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QB Index, Week 4: How low will Carson Wentz go?

Throughout the 2020 campaign, Chris Wesseling will provide his rankings of the league's starting signal-callers, 1-32. Below is the pecking order entering Week 4.

NOTE: To keep all 32 quarterbacks on common ground for evaluation, the rankings and statistics below reflect what has transpired through WEEK 3; the events of Thursday night's game between the Broncos and Jets are not included.

Rank
1
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks · Year 9

2020 stats: 3 games | 76.7 pct | 925 pass yds | 9.0 ypa | 14 pass TD | 1 INT | 90 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


When I sat down with Darrell Bevell during the week of Super Bowl XLIX, I had time enough to ask the then-Seahawks offensive coordinator one question: What is the most important trait which enables Wilson to succeed where other young quarterbacks have failed? Bevell's response was a sea poem to Wilson's preternatural split-second decision-making. Whether Wilson has the ball inside or outside the pocket, Bevell intoned, he has an uncanny knack for making the decision best-suited to each particular circumstance. On a related note, Wilson is the first quarterback to pass for four or more touchdowns in each of the season's first three games. More impressively, he's accomplished that feat by generating zero turnover-worthy plays on 122 dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus. Forget about touchdown-to-interception ratio. Wilson has 14 touchdown versus 24 incompletions.

Rank
2
Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 16

2020 stats: 3 games | 67.0 pct | 887 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 9 pass TD | 0 INT | 26 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


On the road against a Super Bowl contender with his No. 1 receiver in street clothes and his No. 2 receiver limited to one catch for 5 yards, Rodgers had built-in excuses for a down week. Instead, he out-dueled Drew Brees and continued to flirt with the 40-point line. In his second year at the helm of Matt LaFleur's offense, Rodgers' attack is averaging 6.9 yards per play, which would be the second-highest full-season average in NFL history, behind only the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams. The last quarterback to take aim at a slew of 2000 St. Louis Rams records was 2016 Matt Ryan, in the second year of a juggernaut Kyle Shanahan offense with LaFleur as the QBs coach.

Rank
3
1
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 4

2020 stats: 3 games | 67.8 pct | 898 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 9 pass TD | 0 INT | 80 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


I'm not going to rank him fourth again after he took exception to his placement on the Top 100 Players list, counting off four fingers and shrugging his shoulders during this past Monday night's undressing of Baltimore's defense. I'm beginning to think Mahomes is like Pedro Martinez. He just has more pitches in his repertoire than other superstar quarterbacks. In Week 3, he unveiled an underhanded cornhole toss to complement the typical array of touch passes which land as gently as a mosquito with sore feet.

Rank
4
1
Josh Allen
Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 3

2020 stats: 3 games | 71.1 pct | 1,038 pass yds | 9.1 ypa | 10 pass TD | 1 INT | 84 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles lost


Over his last 14 games, Allen has 25 passing touchdowns, eight rushing touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Bills finished September third in points per game and fourth in yards per game. Led by its best athlete and playmaker -- a quarterback capable of going toe-to-toe with Aaron Donald in terms of physical prowess with the game on the line -- this is now an offensive team.

Rank
5
2
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 3

2020 stats: 3 games | 68.8 pct | 576 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 5 pass TD | 0 INT | 182 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Watching Mahomes' Chiefs defeat Jackson's Ravens yet again, it was hard to escape the conclusion that blitzing made the difference. One defense paid for its transgressions, while the other was encouraged to keep the pressure coming. The next step in Jackson's development is reaching the point where the offense still maintains an identity when the team falls behind early.


Rank
6
2
Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 5

2020 stats: 3 games | 67.1 pct | 1,188 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 74 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost


Prescott leads the NFL in virtually every passing category, setting a wild pace for over 6,000 passing yards. That's not likely to last, but he has a chance to chase single-season volume records to compensate for a defense struggling at all three levels.



Rank
7
1
Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 9

2020 stats: 3 games | 67.3 pct | 809 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 6 pass TD | 1 INT | 35 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Including the playoffs, Tannehill has started 16 games for a Titans operation still looking every bit the contender it was in January. Over that stretch, Tannehill has completed 67.7 percent of his passes at 8.7 yards per attempt for a 33:7 TD-to-INT ratio and 114.4 passer rating to go with five rushing touchdowns. To this point, we've seen no indication that last year was a fluke.

Rank
8
3
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Indianapolis Colts · Year 17

2020 stats: 3 games | 78.3 pct | 794 pass yds | 8.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Sometimes the no-brainer offseason upgrade ends up working out just as the organization envisioned. But enough about DeForest Buckner. Rivers has been a godsend in his own right, leading the only NFL offense yet to record a three-and-out possession this season. Topping the charts in completion percentage, Rivers has connected on at least 75 percent of his attempts at more than 7.5 yards per pass in each of his first three games with the Colts. As beat writer Kevin Bowen pointed out, Andrew Luck managed to reach those marks in just six of 86 starts.


Rank
9
1
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Los Angeles Rams · Year 5

2020 stats: 3 games | 70.0 pct | 863 pass yds | 9.6 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 32 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


The Rams' first loss produced Goff's finest performance of the season. He doesn't get a lot of credit for his legs in a rollout offense, but Goff's fancy footwork bought him time on several big throws versus pressure. Coach Sean McVay believes this year's 2-1 Rams are off to a more promising start than last year's squad, which began the season with three straight wins. It's hard to argue. This is a finely tuned offense.

Rank
10
3
Cam Newton
Cam Newton
New England Patriots · Year 10

2020 stats: 3 games | 68.1 pct | 714 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 149 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Newton is coming off his worst passing performance of the season, misfiring twice to N'Keal Harry and forcing passes to Julian Edelman despite double- and triple-coverages. That said, he had his best moments on the final touchdown drive to thwart a potential Raiders comeback.


(UPDATE: Newton has been ruled out for the Patriots' Week 4 game against the Chiefs after testing positive for COVID-19, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. The NFL announced Saturday that the game has been rescheduled to either Monday or Tuesday following positive tests on both teams. In Newton's absence, the Patriots are expected to start veteran QB Brian Hoyer, Rapoport reported. )

Rank
11
2
Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons · Year 13

2020 stats: 3 games | 62.5 pct | 961 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 7 pass TD | 2 INT | 14 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


The Falcons' most glaring offensive issues are converting in the condensed area of the red zone and moving the chains with a commanding lead when the defense knows the intention is to run the ball and control the clock. Both of these problems highlight the high degree of difficulty and low margin for error when the quarterback is forced to play without any semblance of a ground attack. Ryan is asked to be too fine in key situations, especially when he's playing without the benefit of No. 1 receiver Julio Jones.

Rank
12
3
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 21

2020 stats: 3 games | 65.1 pct | 753 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 6 pass TD | 3 INT | 9 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Back when they were both still a little wet behind the ears and Brady's Patriots were bullying Peyton Manning's Colts come wintertime, I theorized that Manning learned a subtle yet valuable lesson from his opponent's style that would stay with him the rest of his career: Sometimes it pays to distribute the ball like a point guard and lead deliberate, balanced scoring drives even when the offense has the capability to strike quickly by feeding big plays to its most spectacular talents. Eight Tampa Bay players recorded multiple receptions in the Week 3 victory at Denver. Two decades later, Brady is still propagating former NBA star Steve Nash's special brand of sports socialism: The goal is to increase the odds of success for each member of the receiving corps without negating the odds of success for all other teammates in the process.

Rank
13
Derek Carr
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 7

2020 stats: 3 games | 74.0 pct | 784 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 6 pass TD | 0 INT | 13 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumble lost


Carr didn't play up to his numbers, losing a pair of fumbles in a game the Patriots controlled from the outset. Not much of a surprise, considering New England took tight end Darren Waller out of the game plan and Las Vegas' wideouts failed to win their individual matchups with rookie field-stretcher Henry Ruggs III out of action.

Rank
14
2
Kyler Murray
Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 2

2020 stats: 3 games | 66.4 pct | 786 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 4 pass TD | 5 INT | 187 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Murray is on pace for 997 yards and 21 touchdowns as a runner, which would compare favorably in fantasy football terms with Lamar Jackson's 2019 season (1,206 rushing yards, seven touchdowns). New go-to receiver DeAndre Hopkins is on pace for an NFL-record 171 receptions. Those two projections are, in a nutshell, the 2020 Cardinals offense.

Rank
15
1
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 17

2020 stats: 3 games | 67.0 pct | 777 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 7 pass TD | 1 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


The Steelers' box scores have been misleading, hiding a ground attack that hasn't sustained drives in the first three quarters and a short passing game that isn't leading to enough yards after the catch. On the other hand, James Conner has exploited huge running lanes in the fourth quarter while Roethlisberger has pulled off some remarkable touchdown passes.

Rank
16
12
Nick Mullens
Nick Mullens
San Francisco 49ers · Year 4

2020 stats: 2 games | 70.2 pct | 414 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | -2 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Kyle Shanahan's offense might be a backup quarterback's best friend, but don't get the wrong idea. Just because the 49ers' scoring plays came easily on the highlight reels doesn't mean Mullens was a windup doll protected in a cocoon of half-field, first-read rollouts. He pulled the trigger on a series of strong, off-schedule throws without the benefit of solid footing, still managing to squeeze the ball into tight spaces. Eagles coach Doug Pederson wasn't just blowing smoke when he remarked this week that San Francisco is "blessed with two starters" at the game's most vital position.

Rank
17
5
Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns · Year 3

2020 stats: 3 games | 62.4 pct | 564 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 9 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Mayfield wasn't quite as pinpoint accurate versus a stingier Washington defense, but he's now produced back-to-back encouraging outings to complement a dominant ground attack. A long-anticipated get-right game for Odell Beckham Jr. is on the horizon.

Rank
18
7
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Ryan Fitzpatrick
Miami Dolphins · Year 16

2020 stats: 3 games | 71.1 pct | 679 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 4 pass TD | 3 INT | 68 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Fitzpatrick's sparkling box score was reminiscent of Week 3 opponent Gardner Minshew's 19-of-20 performance in the season opener. To Fitzpatrick's credit, though, he took a lot more chances, nearly doubling Minshew's average depth of Week 1 target en route to three total touchdowns and 18 completions on 20 attempts.

Rank
19
2
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Detroit Lions · Year 12

2020 stats: 3 games | 62.3 pct | 811 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 24 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Stafford won't get statistical credit for his best throw versus Arizona, a 60-yard rainbow nullified by a holding penalty on the game-winning drive. The Lions' offense has been inconsistent through three weeks, ranking 22nd in Drive Success Rate and 23rd in yards per drive (32.15).

Rank
20
6
Gardner Minshew
Gardner Minshew
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 2

2020 stats: 3 games | 73.8 pct | 787 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 6 pass TD | 3 INT | 60 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


There aren't many receivers more irreplaceable than unsung playmaker DJ Chark Jr., who was sorely missed last week on Thursday Night Football. Minshew got little help from No. 2 receiver Chris Conley and was heavily pressured by a Miami front seven that did little damage the first two weeks. Minshew did himself no favors with a pair of turnovers and a propensity for checking down that had broadcaster Troy Aikman frustrated throughout. To Minshew's credit, he was much more aggressive in the Week 2 comeback attempt versus Tennessee.

Rank
21
3
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints · Year 20

2020 stats: 3 games | 70.2 pct | 760 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 6 pass TD | 1 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Can your team's running back take a checkdown 52 yards to pay dirt? Alvin Kamara's tackle-shedding spree through Green Bay's secondary should be featured on NFL Films' season-recap reel as the defining play for an offense which tries each week to win on a 15-yard field. It's no longer a secret that Brees has reached the game-manager stage of a brilliant career. He can at least function as the deluxe, advanced-PhD version of the caretaker QB once he has Kamara and Michael Thomas at peak strength on the same Sunday.

Rank
22
2
Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans · Year 4

2020 stats: 3 games | 67.4 pct | 792 pass yds | 8.3 ypa | 4 pass TD | 3 INT | 49 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


The Texans game-planned to get the ball out of their QB's hands quickly against Pittsburgh's ferocious edge-rushing tandem of T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. Watson responded with his best stretch of football this season, joining Tom Brady (2016 AFC Championship Game) as the only opponents with at least 200 yards and two touchdown passes in the first half of a Steelers game over the past five years. Watt and Dupree ransacked Houston's one-dimensional attack in the second half, though, leaving Watson in search of his post-Hopkins identity.

Rank
23
2
Joe Burrow
Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 1

2020 stats: 3 games | 64.5 pct | 821 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 5 pass TD | 1 INT | 64 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Burrow is on pace to absorb 75 sacks, one shy of David Carr's 2002 record. Perhaps even more illustrative of Cincinnati's primary issue, the offensive line is on pace to allow 283 pressures, per Pro Football Focus, which would make Miami's league-high 236 pressures from last season pale in comparison. Despite all of that chaos, Burrow still offers tantalizing glimpses of potential each week, including a stretch of 13 consecutive completions which ended when Eagles safety Marcus Epps deflected a potential scoring play to Auden Tate. Keep an eye on Burrow's growing rapport with fellow rookie Tee Higgins, who followed a pair of touchdowns versus the Eagles with two more big plays lost to a penalty and a nicely timed strip at the catch point, respectively.

Rank
24
NR
Nick Foles
Nick Foles
Chicago Bears · Year 9

2020 stats: 1 game | 55.2 pct | 188 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | -3 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


When Mitchell Trubisky failed to capitalize on enough of the advantageous situations schemed up by Matt Nagy, the head coach turned to a veteran backup capable of making the defense pay for plays which are there to be made. Sometimes the coaches say the quiet part out loud. So much of NFL quarterbacking is about attacking the right defenders on certain downs and distances. Foles brought about an immediate uptick in tempo, rhythm, accuracy and decisiveness, targeting susceptible Falcons defensive backs with a trio of touchdowns in the game's final 10 minutes. He also got away with a few shaky throws that might have come back to haunt a quarterback lacking Foles' propitious relationship with the karma chameleons commonly referred to as football gods.

Rank
25
7
Justin Herbert
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 1

2020 stats: 2 games | 69.5 pct | 641 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 33 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


A shaky offensive pass interference penalty on Mike Williams cost Herbert a scoring opportunity in a second-quarter two-minute drill that ultimately resulted in an interception and at least a six-point swing on the scoreboard. While Herbert is learning through bad luck and growing pains, he's given his coaching staff an especially promising sign for QB development: He's 16 of 20 with a league-leading 140.2 passer rating on third downs in his first two NFL starts.

Rank
26
Teddy Bridgewater
Teddy Bridgewater
Carolina Panthers · Year 7

2020 stats: 3 games | 74.0 pct | 871 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 38 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Bridgewater carved up the soft underbelly of the Bolts' defense between the numbers from one 20-yard line to the other. The question is to what extent he can do similar damage in the pricier real estate outside the numbers and in the red zone.

Rank
27
3
Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 9

2020 stats: 3 games | 59.0 pct | 623 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 5 pass TD | 6 INT | 48 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


Combined with Dalvin Cook's re-emergence as a difference-maker on the ground, rookie Justin Jefferson's well-rounded 175-yard breakout game was perhaps the most desperately needed development of Week 3.

Rank
28
9
Daniel Jones
Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 2

2020 stats: 3 games | 60.2 pct | 699 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 92 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost


How can the organization evaluate Jones properly when he has to do it all himself, like Johnny Unitas at Louisville? Giants running backs have contributed a paltry 72 yards on 40 carries this season. The offensive line has Jones ducking for cover as soon as he reaches the top of his drop. His best chance of moving the sticks versus the 49ers was to hope Jason Garrett would dial up more designed QB runs. Before the season's first month was out, both New York teams had already placed their young franchise quarterbacks in impossible situations.

Rank
29
NR
Brett Rypien
Brett Rypien
Denver Broncos · Year 2

2020 stats: 1 game | 88.9 pct | 53 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


The nephew of Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien came on for mop-up duty after Jeff Driskel was treated like a pinata by Tampa Bay's blitzing defense. Rypien is the ninth different starting QB for the Broncos since Peyton Manning retired, the highest number in the league over that span.

Rank
30
3
Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 5

2020 stats: 3 games | 59.8 pct | 737 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 6 INT | 74 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble lost


Leading up to this week's clash with the Colts, Nick Foles credited former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as "the one who figured me out as a player" en route to Super Bowl LII MVP honors. Lest it be forgotten, Reich also helped develop Wentz into the MVP front-runner through the first three months of that 2017 season. Now 14-15-1 since Reich left for Indy, Wentz seems to be where Josh Allen was two years ago: a physical marvel with obvious mechanical flaws, a penchant for mind-numbing mistakes and little help from his blockers or receivers.

Rank
31
1
Dwayne Haskins
Dwayne Haskins
Washington Football Team · Year 2

2020 stats: 3 games | 56.4 pct | 625 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 4 pass TD | 3 INT | 27 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost


Haskins stared down the receiver on all three of his interceptions, turning a 7-3 lead into a 31-20 deficit at Cleveland. Dead last in yards per drive and 30th in Drive Success Rate, Haskins isn't making enough plays to compensate for his "both sides" approach to passing.

Rank
32
1
Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold
New York Jets · Year 3

2020 stats: 3 games | 61.5 pct | 562 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 4 INT | 36 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost


What does it say about the nature of a quarterback-coach relationship -- and the rate of development -- when the best plays each week happen after the call breaks down in the pocket?

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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