Skip to main content

Air Index

Presented By

NFL QB Index, Week 15: San Francisco 49ers rookie Brock Purdy soars into top half of rankings

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 14 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 15.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 6

2022 stats: 13 games | 65.8 pct | 4,160 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 33 pass TD | 11 INT | 280 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Mahomes stays here by a hair over the surging Jalen Hurts. The Chiefs quarterback, though, was human in Sunday's weird win over the Broncos, tossing a trio of picks he later called "just three bad decisions." The Patrick Surtain interception came off a wonderful diving catch. A second pick was the result of what Mahomes called a forced throw to Travis Kelce stolen by a leaping Josey Jewell. The last one cost Kansas City the chance to kick a field goal in the game's final minutes. Rare miscues by a once-in-a-lifetime talent who spent the rest of Sunday magically flipping the ball through space and making one of the more eye-popping throws all season in the face of incoming destruction. He remains a king of pro football's vast wilderness. 

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 3

2022 stats: 13 games | 68 pct | 3,157 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 22 pass TD | 3 INT | 686 rush yds | 10 rush TD | 9 fumbles

At the helm of a juggernaut, Hurts makes it look easy. He stomped out the Giants on Sunday at warp speed, crafting a 14-0 lead off two punishing touchdown drives before New York took a breath. The first march ate up eight-plus minutes off 14 plays and saw Hurts casually spread the ball to seven different targets. The second broke the Giants psychologically, with Hurts unfurling a perfectly placed 41-yard laser beam to DeVonta Smith on fourth-and-7. Next, Giants punter Jamie Gillan muffed a punt, and Hurts effectively ended the game before halftime with a 33-yard score to a wide-open A.J. Brown. Philly's quarterback doubles as an MVP-worthy rocket ship. 

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 3

2022 stats: 13 games | 68.1 pct | 3,685 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 27 pass TD | 9 INT | 234 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 4 fumbles

With Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst stripped from the lineup, Burrow ground out his first career victory against the Browns. Whipping passes to the Trents -- Irwin and Taylor, with the former hauling in a flea-flickered laser -- Burrow thankfully had Ja'Marr Chase around to pile up a 10/119/1 line. The Bengals reflect their quarterback, finding different ways to win with whoever suits up. Outmuscling the Titans, outdueling the Chiefs and tossing the Browns by the side of the road in workmanlike fashion. Burrow's 27:9 touchdown-to-pick ratio feels underreported. He's regained his status as one of the game's hottest performers. 

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 5

2022 stats: 13 games | 63.8 pct | 3,553 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 26 pass TD | 11 INT | 628 rush yds | 6 rush TD | 10 fumbles

"It doesn't look like an offense that can be good enough to win the Super Bowl right now," a reporter said to Allen after Buffalo's win over the Jets on a spartan winter's day. 

"OK," he deadpanned. 

Allen knows best that the Bills are working through their issues. More game manager than MVP cutout for weeks on end, Allen toiled through a bizarre three-game road odyssey and fended off the discomfort of an elbow injury. On Sunday, his receivers struggled with drops in near-freezing rain. Allen still lashed New York with powerful runs -- especially on third down -- and put his team ahead for good with a third-quarter touchdown blast. Saturday's (potentially snowy) showdown with the Fins looms large. 

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 3

2022 stats: 13 games | 67.6 pct | 3,706 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 21 pass TD | 7 INT | 143 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 6 fumbles

That's the performance we've waited for. Fully operational and finally armed with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Corey Linsley, Herbert left Miami's defense in tatters. By intermission, he was 24-of-29 for 222 yards with a score and a 110.1 passer rating. The island-game nature of the affair obliterated the ponderous Social Media Quarterback debate and put Herbert's traits on full display. Cris Collinsworth correctly lauded the passer's ability to fend off pressure -- he was marvelous outside the pocket -- while crowing over the arm talent possessed by the 6-foot-6 firestarter. On the receiving end of Herbert's spellcasting, Allen was asked after the game what Sunday night's display said about L.A.'s starter: "That he is the best QB in the league."

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 3

2022 stats: 11 games | 65.5 pct | 3,004 pass yds | 8.7 ypa | 22 pass TD | 5 INT | 63 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

A sensational technician for much of the year, Tua has carved up countless enemies with precise darts to Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. He doesn't dominate with arm strength à la Herbert or destroy you on the ground like Allen. We saw the Niners and Chargers challenge Miami's star receivers with press coverage in an effort to take away the middle of the field -- Tua's sweet spot. His messy start -- 3-of-17 passing -- against a Bolts defense missing six starters raises questions. His 45.9 completion percentage during Miami's two-game skid presents a challenge for heady coach Mike McDaniel: adjust or else.

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 7

2022 stats: 8 games | 66.9 pct | 1,847 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 14 pass TD | 9 INT | 94 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

You can see Prescott pushing. Forcing a handful of throws. He's still the guy, though, who overcame a lesser outing against Houston to unfurl a laundry list of big-boy darts on the team's 11-play, 98-yard game-sealing touchdown march. Hitting Dalton Schultz for chunk gains of 13, 18 and 21 yards. Piling up 15 yards on the ground. Zipping an 18-yarder to Noah Brown. Zeke Elliott's clinching score doesn't happen without Dak shifting into killer mode. Prescott would've been served up as morning-show fodder had Dallas crumbled against the inane Texans. It's less sexy to cite him working out of a jam to save the day. 

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 10

2022 stats: 13 games | 71.5 pct | 3,433 pass yds | 8 ypa | 25 pass TD | 8 INT | 263 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles

Geno has piled up four picks over three weeks. A pair of those came against Carolina, but Smith still made a smattering of massive throws. He looms as a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year honors, though Thursday night's massive NFC West showdown with the Niners will serve as Geno's acid test against a high-octane defense that destroyed Tua Tagovailoa and Tom Brady in back-to-back thrashings. Pull this off, and the lingering Geno doubters will be sucked into a neighboring dimension. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Geno's prime-time misadventure saw him running for dear life from a gang of bloodthirsty Niners defenders who dropped him for three sacks and made life a horror show in the pocket. The physical bout was characterized by San Francisco cover man Charvarius Ward waging all-out war on DK Metcalf to take away the big plays downfield we've come to expect from Smith. A flock of penalties wiped out chunk gains and Geno was lucky his awful pick-six was erased by a Niners infraction. Seattle's season is on the brink.

Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 23

2022 stats: 13 games | 65.8 pct | 3,585 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 17 pass TD | 5 INT | -7 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

What was more Bucs than seeing the rare explosive play -- a 68-yard scoring bomb to Mike Evans -- wiped away by (yet another) holding penalty on tackle Donovan Smith? Brady and the offense fizzled up hardcore against a San Francisco defense that kept the quarterback and his wideouts out of sync while Brock Purdy became a household name. This remains one of the league's most pent-up attacks, and we're no longer asking when the Bucs will fix it: This is who they are. 

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 2

2022 stats: 12 games | 61.7 pct | 1,896 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 13 pass TD | 10 INT | 905 rush yds | 8 rush TD | 13 fumbles

Bye Week Skinny: Learning they have something special in Fields changes everything for the Bears. First-year general manager Ryan Poles is projected to march into the offseason with a whopping $103 million-plus in cap space. That's $46 million more than runner-up Atlanta. Equally inspiring, though, is discovering that play-caller Luke Getsy harbors the creativity and open-mindedness to rewrite the playbook mid-campaign to unlock his young quarterback's gifts. Bears fans have been to Hades and back seven dozen times, but Chicago's future is a fascination. 

Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 18

2022 stats: 13 games | 64.3 pct | 2,864 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 22 pass TD | 9 INT | 67 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Bye Week Skinny: We might be one loss away from a big helping of Jordan Love, but the rock-star emergence of rookie wideout Christian Watson paints the season in a different light for Rodgers. Why not close out the year building chemistry with his newfound gem? "It's been a rapid, wild development," Rodgers said after Week 13's offing of the Bears. "It's hard to think about someone who goes from being kind of here or there, minimal production to a home-run player." 

Rodgers/Watson man crush: Activate. 

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 11

2022 stats: 13 games | 65.5 pct | 3,358 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 20 pass TD | 9 INT | 58 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Defeat aside, Cousins on Sunday went nuclear with Justin Jefferson, who set a Vikings record with 223 receving yards against the Lions. It would have been more if the wideout's physics-defying, 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown wasn't short-circuited by an official believing he went out of bounds 39 yards in. On a day when Minnesota's pass defense trumpeted itself as the leakiest league-wide, Cousins fought until the end with 425 yards of his own. This time around, it wasn't enough.

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 2

2022 stats: 13 games | 66.2 pct | 3,202 pass yds | 7 ypa | 20 pass TD | 6 INT | 218 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 8 fumbles 

Lawrence was sensational against Tennessee, guiding an offensive explosion that saw Jacksonville put up points on five straight drives against a once-formidable Titans defense. Lawrence's career-high 368 yards through the air were aided by a monster Sunday from suddenly fiery ex-Giants tight end Evan Engram (11/162/2). Lawrence is turning into a passer who makes the most of his weapons. It was impressive and unusual to see a Jaguars quarterback engineer three straight touchdown drives between the second and third quarters to completely swallow a division-leading rival.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 7

2022 stats: 13 games | 65.3 pct | 3,352 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 22 pass TD | 7 INT | 51 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

Goff helms the ultra-rare Lions team still breathing in December. He's put on a show two weeks running inside a Detroit attack laced with enjoyable players and surprises at every turn. Whether it's behemoth-turned-sticky-fingers Penei Sewell making Sunday's juiciest catch or suddenly healthy first-round wideout Jameson Williams getting open early against the Vikings for a 41-yard, busted-coverage score. Goff has thrown multiple touchdowns and zero picks in three straight tilts, joining Matthew Stafford as the only players to ever do so for Detroit. The Lions linger as a playoff threat behind a passer playing his best football and forcing the entire organization to rethink the idea of just replacing him with a rookie come September.

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 11

2022 stats: 11 games | 65 pct | 2,371 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 13 pass TD | 5 INT | 97 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The in-flux Titans have plenty to accomplish this offseason. Tannehill's low-octane cast of wideouts features just one target -- Robert Woods -- with 400-plus yards through the air. Even on a day when Derrick Henry pounded Jacksonville for 119 yards in the first half, Tennessee's offense withered up when the back was shut down over the final two quarters in the loss. Henry also lost a pair of fumbles while Tannehill was strip-sacked and threw a pick. These lesser moments spell doom for an offense stranded on third-and-long, unable to play from behind and forcing the owner to say publicly: You aren't the roster I seek

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Rookie

2022 stats: 5 games | 67.2 pct | 461 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 5 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

His performance against the Bucs was beyond clean. Crisp doesn't do it justice, either. Purdy hit the scene as nothing short of a fireball, burning up Tampa's beguiled defense with aggressive downfield shots inside a playbook that appeared no different than anything Jimmy Garoppolo brought to the table. Kyle Shanahan showed immense faith in the 2022 NFL Draft's final pick, prompting Purdy to dial up heaters to an unstoppable Christian McCaffrey and willingly taking punishment on his pinpoint scoring dart to Brandon Aiyuk. The newbie nabbed PFF's highest grade, made his proud parents weep and offered hope for San Francisco's playoff visions.  

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Brock Purdy has come to us from somewhere far away. Somewhere beautiful. Outside of one near pick, the Niners rookie filed another squeaky-clean effort. Looking the part from A-to-Z, Purdy hit 17 of 26 throws and made music with George Kittle on a 28-yard score and a 54-yard catch-and-weave touchdown. Facing a DOA Seattle run defense, the Niners allowed Christian McCaffrey (26/108/1) and rookie Jordan Mason (4/64) to do the rest in a romp that sealed up the NFC West

Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 9

2022 stats: 13 games | 62 pct | 3,117 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 20 pass TD | 10 INT | 88 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Carr's beguiling, inexcusable interception before halftime isn't the only reason Vegas was nipped by the Rams. Still, it tells me everything I need to know about a Raiders team that refuses to operate as the sum of its parts. It's not Carr's fault the defense turned Baker Mayfield into a prime-time hero. The offense, though, managed just two first downs over the final two quarters. Up 16-10 with 3:19 on the clock, Josh McDaniels dialed up three straight Josh Jacobs runs -- including a killer stuff on third-and-1 -- before punting the ball away and losing the game. That informs me about the coach's trust for Carr in a must-win game. It's entirely possible the quarterback is elsewhere come 2023, especially if Tom Brady has eyes for the desert.

Mike White
New York Jets · Year 5

2022 stats: 3 games | 62 pct | 952 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 9 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Not a soul in New York's locker room will question what exists inside the beating heart of Mike White. He rose up time and again after taking countless beatings by a Buffalo front determined to bury him below the earth. Removed twice to have his battered ribs examined -- before being taken to the hospital after the 20-12 loss -- White kept returning to the fray. It was disturbing to see the level of punishment absorbed by the Jets starter only to have this takedown of Justin Herbert flagged as roughing the passer. White never complained, but instead kept making throws like he does every week. It's impossible not to adore the raging fire he brings to his Sunday adventures.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Jets QB Mike White has been ruled out for Week 15 after not being cleared for contact by team doctors, coach Robert Saleh announced Friday. Zach Wilson will start Sunday versus the Lions.

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 4

2022 stats: 13 games | 66 pct | 2,534 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 12 pass TD | 4 INT | 548 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 5 fumbles

There's a version of Daniel Jones that makes a believer out of me when the Giants are ahead, the running game is singing and New York's quarterback is asked to deliver a handful of throws in key spots. That's not the version we saw Sunday with New York buried in a 21-0 grave and a banged-up Saquon Barkley looking half the player he was in September. The loss wasn't on Jones, who spent much of the day running for his life from a Philly front that abused tackles Evan Neal and Andrew Thomas. New York's weapons aren't much help, either, with Kenny Golladay eternally starring as a Gotham-based apparition for a team in free fall.

Saying it all after the defeat, coach Brian Daboll acknowledged: "There might be games where our asses get blown out."

Andy Dalton
New Orleans Saints · Year 12

2022 stats: 10 games | 66.9 pct | 2,252 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 15 pass TD | 7 INT | 54 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Bye Week Skinny: The Saints float on through a lost season. Will there be another for Dalton in New Orleans? He's produced a batch of solid tape and shown saucy chemistry in spurts with star rookie wideout Chris Olave. He's nobody's long-term solution under center, but The Glowing Red Ginger Man fits as central casting's ideal bridge to something better. This list alone, though, tells you Something Better isn't easy to find in the chaotic realms of today's NFL.

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · Year 6

2022 stats: 2 games | 59.4 pct | 407 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 54 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

After a disastrous Browns debut against the Texans, Watson was more at home against a Bengals defense that held Cleveland to 10 points. He moved better on the ground and served up a handful of on-target lobs to Amari Cooper and David Njoku, including a 13-yard scoring strike to the latter. Who knows what compelled coach Kevin Stefanski to yank Watson on fourth-and-1 on the opening drive to have Jacoby Brissett toss a failed deep ball. The Browns' lost season boils down to shaking the rust off their super-pricey signal-caller over the next four weeks.

Taylor Heinicke
Washington Commanders · Year 5

2022 stats: 7 games | 61.8 pct | 1,444 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 9 pass TD | 5 INT | 67 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Bye Week Skinny: The Commanders have a chance to fling a burning arrow into the heart of the Giants in Sunday night's NFC East clash. Heinicke gives them a chance. The attack is muted by his size and lower-tier arm strength. He's going to miss throws, then dazzle with one or two gems a game. Play-caller Scott Turner has wrapped his starter inside a scheme determined to grind out wins on terra firma. The Commanders rank fourth in time of possession since Heinicke's elevation to the lineup in Week 7. They've also been held to 23 or fewer points in all but one of those starts. Sometimes it boils down to: Has this guy made the team more fun to watch?

Colt McCoy
Arizona Cardinals · Year 13

2022 stats: 3 games | 69.4 pct | 702 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 34 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

An awful campaign for the Cardinals took another deadly body blow Monday night with Kyler Murray being carted away three plays into the game with a non-contact knee injury that has ended his season. Enter steady Colt McCoy. Arizona's evening, though, morphed into another patented slopfest starring a feast of pre-snap penalties on offense and the hardworking McCoy absorbing endless punishment, unable to dig this fading team out of the muck. Arizona's season could end in an hour and it wouldn't be soon enough.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 2

2022 stats: 10 games | 68.2 pct | 2,198 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 7 pass TD | 8 INT | 87 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

A strange Monday night! Jones operated behind a banged-up line and found himself running the show minus Jakobi Meyers, a concussed DeVante Parker and ankle-addled Rhamondre Stevenson. Amid a stellar defensive performance by the Patriots, Jones threw a pick on a snap where his arm was hit, performed another on-camera meltdown vaguely aimed at Matt Patricia, was later seen smiling with the coordinator, made use of Hunter Henry, threw a flock of screen passes and did just enough to help best a floundering Cardinals ghost ship. 

Mitchell Trubisky
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 6

2022 stats: 6 games | 63.3 pct | 1,073 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 4 pass TD | 5 INT | 29 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Our old friend resurfaced after rookie Kenny Pickett was lost to his second concussion of the year. Trubisky can’t survive days when he turns the ball over in bundles. Three picks in a two-point loss to Baltimore tells enough of the story. The veteran backup makes a few throws every game that deliver hope -- namely, his fourth-quarter, 37-yard strike to Diontae Johnson -- but minutes spent with Mitch take away from Pittsburgh’s first priority: As many meaningful snaps as possible for Pickett.

Matt Ryan
Indianapolis Colts · Year 15

2022 stats: 11 games | 67.8 pct | 2,875 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 13 pass TD | 13 INT | 70 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 14 fumbles

Bye Week Skinny: We all needed a week away from seeing Matt Ryan treated like a tossed-about Raggedy Ann.

Baker Mayfield
Los Angeles Rams · Year 5

2022 stats: 8 games | 58.5 pct | 1,543 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 7 pass TD | 6 INT | 62 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles

What Mayfield pulled off last Thursday night is why I adore the NFL. The improbable nature of a jettisoned, down-on-his-luck quarterback -- his career considered a sinking vessel -- flying to Los Angeles and running roughly 20 practice plays with strangers before torching Vegas on national television. The weird reality of Mayfield ripping the ball through press-man coverage into the arms of Van Jefferson for the winning score. Where did the chemistry come from? Chalk it up as a set-apart sports moment and another reminder that pro football will always be a place for players to rewrite the narrative and stand above the doubting public. 

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 11

2022 stats: 12 games | 60.4 pct | 2,805 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 11 pass TD | 6 INT | 215 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

It’s unclear when we’ll see Wilson again after he left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s wild loss to the Chiefs with a concussion. The misfortune was on brand for Wilson inside a terrible campaign, ending a rare positive day that saw him throw for 240-plus yards and three scores. Wilson also tossed an ugly pick-six. Denver’s season can’t wrap soon enough. 

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett said Friday that Wilson passed concussion protocol but will not play in Week 15. The coach cited precautions for keeping the QB out. Brett Rypien will make his second start of the season Sunday against the Cardinals.

Tyler Huntley
Baltimore Ravens · Year 3

2022 stats: 3 games | 79.5 pct | 275 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 72 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Reality hit hard for the Ravens when Huntley was lost mid-third quarter to a concussion after a vicious collision with Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick. We’ll find out soon enough if Huntley -- a typically productive Lamar Jackson fill-in who fits the offense -- can suit up Saturday against Cleveland. If not, prepare for another look at Anthony Brown, the undrafted rookie backup who threw just five passes and operated as a Handoff Droid in Sunday’s squeaker over the Steelers. Either way, expect a busy day at the office for J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards

Davis Mills
Houston Texans · Year 2

2022 stats: 11 games | 62.8 pct | 2,319 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 11 pass TD | 12 INT | 40 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

It was enjoyable watching the bizarre Texans platoon Mills and Jeff Driskel against a Cowboys club trying to figure out -- along with reporters -- what exactly the plan was. Throw with Mills and use Driskel’s 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame to puncture Dallas on the ground. It worked! Well enough to carve out a 23-20 lead with 3:20 left on the clock. Unfortunately, that’s when the Cowboys took over -- marching for a game-winning touchdown -- after Driskel was snuffed out on fourth-and-goal from the Dallas 3, appearing to initially turn the wrong way on a speed option. Cute little Texans. 

Sam Darnold
Carolina Panthers · Year 5

2022 stats: 2 games | 58.1 pct | 284 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 33 rush yd | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Who needs Darnold to save the day when your backfield can rip up Seattle to the tune of 223 yards at 4.8 per clip. He’s thrown for 284 yards in two starts as a hide-him option for a team hanging on to playoff hopes in the NFC South. It’s sure to bite the Panthers in time. It nearly cost them the game when Carolina awkwardly dialed up four straight passes near the goal line -- all misses by Darnold -- but the ex-Jet has shifted nicely into Compliant Veteran Stopgap Willing To Go Along With The Plan. 

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Rookie

NOTE: First-time rookie starters begin in the basement until we see more than one game.

Bye Week Skinny: Falcons coach Arthur Smith finally tired of the Marcus Mariota reruns. The veteran hurt the attack with late-game turnovers and had heaved the highest percentage of off-target throws (17.7 percent) of any starter league-wide entering Week 14. He struggled mightily on passes of 10-plus air yards -- ranking 27th in passer rating (min. 50 such throws, per Next Gen Stats) -- unspooling Smith’s desire to pound away at defenses before stunning them deep. If anything, the switch to Ridder is overdue. With Atlanta only one game back in the ghastly NFC South, Sunday’s tussle in New Orleans lines up as a genuine divisional banger.

Follow Marc Sessler 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.

Related Content