Heading into NFL Week 8, there was reason to believe that quarterback play around the league would be decent. Six teams were on a bye. Included in that group were several quarterbacks who have provided some of the position’s worst efforts of the 2016 season.
So, maybe finding a deep group of bad quarterbacks would be a tough task.
Then again, maybe not.
During Week 8, we saw plenty of less than stellar efforts from signal callers. Included in that group were a few guys whose efforts were poor even though they finished with decent stats, which is where we start.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
The raw stats do not tell the full story of Bortles’ performance.
Bortles finished the game 33-for-54 for 337 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 97.5 passer rating. We certainly can’t call that an efficient day. Still, the Jacksonville quarterback certainly filled out the stat sheet and didn’t even turn the ball over.
So, what’s the problem?
In the first half, Bortles was 8-for-16 for 64 yards with no touchdowns for a 60.4 passer rating. He did respond with 25-for-38 for 273 yards and three touchdowns (113.2 passer rating) in the second. Unfortunately, the game was 27-0 at halftime.
Blake Bortles: Garbage Time GOAT
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) October 28, 2016
So, if you’re a fantasy owner of Bortles, the performance probably didn’t bother you too much.
But in the first half when the outcome of the game was in doubt, Bortles did next to nothing. Too many passes sailed harmlessly out of the reach of his receivers. Bortles couldn’t lead the Jaguars to enough first downs to consistently own the field position battle.
Until it became a pure stat-padding effort, Bortles was a no-show. That has happened far too often in 2016.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Much like Bortles, Palmer put up monster stats. The Arizona quarterback was 35-for-46 for 363 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The pick even came in garbage time, so we’d be wrong to focus too much on it.
Unfortunately, most of the good that Palmer did also came in garbage time, too. The Carolina Panthers jumped out to a 24-0 lead. While that was going on, Palmer was only 7-for-11 for 65 yards.
All but one of Arizona’s early possessions resulted in a punt. The one non-punt came on a Carson Palmer fumble, which was returned by Thomas Davis for a touchdown (watch here).
The Cardinals’ defense obviously didn’t rise to the occasion in this one, either. We can’t put this loss squarely on Palmer. But he took way too long to get going on Sunday, playing his team out of reasonable competition.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
In any situation, a quarterback of Wilson’s caliber should do better than 22-for-34 for 253 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick. But against the New Orleans Saints defense — one of the NFL’s worst — an outing like that is even worse.
The interception from Wilson really turned this game around, too. Seattle was winning 14-6 when Wilson’s pick set Drew Brees and the Saints up with a short field. New Orleans scored quickly and from that point on really controlled the game, outscoring the Seahawks 19-6 following the ill-timed interception to win the game.
Wilson did have a chance to win the game late. Unfortunately, a would-be game-winning touchdown was thrown out of the realistic reach of Jermaine Kearse. Kearse did catch the ball but couldn’t possibly come down in bounds.
Overall, it was another disappointing day for Wilson. Seattle sits at 4-2-1 in a weak division, so it should be safe in terms of making the playoffs. But if this team is thinking about winning a Super Bowl, its quarterback (and offense in general) needs to get much better.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton didn’t have a great day against the Washington Redskins. He did pass for 284 yards but was 27-for-42 with a touchdown and an interception.
The interception was costly, too. It came in the red zone, depriving the Bengals of a chance to score at least three points. Washington responded with a touchdown drive.
Then, in overtime after Dustin Hopkins absolutely shanked a field goal (watch here), Cincinnati had a chance to win. A quarterback sneak from Dalton appeared to convert a first down around midfield.
Unfortunately, he forgot to bring the ball with him.
Bengals sneak it…
AND LOSE THE FOOTBALL.
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2016
Of course, some credit does go to the Redskins’ defenders for forcing the fumble. Still, a veteran quarterback needs to know better. He needs to cover the ball up, because in situations like that the defense is obviously going for the strip.
The Bengals escaped with a tie, but mistakes from Dalton undeniably contributed to Cincinnati not winning.
Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns
There are a few things to look at with McCown’s performance.
The positive is that he threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, McCown needed 25 completions and 49 attempts to get that number. In the second half, he also threw two interceptions. Given how much the New York Jets secondary has struggled this season, that’s a mediocre day.
Of course, a mediocre day from McCown shouldn’t seem out of the ordinary. After all, he is a mediocre quarterback.
With that in mind, much of McCown’s struggles fall not on the quarterback but also on the game plan. The Browns led for most of the game. The Jets did not take their first lead until late in the third quarter. New York didn’t have a multi-possession lead until late in the fourth. Sometimes a pass-heavy game plan is needed. But in this game, that was not close to being the case.
Cleveland attempted only 18 rushes. Isaiah Crowell failed to gain traction, but Duke Johnson toted the ball for more than seven yards a carry. Why did he only run it four times?
McCown is not Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Expecting him to pass that much is just asking for trouble. This was a game the Browns could have won. McCown didn’t play well, but that kind of effort wasn’t exactly unpredictable, either.
Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
Quarterbacks like McCown shouldn’t be attempting close to 50 passes. Truthfully, a game plan like that is never ideal, but is more acceptable for someone like Rivers, who got that precise plan on Sunday but struggled against the Denver defense.
Rivers was 20-for-47 passing with 267 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions.
One of those picks was returned for a score on a play that gave the Broncos the lead and momentum.
🚨 PICK-6 ALERT 🚨
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2016
San Diego’s game plan called for a lot of passes. Against a defense as good as Denver’s interceptions are obviously a genuine risk.
But more than one-half of Rivers’ passes fell incomplete or into the hands of a Broncos’ defender. A veteran quarterback of his caliber has to be better.
Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos
Denver won the game, but its quarterback situation is far from strong.
Siemian was having a fairly bland game midway through the fourth quarter. He wasn’t playing particularly well but wasn’t hurting the Broncos’ effort, either. The quarterback was well on his way to managing a fairly convincing win — much like Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler did throughout 2015.
Then, Siemian threw a pick-six. It was tipped but was also off target and thrown into triple coverage. Later when Denver had a chance to ice the game, a poor red-zone performance from Siemian led to a field goal, keeping the Charger hopes alive.
In total, Siemian was 20-for-38 with no touchdowns, the aforementioned pick, and another lost fumble.
Game manager may be something of an insulting phrase for a quarterback, but a solid game manager can help his team win. Siemian’s team is winning, but it’s too often happening in spite of his efforts.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
There’s absolutely no question that the Indianapolis front office needs to give Luck more help.
With that said, Luck needs to play better when he is given time.
The quarterback finished the day 19-for-35 for only 210 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. For some perspective, Nick Foles was 16-for-22 for 223 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while backing up Alex Smith for the Kansas City Chiefs.
No doubt, Indianapolis is a flawed team. The Colts have a poor defense and the offensive line may need a complete reworking. But Luck can’t be exonerated, either. With poor offensive line play, Luck needs to focus on getting rid of the ball quicker and utilizing the tight end more. In this game, Jack Doyle was targeted only three times.
Luck far too often plays to the weaknesses of his offense. Sunday was another example of that.