Best, worst NFL QBs of Week 15


If Eli Manning bid a sweet farewell Sunday to the New York Giants, what should we think about Philip Rivers‘ performance for the Los Angeles Chargers?

Rivers, famously traded for Manning during the 2004 draft, committed a season-high four turnovers in the Chargers’ 39-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He has thrown 12 interceptions in his past five games, is entering the final two games of his contract and might have shifted the conversation from where he will play in 2020 to if.

We’ll start with that heavy question in ESPN’s Week 15 QB Awards, our Tuesday assessment of quarterback highs and lows using unique data culled from ESPN Stats & Information and NFL Next Gen Stats.

All three of Rivers’ interceptions Sunday were on passes that traveled more than 20 air yards. Rivers hasn’t been shy in his career about slinging the ball downfield into coverage, sometimes with poor results. But this season, that habit has bitten back hard. He has a total of eight interceptions on such throws, the most in a season since Rex Grossman threw nine while with the Chicago Bears in 2011.

Are those interceptions simply poor decisions? Are they a function of an offense that has undergone personnel and coaching turnover throughout the season? Do they suggest that Rivers has lost some zip on the ball? The Chargers — or any other NFL team considering him as a 2020 starter — will need to answer these questions.

Overall, his 21 turnovers rank third in the NFL, behind that of Jameis Winston and Kyle Allen. Rivers is on pace for by far the worst Total QBR (48.3) since the statistic was developed in 2006. When the name of a Hall of Fame candidate starts showing up alongside “Grossman,” “Winston” and “Allen,” it’s time to take notice.

At this point, the primary difference between Rivers and Manning is that the Giants drafted Manning’s replacement last spring, when they picked Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Chargers, projected by ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) to get the No. 10 overall pick, do the same in 2020.

There is almost no doubt that Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is going to win NFL MVP. He deserves it. But that isn’t going to stop me from pointing out, on a weekly basis if I must, that Wilson is routinely completing some of the league’s most difficult passes.

The latest was a 19-yard touchdown throw to receiver DK Metcalf during the Seahawks’ 30-25 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Once again, Wilson showed incredible touch in placing the ball down the sideline, where only his (closely guarded) receiver could catch it. He put enough air under the ball to keep it aloft for 1.97 seconds, allowing Metcalf to gain 1 yard of separation from Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson and make a leaping catch 1.1 yards from the sideline and 6 yards deep in the end zone.

The pass had a 14.8% chance to be complete, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, making it the most difficult connection of Week 15. It was one of two touchdown passes Wilson threw Sunday of at least 15 air yards, raising his total on such throws to 43 the past three seasons. That’s 13 more than the next-highest quarterback (Kirk Cousins, 30) in that period, another data point for the increasingly inarguable position that Wilson is the league’s most effective deep thrower.

When the fourth quarter began Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the Steelers held a 10-7 lead over the Buffalo Bills. Soon, the Bills tied the game at 10. What happened next was head-scratching.

With the game on the line, and despite the healthy return of tailback James Conner, the Steelers turned to their rookie quarterback to try to lead them to victory. Hodges dropped back 20 times in the fourth quarter, including the first nine plays after the Bills tied the game. That decision led to two consecutive three-and-out possessions, as well as a pair of interceptions and two sacks. The Steelers didn’t score again in a 17-10 loss.

Source : ESPN