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NFL QB Index, Week 14: Patrick Mahomes exits top 10; Tua Tagovailoa earns his highest ranking of 2021

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 13 QB Index. Rankings include each team's starting quarterback from the previous game, based solely on 2021 play.

Rank
1
Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 22

2021 stats: 12 games | 68.3 pct | 3,771 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 34 pass TD | 10 INT | 52 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles


At 44 years old, Brady is now the betting favorite for MVP. He leads the NFL in shiny stats like yards and touchdowns. He also paces the league in sack percentage because of games like the one in Atlanta, where Tampa Bay passed 16 times before running and 51 times overall. The quarterback was hit once. While the Bucs' offensive line is awesome, No. 12's clean jersey is still more about Brady. He averaged 2.18 seconds per throw -- the lowest mark in the league in Week 13, per Pro Football Focus. And that's despite that fact that he got off plenty of deep shots. There is no one better at spinning it than Tom Brady when he's well protected, and I can't believe I'm still writing this.

Rank
2
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 17

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.2 pct | 2,878 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 23 pass TD | 4 INT | 76 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles


Rodgers has five games left in a regular season that started to take off in the two games before the Week 13 bye. He doesn't face a single team that is ranked in the top 10 in defensive DVOA and only one currently owning a winning record (Baltimore). In other words, Rodgers has a chance to be the first player since Peyton Manning to win back-to-back MVPs.

Rank
3
Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 3

2021 stats: 9 games | 72.7 pct | 2,399 pass yds | 8.9 ypa | 19 pass TD | 7 INT | 206 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 9 fumbles


It was a strange, efficient first game back for Murray. I was having flashbacks to questions about the young quarterback's hand size as he struggled to grip the football in wet, cold Chicago conditions. The Cardinals' defense solved that problem by giving Murray short fields to work with, and Murray's legs did the rest with season highs in rushes (10) and rushing yards (59). A couple of dimes -- including the touchdown toss to DeAndre Hopkins -- were thrown in despite only 15 pass attempts. He may not play outdoors again this season if the Cardinals hold on to the No. 1 seed.

Rank
4
Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 6

2021 stats: 11 games | 69.0 pct | 3,170 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 23 pass TD | 8 INT | 91 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 8 fumbles


There's been good and bad news from Dak the last two games. The oh s--- throws are back; Prescott had at least 4-5 tosses in each week that took daring and incredible accuracy. It didn't hurt last Thursday night that CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper were back to make those throws count.


The bad news is that the improved health didn't fix the Cowboys' offensive inconsistency. Prescott was given seven second-half drives in New Orleans because of Taysom Hill's interceptions; Dallas' offense produced seven points, one bad interception from Dak and four three-and-outs.

Rank
5
2
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 2

2021 stats: 12 games | 66.6 pct | 3,547 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 27 pass TD | 11 INT | 249 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble


Herbert's ability to slide left and throw with velocity across his body just changes what is possible against pressure and zone defenses. The Chargers also dictated early against the Bengals with tempo, moving pockets and taking deep shots on first and second downs. It's like offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was listening to talk radio!


Herbert finished with a career high in completions of 20-plus yards (five, per PFF), and he narrowly missed a few more due to accuracy and drops. This is the Chargers' offense I want to see more of, treating its quarterback like the assassin that he is. Herbert's ferocious tackle after an Austin Ekeler fumble also puts him No. 2 in my QB Tackling Index, behind the QB tackling G.O.A.T., Ryan Tannehill.

Rank
6
1
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 8

2021 stats: 12 games | 67.8 pct | 3,663 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 17 pass TD | 9 INT | 97 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles


Carr was forced to take the underneath routes during most of Sunday's loss to Washington, occasionally not seeing open receivers down the field. This is how you manage a bad offensive line, but it leaves so little margin for error. Carr made a few of those errors late. He had Bryan Edwards open on a 2-point conversion and sailed a pass. Zay Jones was open on a third-and-goal late in the fourth quarter, and Carr missed by a foot. The Raiders have needed Carr to be truly sensational to survive all season, and on Sunday, he fell short.

Rank
7
1
Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 10

2021 stats: 12 games | 68.4 pct | 3,353 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 25 pass TD | 3 INT | 75 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles


That was the ultimate Kirk Cousins 2021 game. His stats were terrific (30 of 40 for 342 and two scores), he was lucky and unlucky at the same time. Lucky because he had two throws that could have been picked off but weren't. He has just three interceptions but 13 turnover-worthy plays, according to PFF, which is around league average. Unlucky because he lost Adam Thielen, and his defense wasted a valiant comeback attempt. Then again, that comeback attempt only occurred because the Vikings stalled so much in the red zone and went to sleep for the middle of the game, as usual, falling down 20-6. Like I said: the ultimate Kirk Cousins 2021 game.

Rank
8
3
Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 13

2021 stats: 12 games | 66.7 pct | 3,611 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 30 pass TD | 9 INT | 39 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles


Don't completely dismiss Stafford's clean performance against the Jaguars just because of the opponent. There were a number of high-level throws, including the 43-yarder to Cooper Kupp to the opposite hash. There were five plays of 20-plus yards and two more that were exactly 19. Beating up on bad teams is why Stafford's raw numbers stay so sparkly, but beating up on bad teams is also usually a sign that a turnaround against good teams is coming.

Rank
9
1
Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 4

2021 stats: 12 games | 65.7 pct | 3,216 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 26 pass TD | 10 INT | 422 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 7 fumbles


How many times in the last four years did we hear that the Bills liked Josh Allen coming out of Wyoming because his arm and big body could survive in the elements? On Monday night, we got the ultimate test case. If Stefon Diggs could have roped in that deep shot for a touchdown, Allen could have been the hero. I'm not sure any other quarterback's spirals could have sliced through the wind like that. Yet, it's worth noting his 4.8 yards per attempt was exactly the same as the Patriots' yards-per-carry figure. Allen was the Bills' leading rusher with 39 yards, but I would have liked to see him run so much more.

Rank
10
4
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 4

2021 stats: 11 games | 64.0 pct | 2,865 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 16 pass TD | 13 INT | 762 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles


The MVP talk feels like it came a long time ago. Jackson took too many sacks in Pittsburgh (seven!), threw a killer red-zone pick and fumbled during his otherwise-sparkling final drive. The running game outside of Lamar has dried up -- T.J. Watt didn't buy that play-fake on the 2-point conversion try -- and the Ravens' defense keeps losing pieces. While there have been some great moments along the way, Lamar's slump has now lasted longer than his five-game sprint to start the season.

Rank
11
1
Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 2

2021 stats: 12 games | 68.3 pct | 3,135 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 23 pass TD | 14 INT | 69 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles


Chargers-Bengals was one of the most fun quarterback games all year, and I'd score the QB battle as a split decision for Burrow, despite the scoreboard. The Bengals' second-year passer is so good on third down, and his accuracy is better every week. He was playing lights out at one point and was down 24-6, partly because of Ja'Marr Chase dropping yet another potential touchdown. (That's 3-4 dropped Chase scores in the last five weeks.) Burrow delivered under pressure all day and somehow didn't fall off throwing to the outside, even after his finger was so hurt he had to hand off with his left hand. Burrow has occupied this space in the QB Index all season -- between the elite quarterbacks and the rest -- but the way he's playing now deserves mention with the best.

Rank
12
3
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5

2021 stats: 12 games | 64.6 pct | 3,384 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 25 pass TD | 12 INT | 250 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles


Another tipped-pass interception that was a little hot but mostly not Mahomes' fault. Another patient, excellent opening-drive touchdown by the Chiefs, followed by three quarters of mediocre offensive play. Another week of conservative decisions by Andy Reid because he's playing to his defense, which is one of the best in football. Mahomes receding into the background is the most bizarre development of a bizarre season.

Rank
13
Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Rookie

2021 stats: 13 games | 70.3 pct | 2,869 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 16 pass TD | 8 INT | 68 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles


I'm not going to knock Mac Jones for only throwing three passes in the Buffalo wind or make the same tired joke about his completion percentage. If the Bills' offense had played better, Jones would have been asked to throw more. If the Patriots didn't pop an early touchdown run and play with the lead, Jones would have been asked to throw more. Jones' arm strength and Bill Belichick's nostalgia for 1940s football must have been factors, too.

Rank
14
2
Carson Wentz
Indianapolis Colts · Year 6

2021 stats: 13 games | 63.3 pct | 2,948 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 22 pass TD | 5 INT | 167 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles


That was as close to a bye week on the field for a quarterback as you'll ever see. (OK, outside of Mac Jones in a windstorm.) Wentz handed the ball off 44 times against the Texans and threw it 22 times, rarely deep. He was accurate and didn't turn the ball over, which is all that is required vs. Houston. Considering the Colts' 0-3 start and the three big leads they've blown since then, it's remarkable Wentz helped this team reach 7-6 before the actual bye.

Rank
15
1
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons · Year 14

2021 stats: 12 games | 68.1 pct | 2,914 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 16 pass TD | 11 INT | 45 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 8 fumbles


Ryan was hit 11 times and sacked five more against the Bucs. It's remarkable he remains healthy, much less averaged 7.2 YPA on 41 attempts vs. Tampa. It's even more remarkable that I watched that performance and thought it was one of the better games by the Falcons' offensive line, because he had plenty of time on some plays.

Rank
16
3
Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks · Year 10

2021 stats: 9 games | 67.2 pct | 2,042 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 14 pass TD | 4 INT | 133 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles


The Seahawks finally let Wilson throw past the sticks on a third-and-long and found out that he is still capable of playing football. There were still too many drives (five) that didn't gain 10 yards, but Wilson had his best game by far since the finger injury. Russ is right when he mentions how much better the offense looks when it plays with tempo, something the 'Hawks should do more of down the stretch.

Rank
17
Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 10

2021 stats: 12 games | 65.8 pct | 2,774 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 14 pass TD | 13 INT | 196 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 7 fumbles


Julio Jones is back on the practice field. Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown remain out. There are no easy solutions to Tennessee's offensive line problems, either, except for the opponent on Sunday: Jacksonville. If the Titans lose to the Jaguars after already falling to the Texans, the bottom could truly fall out for this team.

Rank
18
3
Teddy Bridgewater
Denver Broncos · Year 8

2021 stats: 12 games | 67.3 pct | 2,775 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 16 pass TD | 7 INT | 96 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble


Teddy's worst game of the season occurring in prime time was a big setback for the movement. While the game-sealing pick-six was bad luck off a tipped pass, Bridgewater was fortunate that a few other bad decisions weren't intercepted. Caveats apply -- including the wind, Courtland Sutton's struggles on contested catches and a strong Chiefs pass rush -- but when Teddy's turnover-worthy plays arrive, they often arrive in bunches.

Rank
19
2
Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 2

2021 stats: 9 games | 70.9 pct | 1,945 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 12 pass TD | 6 INT | 69 rush yd | 3 rush TD | 4 fumbles


A third-and-1 early in Miami's win over the Giants was typical. Tua hit Jaylen Waddle on a roll-out pass, with Waddle dragging his toes for a 5-yard conversion. This kind of offense takes precision and patience, which Tagovailoa clearly has. At one point, he was 17 of 20 for 105 yards with two drops. The Dolphins are the RPO kings. While it's not always the most aesthetically pleasing brand of football, Tua is great at it -- and it often softens up the defense for bigger plays later in the game.

Rank
20
2
Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers · Year 8

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.8 pct | 2,641 pass yds | 8.5 ypa | 15 pass TD | 8 INT | 40 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Some games, Jimmy recedes into the background. This was not one of those games. He had some money throws in big situations, two bad interceptions and took a safety. He had a great would-be game-tying drive that was ruined by a deflected pass at the line of scrimmage. Jimmy G is a hero and a goat, a star and a stand-in, someone for Kyle Shanahan to lean on and blame. He is all things to all people, and I am eager to see how this chapter ends.

Rank
21
1
Taylor Heinicke
Washington Football Team · Year 4

2021 stats: 12 games | 67.9 pct | 2,809 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 18 pass TD | 11 INT | 289 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Washington went Full Heinicke in Vegas. He can both hold the ball too long at times, taking unnecessary hits ... while also delivering a sensational third-and-long against the blitz, showing incredible toughness. Scoring 17 points each week and catching these breaks is probably an unsustainable model, but everything is coming up Heinicke these days.

Rank
22
2
Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns · Year 4

2021 stats: 11 games | 62.2 pct | 2,413 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 11 pass TD | 6 INT | 93 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles


Mayfield is making the Browns' 2022 front-office decision for them. There's no way they can offer him a competitive long-term deal if this season continues apace. He's under contract next year at the reasonable rate of $18.8 million and hasn't shown any inclination to push for more. That gives Cleveland flexibility to keep an eye on other options via trade or free agency, knowing that bringing back Baker is still the most likely outcome.

Rank
23
NR
Gardner Minshew
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 3

2021 stats: 2 games | 81.5 pct | 253 pass yds | 9.4 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 11 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


It was almost as if the Football Gods were conspiring to create a quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. Minshew is a fantastic backup, but he only had a serviceable 66.9 passing grade by PFF against the Jets because he wasn't asked to do much. His first touchdown pass to Dallas Goedert was a great touch pass against pressure, and there was another nice toss while rolling left; otherwise, it was a day full of screens and dump-offs to wide-open receivers. This is not Minshew's fault, but don't act like Jalen Hurts wouldn't have rolled the Jets, too.

Rank
24
1
Andy Dalton
Chicago Bears · Year 11

2021 stats: 6 games | 64.1 pct | 1,017 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 6 pass TD | 6 INT | 55 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


Dalton played as well as possible while throwing four interceptions. Two of the turnovers weren't his fault at all, and another came on a tipped pass to a 5-foot-7 receiver. Otherwise, Dalton moved the ball well in brutal conditions under heavy duress while missing two top receivers. He's heading back to the bench, though, with Justin Fields' ribs healed up.

Rank
25
4
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers · QB

2021 stats: 11 games | 64.8 pct | 2,758 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 16 pass TD | 6 INT | 5 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles


That was possibly Roethlisberger's best game of the year, with Steelers receivers dropping two of his better passes. He did it by being more aggressive throwing downfield and taking more control of the offense. By speeding up the tempo, playing out of empty formations and running less, Roethlisberger did a nice job picking out mismatches. If that was his last win against the Ravens, he did it in vintage style with 17 fourth-quarter points.

Rank
26
1
Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 6

2021 stats: 11 games | 66.7 pct | 2,576 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 13 pass TD | 7 INT | 77 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 9 fumbles


That was a beautiful game plan by Dan Campbell in the first half against Minnesota. Goff threw the ball deeper down the field, attacking the Vikings' injured linebacker group up the seams. The former No. 1 overall pick will never excel when he gets moved off his spot, and there were some grisly fourth-quarter plays (including a killer pick), but that composed final drive was one only a veteran could pull off. The game-winner had Goff looking off a defender and showing great timing. The Football Gods finally rewarded the Lions' year-long aggression, and Goff earned his moment in the sun.

Rank
27
1
Cam Newton
Carolina Panthers · Year 11

2021 stats: 3 games | 55.8 pct | 289 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 65 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 0 fumbles


Matt Rhule wants to run the ball more. When that didn't happen against the Dolphins in Week 12, former offensive coordinator Joe Brady became the scapegoat in Carolina. The good news for Cam is that Atlanta's defense is next on the schedule. The Falcons are a team the Panthers dominated so much up front last time around that they won with Sam Darnold at quarterback. 

Rank
28
3
Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Rookie

2021 stats: 12 games | 58.0 pct | 2,514 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 9 pass TD | 10 INT | 241 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles


Every Lawrence game feels like a copy of a copy of a copy. The Jaguars trailed 10-0 before Lawrence threw the ball. He had a few delicious plays, including a fourth-down dart across his body and a terrific third-and-long run. He was late on a number of throws, making him look inaccurate. His No. 1 receiver was Laquon Treadwell. He led his team to one touchdown. There just isn't a lot of progress happening.

Rank
29
NR
Taysom Hill
New Orleans Saints · Year 5

2021 stats: 8 games | 53.1 pct | 320 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 5 INT | 205 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 0 fumbles


It turns out that Taysom Hill with mallet finger is not a Taysom Hill who can throw it straight. Before his fourth-quarter meltdown against the Cowboys, Hill showed some progress. Some of his early throws were on time with improved anticipation, flashing the development as a quarterback he showcased in the preseason. That drive where Sean Payton kept calling QB power repeatedly on the way to Hill topping 100 rushing yards was a blast. And then it wasn't fun anymore.

Rank
30
2
Tyrod Taylor
Houston Texans · Year 11

2021 stats: 6 games | 60.7 pct | 966 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 5 pass TD | 5 INT | 151 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles


Tyrod was benched midway through the third quarter Sunday, and we later learned he had torn ligaments in his wrist. He missed a lot of throws before that, as the Texans' offense continued to devolve. There is no bright side to what's happening in Houston; Davis Mills wasn't any better than Tyrod in relief. Mills is expected to start this week with Taylor hurt and could conceivably hold the job the rest of the year, with the Texans in evaluation mode.


UPDATE: Texans coach David Culley announced Friday that Davis Mills would be the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season.

Rank
31
1
Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Rookie

2021 stats: 8 games | 58.0 pct | 1,539 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 6 pass TD | 11 INT | 25 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles


Progress! Wilson's second-best start of the season was much different from his breakout game against the Titans -- and hopefully more sustainable. There weren't a lot of out-of-structure plays, just on-time throws with ridiculous velocity. Even if a few turnover-worthy plays were sprinkled in and the scheme did most of the work, at least Wilson looked comfortable in what he was doing. This was a game to build off.

Rank
32
NR
Mike Glennon
New York Giants · Year 8

2021 stats: 2 games | 56.5 pct | 383 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 1 pass TD | 3 INT | 2 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


Glennon looked like a competent enough backup for most of Sunday's game against the Dolphins, until the turnover-worthy plays and sacks piled up. Throwing jump balls into double coverage proved to be a bold yet poor strategy. He might not get many more opportunities as a pro, especially after suffering a concussion late in the game. Jake Fromm is in line to start against the Chargers if Glennon isn't cleared.


UPDATE: Mike Glennon has been cleared from the NFL's concussion protocol and will start Sunday for the Giants, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

The Air Index presented by FedEx ranks NFL quarterback performances all season long. Check out the weekly FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote after Sunday Night Football.

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