The worst quarterbacks of Week 12 included a handful of players you wouldn’t expect to perform so poorly during this time of year.
Heading into the month of December with five more weeks of regular-season action left to be played, these top passers are normally turning up the heat, rather than going cold.
However, there is one name on this list who you’ll recognize if you’ve been following this series the past month or so. Another quarterback will unfortunately be ending his season after his worst outing of the 2015 campaign.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
The Chicago Bears shocked the Packers at Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving Day, winning 17-13. Just as surprising as the outcome was the fact that Jay Cutler outplayed Rodgers, who suffered through one of his worst outings of the 2015 season.
Completing just 22-of-43 passes for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception, the league’s MVP couldn’t connect with his receivers with any regularity at all and was visibly frustrated with the lack of chemistry. Afterwards, Rodgers lamented not being on the same page as his receivers.
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) November 27, 2015
The scary thing for the rest of the league is the best quarterback in the league has vowed to “make sure my preparation is as high as it’s ever been” so that these mistakes don’t happen in the future. We’ll find out soon enough if Rodgers can overcome the challenges he faces playing with a severely depleted receiving corps that includes a rookie receiver, Devante Adams, who is dealing with a severe case the dropsies.
The Packers, who got off to a red-hot 7-0 start to the season, have now lost four of their last five and are now in second place behind the Minnesota Vikings, who won Sunday to move to 8-3.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Before re-injuring his clavicle and being sent to the IR for the rest of the year, Romo was getting abused by the fortress-of-pain Carolina Panthers defense.
The undisputed MVP of the Cowboys started the game on an ominous note when he opened the game with a pick-six on the first drive. Romo never saw Kurt Coleman, who was lurking in the middle of the field, and threw him a juicy treat to put his team in an early 7-0 hole on the first drive of the game.
It only got worse from there.
Luke Kuechly doubled up on the fun, intercepting two passes back-to-back — the first of which was a 32-yard touchdown for the all-world inside linebacker.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 27, 2015
All told, before leaving the game with his injury Romo had completed just 11-of-21 passes for 106 yards with no touchdowns and the three brutal interceptions.
Reflecting on the clavicle injury, both Romo and Jerry Jones stated afterwards that they understood the risks but felt the potential for a magical ending outweighed the risk of re-injury. At that time, Dallas was still just two games behind the New York Giants in the loss column. Now, there is no doubt the season is over for Romo and the Cowboys.
Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams
Based on the way Foles has played this season, it’s hard to imagine any NFL team ever viewing him as a potential starter ever again. After being handed the keys to the offense once again because Case Keenum was still battling concussion symptoms this week, Foles ran it off the road and into a ditch, forgetting to hit the breaks.
Things got so bad that head coach Jeff Fisher, who was quite a bear after the game towards the media (watch here), ended up throwing rookie Sean Mannion into the game late. The lanky passer did a far sight better than the man he replaced, completing 6-of-7 passes without turning the ball over.
The same cannot be said for Foles, who tossed three interceptions and failed to get the ball into the end zone through the air. What is hard to believe is that offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti called 46 passing plays, knowing he had Foles behind center.
.@MattFranchise just alerted me that Nick Foles has thrown 45 times today. I just about spit up my lunch.
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) November 29, 2015
I mean, It’s not like the Rams have some scrub at the running back position. Granted, the going has been rough of late for rookie Todd Gurley — thanks to the dismal situation at quarterback — but he’s still a better option than Foles, who has thrown just seven touchdowns compared to nine interceptions this year.
Keenum can’t come back fast enough for the Rams.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
It’s been a growing suspicion of mine that something’s wrong with Ryan’s health this year. He just doesn’t have the same arm strength he had when he came into the league, which is sort of strange considering he’s still just 30 years old — far from ancient for NFL quarterbacks.
Hall of Fame center Randy Cross has seen the regression as well, and he went so far as to suggest the Falcons should be looking for his replacement now before it’s too late.
“From this point on, especially if you’re (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan, you better start game-planning around his shortcomings because now, that’s what you have at quarterback, a guy with short-comings that you have to game-plan around,” Cross said on Monday, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Altanta Journal-Constitution.
Ryan’s short-comings were evident on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. He was under pressure often, thanks to the brutish defensive line he was up against, and struggled to connect with receivers down the field. His longest pass went for 22 yards to tight end Jacob Tamme, and Julio Jones only had five catches for 56 yards.
At the end of the game, Ryan had completed a fair percentage of his passes (22 of 31) but had managed just 230 yards and one touchdown while throwing two interceptions. In his last seven games, Ryan has 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Worse still, Atlanta has now lost five of six and is in full-blown panic mode heading into the home stretch.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Speaking of guys who are past their prime, Brees clearly is, and he needs ideal conditions around him to have good games because of his physical limitations. Never a guy with a real gun for an arm, the diminutive passer now needs a clean pocket and more of a window to throw the ball than ever before.
The Saints hit a new low this year, failing to score a touchdown for the first time for the first time in the Brees/Sean Payton era, as ESPN’s Trey Wingo pointed out — a streak of 155 games (second best in history) that must now start anew.
Today was the first game in the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era in New Orleans.. without a touchdown.
— trey wingo (@wingoz) November 29, 2015
Brees threw the ball 44 times, completing 25 passes for just 228 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception, which was returned 50 yards by Kareem Jackson late in the game.
The game was completely dominated by Houston on both sides of the ball. J.J. Watt got to 70 career sacks (with two on the day) quicker than anyone in history other than Reggie White, and Brian Hoyer soundly outplayed Brees, who has been trending downward ever since his seven-touchdown outburst against the New York Giants a few weeks back.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
You can always count on the Giants to be one of the league’s Jekyll and Hyde teams, and a big reason for this is Manning’s propensity to jump back and forth between excellence and dilapidation. Sunday happened to be one of those “bad Eli” games.
And, before you jump straight to the comments to let us know his first two were not really his fault, trust me, those were factored into the equation, just like the preposterous one-handed touchdown pass (watch here) hauled in by Odell Beckham Jr. was factored in.
Removing both extremes from the equation, Manning still performed poorly, completing 26-of-51 passes (51 percent) for 321 yards with one other touchdown and a terrible interception in the red zone.
Down 17-0 at that point in the middle of the third quarter, Manning tried to hit running back Rashad Jennings when former receiver turned cornerback Quinton Dunbar stepped in front of the pass in the end zone to take away the best chance of scoring to that point in the game for the Giants.
Potentially game-saving pick from converted WR Quinton Dunbar.
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) November 29, 2015
It was a horrifying decision by Manning to try and squeeze the ball into a space that was occupied mostly by red jerseys, and of course Dunbar made a tremendous play on the ball.
Manning will surely shake this off, and nobody should be too alarmed by New York’s poor showing. As they’ve shown in the past, this Giants team, led by Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin, has the ability to become great when they need it the most, and the NFC East is still there for the taking as we head into the month of December.