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    NFL QB Rankings Week 7: Daniel Jones Has Been a Pleasant Surprise

    The QB rankings story in the NFL is constantly changing, even if we think we're familiar with them. Daniel Jones is a great example.

    The quarterback story in the NFL is constantly changing, even if we think we’re familiar with the major players. As a result, quarterback rankings become a tough task. This time last year, people were asking if Tua Tagovailoa could really be the answer in Miami and were confident that Russell Wilson could reprise his role as an elite quarterback.

    Now, their roles are flipped.

    These stories don’t just change season to season, either. We see quarterbacks struggle early in the season only to become high-level passers as the season progresses, something we might be seeing this year with Daniel Jones. How far up has Jones moved in the NFL QB Power Rankings heading into Week 7?

    NFL QB Power Rankings: Daniel Jones Is a Story of Quarterback Development

    Jones’ first five games of the season saw steady progression, with each additional game showcasing a better performance, culminating in a fantastic game against the Green Bay Packers in front of an international audience. His performance against the Ravens in Week 6, though not quite as good as the London showing, further demonstrated Jones’ potential progression from a liability to a franchise quarterback.

    Prior to this season, it would have been fair to count Jones out entirely. The Giants declined to pick up his fifth-year option, a rational decision given that Jones had seemingly not improved since his second year in the NFL. Among 40 qualifying quarterbacks between 2020 and 2021, Jones finished 32nd in expected points added per play, one of the few quarterbacks to land in the negatives in the metric. He also ranked 33rd in passer rating and adjusted net yards per attempt.

    But head coach Brian Daboll may be pulling off a second QB miracle shortly after he pulled one off in Josh Allen’s development, who he coordinated in Buffalo. Allen’s improvement as a passer from his rookie year to his second season in the NFL was a big leap, but the next leap up into his third year was even more impressive and landed Allen in perpetual MVP conversation.

    Jones isn’t quite there, and it would be unfair to expect he will be anytime soon. But what he’s done is astounding, particularly when taking into account how leaky the offensive line has been in pass protection or how meager the cupboard is when it comes to receiver.

    A Deeper Look at the Giants’ Personnel and On-Field Production

    The Giants rank 25th in ESPN’s pass-block win rate, which measures how often linemen get beat — not just whether or not they give up pressure. They also seemingly don’t have wide receivers and have lined up multiple times to throw the ball without a receiver on the field.

    Not only has 2020 free agent Kenny Golladay been a big enough disappointment that he found himself on the bench, but they’ve seen injuries throughout the year at various points to receivers Marcus Johnson, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Richie James, and second-round rookie Wan’Dale Robinson.

    The Giants have responded to these personnel challenges by doing some truly odd stuff, which includes formations with three halfbacks on the field, three tight end looks well outside of the red zone, and somewhat regular usage of gimmicks like the Wildcat.

    New York’s ability to catch opponents off-guard will only last so long, and they will need long-term improvement in what Jones does as a passer to see the team continue their success. While it’s unlikely that they’ll continue winning at the pace they have been, eking out a .500 record for the rest of the season to finish somewhere around 10-6-1 would be well beyond expectations and 3.5 wins above the Giants’ preseason win totals set by bettors.

    MORE: Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

    Luckily, it hasn’t been purely a product of smoke and mirrors. Jones has genuinely been playing better, with more decisive play on his dropbacks and heightened accuracy on his throws. Most importantly, he’s pressed less and has forced fewer tight-window throws or deep shots that aren’t there. While he’s held on to the ball a little longer, Jones has been managing pressure in the pocket without panicking and knows how to use his athleticism to get himself out of jams.

    His rate of deep throws and average depth of target are much lower this season, which has reduced the number of mistakes he can make.

    While this caps the ceiling of the offense, it takes advantage of some of the unique talents of the skill players on the team, like the after-the-catch capability that can be found in Robinson and running back Saquon Barkley, or the instinct for space that rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger has.

    We’ll see if this is just a temporary boost — the last three games were far better than the first three — or if it’s part of a genuine improvement that Jones has made. As he’s about to hit free agency, both he and the Giants have a lot to mull over this offseason as they evaluate what comes next for each of them.

    Week 7 NFL QB Rankings | Tier 1: Elite

    Elite-quality quarterbacks drive wins and can single-handedly put teams in playoff contention. On more complete teams, they’re favorites to win the Super Bowl.

    Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

    In the best clash of the titans we’ve seen all year, Mahomes came away second-best. But even then, he showcased why he’s an elite quarterback.

    Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

    After hitting elite levels of play two years ago, Allen has still found ways to improve. It’s truly impressive.

    Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

    Up against the best defense he’s faced all year, Hurts put together a perfect demonstration for why he should be considered among the game’s elite.

    Week 7 NFL QB Rankings | Tier 2: Game-Changers

    Players who play at a high level consistently without being elite might contribute just as much as players who flash elite levels of play from time to time without consistency. Both groups can alter the course of the game at a moment’s notice.

    Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

    Jackson has been bouncing around elite and non-elite all year, but he has to be better in high-leverage situations if he wants to be elite.

    Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    While Brady and the Buccaneers should have done better against the Steelers, there’s been a lot of moments in the past couple of weeks that prove he can tilt games in his favor.

    Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

    Coming off of his worst game of the season, it might be tempting to downgrade Herbert. But the balance of the season shows a high-level player.

    Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

    We saw the difference between Tagovailoa and his backups over the past few weeks, and the big-play potential with the former Alabama quarterback is impossible to deny.

    Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks

    It’s hard to believe Smith has worked his way to this level, but he’s done a remarkable job of balancing risk and reward while staying accurate

    Week 7 NFL QB Rankings | Tier 3: System Setters

    There are quarterbacks who fit into a system and quarterbacks who systems are designed for. They won’t define games, but they still have a big positive impact on their teams.

    Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

    Cousins has been having a normal Cousins season, but it’s going quite a bit better. That’s actually pretty fun to see.

    Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

    Burrow is beginning to figure out how to balance his desire for big plays with the need to overcome his offensive line, and it’s beginning to look good again.

    Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers

    Designed in a lab specifically to run Kyle Shanahan offenses, Garoppolo is more in his element than any other quarterback in the NFL.

    Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

    While Rodgers has historically done well in Matt LaFleur’s offense, we are beginning to see what happens when a QB clashes with his coordinator regarding what he needs to run an offense well.

    Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Seeing Lawrence improve the way he has over the past year and a half has been a wonder and a vindication of the otherwise opaque draft process.

    Week 7 NFL QB Rankings | Tier 4: System Standards

    There are quarterbacks that are flag-bearers for their respective systems, and QBs that represent the fundamental essence of those systems. That second category of passer is less exciting but one that can create opportunity for smart coaches.

    Daniel Jones, New York Giants

    Jones’ last three games have been a revelation and might be proof-positive that Brian Daboll is the coach everyone thought he was.

    Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

    This year hasn’t been quite as explosive for Tannehill as it has been in the past, but it’s a good deal better than last year. He has talent but needs everything working for it to come out.

    Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders

    Carr has been struggling to adapt to the Josh McDaniels offense, and we’ve seen some high points, but it’s mostly been disappointment.

    Bailey Zappe, New England Patriots

    It very much seems like Zappe is the definition of maximizing a limited skill set. He makes great decisions and demonstrates good accuracy but cannot push the ball downfield. Still, it’s working.

    Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

    The best system for Murray might not be the one that developed him in college. Right now, we’re seeing the downsides to that approach.

    Zach Wilson, New York Jets

    Wilson has an incredible arm, but for right now, seems better off not using it to push downfield and playing a more horizontal game.

    Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos

    Wilson has an incredible arm, but for now, seems better off not using it to push downfield and playing a more horizontal game.

    Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams

    Last year, Stafford led the league in picks and it worked out alright. This year, that’s not working out alright.

    Andy Dalton, New Orleans Saints

    Dalton has done quite a bit more with less this year as a backup. He probably won’t compete for a starting job anywhere next season, but it’s worth thinking about.

    Week 7 NFL QB Rankings | Tier 5: With a Little Help From Some Friends

    Those in Tier 5 aren’t immune to winning but need a lot of help from their supporting cast and coaching staff to make that happen. Most of the time, though, they’ll be holding their team back.

    Jacoby Brissett, Cleveland Browns

    Mostly doing alright until teams adapted to what the Browns were doing offensively, Brissett has been impressive holding down the fort until Deshaun Watson takes over.

    Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

    Mostly doing alright until teams adapted to what the Lions were doing offensively, Goff has been impressive holding down the fort until a new quarterback takes over next year.

    Cooper Rush, Dallas Cowboys

    Rush is the perfect example of what it means to separate “quarterback wins” from “quarterback performance.” He’s been more than capable but not a savior.

    Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers

    We’re still not seeing Pickett attack the whole field. He may not be able to, but if he is, Pickett could turn out to be a great selection for the Steelers.

    Week 7 NFL QB Rankings | Tier 6: Time to Move On

    Quarterbacks in this tier may not have started out as placeholders, but now find themselves playing that role until the team finds a new passer.

    Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons

    We’ve seen some exciting moments with Mariota at the helm of Arthur Smith’s offense, but it’s clear he can’t run it long-term for it to meet its potential.

    Carson Wentz, Washington Commanders

    Now injured, we won’t get to see Wentz bounce back this year from a rocky start to the season for some time, but it’s not been a good showing.

    Davis Mills, Houston Texans

    Mills has exceeded expectations in Houston but not by enough to make quarterback a non-story once we head into the offseason.

    Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts

    The most-sacked quarterback in the NFL somehow avoided that fate last week, but still has a bevy of issues holding him back.

    Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

    He had a bright moment against the Vikings, but that’s over. He needs to get rid of the ball quicker and more accurately.

    PJ Walker, Carolina Panthers

    It’s been fun cheering for an XFL star, but Walker has not completed a pass more than one yard downfield.

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