Snap judgments on Jackson, Trubisky, Dalton, other NFL QBs

Yardbarker NFL writers Michael Tunison and Chris Mueller address some of the hottest issues in the league. This week’s topic: Which quarterbacks shined brightest and tumbled farthest in Week 1?

Mueller: Week 1 in the NFL, as you may have heard, is the time for snap judgments, many of which end up being wrong. Still, it was hard not to be impressed by several quarterbacking performances and underwhelmed, to say the least, by others. The goal, of course, is to figure which efforts are a harbinger of things to come and which are blips on the radar.

First, the good. I was skeptical about Baltimore’s newfangled offense, both in terms of what form it would take, and whether or not Lamar Jackson could stay healthy enough and improve enough as a passer to make it work. And while the Dolphins are doing everything short of actively throwing games in an effort to tank, what Jackson (324 yards passing, five TDs) did to them in Week 1 was still stunning. 

Jackson has always thrown a good deep ball, and the Ravens had things schemed up such that he had multiple opportunities to cut it loose, and he took full advantage. His 83-yard TD pass to Marquise Brown was beautifully arced, and even took into account a bump that Brown had to fight through well into his route. Far more impressive was his first touchdown hookup with Brown, a 47-yard play that saw him place the ball perfectly on a slant route, giving Brown a chance to catch the ball out ahead of his body and in stride, and go the distance. 

If the pass had been thrown anywhere else, it might still have been a completion, but it wouldn’t have gone for a score. Again, it was only Miami; teams will adjust, and Jackson — who faces Arizona in Week 2 — won’t always have all day to throw, but if he keeps up a pace anything remotely close to this, Baltimore might successfully defend its AFC North title. 

On the flip side, I’d be concerned if I were a Chicago Bears fan. The defense is great, but Mitchell Trubisky did nothing to impress in the 10-3 loss to Green Bay in Week 1. Pro Football Focus’ passing grade for Trubisky was 53.8 — a bad number, yet one that still seemed generous. He was terrible under pressure, terrible against the blitz, and showed no ability to make big plays. The Bears went 3-for-15 on third downs, and Trubisky — who faces a good Broncos defense on the road in Week 2 — consistently failed to fit the ball into tight windows. 

Chicago’s chances of being a serious NFC title contender hinge on Trubisky making big strides, and for one game, he looked overmatched. His interception wasn’t an unlucky one, either. He stared down Allen Robinson, and made it easy for Adrian Amos to play center field and make the pick. The staredown was enough of a rookie mistake.

What’s just as bad is the fact that Trubisky, knowing he had two downs to get 10 yards, could have thrown underneath and taken a chunk, then had a more manageable do-or-die fourth down. He didn’t, and the game was functionally over after that. This is Trubisky’s third season — we need to see much more.

Sep 8, 2019; Seattle, WA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) passes the ball against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Cincinnati 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Tunison: Probably the most overlooked of the new head coaches going into 2019 was the Bengals’ Zac Taylor, who had come over from the Rams, for whom he served as quarterbacks coach in 2018. There are several reasons for why this might be — the Bengals are hardly the most popular franchise in the league, but also because even in Marvin Lewis’ protracted stretch of moderate success, there was an understanding that the team hit its ceiling. In part, that was due to good but not great coaching, but also good but not great quarterbacking.

In some ways, the Bengals are caught in the same purgatory a team like the Lions is: They have a middle-of-the-pack starting quarterback who is just good enough to keep his job forever, but never contend for a championship. Andy Dalton is in his ninth season. How did that happen? There have been a few times his status as starter has been threatened, but ultimately the Bengals decided to ride it out.

Clearly the idea of hiring a coach with a background helping QBs was a last-ditch effort to make an honest go of it with Dalton. In Week 1, though the team ultimately fell short in Seattle, he looked pretty good. He threw for two scores and 418 yards. The main concern was a lack of protection, as he was sacked five times, including one on the final possession that resulted in a fumble that iced the game.

This was without the services of A.J. Green and left tackle Cordy Glenn. The Seahawks no longer have the Legion of Boom, but still on the road, given the circumstances, this was about as encouraging as it could be for Dalton, save for perhaps also coming away with a victory.

On the flip side, there’s Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. They dumped Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator and brought back Dirk Koetter, whom the Falcons had success before he had an unremarkable stint as the Bucs head coach. With a supposed return to offensive competence, the Falcons responded with 12 points in Week 1 against Minnesota, and Matt Ryan had his first multiple-interception game since December 2017.

Atlanta stunk up the joint in the first half, trailing 21-0 at the break. This is a team with immense talent on offense, one of the best receiving tandems in the league, and a quarterback who falls just outside the accepted group of elites. Ryan had a chance to possibly get Atlanta into the game early in the second half, only to throw a red- zone interception on the first possession of the third quarter. 

On the second-down play, it was hard to tell whether Ryan was trying to throw it out of the back of the end zone and live for third down or make a sincere attempt to fit one in. Either way the result was essentially a game-ending blunder. Ryan is obviously secure for the foreseeable future, but there’s only so much blame that can be pinned on coordinators for the failure of what should be a dynamic offense.

Mueller: What’s most interesting to me about all of the quarterback-centric stories lately is how many of them seem to involve the play-caller as a co-star. Maybe it’s just my memory failing me, but it feels like the fascination with hotshot offensive coordinators or head coaches is a recent trend. Sure, there was Bill Walsh and the West Coast offense, and Air Coryell further back, but aside from Norv Turner and maybe Mike Shanahan, it never felt like the guys calling the plays in the ’90s and early-2000s had household-name status. 

With Taylor in Cincy, you almost get the sense that he’ll get more credit than Dalton, because there is a perception that Dalton is already known, and any growth will be Taylor’s doing. Same thing in Arizona, where it’s Kyler and Kliff, not just Kyler. I could go on, but you get the idea. 

I don’t want to sound like I’m bemoaning it, either. Feels like a position long described as the most important in all of sports is finally getting the kind of treatment commensurate with such a designation. If you’re trying to find a franchise QB, might as well go all-in on trying to maximize his talents. If that means hiring as head coach a guy they’re comfortable with, like Freddie Kitchens for Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, or surrounding them with players who complement what they do well, like Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, so be it. Better to risk spectacular failure than deal in half-measures.

Sep 8, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) talks with head coach Sean McVay in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Tunison:  I think the playcaller as co-star trend began, as many recent coaching trends have, with Rams head Sean McVay. He came to Los Angeles having been hailed with guiding Kirk Cousins to respectability in Washington, where he was offensive coordinator, and the idea was that he could do the same with Jared Goff, who was already being discussed as a bust after a disastrous rookie campaign during the last year of Jeff Fisher’s regime. That was probably unfair given that it was just one abbreviated season, and Fisher had an impressive track record of destroying quarterbacks in pedestrian offenses.

Yet McVay has not only rescued Goff, he has gotten almost the entirety of the credit for his success. Part of that is because fans and media can point to the fact that McVay has been said to essentially read defenses for him and call plays up until the point that the coach can no longer communicate with the quarterback over the helmet mic before a play. That perception solidified with last season’s Super Bowl loss, when the Patriots developed a strategy to call a second defensive play after Goff could no longer talk with McVay pre-snap. We all saw how muddled the Rams’ offense was in that game.

Some of that criticism seems valid and yet also somewhat of an oversimplification. Goff, after all, still has to make the throws, and he’s not going to the first read on every play, so no matter how savvy the guidance is from McVay, he has to do at least some of it himself. Moreover, if this strategy were so simple and effective, why has it not been emulated league-wide yet? McVay is billed as a wunderkind, but I doubt his offensive acumen is that much more pronounced than a lot of other head coaches around the league.

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/snap_judgments_on_jackson_trubisky_dalton_other_nfl_qbs/s1_13132_29977259

By: Chris Mueller and Mike Tunison

Week 1 NFL mismatches: Where Ravens, Browns, Texans have major edge

Yardbarker’s Michael Nania analyzes the biggest positional mismatches each week during the NFL season. 

Baltimore Ravens secondary vs. Miami passing attack
The Dolphins are tanking. No move made this clearer than the trade of young left tackle Laremy Tunsil, whom the Dolphins traded along with receiver Kenny Stills to the Texans for two first-rounders and a second-rounder. 

Miami already had questions on its offensive line. Now having traded the player who was their only stud on the unit, that group could be the worst in the NFL.

Those offensive line struggles only accentuate the many issues Miami’s passing attack will have. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the NFL in interception percentage last season by a wide margin (4.9 percent), will start the season under center. He beat out Josh Rosen.

Until Stills was dealt, Miami’s receiving core was considered a strength of this team. He had scored at least six touchdowns for the Dolphins in each of the past three seasons, leading them with 21 TDs over that span. Now, the starting trio at wide receiver is down to the disappointing DeVante Parker, the unproven Jakeem Grant and the injury-prone Albert Wilson. All three have unique talents, be it Parker’s size, Grant’s speed, or Wilson’s after-the-catch ability. But there are a litany of questions with them as a group.

If Dolphins fans are rooting for losses, they should be thrilled with their Week 1 opponent. Baltimore has one of the most stacked defensive backfields in the league, and it should dominate Miami’s offense.

At cornerback, the Ravens have the impressive trio of Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr. At safety, they boast the outstanding duo of Tony Jefferson and former Seattle star Earl Thomas, signed in free agency. He is one of the league’s best ballhawks, as his 28 career interceptions ranks third in the league since 2010.

Thomas already has experience taking advantage of Fitzpatrick. In 2012, he made an excellent diving interception off of a careless Fitzpatrick heave, a perfect demonstration of his ability to make plays on the football. Thomas returned the pick 57 yards for his first career touchdown.

The Ravens’ combination of top-end secondary talent and elite pass-rushing production makes them a monstrous defense. Last season, Baltimore had the league’s second-lowest passer rating (80.6) and ranked sixth in quarterback hits (104).

Given the woes that Miami is set to deal with in all facets of the passing game –- up front, at quarterback, and out wide -– Baltimore’s secondary is set to make a lot of noise in Week 1.

Cleveland pass rush vs. Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota

Mariota had a disappointing 2018 season, but he especially struggled against strong pass-rushing defenses. Mariota played four games last season against teams that ranked in the top half of sack rate on defense: the Redskins (5th in sack rate), Jaguars (13th), Ravens (14th) and Bills (15th).

In those four contests, Mariota was unproductive, averaging a minuscule 114 passing yards per game and failing to register a passing or rushing touchdown. Mariota picked up only 23 passing first downs and was sacked 12 sacks, a brutal ratio of 1.9 to 1. In 2018, the league average ratio of passing first downs to sacks was about 4.9 to 1. 

As a result of Mariota’s struggles, the Titans’ offense averaged only 10 points in those four games against top sack-producing defenses. Although the Browns ranked just 28th in sack rate last season, they are poised to take a major leap into the upper echelons of sack rankings.

Former No. 1 selection Myles Garrett ranked sixth in the NFL with 13.5 sacks last season, but now he has company. In the offseason, the Browns added pass-rushing beasts Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson.

Over the past six seasons, Vernon has 47.5 sacks, the 19th-best total in the league over that span. While that is a solid ranking, Vernon is more impressive at generating pressure than he is at getting home for sacks. Over the same span, he ranks 10th in quarterback hits, with 121.

That’s not to say Vernon, who played for the Giants last season, can’t make plays of his own -– he has made plenty of game-changing plays in his career. On the following play, Vernon stripped the ball from Bears quarterback Chase Daniel in a brilliant display of his elite technique as a pass rusher. Vernon (right defensive end) swipes away the hands of left tackle Charles Leno, rips underneath with his inside arm, then turns the corner and punches out the football as Daniel winds up.

Richardson, who played for the Vikings last season,  is a terrific run defender, but he can get some heat on quarterback too. In 2018, he ranked 14th among interior defensive linemen with 47 total pressures.

Even if neither is putting up gigantic sack numbers, the pressure created by Vernon and Richardson will open up plenty of sack opportunities for other Cleveland defenders.  Garrett, Vernon and Richardson have the potential to be one of the best defensive trios in the league. In Week 1, they get a highly favorable matchup against a quarterback who has struggled mightily under pressure.

Houston WR DeAndre Hopkins vs. New Orleans secondary
Hopkins has emerged as arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Year after year, he has put up monster numbers regardless of who was at quarterback. But he needed a star under center to truly get him over the hump -– and now he has one in Deshaun Watson.

Last season, Hopkins ranked fifth in receiving touchdowns (15), third in receptions (115), and second in receiving yards (1,572). He did all that while posting a superb catch rate of 70.6 percent, joining Antonio Brown and Wes Welker as the only players in league history to have a season with over 1,500 receiving yards and a catch rate over 70 percent.

Hopkins’ strong hands are the reason for his dominant play — he had zero drops last season. He set a record for the most receptions in a season without a drop, according to Pro Football Focus, which has kept track of that stat since 2006.

Any team that dares to cover Hopkins with only one defender pays the price. Here, he bullies Colts reserve cornerback Chris Milton off the line, clearing himself plenty of room to easily haul in the touchdown from Watson on a goal-line fade.

New Orleans, a team with Super Bowl aspirations, may have a weak pass defense. The Saints fielded the league’s 11th-ranked defense according to Defense-adjusted Value Over Average last season, but that was on the strength of their run defense, which ranked third in DVOA. On the other side of the ball, New Orleans struggled, ranking 22nd in pass defense DVOA. (DVOA calculates a team’s success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the season, then calculates how much more or less successful each team is compared to the league average.)

Struggles at cornerback were part of the issue. In 2018, of the 80 cornerbacks to log at least 350 cover snaps, three of the players ranked in the bottom 15 of most yards allowed per cover snap were Saints: P.J. Williams (T-76 th ), Eli Apple (T-76 th ) and Marshon Lattimore (68 th).

New Orleans allowed a 100.6 passer rating last season, the sixth-worst mark in the league and the worst among playoff teams.

Iffy pass defenses were feasted upon by Hopkins last season. Each of his best three games for receiving yardage came against teams that allowed a passer rating above the league average of 92.9. In total, Hopkins averaged 125.6 yards per game in five matchups against teams that allowed an above-average passer rating; the Texans went 5-0 in those games. In his other 11 contests, Hopkins averaged 85.8 yards per game, and Houston posted a 6-5 record.

Hopkins’ touchdown production also spiked against lesser pass defenses. He recorded six touchdown receptions in five games against teams that allowed an above-average passer rating (1.2 per game), and only five touchdowns in his other 11 games (0.5 per game).

https://www.yardbarker.com/nfl/articles/week_1_nfl_mismatches_where_ravens_browns_texans_have_major_edge/s1_13132_29910758

By: Michael Nania

Why each team will or will not win the Super Bowl

Arizona Cardinals

Why they will: New head coach Kliff Kingsbury is one of the brightest offensive minds in football, and Kyler Murray is one of the best athletes the quarterback position has ever seen. The sky is the limit on offense if the stars align.

Why they won’t: The offensive line still looks bad despite some improvements on the right side, and the defense has serious talent deficiencies, especially early in the year without Patrick Peterson. Murray can be expected to help only so much as a rookie.

Atlanta Falcons

Why they will: Atlanta has elite offensive talent with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. and addressed the offensive line issues in the draft. The defense is healthy entering the year, which was an issue for most of last season.

Why they won’t: Pass rush has been an issue for the Falcons, and they didn’t do much to address that area in the offseason. The team also has secondary issues and allowed 423 points last year, fourth-most in the NFC.

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Why each team will or will not win the Super Bowl

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Slide 3 of 32: Why they will: Lamar Jackson went 6-1 as a starter during the regular season last year and could make a second-year leap with improved offensive talent around him, led by Mark Ingram. Last year’s defense was also No. 2 in points allowed.Why they won’t: Jackson had multiple small injuries that should be worrisome over a full season, and the defense has lost significant talent, including Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, C.J Mosley and Za’Darius Smith.Previous SlideNext Slide

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GOBankingRatesFull screen 1/32 SLIDES© Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Arizona Cardinals

Why they will: New head coach Kliff Kingsbury is one of the brightest offensive minds in football, and Kyler Murray is one of the best athletes the quarterback position has ever seen. The sky is the limit on offense if the stars align.

Why they won’t: The offensive line still looks bad despite some improvements on the right side, and the defense has serious talent deficiencies, especially early in the year without Patrick Peterson. Murray can be expected to help only so much as a rookie. Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article. 2/32 SLIDES© Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

Atlanta Falcons

Why they will: Atlanta has elite offensive talent with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Co. and addressed the offensive line issues in the draft. The defense is healthy entering the year, which was an issue for most of last season.

Why they won’t: Pass rush has been an issue for the Falcons, and they didn’t do much to address that area in the offseason. The team also has secondary issues and allowed 423 points last year, fourth-most in the NFC. Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article. 3/32 SLIDES © Tommy Gilligan / USA Today Sports Images

Baltimore Ravens

Why they will: Lamar Jackson went 6-1 as a starter during the regular season last year and could make a second-year leap with improved offensive talent around him, led by Mark Ingram. Last year’s defense was also No. 2 in points allowed.

Why they won’t: Jackson had multiple small injuries that should be worrisome over a full season, and the defense has lost significant talent, including Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, C.J Mosley and Za’Darius Smith.

Buffalo Bills

Why they will: Buffalo added significant and impactful offensive talent in the offseason to complement second-year quarterback Josh Allen. The Bills also ranked second-worst in giveaways last season (32), a number that’s bound to improve with more stable quarterback play.

Why they won’t: Allen was still erratic last year, throwing 12 picks in 12 games and gaining only 6.5 yards per pass attempt. The offensive line has improved with new additions like center Mitch Morse, but it remains to be seen if it will be enough to help an offense that ranked 30th in points scored last season.

Carolina Panthers

Why they will: Cam Newton fixed his shoulder in the offseason and has an impressive set of young weapons around him, including Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.

Why they won’t: Carolina’s defense has regressed considerably, ranking only 25th in sack rate and 20th in points allowed last year. They’ve addressed that issue with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Brian Burns, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough. Newton is also becoming increasingly fragile, with a shoulder injury last season and foot injury during the preseason.

Chicago Bears

Why they will: Chicago returns a talented, young team that allowed the fewest points in the NFL last season and made huge strides on offense, led by Mitchell Trubisky. Rookie running back David Montgomery gives them another strong weapon.

Why they won’t: The Bears have lost defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and remain in a tough NFC North division. Trubisky was solid but inconsistent in his second season, and last year’s kicker issues could remain with the inexperienced Eddy Pineiro replacing Cody Parkey.

Cincinnati Bengals

Why they will: Cincinnati has plenty of talent at the skill positions on offense with Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. Andy Dalton remains capable when healthy, and the defensive line is a strength with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and young Sam Hubbard.

Why they won’t: The offensive line remains a major issue, and the defense didn’t do much in the offseason despite allowing the most yards in the NFL during 2018. It could be a long year for first-year head coach Zac Taylor.

Cleveland Browns

Why they will: The Browns won five of their last seven games last season with Baker Mayfield under center and were the talk of the offseason after adding Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson. They have blue-chip talent on both sides of the ball, and their path in the division is seemingly easier after the Steelers and Ravens lost talent in the offseason.

Why they won’t: The Browns have major questions on the offensive line, and it’s impossible to know what to expect from new head coach Freddie Kitchens. There’s optimism Mayfield will take a step forward in his second season, but he still broke the 30-point threshold as a starter only twice last year.

Dallas Cowboys

Why they will: Dallas developed an elite defense last year, with top players at all three levels. The Cowboys won eight of their final 10 games with the help of wideout Amari Cooper. The Cowboys also still have a great running game, with Ezekiel Elliott ending his holdout before Week 1, and Dak Prescott does a great job taking care of the ball. 

Why they won’t: Cooper is also fighting a foot injury that probably won’t heal significantly during the season. The offense ranked 21st in points last season and had issues moving the ball before he was acquired. If Cooper isn’t the same or has other offensive challenges, the Cowboys will have a tough time keeping up with the rival Eagles and other top NFC offenses.

Denver Broncos

Why they will: Most of the defensive strength remains intact, led by pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, and it could get even better with defensive mastermind Vic Fangio taking over as head coach. The running game was elite last season with the young duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Joe Flacco has Super Bowl experience under center.

Why they won’t: Flacco has been mediocre in recent seasons with Baltimore, and the talent around him in Denver isn’t better than what he had in Baltimore. While he could be an improvement over Case Keenum, Denver is asking a lot of a quarterback who has averaged a terrible 6.2 yards per pass attempt over the last three seasons. The AFC West also remains rough with the Chiefs and Chargers at the top.

Detroit Lions

Why they will: Head coach Matt Patricia is finally getting his players into the system, signing Trey Flowers for big money and adding corners Rashaan Melvin and Justin Coleman. The offense has underrated talent with Matthew Stafford, Kerryon Johnson and strong wideouts.

Why they won’t: Despite the offensive talent, the Lions ranked 25th in points last season. There are still major questions at linebacker, and the NFC North is arguably the toughest division in football with the Packers, Bears and Vikings all having a real shot at making the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers

Why they will: Anything is possible with Aaron Rodgers, and he seems happy for the first time in a while after the team hired Matt LaFleur to run the team. Green Bay also addressed its pass rush issues in the offseason with the additions of Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary. Rookie safety Darnell Savage Jr. could also add a spark.

Why they won’t: The recent offensive issues have been blamed on Mike McCarthy, but maybe the problem was the talent on the field? Green Bay has seen some major turnover at receiver, and going into the year only Davante Adams can be considered reliable. The defense allowed the 11th-most points last year and still has big questions at all three levels.

Houston Texans

Why they will: Houston has built elite offensive talent led by Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans got a nice jolt before the season started by acquiring Duke Johnson, Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills. The defense rebounded last year to rank fifth in points allowed, with J.J. Watt showing up as an elite player again.

Why they won’t: The offensive line still has major issues despite Tunsil’s addition, and the defense is less potent after losing Jadeveon Clowney and Tyrann Mathieu. Cornerback could also be an issue with several new faces. The AFC South is wide open after Andrew Luck’s retirement, but it also won’t be an easy road with all four teams having a viable shot entering the year.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/why-each-team-will-or-will-not-win-the-super-bowl/ss-AAGOise?ocid=spartanntp#image=13

By: Seth Trachtman

The Best & Worst Quarterback in Each NFL Team’s History

Best: Arizona Cardinals – Jim Hart

The Arizona Cardinals franchise has been around for almost an entire century, at least in some capacity. But over that time, the team has had only six quarterbacks ever selected to the Pro Bowl, and only one of them who was selected to the NFL’s All-Star game more than twice.

That would be Jim Hart, who was the team’s full-time starter between 1967 through 1981. Hart threw 209 touchdowns in that span, which is over 70 touchdown passes more than any other quarterback in franchise history.

Worst: Arizona Cardinals – Ryan Lindley

Fans of the Arizona Cardinals have probably blocked out as much of the Ryan Lindley experience from their collective minds as possible. In his first season in Arizona, Lindley finished the year with a 46.7 passer rating, having thrown seven interceptions and no touchdowns.

After entering the NFL in 2012, Lindley didn’t throw his first official touchdown pass until 2014, when he rejoined the Cardinals after a one-year stint on the practice squad of the San Diego Chargers. In four seasons of professional football, including one season in the Canadian Football League, Lindley threw 4 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Best: Atlanta Falcons – Matt Ryan

The Atlanta Falcons have had a few good-to-very good quarterbacks since the start of the 1990’s, ranging from guys like Chris Miller (a former Pro Bowl selection) to Michael Vick (once the most exciting player in the NFL). But none of those guys could hold a candle to what Matt Ryan has done for the Falcons’ franchise.

Worst: Atlanta Falcons – Randy Johnson

Long before a near-7-foot baseball pitcher made the name famous, Randy Johnson was a starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons back in the late 1960’s…. And he was a terrible one to boot.

After winning only three games in his rookie year in 1966 (out of 11 starts), he actually managed to win even less games the following four years in Atlanta, winning a grand total of 5 times in 26 starts in the ensuing four years he was the starter.

Best: Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco

Even though the Baltimore Ravens were really the reincarnation of the relocated Cleveland Browns, since the Browns were awarded a new franchise with the same name, we’re treating the Ravens as a separate franchise in and of its own.

Given that the Ravens haven’t really had an illustrious history at the quarterback position, it’s hard to give this designation to anyone other than Joe Flacco.

Flacco is the only quarterback in team history to play in more than 53 games for the franchise, and no other quarterback in team history has come close to his total career touchdown passes, passing yards, and total wins as a starter.

Worst: Baltimore Ravens – Elvis Grbac

A year after the Baltimore Ravens dumped quarterback Trent Dilfer after taking the team to the Super Bowl, they qualified for the postseason once again with Elvis Grbac under center. Prior to that, Grbac had spent four season nas the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he never won more than nine games as a starter.

Grback and the Ravens defeated the Miami Dolphins by a 20-3 score in the Wild Card roung of the playoffs, before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week. The Ravens released Grbac in a salary cap move after he refused to renegotiate his contract, and Grbac retired after being released.

Best: Buffalo Bills – Jim Kelly

Jim Kelly might be tied for third place in most Super Bowl appearances by an NFL quarterback, and he might be one of only seven quarterbacks in NFL history to make it to the Super Bowl four times, but no quarterback in the history of the game has led his team to the Super Bowl four straight years. None, that is, except Jim Kelly.

The maestro of the Buffalo Bills’ “K-Gun” offense terrorized opposing defenses from 1989 and 1992, perennially leading the Bills to the highest offensive ranks each year. He finished his career with over 35,000 passing yards, currently sitting in 25th place all time. But for all those Super Bowl appearances and all those passing yards, Kelly will never have a ring to show for them.

Worst: Buffalo Bills – Alex Van Pelt

Despite the fact that Alex Van Pelt left the University of Pittsburgh having broken many records established by some guy named Dan Marino, Alex Van Pelt started his career as a backup quarterback, but took over as the starter of the Buffalo Bills in 1994 after Jim Kelly would suffer a major knee injury.

But that would be one of the only times that Van Pelt actually started; in nine years in Buffalo, Van Pelt started 11 games, finishing with a career 3-8 record in those starts.

Best: Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton

Unless you happen to be relative of Kerry Collins or Jake Delhomme, it’s hard to believe anyone could think this designation would belong to anyone other than Cam Newton. The #1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton is the only quarterback in franchise history to be named to an All-Pro team (2015) and be selected to the Pro Bowl multiple times.

In 2015, Newton ran roughshod through the NFL, throwing 35 touchdowns and running for 10 more, leading the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, and being named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player.

Worst: Carolina Panthers – Jimmy Clausen

Never in history has there been a player for with the combination of breathtaking hype and incredible failure like Jimmy Clausen. The most over-recruited player in NCAA history to date, Clausen’s lackluster career at Notre Dame led him to fall to the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

The Carolina Panthers, who selected him, decided to throw him to the proverbial wolves in his rookie year, and Clausen got eaten alive: three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 10 games as a starter. He had a huge hand in the Panthers finishing with a 2-14 record, and Carolina saw enough of him in that one year to decide to draft his replacement — Cam Newton — just one year after taking Clausen.

Best: Chicago Bears – Sid Luckman

Though the Chicago Bears franchise has had some of the most iconic names in NFL history on its roster, including Walter Payton, Dick Butkus, and Mike Singletary, they haven’t had anything close to that at the quarterback position. The franchise forever known for its “Monsters of the Midway” defense haven’t boasted a truly elite NFL quarterback since Sid Luckman played under center for them in the 1940’s, under legendary coach George Halas.

Though Luckman’s passing yardage and touchdown pass totals were eventually surpassed by Jay Cutler, the latter is not — and will never be — a five-time All-Pro selection and Hall of Fame inductee like Luckman.

Worst: Chicago Bears – Bob Avellini

For all the glory the Chicago Bears have had on the defensive side of the football (and at the running back position), that hasn’t been shared at the quarterback spot. The history of the Bears franchise is filled with guys like Bob Avellini, who had one winning season during his first four years in the NFL.

Avellini finished his nine-year career in Chicago with more than a 2:1 ratio of interceptions to touchdowns (throwing 69 interceptions to only 33 touchdowns).

Best: Cincinnati Bengals – Ken Anderson

Most people might associate Boomer Esiason or Carson Palmer when thinking of the best quarterback in Cincinnati Bengals history, but that honor quite certainly belongs to Ken Anderson, the team’s starting quarterback from 1972 through 1984. Anderson has thrown for more yards and passing touchdowns than any quarterback in team history, and has 24 more wins than any other quarterback as well.

During the 1981 season, Anderson had a career-best 3,754 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, leading the Bengals to a 12-4 record and their first-ever Super Bowl appearance (when they’d lose to the San Francisco 49ers).

Worst: Cincinnati Bengals – Akili Smith

A one-year wonder who parlayed that brief success into the #3 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, Smith’s NFL career was an unmitigated disaster. First, the Bengals turned down the “Godfather” offer from the New Orleans Saints; Mike Ditka was selling the farm to move up to grab Ricky Williams, allegedly offering the Bengals a whopping nine draft picks (Cincinnati turned down the offer). He started off his tenure in Cincinnati completely on the wrong foot, missing a substantial portion of the team’s training camp, which many believed irreparably stunted his development in the NFL.

Of course, once he did sign, his off-the-field habits didn’t help either. Smith was later quoted as having given in to the temptations of his high draft selection, flying back and forth between Cincinnati and San Diego to party with his friends and multiple women regularly; he’s called himself “a complete embarrassment off the field.” Smith played in 22 NFL games and posted a career passer rating of 52.8. In one year at Oregon, he threw for 30 touchdown passes; in four seasons in the NFL, he threw for a total of five.

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By: Raj nanavati

Bing Predicts: NFL Wild Card

NFL coaches who will be fearing Black Monday

Almost every NFL coach knows when they’re hired that they will eventually be fired. Judgment day for head coaches is better known as Black Monday, the Monday after Week 17 games when some head coaches are handed their pink slips.

Here’s a look at the coaches with the most to fear as we near the final stretch of the regular season.

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

It’s somewhat surprising that Bowles has held on for this long. Not much was expected of his team this year with a rookie quarterback in Sam Darnold, but the team still has played below expectations at 3-8 through 12 weeks. After going 10-6 in his first season as head coach in 2015, Bowles’ teams went 5-11 in back-to-back years. With Darnold continuing to develop, the Jets will likely want an offensive-minded head coach to lead them next.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Harbaugh’s fate is still very much up in the air and could be determined by whether the Ravens earn an AFC Wild Card spot. Like in the last two seasons, Baltimore has a shot to make the playoffs but needs to close the deal. The defense sputtered a bit after the team started the season 0-2, but three consecutive wins with rookie Lamar Jackson under center have given fans hope. Harbaugh will be remembered fondly for winning Super Bowl XLVII no matter what happens, but four straight seasons without a playoff appearance would simply be unacceptable.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

In any other organization, Lewis would have been gone after last season, but the Bengals have been especially loyal to him after he brought competitive football back to Cincinnati in the mid-2000s. He has a winning record for his career with the team but is 0-7 in the playoffs, including losses in five straight seasons from 2011-15. On the cusp of their third straight playoff-less season, after losing Andy Dalton to a thumb injury, it’s clearly time for the Bengals to move on.

Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars

What goes up must come down. The Jaguars lost the AFC Championship to the Patriots in a thriller last season, but they’ve regressed to 3-8 through 11 games this year, finally benching Blake Bortles as a result. There have also been signs that Marrone has lost the team, from the brawl against Buffalo that resulted in a one-game suspension for Leonard Fournette to the seemingly hapless cornerback Jalen Ramsey this year. Marrone already fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, and the team certainly will be in the market for a new quarterback this offseason. Whether they’re also in the market for a new head coach remains to be seen.

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By Seth Trachtman

Winners and losers from NFL Week 12

Some pretty big stuff went down in NFL Week 12 as contenders scrapped for a foothold in the playoff chase heading into the season’s final quarter.

One game that featured teams on the other end of the spectrum gave us one of the most poetic moments of the season.

With only two teams on a bye this week, there was plenty of stuff to digest. These were the biggest winners and losers from the action.

Winner: Browns get revenge 

Cleveland did some incredible stuff in the first half on the road against Cincinnati. The Browns put up 28 points in the first half — essentially putting the game away before halftime. It was the first time since 1991 that they’d scored that many points in a first half.

It was also the first road win in 26 tries — saving the Browns from the embarrassment of setting another dubious NFL record.

Along the way, Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb continued to show they’re going to be centerpieces in Cleveland for a long time. Mayfield threw multiple touchdowns for the fifth game in a row (he finished with four and no interceptions), and Chubb racked up 128 yards with two touchdowns.

Oh, and they did it all against their former head coach.

Loser: Who’s trash now, Ramsey?

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey made headlines before the season for an interview he did in which he blasted many of the league’s quarterbacks. Among them, he singled Buffalo’s Josh Allen out, calling him “trash.” He would also take to social media to troll Allen, which made his disdain for the rookie all the more clear.

Well, Allen and the Bills took it to Ramsey and the Jaguars on Sunday, winning 24-21 in Buffalo, and honestly the game wasn’t really as close as that. Allen outplayed Blake Bortles — throwing a gorgeous 75-yard touchdown pass and scoring twice, helping his team hand Jacksonville its seventh loss in a row.

Right now, it’s clear that the Jags are trash. Being dismantled by Allen and the Bills at this point in the season accentuated that fact.

Winner: Lamar and Gus do it again

For the second weekend in a row, Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards led a winning offensive attack as the Baltimore Ravens easily cruised past the Oakland Raiders.

Jackson accounted for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and Edwards was brilliant on the ground going for 118 yards on 23 carries — a lot of that coming in the second half as the Ravens protected the lead.

Earlier on Sunday before the games began, a report emerged that Jackson had a “strong shot” to retain the job even if Joe Flacco is healthy. Based on the way things have gone the past two weeks — Baltimore snapped a three-game losing streak last weekend and is now very much in the playoff hunt — benching the rookie would be a tough sell.

Loser: Oh, No, Gano!

There are a few things that stand out as big mistakes by Carolina on Sunday in their three-point loss to Seattle. The decision to go for it on fourth down at Seattle’s five-yard line on their first offensive possession backfired, for one. Cam Newton’s interception in the end zone on the first drive of the second half was brutal, too.

At the least, those mistakes cost Carolina potentially six points.

But despite them, the Panthers had a real chance to win at the end of the game. Newton and the offense moved into field-goal range with under two minutes remaining. Then, just like last weekend, Graham Gano — usually extremely reliable — missed the potential game-winner.

Seattle drove down the field and converted the actual game-winner with time expiring instead. Now at 6-5, having lost three straight games, a playoff spot is in no way guaranteed for these Panthers.

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By: Jesse Reed

The 10 craziest things about Week 10, the craziest Sunday of the 2018 NFL season

Week 10 of the 2018 NFL season was the wildest of the year, with stunning upsets, unbelievable records and the Bills scoring 41 points. Here are the 10 craziest facts from a wild football Sunday. 

1. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to gain more than 425 yards from scrimmage while scoring three points or less. And the Bucs went WAY over 425, netting 501 yards in an ugly 16-3 loss to the Redskins. How does that happen? Tampa had the ball in Washington’s red zone five times, missed two field goals and turned over the ball four times.

Prior to Sunday, there had only been one game ever in which a team gained over 400 yards and scored so few points and that team – the 2011 Rams – had 424. (It’s rare enough to find a team netting 300 yards and failing to get more than three points. It’s only happened 99 times in history.) This year, teams gaining 500 yards from scrimmage average 35 points per game.

2. The Bills scored more points on Sunday (41) than they did in the entire month of October (37). This next stat is even more amazing but lacks the punchy conciseness of the former: Since Sept. 24, the Bills had scored 46 points in total. That was over six games too, without any byes wrecking the curve. Forty-six in six and 41 in one. Amazing. And here’s one more, because we can’t get enough stats indirectly indicting the historic awfulness of ex-Bills starter Nathan Peterman: In a span of just over 16 minutes on Sunday, Buffalo scored more points (24) than it had in the previous three games combined.

3. Since avenging their AFC championship game loss to the Patriots in Week 2, moving to 2-0 on the season, the mega-hyped Jacksonville Jaguars have lost six of seven, with their only win coming against the team that just lost to the Bills by 31 points.

4. With a second-quarter touchdown pass in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, Patrick Mahomes broke a 54-year-old Kansas City Chiefs record for touchdown passes in a season. (Hall of Famer Len Dawson held the mark with 30 TDs in 1964.) It should go without saying, but we’ll do it anyway, that this was only the Chiefs 10th game of the season. Somehow, the electric, MVP shoo-in is six touchdowns behind Peyton Manning’s record 55-touchdown pace of 2013, which only further proves how amazing that season was.

5. It took some missed field goals by Tampa’s Chandler Catanzaro to keep it alive, but on Sunday the Redskins extended one of the more unbelievable streaks in NFL history. In Washington’s six wins, the team has never trailed. In their three losses, they’ve never had a lead. The team that scores first has never relinquished their lead. How rare is it for a team to make it nine games without a single lead change? It’s been 64 years since the odd feat was accomplished, coincidentally by the same Redskins franchise. The difference that year was that the ‘Skins went 2-7 and usually got down so quickly that a lead change was never on the table. This year, Washington has outscored opponents by a single point, making the lack of flip-flop games all the more surprising.

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By: Chris Chase

Winners and losers from NFL Week 7

If we’re being honest, there was a ton of really bad football on display during the action in NFL Week 7.

We should have seen it coming, though, after what transpired as NFL Network reporter Melissa Stark was previewing the London game.

Thankfully some outstanding performances did take place, somewhat balancing out the scales. But overall, Week 7 was one many players and teams would rather forget.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the biggest winners and losers.

Projecting the first loss of every NFL team