Quarterback is the most important position in this league. A great performance can single-handedly win a game, but a lousy outing can sink an NFL team’s hopes of competing.
We saw tremendous examples of this in Week 2. Several of the NFL’s top quarterbacks delivered MVP-caliber performances and earned victories. Meanwhile, some of their peers struggled mightily as missed throws, turnovers and other brutal mistakes set their teams back and often proved too much to overcome.
Here are the NFL’s best and worst quarterback performances in Week 2.
Best: Patrick Mahomes
There aren’t enough words in any language to capture Mahomes’ jaw-dropping ability. Even when fans think they’ve seen it all from him, he does something else to demonstrate his unique gifts.
Mahomes quickly extinguished any hype surrounding Oakland after its surprising Week 1 win. The NFL’s reigning MVP needed one half to throw for 313 yards and four touchdowns without his top wide receiver. Kansas City took it easy on Oakland after halftime, otherwise, Mahomes would have pushed for some NFL records.
Worst: Ryan Fitzpatrick
There is no Fitzmagic in Miami. The veteran quarterback climbed on to a ship with a captain that is deliberately trying to sink it. Fitzpatrick’s performance on Sunday is at least accelerating Miami’s tanking process.
He completed just 11-of-21 pass attempts and threw more touchdowns to the New England Patriots (two) than to his teammates (zero). While it might be the worst supporting cast in his NFL career, there’s no excuse for a 23.8 quarterback rating.
Best: Russell Wilson
It would be difficult to imagine Wilson putting up huge numbers if you only watched the team’s early offensive drives. Seattle’s first three series saw Wilson get hit repeatedly and then something clicked in the second quarter.
Wilson found his rhythm against Pittsburgh’s defense after the early hits. He completed 29-of-35 attempts for 300 passing yards and three touchdowns in a masterpiece of quarterback play. Of course, his best play of the day came as a lead blocker on Rashaad Penny’s touchdown run.
Worst: Eli Manning
The preseason wasn’t enough for New York to realize Manning’s days as a reliable quarterback are over. Perhaps the first two weeks of the regular season will finally get the coaching staff to understand what fans have seen for over a year now.
Manning made the Buffalo Bills’ defense look like the ’85 Chicago Bears. He completed only 26-of-47 pass attempts, threw two interceptions and averaged 5.5 yards per pass attempt. New York isn’t ready to sniff playoff contention. It’s time to hand the keys to Daniel Jones and give the fan base something to feel good about.
Best: Dak Prescott
As each week passes without a contract extension for Prescott, he keeps adding more evidence to demonstrate why he should become the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback.
He dominated in Week 1 and brought that same excellence in Sunday’s win. Prescott tossed nearly as many touchdowns (three) as incompletions (four) and threw for 269 yards with an additional 69 yards on the ground. Every gorgeous dime he unleashes further strengthens his push to pass Jared Goff’s monster extension.
Worst: Kirk Cousins
Minnesota dominated in Week 1 in a game where Cousins attempted just 10 throws. We saw in Week 2 what happens when the Vikings put the offense on his shoulders and ask him to try and win the game.
It would be an understatement to call his play an epic disaster. Cousins finished with two interceptions, including an inexcusable giveaway in the end zone, and should be fortunate Green Bay’s defensive backs dropped a few others. Cousins completed 43% of his pass attempts and that’s just dumbfounding for an NFL quarterback.
Best: Jimmy Garoppolo
After shaking off some rust in the preseason and Week 1, Garoppolo demonstrated why Kyle Shanahan’s offense could be so dangerous this season. While plenty of credit can go around to this entire offense, Garoppolo’s play stands out.
Garoppolo dominated with his efficiency in Sunday’s blowout win. He completed 17-of-25 passes with a stellar 11.9 yards per attempt and tossed three scores. Losing Joe Staley is a massive blow for the offensive line, but upcoming games against Pittsburgh and Cleveland are winnable if Garoppolo remains consistent.
Worst: Cam Newton
Whether it’s a fighter or a quarterback, they can only be great for so long before the hits eventually catch up to them. We’re starting to see the toll that years of getting knocked around hundreds of times is having on Newton.
He struggled to get anything going on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton averaged only 6.5 yards per attempt, completed 49 percent of his passes and missed numerous throws all night. If Newton’s running ability is truly this diminished and injuries are hurting his mechanics, we’ve seen the last of Superman’s greatness.
Best: Lamar Jackson
Many hoped Jackson would take strides as a passer in his second and emerge as a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. He’s playing like the NFL’s MVP winner through the first two weeks.
Jackson started throwing darts early with a touchdown pass to tight end Mark Andrews. He’d keep attacking Arizona through the air, including a perfect strike down the sideline to seal the win, finishing with 272 yards and two touchdowns. He also brought back his game-changing athleticism with a team-high 120 rushing yards to help the Ravens start the year 2-0.
Worst: Derek Carr
It can only take a week for a narrative to change. After days of people singing Carr’s praises following a sharp performance against the Denver Broncos, almost everything went very wrong against Kansas City.
Carr started hot with a touchdown and a 10-point lead to begin the game. It all unraveled from that point on with two horrendous interceptions and even worse decisions. Completing 60 percent of pass attempts doesn’t matter much when you average 5.2 yards per attempt.