NFL Stat Oddity: Week 8

We officially are in a world where Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are on 3-5 teams, and Geno Smith (No. 4) and Marcus Mariota (No. 6) are in the top six in QBR on division-leading teams after eight weeks.

Not eight quarters. Not at the end of September. It is Halloween and this season’s candy has drugs in it.

The 2022 NFL season is like what you would get from an alternate timeline stemming from 2014 where Brady’s “We’re onto Cincinnati” and Rodgers’ “Relax” never happened. Also, we really might be making Mariota and Geno happen in the NFL.

It is a weird season, but I don’t think Sunday taught us much we didn’t already know. Close games were also down again with only seven games featuring a comeback opportunity. Who saw Falcons-Panthers as a candidate for Game of the Year?

Since it is Halloween, the headings this week will make references to horror/thriller movies.

This season in Stat Oddity:

49ers at Rams: The Silence of the Rams

Not to dwell much on this game, because it’s almost boring how much Kyle Shanahan owns Sean McVay, but this could go down as a pivotal breaking point in the NFC race.

Perhaps more than any game this year, the Christian McCaffrey trade paid its biggest dividends here. I don’t think the 49ers win this game so thoroughly without the trade, especially with Deebo Samuel out injured. It also would have been a swing in LA’s favor if they pulled off the trade as we know they are capable of doing and were reportedly interested in acquiring CMC. Good job, San Francisco.

But CMC was a force on Sunday as he threw, caught, and ran a touchdown in San Francisco’s 31-14 win. That hadn’t been done since LaDainian Tomlinson over 15 years ago.

Outside of getting away with a horrific throw that Jalen Ramsey should have intercepted, Jimmy Garoppolo was sharp (21-of-25 for 235 yards) as he usually is against this team. McCaffrey was dynamic, George Kittle snagged a late touchdown, and the team closed out well in the fourth quarter.

For the Rams, I really need an explanation for how they could have Cooper Kupp in a 17-point game after the two-minute warning. It is inexcusable coaching. Kupp looked seriously hurt after getting tackled with just over a minute left to play. Early reports are he dodged a bullet, but we’ll see if Tom Brady already found a new witch to keep Kupp out of their matchup of disappointing teams next week.

But to put your star quarterback and receiver in a 31-14 game with 2:24 left when you’re 91 yards away from the end zone? Screw that. You already lost. It’s over. Raise the white flag and send in the backups at your crucial positions.

The rule of thumb here should be that if it’s a 16-point game, then you can play it out. Your chances of going 8+8 in that time are still total shit, so ideally, it’s more realistic to still battle in a 14-to-15 point game. Touchdown, onside kick, touchdown. That’s at least possible. As for time, applying the 2003 Colts-Bucs standard, you should probably pull your irreplaceable guys in any three-score deficit situation in the last four minutes, barring any incredible field position advantage. Definitely the last three minutes.

McVay failed against Shanahan once again, but I’m more outraged about the ending than anything else in this game. The 49ers simply have a better roster than the Rams do this year. A sweep was bound to happen when you’re used to getting owned by a team like this. Be glad you stole the one win in the most important meeting last January.

Packers at Bills: Child’s Play

Strange game on Sunday night. It felt like the Bills were toying with Green Bay after scoring on five straight drives and taking a 27-10 lead in the third quarter. After defiantly stopping Aaron Jones on a fourth-and-1 run in the fourth quarter, the Bills really could have blown this one open with Stefon Diggs having his way with the secondary.

But as if he was bored with the game, Josh Allen started making risky passes and threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, including one in the end zone with 10:05 left. Aaron Rodgers was mostly a bus driver for the game’s first 50 minutes, taking advantage of a strong rushing performance from his backs (30 carries for 197 yards) while trying to avoid the pressure from the pass rush when he had to throw to his limited receiving corps.

But Rodgers put together a 95-yard touchdown drive to make it 27-17. The defense didn’t get a quick enough stop, and by the time Rodgers got the ball back, he was in miracle territory. Mason Crosby’s 55-yard field goal was wide and short with 38 seconds left to end it, but the Packers (+10.5) covered in a 27-17 loss, the first time Rodgers was a double-digit underdog in his NFL career.

In a weird way, it wasn’t an awful night for the Packers. They ran it well, they got a few great catches from rookie wideout Romeo Doubs, and they didn’t get entirely blown out and covered.

Buffalo looked mortal in this one, but it was still never in any real danger of losing. At this point, Green Bay is going to hand Philadelphia its first loss in November in what is still a non-playoff season because of the hole it is digging right now.

Steelers at Eagles: Drag Matt Canada to Hell

Frankly, I am glad the Steelers are on a bye next week as I need a break from spending three hours watching them struggle to score very few points and look clueless for long stretches on defense.

I’ve said it before that Mike Tomlin did Kenny Pickett no favors by choosing to start him when he did. It is quite possible that two of Pickett’s first four starts are on the road against the Super Bowl teams this year (Bills and Eagles). When your defense gets absolutely shredded by Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts, it is hard for the rookie to keep up, especially when he’s running Matt Canada’s offense with the new T-Rich (Najee Harris) in the backfield.

Pickett almost escaped this one without an interception, though he had one late in a 35-13 game on another tipped ball. No big deal, but what happened before then wasn’t very positive. Pickett now has two touchdown passes to eight interceptions in five games.

The Eagles have been historically great in the second quarter, and they did not disappoint with a 14-3 second quarter in this one to take control of the game. When the Eagles came out in the third quarter and Hurts threw his fourth touchdown, and the first to someone other than A.J. Brown, it felt over at that point. Going through the motions for the last 28 minutes.

With the Eagles, I’m still not convinced I’m watching some kind of all-time 7-0 team that’s going to challenge a perfect season here. But compared to the Steelers? It’s no contest right now. A.J. Brown (three) caught more touchdowns on Sunday than the Steelers have touchdowns to their wide receivers (two) this season.

Remember when the 2004 Steelers, behind rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, beat the undefeated Patriots and Eagles in back-to-back weeks? Fun times. We are far removed from those days. With the 22-point loss, the Steelers tie their 1986 team (2-6 with minus-77 scoring differential through eight games) for the worst start to a season since the merger.

Giants at Seahawks: Paranormal Activity

I really botched the preview (and parlays) for this one. Expecting a little shootout and showcase for the running backs in what would be another game decided by one score, we got a 27-13 win by the pass-happy Seahawks who only got 51 rushing yards out of rookie Kenneth Walker.

I did not think the Seahawks would pass up the chance to run the explosive Walker against the 32nd-ranked run defense in yards per carry, especially against the most blitz-happy pass defense on a week where DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were not 100%.

Yet, Geno Smith put the ball up often and early, and both those receivers caught a touchdown. Lockett’s was a game winner to break a 13-13 tie in the fourth, which was nice since he was screwing this game up with a fumble and dropped touchdown earlier.

Just when you think the Giants were going to go on another fourth-quarter comeback, they fumbled a punt return with just over six minutes left. That gave the Seahawks the ball at the 32 and they only needed two plays to get the insurance touchdown at 27-13. No one scored the rest of the way, making it the first Giants game decided by more than eight points this season.

Geno Smith gets credited with his first game-winning drive since December 28, 2014. Is that a record for length in between game-winning drives? No, Doug Flutie went over 10 years before, but he also wasn’t in the NFL for most of that time. Smith’s gap is the fifth longest on record.

This Geno season is just off the charts insane, and it is making these Seattle games hard to predict. The thought that a Pete Carroll team would beat the Chargers and Giants by double digits is crazy. Those games would go down to the wire in the Russell Wilson era for sure.

Panthers at Falcons: Tom Brady’s Final Destination Is Losing Division to This

Imagine an NFL game with:

  • Game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion to start the fourth quarter
  • Go-ahead field goal
  • Answered by go-ahead touchdown, the running back’s third of the game
  • Answered by a deep 47-yard touchdown pass
  • Four-and-out stop
  • Kick a field goal to go up 34-28 with 36 seconds left
  • The rare 75-yard touchdown drive manufactured in 24 seconds with WR1 pulling in a Hail Mary with 12 seconds left
  • An excessive celebration penalty pushing the ball back 15 yards and the kicker misses the extra point, leading to overtime
  • Bad interception seems to doom home team in overtime
  • Redemption-seeking kicker adds to his bad reputation by missing 32-yard field goal
  • Home team drives for 41-yard game-winning field goal to move into first place with 37-34 win
  • There were seven plays of 30-plus yards in this game, and all but one of them came in the fourth quarter or overtime.

If that’s how Buccaneers-Ravens or Bills-Packers turned out this weekend, we’d be calling it the Game of the Year. An instant classic. But when it’s the Panthers and the Falcons in the 2022 NFC South, we just laugh at it.

But that was some very dramatic stuff with both teams trying desperately to stay on brand and not win this game. I don’t like Atlanta’s late field goal to go up six, which implores the Panthers to go for the touchdown. They got it as D.J. Moore was incredible, but the excessive celebration is a lame call in such an emotional moment. Wise to enforce it on the extra point, and now we see if kicker Eddy Pineiro has a long career ahead of him as two misses this bad can be devastating to a kicker’s psyche.

It really felt like the Atlanta defense choked away another one, then Mariota did the same in overtime. But Pineiro had their back both times. Kicker has been a problem for basically the entire run of the Carolina franchise.

When you come up with a top games of the season list for this year, I think you’ll have to include this one. Against all odds.

Cardinals at Vikings: We Need to Talk About Kyler

Remember when the Cardinals were 7-0 last year but they should have lost to Minnesota in Week 2 if the kicker didn’t blow a 37-yard kick? Well, the Vikings got a little revenge for that one with this 34-26 win.

Kyler Murray threw for over 300 yards and got his first score to DeAndre Hopkins this year. Rondale Moore apparently only scores and puts up yards on the Cardinals, repeating some of his effort from last year in this one with 92 yards and a touchdown.

But it still was not enough to overcome the many mistakes. The Cardinals botched a snap in a 28-23 game in the fourth quarter while driving. They had to settle for a field goal and 28-26 deficit. Thinking they were getting the ball back, the special teams muffed the punt and gave up a short-field touchdown. But it wouldn’t be a Minnesota game without a kicking miscue, and a missed extra point kept it a one-possession game at 34-26.

But despite getting three drives in a 34-26 game in the final 8:30, Murray was unable to get the job done. He was off with his receiver on a pick, he threw too short of the sticks on a fourth down, and he was sacked on the final two plays of the game, causing him to run out of time.

Minnesota is 6-1 with another win by one possession, but as long as the Packers keep struggling, it may not matter if this team isn’t worthy of a 6-1 record. They will be the best option left to win the division title.

Commanders at Colts: Misery, It Follows Indy

If you are going to bench Matt Ryan for Sam Ehlinger, maybe you should try scoring more than one offensive touchdown on a short field that was only successful because of a pass interference flag. Otherwise, you might as well just start Ryan.

Ehlinger wasn’t bad for an inexperienced player making his first start, but the game ended up exposing that the supporting cast just hasn’t played well this year from the line to Jonathan Taylor to the receivers. On Sunday, Taylor lost a big fumble in the second half, the defense blew a 16-7 lead to a scrambling Taylor Heinicke, and Michael Pittman Jr. dropped a perfect pass from Ehlinger in the final seconds. It was a pass that could have led to a game-winning field goal, though with the Colts’ kicking situation, it was not a given the kick would go through. But at least give them a chance. The offense failed again.

It was another tough loss for Indy and a close win for the Commanders, who are 4-4 now. Terry McLaurin, who grew up as a local Colts fan, is a big-time receiver and it was nice to see his emotion come out after snatching an interception away from the Colts to come down with a 33-yard catch that set up Heinicke for the 1-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds left. It was the biggest play in the 17-16 win.

An upset win if you buy the spread, but I always thought the Commanders hand the upper hand in this one.

Dolphins at Lions: The Vanishing of the Detroit Offense

The Dolphins had to do something they had done only once this season: Score more than 21 points in a game. The Lions were back to their high-scoring ways, and it was clear early that this would be a shootout. In fact, the only stop in the first half by either team was Miami fumbling in scoring territory on its opening drive. That helped Detroit take an early 14-point lead, and it would lead 21-7 as well, but the Dolphins kept scoring after that early miscue.

The problem is the Lions only had three possessions in the second half and failed to score on all of them. Penalties from the offensive line hurt the first two drives, then in a scoreless fourth quarter with Miami leading 31-27, Jared Goff threw incomplete on a fourth-and-1 with 2:52 left. The Dolphins did a great job in the four-minute offense with Tyreek Hill continuing his huge day (12 catches for 188 yards) and finishing the Lions off so they never got the ball back.

I still am not sure what to make of the Dolphins (5-3) in this AFC, but I know they are more interesting to follow than what we are used to from Miami.

Broncos at Jaguars: Lawrence in the Clutch? Get Out. Nope.

I thought Doug Pederson was inheriting the best quarterback prospect of his coaching career, but Trevor Lawrence is worse in the NFL than Carson Wentz. At least Wentz could look like a fake MVP at this point in 2017, his second season with Pederson. Lawrence literally can’t win a game unless his defense is dominant in a wire-to-wire win.

The Jaguars tried to escape this one with 17 points, including two touchdown drives set up on short fields. While that is enough to beat the 2022 Broncos in most weeks, it was not the case in London. If Russell Wilson was going to be that annoying on the plane ride over, he damn well better back it up on the field. Down 17-14 late, he threw a perfect bomb for 47 yards to start the drive, scrambled for a key third-down conversion, and the running game put the ball in the end zone to take a 21-17 lead with 1:43 left.

That 21 is the magic number for beating Jacksonville, which has now lost 40 straight games when allowing at least 21 points. With time for a comeback, Lawrence squandered it immediately by throwing an interception on the first play. The route was jumped by K’Waun Williams. Wilson converted a fourth-and-1 sneak to ice the game.

Wilson is the 14th quarterback in NFL history with 30 fourth-quarter comeback wins. He has done it in the third-fewest games (181), which includes playoffs.

Lawrence is now 1-11 (.083) at fourth-quarter comeback opportunities. The Jaguars are 0-6 in that department this season (worst in the league) and the first team to blow four fourth-quarter leads after doing so three weeks in a row. Detroit (0-3) is the only other team to not win a close game yet this season.

That 2-1 start by Jacksonville was some of the tastiest fool’s gold I’ve seen in years in the NFL. Denver has fooled me plenty as well, but there is still more to build there with this defense and if Wilson can ever get back on track.

Bears at Cowboys: The Texas Run Defense Massacre

Since 1970, NFL teams were 372-9-1 (.975) when they rushed for at least 200 yards and had a passer rating of 115 or higher. The Bears did both those things in Dallas (240 rushing yards, 119.4 passer rating) and still lost 49-29 in a game that wasn’t that close most of the day.

Chicago is the first team in NFL history to lose by more than seven points when rushing for at least 170 yards and having a rating of 115 or higher.

How did it happen? First, 42 of those rushing yards to get over the 200-yard mark came in the fourth quarter after the Bears were down 49-29. They also lost a fumble by David Montgomery that was returned for a touchdown. Justin Fields took four sacks, which do not bring down the passer rating, and the Bears had four failed completions in the last eight minutes alone.

It was not the strongest offensive performance, and the defense was abysmal as Dallas converted 9-of-11 times on third down. Dak Prescott looked closer to 2021 form (21-of-27 for 250 yards, three total touchdowns). Tony Pollard lived it up in Ezekiel Elliott’s absence with 131 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

The Bears are moving the ball better and scoring, which is nice to see, but the defense was a massive letdown again on the road. The Cowboys can take a deserved 6-2 record into the bye before some challenging games in the next month.

Patriots at Jets: Return of the Living Dead

The Patriots have fallen from grace as hard as any NFL team in recent memory, but we know Bill Belichick isn’t washed up as long as he is clowning the Jets and making their offense look like crap. Who cares about a quarterback controversy if you’re forcing Zach Wilson to throw three interceptions and score 10 points in the first 58 minutes now that he lacks home-run hitter Breece Hall?

Belichick is now 5-0 against the Jets since 2020, or the start of his post-Brady years. He can’t seem to get by Buffalo or the Dolphins anymore, but beating the Jets still is in his wheelhouse.

Titans at Texans: Houston’s New (Derrick Henry) Nightmare

Occasionally, a game goes exactly as planned in the NFL. Who cares if rookie Malik Willis made his first start for a sick/injured Ryan Tannehill? Derrick Henry had three straight 200-yard rushing games against Houston, and that was a couple years ago. They are worse than ever against the run this year.

Sure enough, Henry rumbled ahead for 219 yards and two touchdowns in a 17-10 win that wasn’t even that close. The Texans got a touchdown with 17 seconds left that did not matter. There were 79 passing yards after the two-minute warning, doubling the total of 79 net passing yards in the game’s first 58 minutes. We were so close to having the NFL’s first game since 1978 where neither team had more than 40 net passing yards.

The numbers Henry would put up if he played Houston every week would be astronomical.

Raiders at Saints: I Know Who Killed My Parlays

The Raiders were the third team to get shut out this season, and the third to lose 24-0 (Colts vs. Jaguars) or 29-0 (Lions vs. Patriots). But this really should be in the running for the worst performance of the season by any team.

How do you get Davante Adams the ball one time for 3 yards against a secondary that did not have top corner Marshon Lattimore? I don’t care if Adams was getting over the flu; Derek Carr is a bigger virus and this Josh McDaniels strain is an especially difficult one for the Raiders.

Like a fool, I bought into the Josh Jacobs hype after three career-best type of games. At this point, if you spot a three-game trend, bet the other way the next game. I’m not just saying this because of Jacobs rushing for 43 yards. I’ve noticed a lot of three-game hot streaks that blew up the fourth game this year as these teams and players are so inconsistent this year.

Alvin Kamara scored his first three touchdowns of the season, so the Saints have had their own issues, but not on Sunday despite still missing Lattimore and their top two wideouts. But Andy Dalton vastly outplayed Carr, who finished with 101 passing yards (career low in a game he was not injured) on 26 attempts on what had become one of the worst defenses in the league.

I guess this one was on the house from Vegas.

Next week: Tough break on Rams-Buccaneers not living up to the preseason hype, but Chargers-Falcons has to include some fourth-quarter hilarity, right? I get a much needed week off from watching the Steelers, and we’ll see if the Chiefs can avenge the only 24-point beatdown of the Mahomes era on Sunday night against Tennessee. NBC is going to need Tannehill to play in that one for it to have a chance to be competitive.  

Top 100 NFL Quarterbacks of the 21st Century: Part I (100-87)

As I get ready for the 2021 NFL season, an update to my largest database – stats on every game since 2001 – gave me an opportunity to write about a perfect collection of round numbers.

Including the playoffs, there are 100 quarterbacks who have started at least 30 games in the last 20 seasons (2001-20). If you love top 100 lists, the central limit theorem, or the 21st century, then there is something there for you. As we near the 20-year anniversary of 9/11, I thought this would be a good time before final predictions to reflect on these two decades of football given that 2001 was the first season where I really became a die-hard viewer of all things NFL. It was the season where I started watching far more than just the Steelers game and the occasional Monday Night Football game and the Super Bowl.

So, how about a ranking of those 100 quarterbacks? This is an exercise I like to do every few years to test where my values are in analyzing quarterback play. How does one weigh a career like Josh Allen’s after he blew up in his third season to someone like Matt Schaub, who had several years of solid play (2007-12) but never up to the level of Allen’s 2020?

What really stood out to me about this process was just how difficult it was to sort the quarterbacks ranked 18-86. The top and bottom of the list came together rather easily, but in between there was a lot of mediocrity and tough calls.

But right now, this first part is focusing on the bottom 14 quarterbacks. Remember, a player had to start at least 30 games to make the list. I have seen plenty of worse quarterbacks play in the NFL in the last 20 years: Nathan Peterman, Ryan Lindley, Curtis Painter, Caleb Hanie, JaMarcus Russell, Cody Pickett, Jeff Tuel, etc. Who said you need experience to suck so good? (I can make that joke since being the host of Jeopardy! is not in my future.)

On to the list…

100. Blaine Gabbert

It pains me to see that Blaine Gabbert has more Super Bowl rings than Dan Marino and Andrew Luck (and many others) combined. Even more painful than Cecil Shorts in 2012 (Colts fans know that one). But seriously, Gabbert may be the worst quarterback in NFL history who got to play this many games. By getting in a game against Detroit and throwing two touchdowns so that Tom Brady would not get all the stat-padding, Gabbert broke the 1,500-attempt mark that day to officially qualify for NFL rate stats. His 72.3 passer rating is hardly the worst of all time because the era we are in will not allow it. But his ANY/A+ at Pro Football Reference, which does adjust for sacks and era, is 77, beating out Rick Mirer (80) and Kyle Boller (82) for the lowest among all passers with at least 1,500 attempts.

Gabbert is also such a chickenshit quarterback that he makes Alex Smith look like Aaron Rodgers when it comes to throwing past the sticks on third down. I may have called the stat BLAINE instead of ALEX had I known better. Behind Line Attempts Is Nurturing Existence. It just doesn’t flow as well.

99. Joey Harrington

Yikes, what a draft class in 2002. David Carr went No. 1 to expansion Houston and couldn’t stop taking sacks. Joey Harrington went No. 3 to Detroit and couldn’t get rid of the ball quicker. He wanted no part of that smoke. Harrington still has two of the top 10 seasons in lowest sack% in NFL history. Unfortunately, it made him lead ineffective offenses. Harrington was 1-11 when he threw for at least 255 yards. He was 1-34 as a starter when his team allowed more than 21 points.

My top memory of him was in 2004, his best season. He threw for a season-high 361 yards and what should have been a game-tying touchdown to force overtime with the Vikings. But the Lions botched the extra point and lost 28-27. Harrington looked crushed on the sideline. At least he got some revenge with three touchdowns on Detroit as a member of the Dolphins in 2006. But in six seasons as a starter, Harrington never cracked 6.5 YPA in any season. His 5.79 YPA is still the lowest in NFL history, and if you know how much I like that stat, then you know he was going to rank near the bottom of this list.

98. Kyle Boller

This may be stretching the truth, but let’s go with the alleged story that Brian Billick and the Ravens drafted Boller in the first round because he could throw a football 70 yards from his knees. That sure came in handy as he struggled to throw for 70 yards in the first half of games. But that night in 2007 when this bust nearly upset the unbeaten Patriots was when I knew that team would not go undefeated. Not when you should have lost to Kyle Boller a week after A.J. Feeley gave you a scare.

I did not plan this, but my first three quarterbacks have the lowest YPA of any quarterbacks to enter the league this century and throw at least 1,500 passes. Harrington (5.79) and Boller (5.88) did not even crack 6.0 YPA, but Gabbert (6.08) actually looks worse if you adjust for era.

97. Trent Edwards

Any quarterback known as “Captain Checkdown” will be on my shit list. Oddly enough, Edwards was probably still better in the pros as a third-round pick than JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn were in that 2007 class. But I gave up any hope for him after that 2009 opener against the Patriots when the Bills literally coughed up a 24-13 lead by fumbling a kickoff in between touchdowns. All Edwards had to do was lead a game-winning field goal drive, but he took two sacks and that was that. Not sure I ever watched another game from him.

96. Colt McCoy

Fun fact: McCoy has the worst record as a starter against the spread (9-20-1, .317) of any of the quarterbacks in this top 100.

My memories of McCoy are from college when it was so sad to see him injured at the start of a national championship game. In the NFL, I definitely saw his first start against the Steelers in 2010, a 28-10 loss where he was not that bad given the circumstances. Then the Browns upset the Saints and Patriots, but those games were more about the defense and making a Madden cover star out of Peyton Hillis than anything McCoy did.  Sounds like the Seattle upset last year he started for the Giants. He threw for just 105 yards in that one. He is still in the league (Cardinals), but if I had to venture a guess at something McCoy is actually good at, I would go with standing for the national anthem.

95. Christian Ponder

I never believed in Ponder, but it would have been nice if he got to start that 2012 NFC wild card game in Green Bay instead of Joe Webb. Especially since the Vikings beat the Packers in Week 17 with Ponder having arguably the best game of his career. But he was someone who had to be carried by a running game (Adrian Peterson). Ponder had 136.8 rushing yards per start to support him in his career. The only other quarterback in this top 100 with more than 130 yards per game is Jimmy Garoppolo (139.2), but we know Ponder never had a season like Garoppolo had in 2019. He never had a five-game run like Garoppolo did when he joined the 49ers either.

94. Rex Grossman

The Sex Cannon himself. It is still hard to believe the 2006 Bears got to the Super Bowl with this guy. He may have started the “will good [QB name] or bad [QB name] show up today?” with his play being so erratic that year. His performance against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football that year gave us the great Denny Green meme that will live in infamy, and it’s also the worst quarterback performance you will ever see during a 20-point comeback win.

If “Peyton Manning won his only Super Bowl with the Colts against Rex Grossman” is a diss, then maybe Drew Brees and the Saints shouldn’t have lost to them by 25 points in the damn NFC Championship Game. That one always bugs me. Amusingly, Grossman swept the 2011 Giants with Washington. Yep, the same Giants that swept the Patriots that year and won the Super Bowl.

The only positive thing I’ll say is that Grossman had that “fuck it, I’m throwing deep” mentality that is refreshing to see in a league where guys like Gabbert and Edwards play so scared. This is why Grossman is ranked a little higher because he could actually have some decent games. But his lows were also really god damn low.

93. J.P. Losman

If the 2004 quarterback class is compared to the 1983 quarterback class, then I guess Losman is the Todd Blackledge eyesore of the group. Go figure, Buffalo picked the rotten apple. But looking at his stats again, I am amused that he raised his completion percentage from 49.6% in 2005 to 62.5% in 2006, his best season. Wow, I thought only Josh Allen did that kind of increase?

Relax, #BillsMafia. Allen was much better in 2020 than Losman was in 2006, which proved to be fool’s gold as he never got better. But at least that 2006 season was better than anything Captain Checkdown Trent Edwards did for the team.

92. Chad Henne

Man, this guy went 0-4 against Ohio State only to get payback on the Browns in the playoffs 12 years after being drafted. F’n savage. Yes, Henne finally has a career moment after stepping in for an injured Patrick Mahomes last postseason. He scrambled unexpectedly for 13 yards on a third-and-14 before icing the game with a fourth-down completion to Tyreek Hill.

What else can I say about Henne? He is tied with John Elway and Steve McNair for the most seasons in NFL history (three) with no more than 15 touchdown passes on at least 450 pass attempts. Also, I don’t feel like updating this, but Henne has barely played since 2014 so the numbers probably are similar. Apparently, he has had some great fumble luck.

Finally, with the way the game is going statistically, it is very likely that Henne will be the last player who will ever have three seasons with more interceptions than touchdowns (min. 400 attempts).

91. Sam Darnold

I may be hedging a little that he will get better away from Adam Gase and the Jets, but so far, I am not buying anything Darnold is selling except that 46-yard touchdown run against the Broncos last year. That was a sweet play, but overall, he’s a sub-60% passer who takes an inordinate number of sacks and throws too many picks. He has also been trending in the wrong direction, but Carolina is a fresh start for him. Just sweep for ghosts first.

90. Geno Smith

Christ, do you see why the AFC East played out the way it did for two decades? I’m on my 11th quarterback, and so far, we have two draft picks by the Bills, one by the Dolphins, and two by the Jets. Believe it or not, Geno was once thought to be an option for the No. 1 pick to the Chiefs in that dreadful 2013 draft.

Smith led five game-winning drives as a 2013 rookie, but I know somewhere I wrote that they weren’t impressive ones. The one against the Patriots in overtime saw him complete just one 12-yard pass early in the drive. Everything else was a run. Geno just never sold me. He made modest statistical improvement in 2014, but the team got worse, and he only has started two games since. Just a brutal quarterback draft where Smith is in competition with Mike Glennon and EJ Manuel for best in class.

89. Quincy Carter

Carter last played for the Jets (2004), but he was supposed to still be Dallas’ starter that season. However, the team cut him in August after substance abuse problems. This actually saved Tony Romo’s roster spot that year as an undrafted player in his second year. But Carter was carried by the defense to the playoffs in 2003 and was never anything special. His most notable game, which was his only 300-yard game and his only high-scoring win, started with a pick-six actually against the Giants on MNF. The Cowboys won 35-32 in overtime, but just getting there took a 26-yard completion from Carter in the final seconds to tie the game.

To think, we may never have seen Romo do anything in this league if Carter was more professional in his youth.

88. David Carr

Once upon a time, Carr was only the third true rookie quarterback to start 16 games, joining Rick Mirer and Peyton Manning. We did not see this again until 2008 when Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco flipped the script on starting rookies in Week 1. Now, we see it all the time, but it was a bit risky to do that to Carr on an expansion Texans team that was not good like the Panthers and Jaguars were in 1995.

Carr took a beating that first year and was sacked 76 times, an NFL record unlikely to be broken. His 68 sacks in his third season (2005) rank third all time. Carr’s career sack rate (10.54%) is the highest in NFL history by anyone not named Greg Landry.

But I feel like Carr’s career is a good case study in QB statistics. I was in high school when he came into the league, and given all the historic sack numbers he was taking, this led naïve, inexperienced me to believe that sacks are an offensive line stat. It’s all on the line to protect the quarterback. Of course, as I gained experience in studying the game, I saw that sacks are much more of a quarterback stat. He must get rid of the ball in a timely fashion or else you get pressure and sacks. The line obviously still shares some of the responsibility, and quick sacks can be utilized to place proper blame, but overall this is more reflective of the quarterback’s performance than the line’s.

While Houston was absolutely weak in the OL department in Carr’s career, note that he went to Carolina in 2007 and still had a sack rate of 8.7%. I think if we had the advanced metrics for Carr’s Houston career, we would have seen a quarterback who did his line few favors.

Then there is completion percentage. Carr’s 2006 season under new coach Gary Kubiak always felt so fishy to me because he led the league in completion percentage at 68.3%, which was one of the highest seasons ever at the time. But he was 24th in DVOA, 21st in QBR, threw more picks than touchdowns, and the offense was still 20th in yards per drive and 23rd in points per drive. Carr’s other numbers were just bad. It was a lot of dinking and dunking to cut down on sacks and boost that completion percentage. This season felt like a blueprint for Sam Bradford to follow years later and make completion percentage a meaningless metric when depth of target is not taken into account.

So, Carr had a pretty shit career and I think he would have been a bust in any city. With that said, do you think this tweet had anything to do with all three Carr brothers blocking me on Twitter?

Truthfully, I think I was already blocked before it. I’ve pulled no punches in saying that this is the softest family in football. These guys do not handle criticism well at all, and now we see David showing a lot of favoritism for his brother as a media analyst.

So, why even rank him this high? His 2004 season is probably the best season by any of the quarterbacks listed so far. He was not carried to team success like a Ponder or Grossman or Carter. It actually seemed like Carr turned the corner, and despite still taking a league-high 49 sacks, he cut his percentage down and the Texans had somewhat of a functioning offense (14th in yards per drive, 21st in points per drive). This was Andre Johnson’s second year on the team, and there is nothing wrong with giving your young quarterback a legit No. 1 receiver.

Of course, we learned that playing the defenses of the 2004 AFC South and NFC North were very beneficial to putting up great numbers that year, one where all offensive numbers were up after the NFL reminded officials that illegal contact after five yards is still a rule. If that schedule boost helped produce career years for Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper, it could also work for Carr and Joey Harrington as both peaked that season and never came close to repeating it.

If Carr was “broken” by his 2002 rookie situation, then 2004 never should have been possible, right? This is why I will never buy into the idea that you can “ruin” a quarterback by playing him too early. The only way that happens is if you physically break him, which is something that could happen in Joe Burrow’s case with Cincinnati’s offensive line. But I’m not even sure we got to October last year before I could confidently say that Burrow will be better in the NFL than this original Carr brother was.

87. Brock Osweiler

If Robert Pattinson was six inches taller and had no discernible talent, he would be Brock Osweiler. This is a hard one since I know that 2016 season in Houston was awful, and the playoff win against the Raiders was some Connor Cook’d up bullshit. But unlike the first 13 players here, Osweiler did serve a role in helping a team win a Super Bowl, and helped my favorite player retire as a champion again.

While I always rejected the notion that Osweiler should have continued to start over Peyton Manning for Denver that year, I do not see an injured Manning getting those pivotal wins against the Patriots and Bengals that helped the Broncos secure the No. 1 seed and homefield in the playoffs.

Still, John Elway’s Tall QB fetish likely cost the Broncos a better shot at a dynasty by drafting Osweiler over Russell Wilson in 2012. He gave rise to a Seattle team that beat the Broncos convincingly in 2013 while screwing with the future of the team in the post-Peyton years. Imagine if Wilson got to step in there once Manning retired, which could have come sooner if 2013 ended with him on top after breaking multiple records that year. But nope, the Broncos won one ring, and when Osweiler came back in 2017, he failed to win a start for the team.

But I have to say his existence in this timeline came with some personal benefits.

Part II: Some of your favorite journeymen and one-year wonders coming soon (#86-51)

FanDuel: Will EJ Manuel, Geno Smith Continue the Mobile Quarterback Trend?

The following is a guest post written by the folks at

Will EJ Manuel, Geno Smith Continue the Mobile Quarterback Trend?

In the last few NFL drafts, teams have had a lot of success drafting and playing mobile quarterbacks. Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III are the most known “new breeds” of quarterback, capable of doing damage with their legs and their arm. The question is, will EJ Manuel and Geno Smith be the next two to join this growing club?

Although both rookies are talented, they are not coming in with nearly the same hype as some of the high draft picks have in recent years. However, Kaepernick and Wilson have shown that you do not need a ton of hype to get an opportunity to succeed right away. In fact, opportunity will allow both of these guys to showcase their talent sooner rather than later.

Neither 2013 rookie quarterback is considered to be a favorite to start in Week 1, but Mark Sanchez for the Jets and Kevin Kolb for the Bills are not exactly grabbing the starting job and not letting go, both make good sense as backups on your fantasy football team. Neither team is expected to be in the playoff hunt, so at some point during the year, it makes sense that a rookie will get the reigns.

In college, both Manuel and Smith showed off their ability to create offense on the ground and through the air. The NFL game is much different, so learning to make adjustments is the key. However, that adjustment period in recent years has been pretty short. At first, people though that mobile quarterbacks running the run option might be nothing more than a gimmick. It appears as though it is here to stay for at least a little bit longer, and for the Bills and Jets, they are hoping their investments will pay off.