pittsburgh game by halftime.
McCoy is a big reason why the Browns are average or below average in more likelihood.
His completion percentage is 58.1, but here is a far more telling statistic.
He has averaged just 5.6 yards per pass attempt. That's the third worst numbers from a starting quarterback in the NFL. The only quarterbacks who have produced less yards per attempt are Kerry Collins, who lost his job, and the aforementioned Bradford.
31. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford was 19-of-26 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in Detroit's 24-13 victory over the Chicago Bears. His numbers could have been gaudier, but running back Jahvid Best made sure that wasn't needed by carrying the ball 12 times for 163 yards and a touchdown.
Stafford's two touchdown throws, one to Calvin Johnson and one to Brandon Pettigrew showed just how composed the young quarterback has become.
32. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Cutler completed 28-of-38 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, which actually might be a miracle considering he was running for his life most of Monday night against the Lions.
I hesitate giving high grades to quarterbacks in a losing effort, but you have to admire Culter's moxie in this performance.