QB Power Rankings 2021: Aaron Rodgers is king, again

From Aaron Rodgers to Zach Wilson, PFN ranks the NFL's starting passers for the season's final QB Power Rankings.

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2021 QB Power Rankings | 17-32

Here’s how the league’s bottom half shakes out after an extended 18-game regular season. Which passers can improve this offseason and get themselves on page one of next year’s rankings?

17) Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Season: 15 GP | 209.6 YPG (T-26th) | 61.3% (26th) | 6.4 avg CAY (T-7th) | 3.7 TD% (T-24th) | 2.1 INT% (T-13th) | 784 rush yards (1st) | 10 rush TDs (1st)

Kicking off the back half of the QB Power Rankings, you’ll find a bit of a surprise as Jalen Hurts ranks one notch ahead of former Eagles passer Carson Wentz. But seeing how the Eagles are playoff-bound after moving forward with Hurts speaks volumes to why it makes perfect sense.

Hurts is a bit banged up. Allowing him to rest in Week 18 was the right decision. But don’t let the fact that Hurts has been out of your sight take him out of your mind. Hurts has improved as much as any player on this list from one year to the next — he’s been pivotal in transforming one of the league’s most formidable rushing offenses.

18) Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts

Season: 17 GP | 209.6 YPG (T-26th) | 62.4% (25th) | 6.0 avg CAY (11th) | 5.2 TD% (12th) | 1.4 INT% (3rd) | 215 rush yards (13th) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

Carson Wentz waited until the biggest game of the season to throw his first interception on the road — and there could’ve been more. He also lost a fumble, marking just the third instance this season in which Wentz committed 2 or more turnovers in a single game.

To say Sunday’s devastating loss to the lowly Jaguars was disappointing would be an understatement. But the truth is this — a season that began with questions surrounding Wentz has concluded. And a lot of those uncertainties have been brought to light. At times, Wentz did well. But most often, it wasn’t enough.

19) Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Season: 16 GP | 233.8 YPG (14th) | 64.5% (21st) | 4.4 avg CAY (31st) | 3.6 TD% (T-26th) | 1.7 INT% (T-7th) | 5 rush yards (32nd) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

Ben Roethlisberger was mostly ineffective in what should’ve been his final game. Again, he made his living on dink and dunks, completing 25 of 31 passes fewer than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage for 159 yards and his lone touchdown.

However, he did lead his 57th career game-winning drive. But because of a surprising upset, Roethlisberger won’t have time to start writing his Hall of Fame acceptance speech quite yet. He’s got at least one more game to play this weekend.

20) Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos

Season: 14 GP | 218.0 YPG (21st) | 66.9% (14th) | 5.6 avg CAY (T-19th) | 4.2 TD% (T-15th) | 1.6 INT% (T-5th) | 106 rush yards (24th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

Teddy Bridgewater represents the Broncos in the QB Power Rankings, as he was the unquestioned starter for most of the year before suffering multiple head injuries. While I don’t expect him to return to Denver in 2022, you have to admire what he accomplished when he was healthy.

As usual, Bridgewater proved efficient, completing a high percentage of his throws while limiting mistakes. That’s precisely why he was best suited for the job despite a young Drew Lock being on the roster. However, Bridgewater could not truly take advantage of his opportunity with a new organization. Because of that, I’m skeptical of him getting another shot to start elsewhere.

21) Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

Season: 14 GP | 231.8 YPG (16th) | 67.2% (T-10th) | 4.3 avg CAY (32nd) | 3.8 TD% (23rd) | 1.6 INT% (T-5th) | 87 rush yards (26th) | 0 rush TDs (T-28th)

Against the Green Bay Packers’ blitz, Jared Goff was 7-of-11 for 74 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sure, the Packers took their foot off the pedal, but Goff and the Lions showed fight to the bitter end of the year. You have to commend them and first-year coach Dan Campbell.

And while Goff’s first season away from the Rams comes off as an embarrassment, surprisingly, it wasn’t. One look at the Lions’ record, and surely Goff must’ve been terrible, right? However, he completed a career-high 67.2% of his passes while his touchdown rate was its highest since 2018, and his interception rate was its lowest since 2017.

22) Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Season: 17 GP | 223.6 YPG (17th) | 67.6% (8th) | 5.7 avg CAY (T-17th) | 4.2 TD% (T-15th) | 2.5 INT% (T-19th) | 129 rush yards (19th) | 0 rush TDs (T-28th)

Against a bloodthirsty front seven and an opportunistic secondary, rookie Mac Jones did well to keep his composure, especially after throwing a pick-six to begin the game. While many criticize his dink-and-dunk approach, Jones has shown improvement in stretching the field at times. Unfortunately, it’s not until the offense is desperate that he’s asked to do so.

Regardless, there’s a lot to build upon after a promising rookie campaign. Unlike the rest of the league’s rookie starting quarterbacks, Jones’ season isn’t over yet. And playoff experience at this stage in any young player’s career will prove valuable.

23) Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

Season: 13 GP | 204.1 YPG (29th) | 67.8% (7th) | 5.1 avg CAY (27th) | 4.1 TD% (T-18th) | 2.6 INT% (T-21st) | 128 rush yards (20th) | 3 rush TDs (T-7th)

Tua Tagovailoa has had plenty of moments in his second season where you think he can be the guy for the Dolphins. But then you’ll get several throws or even a couple of games from him where you’re just as unsure as you were before.

In his final game of 2022 — and possibly his last with the team — Tua was erratic (again). When the game script crumbles, he stumbles. With that said, struggles are expected for young players making the jump from college to the pros. However, with guys like Herbert and Burrow playing so well so early, there’s going to be less patience than usual.

And impatience makes for drastic actions, such as the surprising firing of head coach Brian Flores.

24) Daniel Jones, New York Giants

Season: 11 GP | 220.7 YPG (19th) | 64.3% (23rd) | 5.6 avg CAY (T-19th) | 2.8 TD% (28th) | 1.9 INT% (T-10th) | 298 rush yards (10th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

Daniel Jones hasn’t played football in weeks, yet his value to the New York Giants is more apparent than ever. But with coach Joe Judge getting the hook after becoming the first Giants’ coach ever to lose 13 games, Jones’ future is again up in the air.

Early on, Jones was playing reasonably well. In eight of his 11 starts, he eclipsed a 90 passer rating. And all four Giants wins were with Jones at the helm. But let’s not pretend like Jones transformed this offense. Replacements Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon just took it from ineffective to unwatchable.

25) Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Season: 14 GP | 215.0 YPG (22nd) | 60.5% (27th) | 6.2 avg CAY (10th) | 4.1 TD% (T-18th) | 3.1 INT% (29th) | 134 rush yards (18th) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

As I stated in last week’s QB Power Rankings, Baker Mayfield’s health has played a significant role in his 2021 struggles. But let’s not pretend he’s lived up to being a first overall pick when healthy. Without a heavy dose of hard-nosed running and a stout defense around him, where are the Cleveland Browns?

Mayfield is more than likely a top-20-or-better passer in the NFL, but until he gets healthy and can consistently make plays when the Browns need him to, he’ll find himself toward the bottom of everyone’s lists. Next season will be a make-or-break year for him.

26) Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team

Season: 16 GP | 213.7 YPG (24th) | 65.0% (19th) | 5.2 avg CAY (26th) | 4.0 TD% (T-21st) | 3.0 INT% (28th) | 313 rush yards (18th) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

If you want to know how to play yourself out of a starting job for next season, stink up the joint in four straight divisional games like Taylor Heinicke. During a stretch that included two matchups with the Cowboys and games against the Eagles and Giants, Heinicke completed an embarrassing 53.5% of his passes, took 14 sacks, and turned the ball over 5 times.

27) Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

Season: 7 GP | 167.1 YPG (31st) | 59.0% (30th) | 6.5 avg CAY (T-4th) | 8.7 TD% (1st) | 1.9 INT% (T-10th) | 166 rush yards (16th) | 1 rush TD (T-20th)

Taysom Hill may be more dynamic than Jameis Winston, yet Winston deserves to represent the Saints in my final QB Power Rankings (not that either would rank much higher than the other, to be honest).

Still, Winston came out of the gate with a quality-over-quantity approach. Every week it seemed like he threw multiple scores despite attempting somewhere between 12-15 passes. But the Winston experiment didn’t last very long, with an ACL injury cutting his year short.

Where the Saints go from here is anyone’s guess because Winston, Hill, or Trevor Siemian don’t appear to be the answer.

28) Davis Mills, Houston Texans

Season: 13 GP | 204.9 YPG (28th) | 66.8% (15th)| 5.4 avg CAY (T-23rd) | 4.1 TD% (T-18th) | 2.5 INT% (T-19th) | 44 rush yards (30th) | 0 rush TDs (T-28th)

Davis Mills has done enough in my book. He’s earned a shot at being the Houston Texans’ starter next season. After putting up two duds in his first three starts, Mills has improved exponentially. And it’s not like he’s in a great environment setting him up for success like another rookie I know.

Sunday’s latest big day was Mills’ fourth 300-yard performance, which is the exact number of 300-yard games Jones, Trevor Lawrence, and Zach Wilson have combined. Crazy, right? Even more impressive is how well Mills has played since becoming the team’s starter the second time around.

In his last five starts, Mills can be compared to many of the league’s best, production-wise. For instance, his completion percentage (68.4) during that span would tie him with Derek Carr. Mills’ 251.6 yards per game would align with MVP front-runner Aaron Rodgers.

29) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

Season: 17 GP | 214.2 YPG (23rd) | 59.6% (29th) | 5.4 avg CAY (T-23rd) | 2.0 TD% (32nd) | 2.8 INT% (T-25th) | 334 rush yards (7th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

While Trevor Lawrence’s rookie season left much to be desired, at least he saved his best game for his last. Unfortunately, Lawrence has been unable to dig himself out of the QB Power Rankings cellar. Sunday marked the first time all season the first overall selection registered a passer rating above 96.5.

No quarterback on this list threw fewer touchdowns per dropback than Lawrence. Failure is something he rarely experienced until he reached the NFL. But in the end, there weren’t many quarterbacks to take a snap in 2021 who produced as poorly as Lawrence. But it’s Year 1, so he’ll get a pass. And deservingly so.

30) Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

Season: 12 GP | 210.6 YPG (25th) | 59.9% (28th) | 4.5 avg CAY (30th) | 2.2 TD% (31st) | 3.2 INT% (30th) | 222 rush yards (12th) | 5 rush TDs (T-4th)

Remember when Sam Darnold had the Panthers sitting at 3-0? Me neither. Or at least it’s fuzzy. That’s because it was forever ago. Plus, in his eight subsequent starts, Darnold managed to lead the Panthers to one win. At this point, it’s safe to say the experiment is over.

And while Darnold just managed his first 200-yard performance since mid-October and his first multi-TD game since Week 6, it should make no difference. The Panthers need to find a starting quarterback in 2022 that’s not currently on the roster.

31) Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

Season: 12 GP | 155.8 YPG (32nd) | 58.9% (31st) | 7.1 avg CAY (1st) | 2.6 TD% (29th) | 3.7 INT% (32nd) | 420 rush yards (5th) | 2 rush TDs (T-11th)

I’ve been pretty critical of Justin Fields since he entered the NFL Draft. Was Fields simply a better athlete than everyone in college? Or was he mentally ahead of the curve?

For much of the 2020 season, Fields (when starting) has found himself near the bottom of the QB Power Rankings due to consistent issues with accuracy, decision-making, and dependability. I fully understand his limitations were only intensified under the tutelage of recently fired coach Matt Nagy. Still, Fields needs to work on his internal clock and feet this offseason because the next Bears coach may not want to hinge their future on him.

32) Zach Wilson, New York Jets

Season: 13 GP | 179.5 YPG (30th) | 55.6% (32nd) | 5.8 avg CAY (T-14th) | 2.3 TD% (30th) | 2.9 INT% (27th) | 185 rush yards (14th) | 4 rush TDs (6th)

Sunday was Zach Wilson’s worst NFL game from an efficiency standpoint. Before completing just 35% of his passes against the Buffalo Bills, Wilson’s worst rate had come in Week 14 when he went 19-of-42 against the Saints.

One thing is for sure — there are many things to work on this offseason for Wilson and the Jets. And atop the priority list, outside of finding better players, is keeping Wilson upright.

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