The NFL is seeing records fall as offenses around the league put up jaw-dropping passing stats. Thanks to a continued crackdown on what defenses are not allowed to do to quarterbacks and receivers, it’s a new era of prosperity for NFL quarterbacks.
Consider this. Through five weeks in 2018, 19 quarterbacks have completed at least 65 percent of their passes. Six of them are over 70 percent. Eleven quarterbacks have passer ratings of at least 100, and nine are averaging over eight yards per attempt.
It’s a golden age for passing offenses. The television networks love it, because fans love watching offenses move the ball up and down the field, and they love watching them cap those drives off with touchdowns.
Fun for all. Unless you’re a defender, of course.
Or, unless you’re one of the following five NFL quarterbacks who are failing miserably while the rest of the league prospers.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Men and women who have fastidiously studied tape on Derek Carr in recent years have been astonished at how lucky he’s been in terms of getting away with bad passes. This year, he’s not getting away with as many, and he leads the league with eight interceptions.
Even worse, Carr has been throwing the ball away in the red zone, and the Raiders have five turnovers in that most important part of the field.
Carr’s other counting numbers aren’t awful. He’s completed 71.3 percent of his passes and averages 8.13 yards per attempt. But with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions through five games, he’s floundering in a bad way.
Case Keenum, Denver Broncos
When Denver signed Keenum this past spring, many wondered if the Broncos were going to end up regretting this course of action, rather than drafting a rookie. After all, despite his fantastic 2017 campaign in Minnesota, Keenum’s been mediocre — at best — for the rest of his career.
Well, the Broncos did not get the 2017 version of Keenum. He’s thrown at least one interception in each if his first five games, and the seven total picks already matches what he did all year with the Vikings.
Through five games, he’s completing 63.5 percent of his passes, has five touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he’s been sacked 13 times.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sometimes, Bortles looks great, like when he racked up 764 yards and six touchdowns combined against the New England Patriots and New York Jets.
Plenty of the time, however, Bortles is a special kind of awful. The three other games on the schedule so far this year have seen Bortles throw just two touchdowns and five interceptions. And this season isn’t an exception — it’s the rule.
Bortles is completing 61.6 percent of his passes. He has thrown eight touchdowns, but he’s also thrown seven interceptions and is a massive liability for a team in the Jaguars that has a championship-caliber roster everywhere else.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Mariota’s futility as a passer is getting depressing now. Following a breakout sophomore campaign, he’s regressed in a bad way since the start of the 2017 season. Since then, Mariota has thrown just 16 touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions.
This season, Mariota has just two touchdowns and has thrown four interceptions. He’s completing 63.1 percent of his passes but has been well below 60 percent in two of his four starts this year. Even more alarming, Mariota has failed to hit 130 yards passing in all but one of those games.
Tennessee’s offense in general is a mess right now. Mariota is a big part of that, and it’s fair to wonder if it’s time for the Titans to begin searching anew for a franchise passer.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
The running gag every week seems to be whether Dak Prescott can hit 200 yards passing. He’s done it twice this year, but the Cowboys passer is averaging just 192 yards per game.
Even more alarming is the fact that Dallas receivers are just not seeing the ball very often. And many times when the ball does come their way, it’s not on target. Prescott’s accuracy is an issue — he’s completing 61.8 percent of his passes — and we saw it on both of his Week 5 interceptions. Sure, the ball hit his receivers in the hands, but both times it was off target and ripe for the turnover.
Through five weeks, Cowboys wide receivers have caught just 50 passes for 608 yards and two touchdowns. And that’s if we include Tavon Austin as a wide receiver. That’s just sad.