ATL: The QB Index  

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The Quarterback Index: Ryan Tannehill, RGIII trend up

Ryan Tannehill was the best quarterback on the field Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Beating the Indianapolis Colts and No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck on the road usually is the type of performance that gets the football nation to take notice. Tannehill's effort was met with a collective shrug.

Make no mistake that Tannehill is making the leap. He's closing the gap with Luck and his rightly celebrated 2012 draft classmates Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.

Tannehill has shown a better command of the Miami Dolphins' offense in his second season. His previous bouts with inaccuracy are less frequent. His rookie willingness to throw the ball into tight windows remains. The guy is confident.

There aren't many quarterbacks with the arm strength to pull off that throw. Tannehill is doing more of the little things like putting the ball on the right hip, like he does here. Tannehill also is getting better at looking off defenders, although he still can lock into his first read like a rookie.

Through two weeks, Tannehill ranks in the top 10 in the NFL with 8.2 yards per pass attempt. He beat Luck on Sunday, much like Tannehill led a huge fourth-quarter comeback to beat Wilson's Seattle Seahawks last season. Tannehill isn't being talked about much yet. He's not in my top 10 quarterbacks yet. But it's only a matter of time until he gets there if he keeps this up.

On to the quarterback rankings:

Best of the best


1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
3. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Notes: Rodgers started awfully slow against the Washington Redskins, considering his epic afternoon. The Packers couldn't protect him conventionally, so they started to run their no-huddle attact to prevent the Redskins from making substitutions. Problem solved. Sometimes it looked too easy for Rodgers. He had his choice between Randall Cobb or Jermichael Finley open down the seams. Those two receivers, plus Jordy Nelson and James Jones, comprise the best "top four" receiver combination in the league. Even when they weren't open, Rodgers enjoyed a very accurate afternoon and made a handful of jaw-dropping throws. Like this one to the right:

Last year, early pressure on Rodgers often resulted in him getting jumpy in the pocket. But he responded beautifully Sunday, throwing the ball on time after being hit often early. Green Bay's struggles with blitzes, however, could be a problem against better defenses. Their offensive tackle combination remains a concern because the Packers can't go no huddle all the time. Or can they?

Brady moves down a peg. His frustrations with his young wide receivers have covered up the fact that he has missed a number of throws early this season. ... It is crazy to think of the numbers Manning could put up if his receivers stop dropping passes. ... There is no metric for mojo, but I do believe certain teams can acquire the habit to win late in games. At least for one season. Brees and the Saints have pulled off back-to-back 2009-like endings.

Next level


5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
6. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
7. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
8. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Ryan gets extra points this season for playing well despite problems all around him. The offensive line is shaky, Roddy White is half speed, Tony Gonzalez is a half step slower (again) and Steven Jackson is hurt. Ryan still controlled Sunday's game against a strong St. Louis Rams defense.

I read some critics of Luck's performance against Miami, so I decided to watch it on Game Rewind's Coaches Film after seeing the game live. It wasn't Luck's best game, but the critics are off base. Luck played very well through the middle of the third quarter.

Give credit to Dolphins coordinator Kevin Coyle and his defense. Miami surprisingly couldn't get much pressure with its front four, so it blitzed Indianapolis into submission down the stretch. The Colts didn't know where the pressure was coming from, and Luck missed a few throws while being hit. (He also made some incredible Roethlisberger-like scrambles.)

The Colts' offense looks fine. The biggest issues include a lack of chemistry with Darrius Heyward-Bey and an inability to pick up short-yardage situations.

Everything about the Steelers' offense is off right now. Roethlisberger is hardly their biggest problem, but he has a week left to save his top-10 spot. Next week, we'll base the rankings on 2013 only. No one quite deserved the 10th spot this week.

Trending up


Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins: RGIII took a step forward. Once we get past the histrionic analysis about benching Griffin, there's no denying he was more accurate in Week 2. He made a number of nice throws. His biggest problem came in setting protection and recognizing blitzes.

Pressure overwhelmed the Redskins' offense early in Sunday's game. Teams are blitzing the Redskins with impunity, and Washington doesn't have great answers. But Griffin was down 17-0 against Green Bay before he made a mistake. His interception came off a drop. I'm not a quarterback tutor and won't pretend to analyze his mechanics. But a lot of the issues he's being criticized for (throwing while backpedaling) were evident last season. Griffin made a lot of nice throws to well-covered receivers against the Packers, and that has nothing to do with the score.

The Redskins' problems go beyond RGIII. They are trying to change their offense on the fly. They have called just five zone-read plays in two weeks, with virtually no called runs for Griffin. The running game isn't the same without the threat of RGIII running. It's an adjustment period as the Shanahans figure out how to call games with Griffin 2.0, but it can be done. And they don't have time to adjust because their defense is historically bad.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers: Through two games, Rivers has made a lot of smart decisions. He has seven touchdown passes and one interception, which came on an incredible play by Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. Rivers ranks in the top 10 in the league in yards per attempt and second in QBR. He was never as bad as he was made out to be last season. He made a lot of terrible decisions but plenty of good throws. At age 31, this could be a nice "comeback" season for Rivers.

Trending down


Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals are good enough to win even when Dalton plays terrible for a half. His accuracy always has been streaky, which is a bad combination with a lack of arm strength. It appears Dalton came into the NFL fully formed and hasn't developed much since his rookie season. His defense and weapons are excellent, so Dalton very well might be a "winning quarterback." But the Bengals have to wonder if they could do better if Dalton doesn't progress.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" recapped every Week 2 game. Click here to listen.

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