Ten worst QB performances from NFL Week 5

By Michael Dixon

As far as quarterbacks go, NFL Week 5 will be remembered primarily for the return of Tom Brady. Coming off of his suspension, the future Hall of Famer didn’t disappoint. Brady threw for over 400 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions en route to a blowout victory for the New England Patriots.

Other quarterbacks weren’t as fortunate. NFL Week 5 offered its share of below average performances from the men under center.

But which quarterbacks failed the hardest? What were the ten worst quarterback performances of NFL Week 5?

Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans

Brock Osweiler

Osweiler will be happy to see Week 5 in his rear-view mirror. Going against the formidable Minnesota Vikings defense, he was 19-for-42 for only 184 yards with a touchdown and a pick.

Really, the numbers were only even that good because of a late game, garbage time touchdown drive.

Osweiler also struggled to find DeAndre Hopkins for the second week in a row. The star receiver caught only five passes for 56 yards. Much like Osweiler’s totals, those were enhanced by late connections that came well after the competitive portion of the game was over.

Of course, Minnesota’s stellar defense deserves plenty of credit. After all, that unit has made mincemeat out of every quarterback it’s faced during the 2016 season.

What’s so alarming in Houston is not that Osweiler had his worst game of the season in Week 5.

No, the problem is that while Week 5 was indeed Osweiler’s worst game of the season, it was only mildly worse than some of his other efforts.

As a team, the Texans are still in decent shape. They sit at 3-2 and remain in first place in the AFC South. But Osweiler was given franchise quarterback money. Thus far, he’s been a game manager at best. Far too often he’s fallen well short of that label.

If anyone associated with Houston tells you that he/she is not worried about Osweiler, that person is either lying or in a state of denial.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

Flacco and the Ravens offense might want to work on developing a more efficient passing game. Sunday’s numbers are almost impossible to believe.

Flacco completed 30 passes. Only two quarterbacks — Ben Roethlisberger (34) and Brian Hoyer (33) — completed more in Week 5. The two quarterbacks on Thursday night combined for 29 completions.

Despite the 30 completed passes, though, only eight Week 5 signal callers threw for fewer yards than Flacco’s 210.

Now, for a quarterback like Alex Smith, this wouldn’t stand out a whole lot. Short passes are a part of the deal.

But the long ball has always been a big element of Flacco’s game. Defenses have always had to respect his vertical threat, thereby opening up the rest of the field for the team. Obviously, the Washington Redskins’ secondary wasn’t terribly worried about the deep ball.

If a quarterback is going to complete 30 passes without throwing an interception, his team needs to manage more than 10 points.

That clearly didn’t happen on Sunday.

Charlie Whitehurst, Cleveland Browns

Charlie Whitehurst

Even while Brady was carving the Cleveland defense up, things were looking okay for the offense under Cody Kessler.

A hit from Dont’a Hightower changed that.

Not only did it force a safety, but the hit knocked Kessler out of the game.

Obviously this was not an ideal situation for Whitehurst. It’s always tough to come into a game as the backup. Also, the Browns had no semblance of a running game and trailing so big early, couldn’t really work to establish one.

But an NFL quarterback has to be better. He was 14-for-24 with 182 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception. Even those stats were a bit enhanced by Whitehurst’s garbage time performance.

Yes, the setting was less than ideal. Still, Whitehurst was awful. If the Browns are going to find their first franchise quarterback since Bernie Kosar, one of them is going to have to overcome the “less than ideal” settings.

Blaine Gabbert, San Francisco 49ers

What could possibly go wrong with Gabbert on a short week against a talented and hungry defense? His 18-for-31 performance for 162 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions goes a long way towards answering that question.

Amazingly, even a mediocre effort from Gabbert might have been good enough to pull a win out. Drew Stanton’s effort was pretty poor in its own right. Arizona’s quarterback was only 11-for-28 with 124 yards passing.

Gabbert isn’t Hall of Fame material, but outperforming an outing like that shouldn’t be such a tall task.

San Francisco did eventually draw first blood. Unfortunately, Gabbert quickly offset that by giving the struggling Arizona offense a short field to work with.

An interception later in the game set the Cards up for a field goal.

With a couple of nice passes, the 49ers could have held a multi-possession lead at halftime, putting the Cardinals on their heels. Instead, Gabbert let his opponent settle in, handing Arizona 10 points.

Week 5 may well have been the final straw for Gabbert in 2016. Signs are pointing towards Colin Kaepernick starting in Week 6, assuming his contract can get restructured. If some teammates get their way, Christian Ponder may be under center at some point.

Whatever happens, the Gabbert experience seems to have met its end.

Case Keenum, Los Angeles Rams

We start with the positive. Keenum was 21-for-31 for 271 yards. Those aren’t eye popping numbers, but for a quarterback with Keenum’s skill they’re not bad.

Unfortunately, the Los Angeles quarterback produced some negatives. He failed to throw a touchdown pass and had two passes intercepted. One of those was returned for a score.

Let’s call a spade a spade. Keenum is a game manager.

Game managers can’t throw two interceptions with no touchdowns. They have to protect the ball and reserve the right to punt.

Now, we might be more inclined to cut Keenum some slack against another opponent. Game manager or not, if your opponent is putting points on the board, you have to answer as a quarterback.

But the Buffalo Bills put up only 23 points on offense. The Rams would have been fine with Keenum playing the game manager role on Sunday. He couldn’t manage that. Instead, Keenum was a big contributor to a loss.

Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos

Paxton Lynch

The 2016 season has been a good one for rookie quarterbacks.

So, when Lynch was named the Week 5 starter against the Atlanta Falcons, there was reason to be optimistic in Denver.

He didn’t quite live up to the hype. Lynch was 23-for-35 with 223 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception.

The Lynch-led offense just couldn’t generate any sort of punch against the Atlanta defense. Like so many other quarterbacks on Sunday, many of the stronger stats Lynch generated came late and with very little hanging in the balance.

Lynch did only throw one interception. Still, we can’t ignore the fact that punter Riley Dixon was used six times.

There may well be better days ahead for Lynch. But in Week 5 against Atlanta, he looked very much like a rookie quarterback.

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Sure, Miami’s problems went deeper than just Tannehill on Sunday. The Tennessee Titans leveled him with seven hits and six sacks. So, he certainly didn’t get much help from the big boys up front.

But Tannehill didn’t do much to help himself, either. He completed only 12 passes for 191 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Ryan TannehillFour of those passes went to DeVante Parker and Damien Williams for 137 yards. While going at other targets, Tannehill was only 8-for-13 for 54 yards.

The inefficient yardage can be blamed on the line. After all, if Tannehill doesn’t get time to throw, he can’t be expected to throw downfield.

But when you’re throwing short, you need to be better than 8-for-13.

The problems with the Dolphins certainly go beyond just Tannehill. But through five weeks, the quarterback is not showing that he’ll be part of the solution. If anything, Tannehill is further validating the idea that he’s part of the problem.

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

For the first time in his young career, Wentz was intercepted.

But Wentz doesn’t make this list simply because he was intercepted. He makes this list because he was intercepted at the exact wrong moment.

Philadelphia’s young quarterback threw a pass that he didn’t need to throw. The Eagles had time to work the ball down into field goal range over several plays. Instead, Wentz tried to get his team down there in one play, targeting a receiver who was blanketed.

That pass is acceptable on fourth down, or with less than 30 seconds remaining. But on first down, with 1:20 left, trying a pass like that is just an immature rookie mistake.

Wentz hasn’t had many of those in his brief NFL career. But in Week 5, he uncorked a big one. Wentz made a mistake that cost his team a chance to win a game.

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

NFL Week 5, Aaron Rodgers

It’s a rare game where we can honestly say that Rodgers was bailed out by his defense. But in Week 5 against the Giants, that was the case.

Rodgers completed barely over half of his passes and really couldn’t take advantage of a weak attack from the New York offense. This game should have been a Green Bay blowout. Instead, it was a close game, ultimately not decided until the final minutes.

For the second time in 2016, Rodgers had a sub par performance on Sunday Night Football. This week, he wasn’t going against the vaunted Vikings’ defense.

The Giants’ front four wasn’t rushing terribly well. But the Giants adjusted by pressuring Rodgers with a blitz. Normally, a quarterback like Rodgers would quickly find the part of the defense left vulnerable by the blitz. That never happened on Sunday night.

The Packers did win, but Rodgers’ performance left plenty of room for improvement.

Eli Manning, New York Giants 

We can’t honestly say that New York’s defense was great on Sunday. Still, consider a few things.

  1. Aaron Rodgers was 23-for-45 and threw as many interceptions (2) as touchdowns. That’s a highly inefficient performance for one of the most efficient quarterbacks in NFL history.
  2. While Eddie Lacy had a stellar yards per carry average, he totaled only 81 yards.

Still, the Giants were beaten. Really, only a late push made the game terribly close. So, what happened?

Given how much Rodgers struggled, New York didn’t exactly need the Dr. Jekyll version of Manning. It just couldn’t get Mr. Hyde. and unfortunately for the Giants, that’s who showed up.

Manning was 18-for-35 for only 199 yards. His passes weren’t sharp.

While the Green Bay pass rush was significant, Manning too often looked like a flustered rookie in the pocket. That shouldn’t happen to a player during his 13th NFL season.

What’s more troubling is that Manning couldn’t take advantage of a fantastic trio of receivers. While throwing to Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz, Manning was only 7-for-21 with a 59.6 passer rating.

That’s just not going to get it done. If Manning keeps putting up performances like this one, the Giants will be watching the playoffs from home for the fifth straight year.