Ranking the NFL’s top 10 QBs entering Week 3

Steve Palazzolo updates the top 10 QB rankings after Week 2, and goes in-depth on some of the most compelling performances.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar)

Ranking the NFL’s top 10 QBs entering Week 3

Week 2 saw more of the same at the top of the charts, as there are three quarterbacks playing above the rest of the league. On the other hand, early-season injuries have sidelined two of the league’s top 10 quarterbacks, while a number of new names are standing at the doorstep to move up in the rankings.

Here’s a look at the updated top 10 quarterbacks by PFF rating.

*Note: PFF ratings are not an indication of just this season — they take each player’s last 32 games into consideration with higher weighting to the most recent games. We left in Drew Brees and Tony Romo to show where they rank, even though both might be out with injuries this week.

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 94.8

This was another stellar performance for Rodgers, who overcame more pressure than he’s used to facing to throw for four touchdowns with no interceptions. Not only has Rodgers not thrown an interception this season, he hasn’t put the ball in harm’s way once in his two games.

2. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 89.5

No QB is throwing the deep ball like Roethlisberger, and he leads the league with 11 big-time throws (BTTs) through two games. He has 10 completions for 406 yards on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the air – the next closest QB in yards on those throws is Blake Bortles with 185.

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, 87.6

Now that we know Brees was dealing with a shoulder injury, it helps to explain his lackluster performance that saw him have no zip on the ball while throwing a number of dangerous passes into coverage. He could miss some time with the injury.

4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 85.3

Brady was fantastic against the Bills, picking them apart with the quick passing game while sprinkling in a few big-time throws down the field. Perhaps most impressive about Brady’s season: he has yet to have a turnover-worthy pass (TWP) on his 95 dropbacks.

5. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers 84.0

It’s been a mediocre start to the season for Rivers, who was unable to complete the comeback Sunday as he forced an ill-advised pass right to linebacker Vincent Rey for a game-winning interception. Other than that, he got away with a couple other interception-worthy throws and finished with an inflated passer rating of 113.1.

6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons 82.6

Speaking of comebacks, Ryan completed his by throwing a strike to Julio Jones late in the fourth quarter to set up the game-winning score. He connected with Jones 13 times for 135 yards, as the pair continues to develop offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s new offense.

7. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings, 82.4

A new member of the top-10, Bridgewater continued his strong play that dates back to the second half of last season. That’s when he started to make a few more big-time throws every game, and he sprinkled in a few with pinpoint accuracy against the Lions on Sunday.

8. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys, 82.1

The second member of the top 10 to go down due to injury, Romo’s broken clavicle will keep him out for an extended period of time. He was having an average game before fumbling on the play that led to the injury.

9. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets, 81.6

Another new name for the list, Fitzpatrick quietly played solid football for the Houston Texans last year and he’s continued it this year with the Jets. History has shown that sustainability has been the issue for Fitzpatrick, but for now, he’s doing his job and moving the chains for the Jets.

10. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, 81.5

It’s been a tough fall for Manning, who once again didn’t look like his old self against the Chiefs on Thursday night. Despite the comeback and impressive finish, we counted four more interceptions that could have been, in addition to the pick-6 that he threw, so Manning is really going to need to change his style once again in order to adjust to his limitations.


What the stats missed: Johnny Manziel wasn’t as good as his passer rating suggested

*Every week we’ll dive into some of the plays that shaped the statistical landscape around the league. Remember, the NFL’s version of passer rating is a great way to define a passing offense (quarterback plus receivers, pass protection, quality of opposing pass defense, etc), but it often lacks context when assigning the number to a quarterback’s performance.

Everyone is talking Johnny Football, and rightfully so: He’s among the most exciting and polarizing quarterbacks in the league. The numbers looked pretty as well, as he finished with a passer rating of 133.9, going 8-for-15 for 172 yards and two touchdowns.

Both scores were well-earned, and they both showed off Manziel’s varied skillset. First, he threw the deep post off play action, hitting WR Travis Benjamin in stride 46 yards down the field. The second touchdown was also to Benjamin, this time after avoiding an unblocked pressure, breaking the pocket and leading Benjamin across the field with another accurate, 42-yard strike you’d be more likely to see in a Brett Favre pickup game sponsored by Wranglers rather than from a Browns quarterback.

Both plays were great, and they made the stats look good, the problem was with ball security. Manziel threw late into coverage on a post route for what should have been an interception but was dropped by the cornerback. The other issue was the fumbles, and these certainly don’t get tacked onto that gaudy passer rating. Manziel fumbled twice, an issue that could continue to pop up given how long Manziel holds onto the ball, either in the pocket or out of it.

All that said, there were some very encouraging plays for Manziel in the game, and in some ways it’s difficult to understand head coach Mike Pettine turning back to Josh McCown as the starter, but don’t cite the passer rating as if he just set a standard for greatness.


Rough finish for Eli Manning

The fourth quarter has been a disaster of historic proportions for the New York Giants, and QB Eli Manning was at the forefront of the issues on Sunday.

Consider this sequence of plays, starting in the third quarter:

– Q3 4.27: With 3rd-and-2, Manning drops back, scans the field, and starts to feel pressure that isn’t quite yet ready to get to him. Just as his eyes drop, a receiver uncovers in the end zone for a wide-open would be touchdown, but instead, Manning vacates the pocket, gets tracked down from behind and fumbles on his way down for the turnover.

– Q4 3.27 3rd-and-7, the Giants are at home and take a delay of game penalty to make it 3rd-and-12 before conceding to punt with a 5-yard quick slant on the very next play.

– Q4 1.02 1st-and-10, the Giants only need a touchdown to tie, Manning has TE Larry Donnell wide open down the seam and overshoots his target.

– Q4 0.57 2nd-and-10, the Giants have a perfect play call to beat the Falcons’ cover-3 and TE Jerome Cunningham is breaking free on the wheel route. Both offensive tackles push the edge rushers past the pocket, giving Manning ample room to maneuver. However, he steps up too far in the pocket right into DE Adrian Clayborn who has just beaten his block and gets a hand on the pass. A subtle step up and Manning has a clean pocket.

Manning has the 20th-best grade through two games and comes in at No. 23 in our focus ratings at 69.3.


Luck evening out for Luck

OK, so maybe I’m a few games late on this, but this point still stands:

That audio clip was from last year, when we repeatedly hammered home that point that Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck was playing with fire every week and his questionable decision making would eventually catch up to him. The numbers did actually start to even out late last year as he threw six interceptions in his last 4.5 games before throwing four in his last two playoff games.

Last season, Luck had a turnover-worthy play (TWP) on 4.31 percent of his dropbacks, ninth-worst in the league, but that number has risen to 7.84 percent this season, third-worst in the league. Throw in that while we’ve charted him for eight turnover-worthy plays and he’s thrown five interceptions while recovering one of his bad fumbles, opponents are capitalizing on Luck’s early mistakes.

Further compounding the issue for Luck, the TWPs were much easier to deal with when he was mixing in a number of big-time throws (BTTs) to create explosive plays for the offense. Last year, Luck ranked second in the NFL with 39 BTTs but he’s only managed one in two games.

Luck’s previous risk/reward style has been all risk and no reward to this point, as his -5.3 grade ranks 30th among NFL quarterbacks and it has the Colts sitting at 0-2.


QB stats of the week

– 21 quarterbacks have a passer rating of at least 90.0, though only 10 have posted positive PFF passing grades. Translation: While the passing numbers are off the charts, it’s due to rules changes, shorter passes, and playmakers creating yards after the catch.

– Tennessee Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota has been sacked on 35.7 percent of his pressured dropbacks, the highest percentage in the league. Last year at Oregon, he was sacked on 23.0 percent of his pressured dropbacks, 14th-highest out of 86 FBS qualifiers.

– Bills QB Tyrod Taylor has the highest time in pocket at 3.23, and he was charged with three sacks in their loss to the Patriots on Sunday.

– Rivers leads the league with an accuracy percentage of 89.5 percent while pressured. Texans QB Ryan Mallett ranks last at 33.3 percent.

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.


    No Carson Palmer?

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      ratings are based off of their last 32 games, he’s trending upward in a hurry tho, with 4th best grade of 2015 so far

  • Mark Crowe

    Another stat sheet that has Ryan Mallet at the bottom of the NFL? Can you please send a note to coach O’Brien? I don’t think he’s getting the picture.

    • Rick

      O’Brien doesn’t have a good option at QB.

      • Blyake Price

        Time to see what Watt can do? Lol

    • crashby89

      When Hoyer is the alternative its kinda lose lose.

  • Tim Edell

    Luck has definitely faced 2 of the tougher defenses in the NFL going up against the Bills and Jets. It will really be interesting to see how he plays this week against the Titans D.

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    • RobPark

      This would Make brady he superstar of league with this logic

      • crashby89

        And? Bills d was one of the only to make Rodgers play bad last year yet Brady destroyed them then. It’s what he does in that division

    • crosseyedlemon

      The Colts embarrassed themselves in front of a national audience and their home fans so that alone should motivate them to regain some respect this week. I think Luck will put up some big numbers this week and the Colts will finally start to look like the playoff bound team most people expected them to be.

  • leitskev

    Brady behind Brees? And you expect anyone to take this seriously? Brady is off to a historic start after a historic playoff run. How could he behind anyone?

    • Jake S

      Take what seriously a trend in numbers that they used to rank QB’s? You act like they are making it up… It’s numbers, stats, actual formulas are involved. Can’t take it? Don’t have to read it.

      • leitskev

        Reading more closely, I see that the ranking is for the player’s last 32 to games. So it makes more sense. I thought this was a ranking for this year’s performance, so my bad.

        Though the ranking does seem to have limited usefulness when it ends up with Brady under Brees. If a formula leads to strange places, it’s time to rethink the formula. I had Brees on my fantasy team last year and he killed me. I mean how many people that watch the game would have Brees higher than Brady? So obviously the statistical weighting used needs another look. Kind of like climate change. It doesn’t work very well.

        • mocho

          I believe these numbers were adjusted to remove advantages gained from illeagal air pressure, which makes it bit surprising to see brady up so high

      • Brewhawk

        This weeks rating of Aaron Rodgers as just below average after a 333 yard, 5 TD/0 INT game against the Chief’s pass rush while missing a starting tackle and 2 of his top 3 receivers pretty much proves they are making it up.

  • John Ortiz

    Peyton in the top 10. LOL. You lose all credibility

    • crashby89

      Past 32 games not just this season. This season his grade is one of the worst

  • Scott West

    Grading the quality of throws, a narrow aspect of qb play, and calling that a rating for a qb is..ridiculous. It’s a useful measure, but it’s hardly a means for ranking qbs.

    • crosseyedlemon

      An excellent observation. It’s impossible to quantify something like leadership ability but would anyone seriously argue that a quarterback can achieve HOF status without that.

  • RobPark

    PFF rating is mising the T – PFFT

  • barbie dahl

    I’m shocked Christian Ponder isn’t in the top 10.

  • Matt

    How is Bridgewater on here??? He played terribly against the Niners who are the worst team in the league, then he’s pedestrian against the Lions and the Chargers. They won those games from defense and AP. Carr has looked superior to Bridgewater thus far, but ya’ll keep kissing Bridgewater’s ass. He has a lone TD to one pick and you have him on your top ten list????