The level of play and execution at the NFL level is at a dangerous point. Quarterback injuries have tanked the competitiveness and execution of the NFL level unlike we’ve seen it recently. Tom Brady said he saw mediocrity, but it might not be as deep as he believes. One look at the names on the QB power rankings could change his tune.
2023 QB Power Rankings
While we don’t want to be rash in our decisions about how we view these quarterbacks in the macro, a “power ranking” is about the micro. They’re more about the here and now. While perceived talent remains important, performance so far in 2023 will be weighed heavier.
32) Tim Boyle, New York Jets
The Jets have no clue what to do at this point. From an offensive performance perspective, the three quarterbacks they’ve played this season rank 49th, 52nd, and 54th in offensive EPA production. Zach Wilson has produced the best offensive results among the three.
31) Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots
Grading the Patriots quarterbacks is a bit difficult. Although the Jets’ offensive line is a wreck, the Patriots’ complete lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball makes it an untenable situation for any passer. They have no speed or talent on the outside, and it shows consistently when their quarterbacks drop back.
Even so, one cannot be shut out by the Los Angeles Chargers defense. That is an unforgivable offense, even in poor weather.
30) Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers
Speaking of disproportionately poor situations, Bryce Young has had a horrific go of it in his rookie season. The Panthers’ offensive line has been terrible, and while they have some more pure speed on the outside than the Patriots, they lack talent on the outside.
Young’s environment has soured his play. He still flashes the ability that made him the top pick, but his confidence is all but shattered, and there is no consistency in his play because of that and poor offensive structure.
29) Tommy DeVito, New York Giants
Tyrod Taylor is set to return to the lineup after a stint on the injured reserve list. Taylor is a better quarterback at this moment than Tommy DeVito, but the Giants are competing for draft position, not the NFC East title. Finding out if DeVito can be a “long-term” option at the backup spot is more important.
DeVito hasn’t been good, but he has flashed some really fun play since becoming the team’s starter. High-level pocket manipulation, touch, and placement downfield have been seen. The problem becomes putting that together on a per-down basis instead of in intermittent flashes.
28) Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
Desmond Ridder fumbled the first snap of the game against the Jets, and things didn’t get much better from there out. His inconsistent ball placement has been magnified at the NFL level, and he’s much less confident in his own decisions than he was in college.
There are nice throws all of the time in the NFL, even by the “worst” quarterbacks in the NFL, and the same holds true for Ridder. The Falcons QB made an outstanding play in the face of a free rusher while rolling left on a timing throw to Drake London on the left sideline.
But being a good, productive quarterback is about consistency, and that’s still lacking in Ridder’s game.
27) Joe Flacco, Cleveland Browns
Joe Flacco is already the best QB on the Browns’ active roster, and he just got into the building. Although they lost to the Rams and have beaten other teams with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and P.J. Walker, those wins leaned heavily on outstanding defensive performance. Sean McVay didn’t allow that against the Rams.
Give Flacco time to get this offense down, and the Browns should be just fine on offense. They won’t be “good” offensively, but nobody should expect an offense to soar with a backup quarterback.
26) Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas Raiders
Aidan O’Connell had the best game of his young career before the Raiders entered their bye week.
He might be a viable NFL starter moving forward, but at this level, good enough is only good enough to eventually get a coach fired. Unless you have Kyle Shanahan and a stable of insane offensive weapons, a non-elite starter won’t get you to the promised land. That’s especially true in the AFC West.
25) Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kenny Pickett has been banged up multiple times this season, and his most recent injury resulted in tightrope surgery on his ankle, which will sideline him for approximately a month, give or take a few weeks.
We didn’t get to see a ton of Pickett before the injury. He went 7 of 10 against the Cardinals in poor weather conditions. Now, we’ll see Mitchell Trubisky enter the QB power rankings for the foreseeable future.
24) Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr looks like the “Glass Bones, Paper Skin” guy from Spongebob SquarePants right now. Carr has always been tough, but that toughness has also somehow manifested itself into him trying to be a playmaker, which is something we’ve seen from a few of the more traditional pocket passers at the NFL level.
But knowing who you are and what you can’t do or do not know is true wisdom. Carr has been disappointing this season. The Saints have been disappointing this season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
His game has multiple personalities, from gunslinger to passivity. And since coming to New Orleans, he’s pulled out each part of his game with poor timing.
23) Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Justin Fields is one of the most dangerous entities in the NFL, but he’s hamstrung by the Chicago Bears offensive line and schematic structure. Minnesota did not allow him to attack downfield. They blitzed him early and often, forcing the ball out of his hands quickly.
But Fields also needs to do a better job of protecting the football. That is something that the Josh Alens and Lamar Jacksons of the world tend to struggle with. Their endless playmaking efforts put the ball in adverse situations. Fields’s relentless pursuit of wrenching himself out of sacks puts the ball at risk too much.
But if he had time to operate the same way his successor at Ohio State has in Houston … Instead, they’re stuck throwing screens and praying their pass catchers can break a few tackles.
22) Jake Browning, Cincinnati Bengals
We can only go off of what we know for a fact in these QB power rankings. Jake Browning has been in the league without playing meaningful snaps for a long time now. He’s not very athletic, and he does not have an arm you’d associate with an AFC North quarterback.
But man, he looked pretty darned good against the Jacksonville defense. Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are a huge help. But Browning made throws in this game that were mind-melting because it’s not something we saw in any of his four years at Washington.
We have no idea if his production is sustainable, and he certainly had help from his receivers making plays after the catch. But he was decisive and accurate all night.
A few more of these performances and he’ll continue to skyrocket up the rankings.
21) Will Levis, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans’ offensive line is worse than in Carolina. DeAndre Hopkins is still awesome, but the rest of the receiving corps is similar to Carolina. So, what is the difference between Young’s performance and Will Levis? The Titans’ offensive structure fits Levis’ play style to a tee, and he’s exceeding expectations.
His most popular pro comp was Ryan Tannehill (compliment). He was always strongest when operating over the middle of the field, and he was comfortable playing with his back to the defense when running play action.
But the decisiveness Levis is playing with has kept him alive behind a horrific group of pass protectors, and his athleticism and toughness make him a weapon on the ground.
20) Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
There’s no denying that Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders had a bad day at the office against the Miami Dolphins. Howell completed only 12 of 23 passes while also throwing a pick-six on an outstanding play by Andrew Van Ginkel on a look the Dolphins were ready to see.
It’s easy to see that Howell has the juice necessary to be a starting quarterback at the NFL level. Unfortunately for him, he might not get a fair chance in Washington to be that guy.
Ownership wanted the pass rushers out of town for picks, and the defense is so bad that Howell and the offense, which has a bottom-third (generous) offensive line, must play perfectly to compete.
Washington currently has the fourth pick in the draft, which they could use on one of the top quarterbacks if Chicago doesn’t replace Justin Fields.
19) Gardner Minshew, Indianapolis Colts
Shane Steichen is an absolute wizard, but Gardner Minshew probably played his cleanest game of the season against the Titans on Sunday. The Colts QB kept things on schedule, looked less skittish in the pocket, and finally found some confidence in attacking downfield windows.
Minshew’s far from perfect, but about the best a team can do at the backup QB spot, which is something we’ve known for quite some time now. But it’s also important to note that the Titans are 30th in defensive dropback EPA and 29th in dropback success rate, despite having a very talented defensive front.
18) Joshua Dobbs, Minnesota Vikings
There is no sugar-coating the way Joshua Dobbs played against Chicago on Monday Night Football. He was horrendous. He threw four interceptions, and honestly, it could have been at least two more.
Fault definitely is shared on a few of his turnovers, but Dobbs made multiple inexcusable decisions that have folks questioning whether he’ll remain the starter.
That’s how ugly things were.
17) Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Few quarterbacks in the NFL produce comically-themed spray charts the way that Baker Mayfield has with the Buccaneers. Every week there is a clear theme for the Buccaneers passing attack, and the efficiency of each plan varies.
Mayfield didn’t have a horrible day, but it wasn’t great, either. The weather wasn’t ideal, and his interception was a potential touchdown pass that left his hand about as well as if yours truly had attempted it. It just wobbled its way into Xavier Woods’ hands, grossly underthrown to Evans.
The bad weather led to a rough start, but Mayfield and the passing attack got things going as the day progressed.
16) Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray isn’t playing poorly, but the training wheels feel like they’re still on for him in this offense. Sure, there have been a few downfield shots where he’s gotten to show off his arm, but much of the Cardinals’ offense operates near the line of scrimmage on the outside and short over the middle of the field.
Rondale Moore needs to come down with the deep shot over the middle, and a holding penalty took away a sweet play as Murray scrambled out of the pocket on another Moore target. Although the talent at wide receiver isn’t abundant, we’d like to see Murray and this offense come alive late in the season.
15) Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Russell Wilson has become half-meme, half-quarterback at this point. Yes, he threw three interceptions, but context is important.
After a C.J. Stroud fumble late in the third, Wilson threw an interception on the next play. Yet, it came on a quick pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
The next interception was a mix of an unbelievable play from Derek Stingley Jr. and a bit of a misread from Wilson. He probably never considered the possibility that Stingley would carry Courtland Sutton inside from his Cover 3 leverage.
The final INT, which sealed the game, was less forgivable, from start to finish. With 16 seconds remaining and no timeouts, spinning out and away to avoid a sack is definitively NOT the move. Throw it out of the back of the end zone and live to see fourth down. Then, when you slip the sack attempt that you shouldn’t have allowed to happen — throw it out of the back of the end zone, 12-year veteran.
Wilson has been much better in 2023, but it’s plays like the game-ending INT that frustrate those who evaluate quarterback play as analysts.
14) Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love has been terrific over the past few weeks, and it’s making the Green Bay Packers a legitimate contender in the NFC playoff picture. In fact, they’re currently the seventh seed in the NFC, and three NFC North teams are in the playoffs at the moment.
Try predicting that at the start of the season.
The young receivers are getting comfortable, and so is Love. Against one of the better defenses in the NFL, Love played an outstanding game. His 9.8 passing EPA was the highest of the week, and he posted the second-highest QBR of the week.
13) Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
If Love’s stock is rising, Justin Herbert is falling. We consistently make excuses for his seeming lack of production, but the offense he’s currently in is the same one Dak Prescott was in for years. At some point, we simply have to understand that Herbert doesn’t have enough gunslinger in him.
He is insanely talented, and it doesn’t help that he lost Mike Williams for the season early on. The only receiver that legitimately gives him any help is Keenan Allen. Having Quentin Johnston on the field is subtraction by addition, and Jalen Guyton is JAG.
The world (Nick Sirianni) robbed us of a long-term Shane Steichen/Herbert marriage, and then Brandon Staley put the training wheels on him with Joe Lombardi, and we’re not seeing them come off with Kellen Moore.
12) Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
Jared Goff played well against the New Orleans Saints, which stacks a second consecutive good performance after a horrific three-game stretch that saw him turn the ball over far too many times.
The interior injuries will likely continue to hamper Detroit’s downfield passing attack. Goff isn’t particularly spry, and he struggles with off-platform throws in general. However, when the offense remains in rhythm, he is an assassin throwing to Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta.
11) Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford has never looked at a set of training wheels in his life. The league’s resident gunslinger has settled down a bit with age, but still consistently shows us the “drunk uncle” mobility and elastic arm that has made him one of the most dangerous passers in the league over the past decade-plus.
The fact that Sean McVay and Stafford have figured out a way to move the ball behind that offensive line with a rookie wide receiver as their main target is a miracle. It certainly helps that the rookie WR is a legitimate star, but nobody expected that from the fifth-round pick.
10) Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
Geno Smith was on the opposite of a roll for a few weeks, but he played lights out against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football. His 91.2 QBR was the top mark of the week, and given his performance, that rating was warranted.
Even though they lost, Smith did about everything he could to win the game. The Cowboys consistently pressured the veteran QB, but his wide receivers were able to beat man coverage, and he trusted them to make plays when they were covered. But what saved the Seahawks’ offense was his quick trigger.
9) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Trevor Lawrence will likely spend some time off of the list as he recovers from an ankle injury, but he comes in at No. 9 before that.
Lawrence played an outstanding game against the Bengals’ defense. Before the injury, Lawrence was 22 of 29 for 258 yards and two TDs. The Jaguars’ offense curiously avoided the middle of the Bengals’ defense, but Lawrence was an assassin in the intermediate areas of the field along the sidelines.
8) Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen did just about everything he could against the Philadelphia Eagles in the rain, but it wasn’t enough in the end. James Bradberry made an outstanding play.
But Allen also accounted for four total touchdowns and added 81 yards on the ground on top of his 339 through the air. He was outstanding, but just like so many other overtime games in his career, it hasn’t been enough.
7) C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
Stroud threw for under 300 yards, so he must be broken.
In all seriousness, the fact that Stroud isn’t broken is unbelievable. He is consistently taking big shots as he scrambles and creates as a passer. The offensive game plan and Denver’s pass rush did not allow Stroud to have his normal game of spraying it around the intermediate levels of the field. But it showed he can win in multiple ways.
The loss of fellow rookie Tank Dell could have an immense impact on the offense.
6) Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson has been great this season, but only scoring 20 points against the Los Angeles Chargers defense is a bit of a black eye. It may take some time for this offense to find its shape since losing Mark Andrews. However, with playmakers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, this offense should be just fine.
5) Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers’ offense runs through Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel. However, they need a conductor to make the necessary throws to the playmakers while taking care of the football. Aside from Brock Purdy’s ugly three-game skid (without Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel), he’s played at an incredibly efficient level.
But in those games where he still had McCaffrey, Aiuyk, Kittle, and Kyle Shanahan, he was unable to overcome that adversity.
We’ve seen this before. From 2018-2022, only Patrick Mahomes produced a higher EPA-per-play rate than Jimmy Garoppolo. What happened to the league’s hottest QB when he went to Las Vegas? He’s not injured, and he’s not on this list.
Purdy is better than Garoppolo. He offers the offense the same kind of accuracy and efficiency in rhythm with an added creative ability. He is high on this list because he operates an insane offense at a high level, but other quarterbacks are doing more with less, and other quarterbacks are more talented.
4) Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins’ offense is outstanding, and the Washington Commanders’ defense is very much the opposite of that.
Tua Tagovailoa had a big day, but it wasn’t one of his more taxing performances of the season. Many of his completions were around the line of scrimmage, while Tyreek Hill took care of the Commanders’ communication issues on the back end.
3) Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts didn’t have his best against the 49ers defense, but he played better than other top quarterbacks have managed against that defense. However, it was clear in their game plan that they were playing scared in the passing game, just as so many teams do against Fred Warner.
They avoided the middle of the field and limited a lot of the YAC opportunities we see with A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert. The 49ers got pressure with four rushers and kept everything in front of them.
Not getting into the end zone on the first two offensive drives likely changed the direction of this game.
2) Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott continues to deal, and the Dallas Cowboys offense continues to look like the most prolific in the NFL over the second half of the season (with the 49ers hot on their heels).
If Prescott has even an above-average game against the Seahawks, there is no way the Cowboys win. He finished 22 of 32 for 331 yards and four TDs on the night. In the six games since the bye week, Prescott has thrown 20 TDs to two INTs.
1) Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Did they lose? Yes. Did Patrick Mahomes have a great game? Not particularly. But we are not going to upset the football gods by acting like the best player on the planet is not the best player on the planet just because his silly goose wide receivers (not named Rashee Rice) have us asking, “What is it you do here,” like we’re in Office Space.
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