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NFL QB Index, Week 15: Baker Mayfield, Justin Fields rising; Jalen Hurts plummets

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

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 8

2023 stats: 13 games | 69.3 pct | 3,505 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 28 pass TD | 6 INT | 185 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 2 fumbles

No quarterback and no offense is playing as well as Prescott and the Cowboys right now. They’re nearing unstoppable territory, and if you need proof, just take a look at how they closed the first half Sunday night in a huge win over the Eagles. Prescott completed a few short passes, benefited from a timely penalty on Philadelphia, then unleashed a rocket to Brandin Cooks to put the Cowboys at the Eagles’ 1-yard line. Prescott then fired a dart on a timing route to Michael Gallup for a touchdown, capping a statement of a first half for Dallas. He went without a touchdown over the final two quarters but moved the Cowboys within Brandon Aubrey’s range three times to pad their lead in a runaway win, a triumph typical of these Cowboys in the last two months. Shovel some more coal into the engine, because the Prescott MVP train is only gaining speed.

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Year 2

2023 stats: 13 games | 70.2 pct | 3,553 pass yds | 9.9 ypa | 25 pass TD | 7 INT | 138 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles

Seattle learned a hard lesson Sunday: If you give Purdy time to work, he’s going to make you pay. Purdy did just that in Week 14, launching a strike to Deebo Samuel for a touchdown to wake up San Francisco’s offense in the second quarter and looking toward his favorite target, Brandon Aiyuk, throughout this contest. It was almost predictable: If Purdy dropped to pass and wasn’t pressured, he was essentially guaranteed to connect with one of his pass catchers for a big gain. George Kittle joined the party with an excellent catch-and-run for a fourth-quarter touchdown, capping another strong day for Purdy.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7

2023 stats: 13 games | 676.9 pct | 3,398 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 23 pass TD | 11 INT | 339 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The narrative in Kansas City is no longer deniable: Mahomes’ supporting cast isn’t doing its part. Much of this game was a typical Mahomes performance, and his touchdown pass to Rashee Rice seemed overdue, if anything. The negative side of Week 14, though, was the reminder that Mahomes is being asked to carry the Chiefs more than he’s been expected to at any point in his stellar career. I’m not sure he’ll be able to see them across the finish line, especially against defenses playing as well as Buffalo did Sunday. And I won’t even get into Mahomes’ mental meltdown in the final seconds of this game; that’s just frustration understandably boiling over.

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 4

2023 stats: 13 games | 70.0 pct | 3,697 pass yds | 8.5 ypa | 24 pass TD | 10 INT | 55 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 12 fumbles

It was startling to see just how much Tagovailoa struggled without Tyreek Hill, who was sidelined for a significant portion of Monday night’s game with an ankle injury. For example, 156 of Tagovailoa’s 240 passing yards came in the first and fourth quarters, periods in which Hill was largely available. Without him, Miami’s offense ran aground. They capitalized on short fields, and Tagovailoa finished with a solid statistical night, but when the Dolphins needed a first down -- and later, a field goal to win -- Tagovailoa failed to deliver, taking an anticlimactic fourth-down sack to cap their collapse. Tagovailoa will simply need to be better under the bright lights of the playoffs than he was Monday night in an inexplicable loss.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 6

2023 stats: 13 games | 66.8 pct | 2,934 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 16 pass TD | 6 INT | 644 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 11 fumbles

Jackson’s performance Sunday was a slow build to greatness. He hit two wide-open touchdown passes early but wasn’t making elite plays to lift the Ravens – that is, until the second half arrived. That’s when Jackson became a premier playmaker, managing to evade frequent pass rushes and turn expected losses into positive gains. His deliveries under pressure were exquisite, especially when Baltimore needed a two-point conversion to push its lead to three in the final two minutes. Jackson rolled right on a designed sprint out, juked linebacker Ernest Jones and stepped right into defensive end Jonah Williams, but inexplicably delivered a perfect bullet to Zay Flowers in the end zone at an unbelievable release angle while being hit. He made plenty of second-half magic in the lead-up to this sequence, but these are the types of plays that make Jackson truly special. I’m not certain the Ravens win this game without him – the true mark of a superstar.

C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans · Rookie

2023 stats: 13 games | 62.4 pct | 3,631 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 20 pass TD | 5 INT | 143 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles

I had a feeling a trip to New York might produce a difficult week for the rookie star, and sure enough, Stroud struggled against the stingy Jets defense Sunday. The soggy conditions didn’t help, nor did New York’s relentless pass rush, and for the first time since perhaps Week 1, Stroud looked like a frazzled, if not overmatched quarterback. Houston only pieced together one drive of significance all afternoon, which also stood as the lone example of a Texans offense that has scored at will at times in 2023. This is what the Jets can do to a quarterback, especially an inexperienced one. His early exit due to a concussion only further underscored a rough day, from which I expect him to bounce back.

Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 15

2023 stats: 12 games | 60.2 pct | 3,062 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 19 pass TD | 9 INT | 68 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

On a wet day in Baltimore, Stafford picked up right where he’d left off in Week 13, operating Sean McVay’s offense to near perfection. He made a number of heroic plays Sunday, like his touchdown pass to Demarcus Robinson that required a lower arm slot, yet somehow hit his target in the exact necessary location. Stafford dropped dimes on targets all afternoon, going toe to toe with Lamar Jackson’s Ravens for four quarters. My only issue with this game was McVay’s play-calling decisions in the red zone, but Stafford even overcame those, lofting a perfect pass amid pressure to Cooper Kupp for a touchdown. Both quarterbacks (and teams) deserved to win this classic, and if we learned anything from this contest, it’s that the Rams’ resurgence isn’t a fluke. Because of Stafford’s high-level performance in 2023, they’re going to make every remaining game a war.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 6

2023 stats: 13 games | 66.9 pct | 3,447 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 25 pass TD | 14 INT | 374 rush yds | 10 rush TD | 4 fumbles

A clash of AFC titans -- well, at least according to recent history -- was bound to produce some struggles for both quarterbacks. Allen’s Bills won this game, though, because they were able to get off to a hot start with Allen serving as a central figure in it. His touchdown pass down the sideline to a wide-open James Cook could have been made in Allen’s sleep, and his touchdown run was a product of his size, strength and unwillingness to go down without a fight. That’s what this entire game was: a fight, one Allen won with some creative playmaking (like his fadeaway pass to Latavius Murray for a key first down) that outweighed his interception when trying to make more magic earlier in the game. It’s far from perfect for Allen, but the Bills’ backs are against the wall, and Allen is fighting like mad to escape it.

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 3

2023 stats: 13 games | 66.6 pct | 3,261 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 17 pass TD | 10 INT | 259 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 8 fumbles

The fact Lawrence played in this game, just six days after suffering a high-ankle sprain that left him severely hobbled in a Week 13 loss to Cincinnati, was an achievement. That was about where the achievements ended for Lawrence, though. The quarterback threw three interceptions against Cleveland’s ferocious defense, with two being his fault, and the other on Calvin Ridley for not turning around in time to see a missile flying past him. Lawrence did some good, of course, leading two desperate touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, but his mistakes (plus another Jaguars turnover) had already buried them too deep to overcome. With two straight losses and the ankle injury still being somewhat concerning (despite his participation Sunday), the Jaguars have officially entered crunch time. They’ll need Lawrence to be his best to lead them through it.

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 4

2023 stats: 13 games | 66.5 pct | 3,192 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 19 pass TD | 10 INT | 460 rush yds | 12 rush TD | 8 fumbles

It pains me to write this, but after seeing how Dallas caused an incredible amount of issues for Philadelphia’s offense on Sunday night, I think we can remove Hurts from the MVP conversation. Hurts has found himself in rough waters in two straight weeks, struggling to find open targets while pressure bears down on him. It wasn’t his fault that DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown lost fumbles after catching on-target passes, but he also lost a fumble of his own early. He’s still hanging onto the ball slightly too long, and because the Eagles’ staff did nothing to help him in obvious blitz situations, he wasn’t able to lift the Eagles out of their struggles in a key divisional game. He was visibly frustrated by the results Sunday night -- how could he not be when his excellent passes still don’t produce positive outcomes? – and the Eagles’ offense is no longer the dynamic machine it was a year ago. There’s still a month to turn things around, but it’s not as simple as getting past their recent gauntlet of games. The Eagles have issues to work out, Hurts included.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 8

2023 stats: 13 games | 66.9 pct | 3,449 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 21 pass TD | 10 INT | 21 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles

This was a tough watch for Lions fans yearning for Goff to put together two straight solid performances. Chicago’s defense has come on strong of late, and it certainly made Sunday a hectic outing for Goff, who never got comfortable despite threading a few passes through incredibly tight windows for positive gains early in the contest. Goff’s trust in his arm and his teammates cost him when he threw an interception on a pass intended for sensational rookie Sam LaPorta, and his second pick was simply a product of desperation near the end of a frustrating day. I’m concerned about the Lions when they struggle to make Goff comfortable, and as they approach the postseason, they’ll need to be better as a unit to maximize Goff’s abilities. 

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 12

2023 stats: 13 games | 67.2 pct | 2,609 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 23 pass TD | 8 INT | 315 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Wilson’s greatest achievement in Week 14 came in his playmaking, extending drives with key third-down pickups, including during a suffocating fourth-quarter drive that ended in a perfectly executed play-action fake for a touchdown pass to Adam Trautman. Wilson still isn’t stuffing the stat sheet, but that’s perfectly fine for the fashion in which these Broncos operate. They took advantage of turnovers, made a few splash plays (his rainbow throw to Courtland Sutton produced a delightful touchdown completion) and kept the offense moving in a quietly dominant win over the Chargers. If efficiency matters most to Sean Payton’s outfit, Wilson is checking that box on a near-weekly basis.

Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 6

2023 stats: 13 games | 62.6 pct | 2,934 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 20 pass TD | 8 INT | 154 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles

The numbers – fairly pedestrian at first glance – accurately reflect the general theme of Week 14 for Mayfield, who completed 14 of 29 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. But those two touchdowns each stood as pivotal moments in the game and were also drastically different in style, with one being a screen pass to Rachaad White in which the running back did 98 percent of the work after the catch. In fact, because of the hit-or-miss nature of the day, that completion to White essentially stood as Mayfield’s best throw until the game’s final four minutes. That was when the Buccaneers found themselves trailing for the first time, and when Mayfield shined. After struggling to connect with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for much of the day, Mayfield found Godwin for a gain of 32 yards with 1:16 left to play. Two plays later, Mayfield released his best throw of the game, floating a perfect pass to tight end Cade Otton for the game-winning touchdown. The outing wasn’t a memorable one by any means, but it was yet another example of Mayfield delivering in the clutch, something he’s done for the majority of the season, scoring a massive win for the Buccaneers.

Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers · Year 4

2023 stats: 13 games | 61.5 pct | 3,084 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 23 pass TD | 11 INT | 233 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles

After a stellar last month and a half, Love learned how difficult it is to sustain high-level success in the NFL on Monday night. Wink Martindale’s defense life difficult for the first-year starter, and despite taking a 10-7 lead into halftime, there wasn’t a ton to like for the Packers to that point (including an ugly Love interception that never should have been attempted). Love managed to lead a go-ahead drive late, seemingly rediscovering the magic that had propelled the Packers to four wins in their last five games, but because he and the Packers struggled for most of the game, it wasn’t enough to take down the Giants. Now, Love and Co. need to shift their attention to the details as they attempt to get back on track with a month to play.

Sam Howell
Washington Commanders · Year 2

2023 stats: 13 games | 65.8 pct | 3,466 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 18 pass TD | 14 INT | 243 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 5 fumbles

After a month of largely positive play, Howell has settled into an uncomfortable reality in which he’s guaranteed to pull off a few highlight completions, make some excellent plays out of structure, and account for one (if not more) crushing turnovers. The Commanders are in a tough spot as a team, but Howell has at least found some consistency, even if it hasn’t been enough to single-handedly win games for them. 

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 3

2023 stats: 9 games | 63.5 pct | 1,810 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 13 pass TD | 6 INT | 458 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles

This is the type of game that explains why some of us still believe in Fields. I know I’ve written that I’ve come to understand why some folks want to move on from the Ohio State product, but most of his warts didn’t surface in Sunday’s upset win over Detroit, when Fields used the full extent of his abilities – running, throwing and general playmaking – to propel the Bears to victory. Fields possesses a rare blend of mobility and arm strength that was needed to keep the Bears afloat and ahead of the Lions, scrambling for key gains and firing passes to open targets. His first-quarter throw to Darnell Mooney along the sideline was incredible, a rocket fired through a window that seemed to be as large as an eye of a needle, and helped the Bears move into field-goal range for an early three points. And his ability to sense that he had a free play thanks to a defensive encroachment, then capitalize by firing a strike to D.J. Moore for a touchdown was proof of his arm talent. I might forever yearn for Fields to be placed in an ideal situation in which he’s afforded a chance to show off his talent, but I also think the Bears are in a place where they could make a wise decision by sticking with him and surrounding him with quality pieces. Then, and only then, will we see the true range of Fields’ potential, which I believe is worth exploring. Performances like Sunday are enough proof to sign me up.

Joe Flacco
Cleveland Browns · Year 16

2023 stats: 2 games | 55.1 pct | 565 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | -1 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Fresh off a surprisingly strong performance in his first start of 2023, Flacco took the field at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday and promptly led a six-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended in a beautiful run fake that left David Njoku wide open for a 34-yard touchdown. Flacco found Njoku again later, this time hitting the tight end in an open space underneath and giving him room to run down the sideline, stiff-arming a defender on his way to a second touchdown from 30-plus yards out. Flacco was excellent throughout the day, throwing for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and his best play came in a key moment, when he slid away from a seven-man blitz on fourth-and-3, found David Bell open at the line to gain, and watched the Purdue product turn around and run through an open pasture for a 41-yard touchdown. That play captured Flacco’s value to the Browns as a quarterback who is seasoned enough to sense pressure, move away from it, deliver an on-target pass in time and reap the rewards. He’s been named Cleveland’s starter for the rest of the season, and for good reason: He can still sling it.

Jake Browning
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 5

2023 stats: 5 games | 75.5 pct | 924 pass yds | 9.1 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 77 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble

Browning’s magical Monday night performance was no fluke. The backup quarterback replicated his surprising showing from Week 13 with another strong outing Sunday, completing 18 of 24 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns, and tacking on another on the ground via a sneak. Like he did in Jacksonville, Browning executed Zac Taylor’s offense to near perfection, finding open targets, playing within himself, minimizing risk and continuing to move the chains. The lone difference: Browning decided to let it rip more, completing a handful of long passes for big gains to key a runaway win for the Bengals, who suddenly have reason to believe the backup might be able to get them to the postseason.

Will Levis
Tennessee Titans · Rookie

2023 stats: 7 games | 58.3 pct | 1,593 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 8 pass TD | 3 INT | 32 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

This kid has some serious guts, folks. Despite battling through three quarters to take a lead into the fourth, Tennessee had every reason to fold amid a drastic fourth-quarter collapse. They had less than five minutes to mount an unlikely comeback, which is precisely when Levis looked at the improbability of the task at hand, shrugged off the doubt and went to work. Levis led two fantastic drives in the game’s final 4:34, covering 75 yards in nine plays while relying heavily on DeAndre Hopkins, whom Levis found on a sharp cross-body throw for a touchdown. With one last chance to take the lead, Levis calmly led a quick drive downfield, again turning to Hopkins and tight end Chig Okonkwo for two big gains that set up Derrick Henry’s game-tying touchdown run from three yards out before a PAT gave them the lead. Levis returned to the sideline and let out a passionate scream with full knowledge he’d just authored an incredible comeback. It’s been a roller coaster of a season for the rookie, but performances like that explain why Mike Vrabel is moving forward with Levis as his QB1. 

Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 5

2023 stats: 4 games | 60.8 pct | 864 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 106 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Murray has yet to put together an explosive performance, but Arizona’s trudge to the moment Murray returned included a silver lining: They now know what the bottom looks like. Murray keeps them far from that point, and although this season is now nothing more than an audition for him, I think he’s proven the difference between he and Josh Dobbs/Clayton Tune to be significant enough to make the Cardinals realize their best path forward is with Murray leading the way. They’ll be an intriguing watch through the end of the season because of Murray, too.

Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints · Year 10

2023 stats: 13 games | 66.4 pct | 2,880 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 13 pass TD | 7 INT | 39 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 6 fumbles

It took Carr and the Saints until the fourth quarter to open up their offense in Sunday's win. Seemingly everything he attempted and/or completed was underneath until he launched a rainbow strike to A.T. Perry for 44 yards. That was it for airing it out for the Saints, whose passing offense barely registered a pulse until the final quarter, when Carr found Chris Olave and Jimmy Graham on short touchdown passes. The frustration Carr and his teammates exhibited (and directed at each other) is undoubtedly understandable, and after 14 weeks, I’m certain they’re never going to figure out how to consistently throw the ball downfield. Assigning responsibility for that is a whole other task.

Tommy DeVito
New York Giants · Rookie

2023 stats: 6 games | 65.9 pct | 855 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 8 pass TD | 3 INT | 154 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

A slow start didn’t stop the latest chapter in the growing legend of Tommy Cutlets on Monday night. The undrafted former third-stringer proved to be a gamer through four quarters against the Packers, and came through in the clutch, leading a well-paced, calm but urgent final drive to lead the Giants to victory, connecting with Wan’Dale Robinson on a rope thrown over the middle for a 32-yard gain that set up Randy Bullock’s game-winning field goal. DeVito did plenty of good before that moment, too, scrambling for positive gains and executing a handful of designed runs to push his rushing total to 71 yards in a game in which the Giants had to pull out all the stops to give themselves a chance. DeVito finished with 229 scrimmage yards, fired a few premier passes worthy of a highlight reel (including a fantastic completion to Isaiah Hodgins for a touchdown), and sent a jubilant New York home winners on a stunning Monday night.

Gardner Minshew
Indianapolis Colts · Year 5

2023 stats: 12 games | 63.2 pct | 2,524 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 11 pass TD | 8 INT | 57 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles

Cincinnati’s defense is suddenly back, and Minshew had the unfortunate privilege of learning this firsthand Sunday. Statistically, he wasn’t terrible, completing 26 of 39 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, but the Colts couldn’t get out of their own way in this one. A handful of penalties backed up Minshew and the Colts to first-and-goal from the 25, and an under-pressure Minshew attempted to get rid of the ball, watching it instead deflect off a nearby body into the air for defensive tackle B.J. Hill to intercept. It was that kind of day for Minshew and the Colts, who made an effort to get back into the game with a collection of nice plays (including a great touchdown pass to Mo Alie-Cox on fourth-and-1 from the Cincinnati 2), but ultimately didn’t have enough to keep pace (and prevent Cincinnati’s defense from getting after Minshew). 

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Year 2

2023 stats: 12 games | 63.5 pct | 2,376 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 9 pass TD | 9 INT | 195 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 10 fumbles

Ridder and Drake London had themselves a day, teaming up for 10 completions for 172 yards. The only problem was those connections didn’t produce the most important number of all: points. Too many promising drives stalled Sunday, and as Younghoe Koo had a rough day at the office, the Falcons found themselves losing a game they likely felt they should be winning. Ridder threw an ugly interception, too, which is par for his course in 2023, but he managed to piece together enough positive plays to score a go-ahead touchdown with 3:23 left, seemingly finally breaking through a pesky barrier in the game’s final minutes. Their earlier failures came back to bite them in the end, though, and the final sequence – in which Ridder threw a prayer of a pass toward the goal line to London, who caught it at Tampa Bay’s 3 for a gain of 28 – perfectly captured a close, but no cigar kind of day for the Falcons.

Drew Lock
Seattle Seahawks · Year 5

2023 stats: 3 games | 60.5 pct | 335 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 3 INT | 16 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Through three quarters of this past Sunday’s game at San Francisco, I was remarkably impressed by Lock's performance. The moment wasn't too big for him, and he executed Seattle's offensive game plan with precision. Lock leaned on DK Metcalf early to great success, extending early drives by turning to the hulking receiver, and hooking up with him on an incredible touchdown pass to answer the 49ers’ quick-strike touchdown. Lock was excellent through most of this game, navigating the pocket and finding open targets as if this has been his job all season. After the Seahawks fell behind by 12 points early in the fourth quarter, though, Lock faltered, throwing an interception by attempting to toss a pass away from the defender nearest to Metcalf in an area where Lock didn't see a safety lurking. The wheels fell off from there, but I won't forget what Lock did in the first three quarters. He gave Seattle -- a team that looked wildly overmatched in their first meeting with San Francisco -- a legitimate chance to pull off the upset.

Aidan O'Connell
Las Vegas Raiders · Rookie

2023 stats: 7 games | 63.8 pct | 1,365 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 7 INT | 11 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

In the weeks, months and years ahead, O'Connell and the Raiders aren't going to look back on Week 14 fondly. O'Connell completed 21 of his 32 passes for 171 yards, but was constantly harassed by an unrelenting Vikings defense that sacked him four times and made third downs into periodic root canals. With no anesthesia available, the pain persisted for the Raiders, who failed to put any points on the board and lost to a team that only needed a field goal to win. O'Connell's best pass -- an intermediate connection with Hunter Renfrow for a gain of 38 -- ended up being meaningless thanks to a red zone fumble. When was asked to lead the Raiders on a game-tying (or better) drive in the final two minutes of the game, O'Connell stared down Davante Adams and threw an interception to end their chances of a comeback. Vegas is playing out the string in this final month, and O'Connell still has time to make some progress. But he certainly didn't show any Sunday.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: A play-action masterpiece of a Thursday night performance saw O'Connell toss four touchdown passes, including three off of run fakes, in the Raiders' astounding 63-21 win over the Chargers. He hooked up twice with fellow rookie Tre Tucker for scores and placed a beauty of a pass on Jakobi Meyers for a diving touchdown grab, ultimately completing 20 of his 34 throws for 248 yards.

Zach Wilson
New York Jets · QB

2023 stats: 11 games | 60.8 pct | 2,245 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 8 pass TD | 7 INT | 211 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 10 fumbles

I felt vindicated after Sunday's 30-6 win over the Texans, not because Wilson was absolutely electric in his performance, but because the small glimpses of potential the former No. 2 overall pick displayed in prior starts -- examples I used to support my defense of him earlier this season -- resurfaced in a more prevalent form in Week 14. The weather wasn't friendly, and for three quarters, New York's offense wasn't exactly at cruising altitude, either. But Wilson persisted, evading the rush to extend a third-and-12 play before converting with a nifty pass over the middle to Garrett Wilson. One play later, Wilson confidently stepped up in the pocket and whipped a pass to a crossing Randall Cobb for the game's first touchdown. From there, Wilson found his groove, throwing on the run to Jeremy Ruckert for a fantastic completion, dropping a dime on Ty Conklin over a defender down the seam for a big gain, and tossing another dart to Wilson to keep the offense moving. It's almost as if the tumult of 2023 -- a grinding carousel that eventually spun back around to pick up Wilson once again in Week 14 -- freed him from the pressure of playing quarterback for the Jets. He played fearlessly and reaped the rewards, quieting the persistent commotion around the team’s quarterback play, at least for a New York minute.

Bailey Zappe
New England Patriots · Year 2

2023 stats: 6 games | 55.4 pct | 539 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 29 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

As Zappe's third touchdown pass of the first half last Thursday cleared Steelers safety Damontae Kazee and landed in the outstretched hands of Hunter Henry, Al Michaels let out a "Whoa!" That's how we all felt watching Zappe's early scoring explosion. The second-year pro attacked his prime-time start, flinging the ball all over the field and reaping the benefits, finding JuJu Smith-Schuster for an incredible completion on the game’s opening drive and capping off that march with a touchdown toss to Ezekiel Elliott. He capitalized on a New England takeaway by dropping a dime on Henry for the Patriots’ second touchdown, then ripped the aforementioned rope over Kazee for their third score. Just like that, the Pats owned a 21-3 lead, with Zappe deserving plenty of credit. Then he regressed to the Zappe we knew, operating an intentionally conservative offense, but not without making a mistake of his own by throwing an interception on a tight-window pass that never should have been attempted. New England survived, leaving Pittsburgh with a three-point win, and Zappe did enough in the first two quarters to keep his job. But I'm certainly not convinced he's entrenched in the position as we head toward a pivotal offseason for the Patriots.

Easton Stick
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 4

2023 stats: 1 game | 54.2 pct | 179 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Justin Herbert's finger fracture means the job is Stick's for the remainder of a season that seems destined to precede significant change in Los Angeles. With this in mind, all Stick can do is make the best of a bad situation. He did a solid job of it in relief duty last Sunday, operating the Chargers' offense fairly efficiently when given time to throw. That was the main issue for both Stick and Herbert, though: They were often under too much duress to produce positive outcomes. Stick didn't look overwhelmed when his blocking held up, and he tossed an impressive deep ball to rookie Quentin Johnston for a big gain. Above all, though, he'll need to be protected better -- which could mean the addition of blockers, potentially shortening the Chargers' offensive attack -- in order to perform adequately in what becomes an audition for the backup job, perhaps for a new, yet-to-be-identified staff.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: A collection of disastrous turnovers dug Stick into a deep hole out of which he'd never climb. The quarterback struggled mightily in the first half of a massive blowout loss to the Raiders (63-21!) and didn't find his stride until late in an already decided contest, throwing a few nice passes, including three second-half touchdown tosses in a game he and every other Charger are likely already attempting to forget. In fact, on Friday morning, the Bolts fired head coach Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco.

Joshua Dobbs
Minnesota Vikings · Year 7

2023 stats: 13 games | 62.8 pct | 2,464 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 13 pass TD | 10 INT | 421 rush yds | 6 rush TD | 14 fumbles

Well, the Passtronaut lost his job Sunday. That's how the day went for the former darling journeyman of the NFL, who was never able to get comfortable against a Raiders pass rush that saw Maxx Crosby bowling over blockers on his path to Dobbs. The veteran completed just 10 of 23 passes for 63 yards before Kevin O'Connell had seen enough, pulling him in favor of Nick Mullens. The replacement led a scoring drive on his first possession, completing enough passes to help the Vikings to an ugly win -- and setting up for a week of discussion regarding where the Vikings go from here under center.

Mitchell Trubisky
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 7

2023 stats: 4 games | 60.7 pct | 463 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 53 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Trubisky's best throw of last Thursday night was a beauty, a dime dropped over the shoulder of J.C. Jackson to Diontae Johnson that Trubisky released while fading back to his left. That was the lone legitimate highlight of a night that included plenty of frustrating issues early, including a horrid interception seemingly thrown into traffic because Trubisky sensed pressure and just felt he needed to get rid of the ball. Trubisky's appearances have left plenty to be desired, and as long as he's taking starting reps, the Steelers' ceiling is significantly lower, especially in an offense that won't recover from the Matt Canada era overnight. Pittsburgh's best hope is that the running game carries the offense and Trubisky avoids making too many mistakes.

Bryce Young
Carolina Panthers · Rookie

2023 stats: 12 games | 58.5 pct | 2,192 pass yds | 5.3 ypa | 9 pass TD | 9 INT | 201 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 8 fumbles

I'm ready to hit the eject button on the 2023 Panthers staff and completely start over. It's the inevitable outcome anyway, and at this point, Carolina is just playing these games because they're on the schedule. The Panthers are an unserious operation right now that asks Young to do too much with too little. And unfortunately, when the rookie actually has opportunities to produce positive outcomes, he misses. He placed a pass to an end zone target on the wrong shoulder, leading to a deflection, and missed an open receiver underneath with the pass rush collapsing around him, taking a third-down sack to kill a drive that saw the Panthers move inside New Orleans' 5-yard line. Young's only successes of the day came on passes to Adam Thielen outside the numbers, and those were scarce. The No. 1 overall pick is definitely not developing, and the offseason can't get here soon enough.

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