Individual performances turn into season-defining games.
As Week 9 of the NFL season comes to a close, we can now start to form definitive assessments about quarterbacks across the NFL.
This week provided plenty of evidence to show why a few current quarterbacks are some of the best to ever do it, while others might not belong under center in any situation. Each team has now played at least eight games and with a large sample size to analyze, individual performances turn into season-defining games.
We also saw a breakthrough performance from a player no one expected anything of. Meanwhile, a young quarterback with high expectations fell short once again.
Here are the best and worst quarterback performances in Week 9 of the NFL season.
Best: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
Ryan stepped up huge in a crucial win against the Washington Redskins with one of his best performances of the season.
The Falcons traveled to Washington in a must-win game and executed to near perfection offensively. Behind a breakthrough performance from the running game, Ryan had more support behind him and it opened more things up for him in the passing game.
He finished the night with 350 passing yards and four touchdowns (including one to Julio Jones — finally) with a 121.6 quarterback rating. Ryan has now thrown for 350-plus yards and averaged over eight yards per pass attempts across Atlanta’s three-game winning streak. After a rough stretch to start the season, the Falcons are rolling and Ryan has them back in the playoff hunt.
Worst: Brock Osweiler, Miami Dolphins
There was nothing uglier on Sunday than watching the Miami Dolphins offense led by Brock Osweiler. While Miami came out with a win, the defense is almost entirely responsible for bailing out this team in Week 10.
After he completed an early 26-yard throw, Osweiler went 14-of-23 for 116 passing yards over the rest of the game. A passing offense that averages barely five yards per attempt isn’t going to win many games at any level.
While Miami’s receiving corps certainly isn’t among the better groups in the NFL, Osweiler’s receivers created some opportunities for him to succeed and he just missed them. The Dolphins need Ryan Tannehill back, but he won’t be returning soon. So fans better get used to more of the same from Osweiler.
Best: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
We’re running out of words to describe Mahomes’ performance on the football field. Sunday marked his eighth consecutive game with 300-plus passing yards. He also set another NFL record and he’ll surely reach more historic milestones as the year rolls on.
Mahomes sliced apart the Cleveland Browns defense, heavily utilizing his running backs and tight end Travis Kelce. The 23-year-old made some of the best throws of any quarterback on Sunday and it directly led to his three-touchdown, 375-yard performance.
Now on pace for 52 passing touchdowns and over 5,100 passing yards, the NFL’s MVP race is quickly tipping in Mahomes’ favor at the halfway point of the season.
Worst: Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
Chicago’s monster win over the Buffalo Bills certainly featured some impressive elements. Trubisky wasn’t one of them. Chicago won in spite of Trubisky’s performance as he remains the biggest question mark about this team.
Trubisky completed 12-of-20 passes on Sunday for 135 yards, and a touchdown pass tossed in garbage time. Chicago needed the end of the game to pad Trubisky’s numbers and his confidence, but he still finished with a 76.0 quarterback rating and an interception.
Chicago can clearly get by with a mediocre performance from Trubisky when it faces inferior teams. However, it’s hard to see this team beating playoff-caliber teams given Trubisky’s inconsistency and limitations in his second season.
Best: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Even in his age-39 season, Brees demonstrates why he is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. His performance against the Los Angeles Rams also demonstrated why the New Orleans Saints may be the best team in the NFL.
Brees shredded the Rams on nearly every drive and his biggest throw of the game came on a game-sealing touchdown pass to Michael Thomas in a crucial moment. Brees finished the day with 346 passing yards and four touchdowns for an exceptional 137.0 quarterback rating.
Most importantly, New Orleans walked out with a huge win in the NFC against a team that seemed unstoppable before Week 10. This team is on fire, and if it gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, New Orleans becomes even scarier.
Worst: Nathan Peterman, Buffalo Bills
First, the good news. Peterman’s interceptions weren’t all entirely his fault. Now for the bad news, Sunday’s game provided more evidence that he doesn’t belong in the NFL.
Peterman’s 189-yard performance was actually inflated in garbage time with Chicago’s defense making things easier due to a massive lead. He needed 49 attempts to even reach 189 yards and averaged 3.86 yards per attempt.
On a roster with Josh Allen, Derek Anderson, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor and Logan Thomas, Peterman might be the sixth-best quarterback in Buffalo.
Best: Nick Mullens, San Francisco 49ers
There will be no performance more surprising than Mullens’ phenomenal start on “Thursday Night Football.” A third-string quarterback on one of the worst teams in the league, disaster on national television seemed inevitable.
Yet, Mullens played like an MVP-caliber quarterback. The former undrafted free agent threw for 262 yards, three touchdowns and a sensational 151.9 quarterback rating with one sharp throw after another.
Frankly, Mullens’ numbers could have been even better. San Francisco jumped out to a big lead then took it easy on one of the worst teams we’ve seen in years. An upcoming matchup against the New York Giants could be another winnable game for the Mullens-led 49ers.
Worst: Sam Darnold, New York Jets
There’s hitting a rookie wall and then there’s whatever Sam Darnold is doing right now. While the rookie’s season started nicely, everything has unraveled for him since and it gets uglier each week.
Darnold’s recent play has been bad, but it got even worse in Week 9. He completed 21-of-39 attempts and was a turnover machine with four interceptions. It’s becoming a concerning trend with just two touchdowns and seven interceptions across his last three games.
New York will let him ride out this disastrous rookie season — it has no choice at this point. 2018 will go down as a lost season for the Jets and all fans can hope for is the next coach and fix all of Darnold’s issues.