We’re just three weeks into the NFL season, so let’s take a look the PFF Quarterback Rankings. Small-sample-size rules apply heavily here, as the ranking is based solely on our play-by-play grading through three weeks.
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Brady is back atop the quarterback rankings after three strong weeks that have seen him rank second in big-time throw percentage at 7.4% while avoiding any turnover-worthy plays. Brady continues to make good decisions with the ball while throwing accurately to all levels of the field, and he’s off to a start that is more reminiscent of his elite 2015-17 stretch — one of the best in NFL history — rather than last season that saw him regress just a touch on a throw-for-throw basis.
Coming into the season, we ranked Prescott as a third-tier quarterback, with the descriptor that a good situation (playmakers, offensive line, play-caller) can lead to top-10 production in any given year. That’s exactly what is happening in Dallas, as offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has opened up a play-action game that has seen Prescott go 30-for-37 for 409 yards and a passer rating of 137.5. He’s taken advantage of more favorable play-calling while also throwing the ball extremely well down the field, as his adjusted completion percentage of 68.8% on deep (20-plus-yard) passes ranks fifth in the league, and his overall adjusted completion percentage of 81.7% is first among quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts.
Armed with the best weapons in the league on paper coming into the year, Wentz has not had the same supporting cast we expected to see. Injuries have depleted a deep receiving corps, though they showed flashes of big-play ability in Week 1. Wentz has been better than his stats would show, mostly due to four big-time throws falling incomplete compared to just 17 such instances for the rest of the NFL. Wentz ranks fifth in the league in big-time throw percentage, and he’s tied for third with a 92.9 grade on throws targeted 10 or more yards downfield.
It’s another year of big plays from Wilson, who ranks fourth in big-time throw percentage (5.9%) and has avoided any turnover-worthy plays to this point. He’s been accurate to all levels, ranking seventh at avoiding negatives, and the only thing keeping him from being higher on the list is his ranking just 12th in positively graded throws and a poor showing at the intermediate (10-19-yard) level, where Wilson’s 55.0 grade is 10th-worst in the league. Overall, it’s a fantastic start for Wilson, who has avoided the randomly poor decision-making that has littered his tape through the years while still showing off the ability to get the ball down the field efficiently.
It’s been all about big plays for Watson, who is tied with Brady for second in big-time throw percentage at 7.4%. We’ve seen a few spectacular plays, including a near-comeback in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints and a few gems this week against the Los Angeles Chargers, but Watson is inviting too much pressure and ranks just 22nd at avoiding negatively graded throws. Watson’s big-play ability has been the story of his young career, but he is still working to find the balance between avoiding pressure and adding more value in the short game.
The Chiefs’ offense has picked right up where they left off last year, and Mahomes continues to play at a high level despite a dip in a couple of key numbers. He still has the big-time throws, evidenced by his league-leading 8.0 big-time throw percentage, but after ranking second at avoiding negatively graded throws last season, Mahomes ranks just 19th in the same statistic this season. He also has two turnover-worthy plays on fumbles that won’t show up in the gaudy, league-leading 134.9 passer rating, but for Chiefs fans, they should be encouraged that there’s still room to improve as the year progresses.
Carr’s good grade lands more on the conservative end of the spectrum, as he ranks third at avoiding turnover-worthy plays (two of his three interceptions were on the receiver and a bad bounce), though Carr ranks just 19th in the league in positively graded throws. After an encouraging Week 1 performance, Carr has settled back into a conservative approach that has seen him post an average depth of target of just 6.7, tied for fourth-lowest in the NFL this season.
Minshew has looked comfortable since being thrust into the action in Week 1, an impressive feat for a sixth-round rookie. While he’s not known for his arm strength, Minshew has done his best work on throws targeted 10 or more yard downfield, leading the league with a 95.8 grade while going 16-for-23 for 352 yards and five touchdowns, all good for a passer rating of 151.7. If there’s a place to clean things up, it’s in the short game, where Minshew has tied for the fourth-highest percentage of uncatchable passes.
After a rough start to the season against the Chicago Bears, Rodgers has gotten into more of a groove the last two weeks, though he’s also played on the much more conservative end of quarterbacks. He has just two turnover-worthy plays through three weeks, and while he ranks second at avoiding negatively graded throws, he is just 25th in positively graded throws. Rodgers still has some work to do to get back to the elite play we have been accustomed to seeing.
Another quarterback with poor interception luck thus far, Garoppolo has two turnover-worthy plays and four picks, and he’s played cleanly since a rough Week 1 outing. Much like his 2017 season, Garoppolo has been on the low end of both big-time throws (24th) and also turnover-worthy plays (sixth-best at avoiding them), though he ranks sixth in the league in overall positively graded throws. Garoppolo also ranks sixth in overall accuracy percentage using actual pass location on each throw, aided in part by the seventh-lowest average depth of target in the league (7.2).
It’s another year of Rivers facing heavy pressure, as he’s been under heat on 40.0% of his dropbacks, ninth-highest in the NFL. He’s handled it well, posting a solid 64.0 grade and a passer rating of 89.5, 11th-best in the league. Rivers’ early-season performance may be best remembered for a late-game, poor interception in a failed comeback against the Lions in Week 2, but he should have been on the other side of it last week with a beautifully thrown corner route to Travis Benjamin that was dropped and would have brought the Chargers within one point late in the game. Overall, Rivers needs to cut back on the turnover-worthy plays, as he’s just No. 20 in the league at avoiding them through three weeks.
There’s been some old-school volatility to Stafford’s game so far, as he’s posted the second-highest percentage of positively graded throws while also posting the fourth-highest percentage of negatives. He’s had a number of fine plays maneuvering within the pocket or creating just enough room to show off his arm talent, but he’s also left a number of plays on the table as 29.5% of his passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage have been uncatchable, sixth-highest in the league.
It’s been an uneven start for Mayfield statistically, and he’s looked uncomfortable in the pocket, bailing out of clean looks far too often. On the positive side, Mayfield has posted the ninth-lowest percentage of negatively graded throws, and his five interceptions are inflated as he has only four turnover-worthy plays (turnover-worthy plays become interceptions about half the time). Mayfield must do a better job of working within the flow of the offense, and we should see more big-time throws in the coming weeks, as he ranked second in that department last season but only 15th so far this year.
Week 3 saw a big regression for Jackson, who came into the week ranked ninth in adjusted completion percentage (79.2%) and left ranked 26th (71.7%). Still, it’s been a fine start to the season for the Louisville product, who has already completed eight deep passes after completing only five all last year. Jackson’s rushing ability puts the defense in a bind, and that should always lead to a high percentage of open throws, but overall accuracy is still a question mark as he has the third-highest percentage of uncatchable throws on passes targeted at least five yards downfield, even after the hot start.
15. Joe Flacco, Denver Broncos
Even in a new system, Flacco is picking his spots when it comes to throwing the ball down the field, as his average depth of target is just 6.2, third-lowest in the NFL. He’s turned into a game manager in recent years, and he ranks just 21st in big-time throw percentage (2.3%) and tied for ninth in avoiding turnover-worthy plays with an identical percentage of 2.3. Only 5.5% of Flacco’s passes have been 20-plus yards in the air, the lowest percentage in the league, and he’s completed two of his six attempts for 105 yards and an interception. The Denver passing offense will be limited until Flacco is more aggressive down the field, though they may have more close games on their hands if he continues to take care of the ball.
16. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
It’s been an odd start for Ryan, who leads the league with seven turnover-worthy plays through three weeks, just two years removed from having six turnover-worthy plays over the entirety of the 2017 season. While turnovers have been an issue, Ryan still has just the fourth-lowest percentage of negatively graded throws this season, so those poor decisions and inaccurate throws should even off by the end of the year. Another reason for Ryan’s mediocre grade is a lack of big-time throws, as he ranks just 18th in the NFL in this regard. Last week was a step in the right direction for Ryan, who, given his track record, is a perfect candidate to turn things around shortly.
Despite the 3-0 start for the Rams, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Goff, who has faced a much higher pressure rate than he did last year, and his decision-making has suffered. He’s tied for the sixth-highest percentage of turnover-worthy plays as there have been far too many passes thrown into the leverage of defenders. Outside of a beautiful, 50-plus-yard throw to Brandin Cooks in Week 2, the big-time throws have been hard to come by for Goff, as he’s ranked just 30th in the league in that department.
Accuracy and pocket presence have been an issue for Mariota in the early going, as he’s thrown the fifth-highest percentage of uncatchable passes on throws beyond the line of scrimmage, and he’s been sacked on 39.5% of his pressured dropbacks, by far the highest rate in the league. The sack rate has been a trend for Mariota, so he must do a better job of getting the ball out of his hand. Overall, Mariota has the No. 22 passing grade in the league, at 58.3, but the No. 4 rushing grade at 75.4.
There are already some similarities to Brissett’s game compared to his 2017 stint as Colts’ starter, namely his low ranking in big-time throw percentage (29th) and his ability to avoid turnover-worthy plays (12th). While Brissett ranks sixth in the league in passer rating at 112.0, his grading profile does not match up to the box score, as he ranks just 31st in positively graded throws, and he has the fourth-highest percentage of his yards coming after the catch. It all adds up to a statistical regression unless Brissett starts to make more plays down the field.
Murray has shown flashes of his ability to throw the ball down the field, but it’s been a very short pass game in Arizona so far under Kliff Kingsbury. Murray ranks just 27th in big-time throw percentage, and he has the 14th-highest percentage of uncatchable passes on throws targeted beyond the line of scrimmage. Perhaps more concerning is Murray’s work in the pocket, where he’s been charged with seven sacks, three more than any other quarterback in the league. He must do a better job of maneuvering the pocket, and a more aggressive approach will do him well as the Cardinals should tap into the downfield accuracy that he showed at Oklahoma.
21. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Allen has played well in spurts, but he’s put the ball in harm’s way with a turnover-worthy play rate of 5.2%, fourth-highest in the league. Allen usually complements the risky plays with a high percentage of big-time throws, but he’s only ranked 22nd in that department through three weeks, in part due to a 34.6 passing grade on 20-plus-yard throws, worst in the NFL. On the good side, Allen has been excellent at the intermediate (10-19-yard) range, grading at 90.2, good for third in the league. He’s made strides so far this season, ranking sixth in adjusted completion percentage at 81.3%, but he still must do a better job of taking care of the ball.
After a promising start in Week 1, Dalton has struggled over the last two weeks, and he has the 11th-highest rate of uncatchable passes on throws beyond the line of scrimmage. He’s not complementing the misses either, with the 21st-highest rate of positively graded throws and 24th-highest percentage of big-time throws. The pass blocking hasn’t helped — Dalton has faced pressure on 34.0% of his dropbacks so far — but Dalton has managed the 10th-best passer rating when pressured, at 96.1.
Taking care of the ball is still an issue for Winston, who is tied for the league lead with a turnover-worthy play rate of 6.3%. Winston is usually near the top in both positive and negative grades, and this year he ranks ninth in percentage of positively graded throws and sixth in percentage of negatively graded throws. He can move the ball down the field as well as any quarterback in the league, but since his rookie season, it’s been about hitting a higher percentage of throws and avoiding turnovers, two things he hasn’t improved upon yet this season.
Trubisky has picked up where he left off last season, missing far too many throws down the field. However, this season hasn’t seen the stat inflation that led to false optimism coming out of his 2018 campaign. His Week 3 effort against the Redskins was a step in the right direction with two wide-open touchdowns and perhaps his best throw of the season for a third score. However, if the Bears' offense is going to take the next step, Trubisky must start hitting throws more consistently, as he has the fifth-highest percentage of uncatchable passes in the league so far.
It’s been a disastrous start for Cousins, who is tied for the highest percentage of turnover-worthy plays in the league (6.3%). The Vikings have tried to protect him with a run-heavy approach, but Cousins’ Week 2 game at Green Bay was one of the worst we’ve seen from a quarterback this season, as he made poor decisions with the ball and fumbled twice. Even with the emphasis on the run game, Minnesota needs Cousins to play better when given the opportunity, and last week was a step in the right direction.
Keenum’s stats were fool’s gold through two weeks, as he had a top-notch passer rating despite three turnover-worthy plays and no interceptions to show for them. Things evened off a bit on Monday Night Football, and he now leads the league with nine turnover-worthy plays after a three-interception outing and multiple disastrous fumbles. All that said, Keenum's adjusted completion percentage of 62.1% on 10-plus-yard throws ranks 11th in the league, but the poor decision-making and ball security have been among the league’s worst through three weeks.
Allen was fantastic in his only start, earning PFF team of the week honors after littering the field with three big-time throws and an adjusted completion percentage of 84.0%. Allen has intrigued in his two NFL starts, perhaps giving the Panthers a valuable commodity for the future.
In his one start, Darnold was accurate in the short game, but it was a conservative passing game that saw him post the lowest average depth of target in the league at just 5.7. When he returns, Darnold must find a way to unlock the intermediate (10-19-yard) efficiency that made him a top prospect coming out of USC.
A legendary debut comes with some caveats, as Jones showed both good and bad in his first start last week. He finished with four touchdowns, showing the ability to make big-time throws down the field while adding a mobile element to his game with two rushing touchdowns. Jones also had an excellent performance under pressure, posting a passer rating of 133.1 and 243 yards while being pressured almost 60% of the time, but unfortunately, that’s the part that is generally unsustainable. Giants fans should be encouraged by his start, but there’s still some work to do from a clean pocket, and he must do a better job of protecting the ball.
Our only NFL exposures to Rosen have been in terrible situations, both last year in Arizona and this season with the Dolphins. Still, he has struggled with both accuracy and decision-making, this year posting the highest percentage of uncatchable passes at 39.6%. Even while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, the Dolphins need to focus on Rosen’s play from a clean pocket, where he has graded at 78.1 over a limited sample this season after a rough 60.5 grade in 2018.
Bridgewater had a rough outing against the Rams in relief of Drew Brees, and he followed it up with a very conservative game against the Seahawks in which over 80% of his yards came after the catch. Both of Bridgewater’s touchdowns came on screens, and he must be more aggressive with the ball down the field as he’s yet to earn a big-time throw, but his turnover-worthy play percentage is third-highest in the league.
After an encouraging outing in relief of Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2, Rudolph struggled to complete passes down the field in his start last week against the 49ers. He connected on only two passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage, and he has the third-highest percentage of negatively graded throws in his limited time.