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NFL QB Index: Ranking all 66 starting quarterbacks from the 2023 NFL season

The season is over. A champion has been crowned. All that's left is to deliver a final, comprehensive ranking of every quarterback who started a game in 2023, judging them by the entire regular season AND playoff performance.

Sixty-six quarterbacks recorded a start in the NFL in 2023 (including one for two different teams), a season that seemed to include an unusual amount of bad injury luck under center -- that is, until a quick look back at last year's rankings revealed 68 quarterbacks made a start in 2022.

If it's par for the course, then the 2023 season was a track full of par fives. Let's pull out the driver and let it rip.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 6

2023 stats: 18 games | 66.5 pct | 4,102 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 27 pass TD | 8 INT | 975 rush yds | 7 rush TD | 12 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 12 | 2021: 14 | 2020: 7 | 2019: 1 | 2018: 23

Look, I’m not going to bury Jackson because of one bad outing in his team’s most important game of the season. Offensive coordinator Todd Monken did Jackson precisely zero favors with how he called that AFC title game against an elite Chiefs defense and forced Jackson to try to play hero ball when he never should have been asked to do so. And let’s not forget how Jackson played in the Divisional Round, almost single-handedly tucking the Texans into their offseason beds with his arm and legs in a scintillating playoff performance none of us will forget for some time. Jackson’s season wasn’t perfect; in fact, it really wasn’t all that consistent. But the high points landed in the stratosphere, and the timing with which they occurred couldn’t have been more beneficial to his MVP case. The voters agreed, awarding Jackson the top honor for the second time in his career. The only downside to this was the fashion in which he and his team exited the postseason.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 6

2023 stats: 19 games | 66.7 pct | 4,695 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 33 pass TD | 18 INT | 670 rush yds | 18 rush TD | 8 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 4 | 2021: 3 | 2020: 5 | 2019: 18 | 2018: 32

Allen’s 2023 season ended in disappointingly familiar fashion, but let’s not forget how eager everyone was to bury the Bills when they were 6-6. Allen was hurt, Sean McDermott was losing his edge, and Buffalo’s title window was closing – until it wasn’t. The path to the postseason didn’t include much dominance, but it afforded Allen to get right, and by the time he reached the playoffs, he was in vintage form. His 52-yard touchdown run against Pittsburgh was so electric, it inspired a week of debate over whether he’d faked a slide or just awkwardly changed direction during his gallop to the end zone. And for four quarters, Allen once again went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes, giving the Bills a chance to win even after Stefon Diggs dropped an incredible Allen pass late in the game. This season wasn’t a smooth ride for Allen, but we’ve reached 2024 with all of our questions regarding the QB having been answered. All that’s left is to figure out how the Bills might adjust their approach to further maximize his rare talents in the year ahead.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7

2023 stats: 20 games | 67.7 pct | 5,234 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 33 pass TD | 15 INT | 530 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 1 | 2021: 7 | 2020: 3 | 2019: 2 | 2018: 1 | 2017: N/A

Mahomes ended the regular season just barely cracking the top 10 after a campaign in which Kansas City’s lack of elite talent at receiver became a glaring issue. Because of this, Mahomes labored through most of 2023, never truly threatening to win MVP and finishing with his second-fewest passing yards of his career. But the all-world quarterback’s rare beauty returned in the playoffs, where he and the Chiefs put together a strong showing in a wild-card win over Miami, defeated Josh Allen’s Bills in the Divisional Round, and rode a bag full of first-half feats to an upset win over the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game. Per usual, Mahomes saved his best for last, leading a couple of crucial scoring drives in Super Bowl LVIII that required him to pick up first downs in essential spots to preserve the Chiefs’ chances of victory. When he threw his game-winning touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman, we found ourselves in a familiar place: With our jaws on the floor, thanks to the magic of Mahomes.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 8

2023 stats: 20 games | 67.6 pct | 5,412 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 34 pass TD | 12 INT | 24 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 7 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 8 | 2021: 23 | 2020: 22 | 2019: 20 | 2018: 7 | 2017: 15 | 2016: 32

This season was such a magical experience for Goff and the Lions, the first team to inspire legitimate hope for the fans of Detroit in 30-plus years. They were this close to getting to the Super Bowl before falling apart in a painful loss to San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game, but that shouldn’t sully a memorable campaign. Goff proved he was, as Dan Campbell said, “good enough for Detroit,” leading the Lions to their first-ever NFC North title and shoving criticism back into the face of haters around the world. When he was protected by Detroit’s elite offensive line, he was one of the NFL’s best passers, and when the lights shined the brightest, Goff delivered in the form of two playoff wins at Ford Field. Sure, the ending wasn’t what anyone envisioned for these Lions, but look at what they accomplished. A castoff quarterback helped turn around one of the NFL’s most miserable franchises in a little over a year’s time. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened, and because the Lions are going to be in a great position to run it back in 2024.

Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 15

2023 stats: 16 games | 63.0 pct | 4,332 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 26 pass TD | 11 INT | 65 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 22 | 2021: 5 | 2020: 13 | 2019: 9 | 2018: 16 | 2017: 8 | 2016: 8 | 2015: 19 | 2014: 17 | 2013: 13

The Rams’ return to the postseason was one of the NFL’s brightest and most unexpected stories of the 2023 season, and none of that happens without the excellence of both Stafford and coach Sean McVay. It was a treat to watch them operate in beautiful partnership, with a healthy Stafford dazzling fans by using his venerated arm talent to execute McVay’s plans to near perfection. The numbers might deceive folks when attempting to review Stafford’s 2023 season, but don’t be fooled: Stafford threw the ball about as well as any quarterback in the NFL this year. Look no further than Puka Nacua’s historic rookie season for all the proof you’ll need.

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 8

2023 stats: 18 games | 69.4 pct | 4,919 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 39 pass TD | 11 INT | 287 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 11 | 2021: 9 | 2020: 16 | 2019: 11 | 2018: 18 | 2017: 20 | 2016: 7

This is the season that will get lost in Prescott’s career story. For the majority of 2023, he played at an MVP level, growing from a quarterback overly reliant on CeeDee Lamb to a passer who was comfortable and using the full extent of his powers to spread the ball all over the field to a number of different targets. Mike McCarthy’s decision to appoint himself as play-caller worked because Prescott executed, and if it wasn’t for three truly dreadful outings -- Week 5 at San Francisco, Week 15 at Buffalo, and Super Wild Card Weekend against Green Bay -- he just might have won the league’s top award. That playoff loss is how folks will remember 2023 for the Cowboys, and it’s simply a shame. Prescott was fantastic for most of the season, and he often won’t get the credit he deserved – except in this space.

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Year 2

2023 stats: 19 games | 67.8 pct | 5,054 pass yds | 9.2 ypa | 34 pass TD | 12 INT | 218 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 6 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 15

The “skill or system” debate may have prevented you from thinking straight regarding Purdy, but allow me to simplify this for you: In the most trying, pivotal moments of the 2023 postseason, Purdy repeatedly delivered. He led a frantic comeback to take down the Packers and avoid an embarrassing home defeat in the Divisional Round, then engineered an even greater comeback a week later over the Detroit Lions, in which Purdy salted away the game with – surprise! – his sneaky scrambling ability. The only disappointment was the fact he and the 49ers couldn’t come through in two massive third-down situations in Super Bowl LVIII, leading to an overtime defeat in a mixed bag of a game for the second-year passer. Purdy isn’t the most physically gifted quarterback, and he’s never going to command the same praise as a Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, or maybe even a Jordan Love. But in most situations, the kid knows how to get the job done.

C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans · Rookie

2023 stats: 15 games | 63.9 pct | 4,108 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 23 pass TD | 5 INT | 167 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles

Remember, back in April, when folks were so concerned with Stroud’s cognition tests that they started to deflate his draft stock? Me neither. Stroud found the perfect situation in Houston, where offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik built the offense to his strengths and let the kid cook. He ran away with Offensive Rookie of the Year, led the Texans on an incredible turnaround, and dominated the NFL’s top defense in a wild-card win. That alone would have been enough to satisfy Texans fans more than they could have ever expected. And just think: Stroud, Slowik and the rest of the gang are back to do it again in 2024. The only difference this time around: No one will be caught off guard by the stellar performances produced by one of the most promising young passers in the NFL.

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 4

2023 stats: 18 games | 68.1 pct | 4,823 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 30 pass TD | 15 INT | 99 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 13 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 7 | 2021: 22 | 2020: 28

Tagovailoa’s statistics were fantastic in 2023. As quarterback of the NFL’s most explosive offense, he certainly produced the numbers to fit its reputation. But folks will venture into 2024 with a new question regarding the former Alabama star: Is he good enough to realize the Dolphins’ peak potential? Miami racked up massive numbers with an offense that took full advantage of its playmakers, but when facing elite competition, the Dolphins repeatedly failed to match their opponents. Tagovailoa’s nightmarish day in Baltimore captured this uncertainty regarding his own potential. He succeeded in staying healthy, answering prior doubts, but didn’t yet prove he’s capable of elevating the Dolphins to the greatest of heights. 

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · QB

2023 stats: 8 games | 69.5 pct | 2,331 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 18 pass TD | 5 INT | 25 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 17 | 2021: 13 | 2020: 15 | 2019: 8 | 2018: 13 | 2017: 10 | 2016: 13 | 2015: 11 | 2014: N/A | 2013: N/A

Like Prescott, much of what Cousins accomplished in 2023 will be lost to the sands of time. For about five weeks, Cousins was the lone bright spot for a Vikings team that stumbled badly out of the gate. He was playing some of the most consistently successful football of his career and keeping the Vikings afloat right when an Achilles injury ended his season. It was a shame, and based on what I saw from Cousins in half of a season – and how his backups struggled in his absence – Minnesota’s decision on whether to re-sign him should be a no-brainer. Run it back with Cousins, Vikings, and let him determine his future. He’s certainly earned that right.

Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 6

2023 stats: 19 games | 64.1 pct | 4,730 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 34 pass TD | 12 INT | 194 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 8 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 39 | 2021: 25 | 2020: 11 | 2019: 24 | 2018: 12

Acknowledge this reality for me, won’t you: Dave Canales is now the Carolina Panthers head coach because of what he accomplished with Mayfield (and Russell Wilson, and Geno Smith) in 2023. Mayfield arrived in Tampa as a reclamation project with a low ceiling and an even lower salary, posted a career year worthy of a Pro Bowl trip, and is now in line to multiply his 2023 annual pay exponentially. That’s a product of a perfect pairing between coordinator and quarterback, and Mayfield’s undying determination to prove the doubters wrong. After digesting a healthy portion of humble pie, Mayfield resurrected his career by staying true to himself and capitalizing on an opportunity, leading the Buccaneers to a playoff win and reestablishing an optimistic future after things had grown rather dim. That – plus his first 4,000-yard season – is worth celebrating.

Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers · Year 4

2023 stats: 19 games | 64.5 pct | 4,625 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 37 pass TD | 13 INT | 249 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 10 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 49 | 2020: N/A

If you scrolled social media during January, you likely came across a few posts that placed Love’s image at the end of a timeline that began with Brett Favre and included Aaron Rodgers. It wasn’t nearly as easy as this succession of quarterbacks might suggest, though. Love had to work through plenty of growing pains in his first season as a starter, overcoming self-destructive tendencies to become one of the most thrilling passers in pro football. His potential is outrageously high, and it feels as if the Packers are only just scratching the surface of what they could accomplish with Love as their quarterback. While their Divisional Round loss will sting, Packers fans should look back at their decimation of the Cowboys in Arlington with pride. That’s the future, folks.

Joe Flacco
Cleveland Browns · Year 16

2023 stats: 6 games | 62.8 pct | 1,923 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 14 pass TD | 10 INT | 15 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 51 | 2021: 51 | 2020: 46 | 2019: 33 | 2018: 26 | 2017: 25 | 2016: 21 | 2015: 18 | 2014: 11 | 2013: 16

My late, legendary colleague Chris Wesseling was always romantic about football, a violent game played among gladiators that is as much art as it is brutality. It wasn’t until Flacco took the field and flourished that I finally fully understood what he’d always meant. How could you not fall for Flacco’s story in 2023? The cast-off veteran left his couch for a coach flight to Cleveland, took over starting duties, lost his first outing, then went on a tear that saw him lead the banged-up Browns to the playoffs. From Weeks 13-17, Flacco was the best quarterback in the NFL, at least statistically. He quickly cemented his place in Browns history as the franchise’s first quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards in four straight games, and for about two months, captured an entire region with Flacco Fever. Sure, he was guaranteed to throw a pick or two each week, thanks to him playing with nothing to lose, but man, that was a magical time for a quarterback most everyone had left behind. The Comeback Player of the Year won’t be overlooked by teams in 2024, I can guarantee that.

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 4

2023 stats: 18 games | 65.8 pct | 4,108 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 24 pass TD | 15 INT | 610 rush yds | 15 rush TD | 9 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 2 | 2021: 17 | 2020: 23

It was a law of averages season for the Eagles, who followed up a dreamlike 2022 run to the Super Bowl with a collapse on the back end of the ensuing campaign. It was so drastic, it cost three assistants -- including both offensive and defensive coordinators -- their jobs. Whether it was his fault or not, Hurts was at the center of the pain, which included actual physical pain in Hurts’ knee, which he played through for most of the year. He looked slower and even when the Eagles ran out to a 10-1 start, they didn’t look nearly as powerful as they did in the prior season. When the wheels began to fall off, no one was surprised, and Hurts appeared both frustrated and lost. His 2022 career year seems incredibly far off in the distant past at this point, and suddenly, his Eagles are entering a crucial season. But let’s not overlook some of the heroics he pulled off in 2023, like when he completed a sideline pass while simultaneously holding off a defender with his opposite arm. Hurts played better than the numbers suggest and held a spot in my top 10 for the majority of the season before Philadelphia’s struggles ultimately consumed him.

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 3

2023 stats: 16 games | 65.6 pct | 4,016 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 21 pass TD | 14 INT | 339 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 12 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 6 | 2021: 32

I can explain Lawrence’s 2023 season in one word: Almost. A campaign full of near-misses – either on his part or his teammates’ – defined the experience leading up to the team’s late-season collapse. By that point, Lawrence was playing through two or three injuries and couldn’t be the same quarterback. And before then, something was just slightly off in Jacksonville’s offensive operation. Lawrence had some really great moments, but in totality, it wasn’t consistent enough to elevate the Jaguars to the place we thought they’d reach. For Lawrence and the Jaguars, it’s back to the drawing board now, but don’t worry, his potential remains sky high.

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 4

2023 stats: 10 games | 66.8 pct | 2,309 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 15 pass TD | 6 INT | 88 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 3 | 2021: 6 | 2020: 18

Football can be such a cruel game. Burrow entered 2023 with a calf injury suffered near the start of camp and resembled a statue from a bygone era for the first month of the season, struggling to produce for a Bengals team that found itself in a 1-3 hole after four games. In that moment, though, Burrow miraculously healed up and regained his form, positioning the Bengals for a thrilling turnaround with plenty of the season left to play. Just as Cincinnati was preparing for takeoff, the injury bug bit again, ending Burrow’s season. I don’t want to hold that first month against Burrow because he clearly wasn’t healthy. I prefer to look at the latter portion of his 2023 experience as hard evidence that Burrow remains one of the most exciting young talents in the league. He just needs to stay healthy.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 4

2023 stats: 13 games | 65.1 pct | 3,134 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 20 pass TD | 7 INT | 228 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 5 | 2021: 4 | 2020: 9

For the first time in his career, Herbert isn’t entering an offseason as the teacher’s pet. That’s not to say he doesn’t still have an incredibly bright future, because he does, but 2023 was the first season in which Herbert struggled in more than a few brief moments. Injuries played a part as his hands took an unusual amount of punishment, leading to frequent inconsistencies with his accuracy, and the second injury ended his season early. We might look back on this outcome as a blessing in disguise, considering the Chargers were headed nowhere. But Herbert will need to hit the ground running with new head coach Jim Harbaugh to silence any doubters concerned by his challenging 2023 campaign.

Anthony Richardson
Indianapolis Colts · Rookie

2023 stats: 4 games | 59.5 pct | 577 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 136 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Richardson’s rookie season was equal to arriving at a five-star restaurant and only tasting the appetizers before the staff rudely kicks you out. Richardson’s first year was brief in length due to his shoulder injury but loaded with optimism. He fit seamlessly with coach Shane Steichen and led many to believe he can be this generation’s Cam Newton, if not better. The Colts have their quarterback of the future, finally, and just need him to get healthy.

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 11

2023 stats: 15 games | 64.7 pct | 3,624 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 20 pass TD | 9 INT | 155 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 9 | 2021: 40 | 2020: N/A | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A | 2016: N/A | 2015: N/A | 2014: N/A | 2013: 31

Smith spent most of 2023 defining the Dalton Scale, occupying the space that separates teams who have a playoff-worthy quarterback from those who don’t. It was a step down for Smith after he posted a career year that was so impressive, it prompted the Buccaneers to hire his quarterbacks coach as their offensive coordinator. Smith simply wasn’t as good as without Dave Canales in his corner, vacillating between a quarterback who could light up a defense and lead Seattle to victory and a signal-caller who couldn’t string together enough great throws to be anything more than the representation of the NFL’s quarterbacking median. The contract he earned in 2022 doesn’t look bad yet, but Smith needs to be better in 2024 to convince Seattle they don’t need to look elsewhere for options.

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 3

2023 stats: 13 games | 61.4 pct | 2,562 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 16 pass TD | 9 INT | 657 rush yds | 4 rush TD | 10 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 13 | 2021: 28

Football fans – Bears loyalists and NFL enthusiasts alike – subjected Fields to microscopic levels of scrutiny so often in 2023, he’s likely still needing some aloe vera to soothe the burns. Fields did not have an easy go in his third NFL season, operating behind a leaky offensive line in an uninspired offense featuring receivers who frequently struggled to get open. Chicago’s backfield suffered so many injuries that it turned to former practice squad ballcarriers to handle the load for multiple weeks. This formula is how you waste legitimate talent at quarterback. When Fields had time to work and his receivers were able to create some separation, he was remarkably excellent. He’s still a fantastic runner but needs to be more than that. Admittedly, he sometimes holds onto the ball too long -- a frequent criticism -- but we’re trying to evaluate a quarterback without giving him a fair shot, at least in my opinion. The good news is Chicago has replaced offensive coordinator Luke Getsy with Shane Waldron, providing new hope for Fields’ prospects – if he’s even there. There’s no telling what 2024 holds for Fields. Chicago could be lured into selecting a top quarterback at No. 1 and jettisoning him elsewhere for pennies on the dollar, or it could trust the glimpses of excellence are proof he can become the standard. I just worry the Bears are going to make a shortsighted mistake because they have their first pick of a highly anticipated QB class. But only time will tell.

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 12

2023 stats: 15 games | 66.4 pct | 3,070 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 26 pass TD | 8 INT | 341 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 10 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 30 | 2021: 11 | 2020: 6 | 2019: 3 | 2018: 6 | 2017: 5 | 2016: 9 | 2015: 4 | 2014: 8 | 2013: 6

Well, this sure got complicated quickly. First things first: Wilson was better under Sean Payton than he was under Nathaniel Hackett. He improved enough to make Broncos fans believe their big-ticket acquisition was salvageable. But a late-season run of first-half struggles sapped Payton of patience, and with Wilson’s bloated contract playing an important role in Denver’s decision-making process, it abruptly benched him for Jarrett Stidham, feeding the media populous suggestions it was football-related more than anything. That’s not entirely off-base; Wilson wasn’t playing at a level that granted him immunity from being benched. But this was certainly about the money, too. It will be interesting to see if Denver has concluded he’s not worth the money it handed him after acquiring him via trade, or if it’ll give him another go under an adjusted contract. Either way, we know two truths about Wilson: He’s not the star he once was, but he can still sling it on occasion.

Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints · Year 10

2023 stats: 17 games | 68.4 pct | 3,878 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 25 pass TD | 8 INT | 40 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 23 | 2021: 10 | 2020: 12 | 2019: 16 | 2018: 22 | 2017: 21 | 2016: 5 | 2015: 10 | 2014: N/A

Carr was supposed to finally answer the Saints’ long-running problem under center, one that has persisted since the moment Drew Brees retired. He may have done so, but it took him nearly an entire season to get there. The Saints were an incredibly frustrating operation in 2023 because they didn’t know who they wanted to be until the final month, and that included Carr, a quarterback who frequently checked down and inexplicably struggled to establish a connection with 2022 first-round pick Chris Olave until, well, the last couple of weeks. Dennis Allen nearly lost his job because of these issues (and a defense that didn’t live up to expectation), but the Saints are entering 2024 with all of the good vibes because of how they finished. Carr finally found a consistent rhythm and pushed the ball down the field, giving New Orleans reason to believe he could be worth the four-year, $150 million deal he signed in last March. And as always, he proved his toughness, starting in every game despite suffering multiple injuries through the course of 2023. 

Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 5

2023 stats: 8 games | 65.7 pct | 1,799 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 10 pass TD | 5 INT | 244 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 7 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 16 | 2021: 8 | 2020: 10 | 2019: 13

Boy, any questions being asked about Murray's future in the wake of a 2022 ACL tear sure seem foolish in hindsight. His return to the field in Week 10 came at a perfect time; with a 1-8 record, the Cardinals knew they were destined for a poor finish, but they still had reason to give maximum effort in order to vet their star quarterback. Murray responded positively, quickly proving his value by elevating an offense that lacked juice in his absence. He even led the Cardinals to a couple of shocking upset wins in the state of Pennsylvania. Murray fit well with rookie coach Jonathan Gannon and his staff, and he should feel comfortable about his future with the Cardinals entering 2024. 

Gardner Minshew
Indianapolis Colts · Year 5

2023 stats: 16 games | 62.2 pct | 3,305 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 15 pass TD | 9 INT | 100 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 8 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 41 | 2021: 37 | 2020: 34 | 2019: 25

The air was sucked out of the Colts' 2023 season when Anthony Richardson was lost for the year -- at least, that's what should have happened. Instead, Minshew plugged the leak, stepping into the starting role and owning it as best he could. He's a backup for a reason, but he deserves a ton of credit for keeping the Colts competitive all the way down to the final week of the regular season by maximizing his natural talents without trying to be a hero. The finish wasn't what anyone in Indianapolis wanted, but the Colts were only contending because Minshew steadied a ship that seemed destined for the bottom of the ocean. His Pro Bowl trip was just an added bonus.

Jake Browning
Cincinnati Bengals · Rookie

2023 stats: 9 games | 70.4 pct | 1,936 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 12 pass TD | 7 INT | 127 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles

A handful of backup quarterbacks shocked me in 2023, but none more so than Browning, a four-year starter at the University of Washington who I thought had already peaked and might soon be working in something other than sports. Boy, was I wrong. Browning seized the opportunity following Joe Burrow's wrist injury and flourished, stunning the nation with a masterful performance in a prime-time win over Jacksonville and riding that momentum to keep the Bengals alive into the final weeks of the season. It all started to fall apart in Cincinnati's loss at Pittsburgh in Week 16, but Browning deserves both credit and a pay bump for how well he handled the adverse situation. At a minimum, the Bengals now have a backup in whom they can be confident if Burrow goes down again.

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · QB

2023 stats: 6 games | 61.4 pct | 1,115 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 7 pass TD | 4 INT | 142 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 28 | 2021: N/A | 2020: 4 | 2019: 5 | 2018: 11 | 2017: 13

2023 was supposed to hinge on Watson's performance, and for a few weeks, that was true. Then came the first injury, a shoulder issue that cost him two starts. A concussion forced him out of the game in which he made his return, and then he missed another start, but he was able to get back in time to establish a bit of a rhythm in a blowout win over the Cardinals. Just as he was getting going, posting a stellar performance in a comeback win over Baltimore, Watson's season abruptly ended due to a fracture in his shoulder. Once again, the Browns find themselves in a familiar position with Watson, uncertain of what he truly brings to the table for a team that proved it was good enough to seriously contend. 2024 will present another challenge to Watson: Show us you were worth the blockbuster trade that brought you here. The clock isn't quite ticking, but Cleveland needs to see some substantial results next year.

Aidan O'Connell
Las Vegas Raiders · Rookie

2023 stats: 11 games | 62.1 pct | 2,218 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 12 pass TD | 7 INT | 11 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

It was rather surprising to hear Antonio Pierce name O'Connell the starter following Pierce's promotion to interim coach of the Raiders, but over time, we learned Pierce was right: The rookie truly was the Raiders' best option. His tenure as starter included some bumps, but he elevated Las Vegas' offense higher than Jimmy Garoppolo did and helped Pierce post a winning record as an interim coach, which no doubt helped lead the Raiders to retain him as the permanent head coach. O'Connell still has a lot of learning and growing to do as a pro passer, but he definitely exceeded my expectations by miles.

Mason Rudolph
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 5

2023 stats: 4 games | 68.1 pct | 948 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 5 pass TD | 1 INT | 24 rush yds | 50 rush TD | 3 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 53 | 2020: 44 | 2019: T-48 | 2018: N/A

Steelers fans are probably still wondering why it took their team so long to turn to Rudolph in 2023. The former third-stringer capitalized on his unexpected opportunity to start again, helping them to three straight wins to close the season and secure a previously unlikely playoff berth. He was so impressive, Mike Tomlin made sure to note that he wants Rudolph -- who is headed for free agency -- back in 2024, when he can serve as both insurance for Kenny Pickett and as legitimate competition to push the younger signal-caller. That's a remarkable achievement, especially considering how the Steelers left Rudolph in the dark basement that is the bottom of the depth chart until they had no choice. Way to stay ready.

Andy Dalton
Carolina Panthers · Year 13

2023 stats: 3 games | 58.6 pct | 361 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 12 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 24 | 2021: 33 | 2020: 25 | 2019: T-30 | 2018: 17 | 2017: 26 | 2016: 17 | 2015: 6 | 2014: 18 | 2013: 20

A Panthers QB broke 300 passing yards in just two games in 2023. Would you be shocked if I told you Bryce Young and Dalton split those games evenly? In his single start of the season, Dalton threw 58 passes while attempting to keep up with Seattle, and he handled the moment exactly how you might expect a 13-year veteran to. Carolina lost that game, but Dalton elevated a talent-poor Panthers offense to a height Young never reached as a rookie. There is one more season remaining on Dalton's contract, but as a plus backup, he should continue to find work as long as he wants it.

Sam Howell
Washington Commanders · Year 2

2023 stats: 17 games | 63.4 pct | 3,946 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 21 pass TD | 21 INT | 263 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 5 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 46

For a time, Howell made Ron Rivera look like a genius for strapping Washington's 2023 fortunes to his inexperienced shoulders. But eventually, Rivera's ambitions for Howell proved a little too large. Howell made some spectacular plays in his first season as a starter, especially out of structure, but his penchant for taking risks eventually buried him and the Commanders so much that Rivera was ready to replace him with veteran Jacoby Brissett, before a hamstring injury suffered by Brissett in practice forced Howell back into the lineup. After Rivera was fired, he lamented how he'd handled the quarterback position in 2023, admitting he may have placed too much pressure on Howell. Now, it's not clear if Howell can be the Commanders' guy. They have a high pick in hand, so don't be surprised to see them take a quarterback and effectively end the Howell era.

Joshua Dobbs
Minnesota Vikings · Year 7

2023 stats: 13 games | 62.8 pct | 2464 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 13 pass TD | 10 INT | 421 rush yds | 6 rush TD | 14 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 45 | 2021: N/A | 2020: N/A | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A

2023 was a truly wild year for Dobbs, a career backup who changed teams two weeks before the start of the season, ascended to the starting role in Arizona, and managed to keep the Cardinals competitive while awaiting Kyler Murray's return. As if that wasn't a significant enough hurdle, another was placed directly in his path when Arizona traded him to Minnesota, where Dobbs was thrust into a game less than a week after being dealt -- and promptly led the Vikings to a win. Eventually, the magic ran out, the wheels fell off, and Dobbs descended to the bottom of the depth chart for an increasingly desperate Vikings squad. But we'll always remember how Dobbs captivated a football-loving nation for a couple of months, earned a nickname (the Passtronaut), and bought himself another opportunity to stick with a team in 2024.

Tyrod Taylor
New York Giants · Year 13

2023 stats: 11 games | 64.4 pct | 1,341 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 5 pass TD | 3 INT | 197 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 45 | 2020: T-48 | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A | 2017: 18 | 2016: 18 | 2015: 16 | 2014: N/A | 2013: N/A

I'm convinced it isn't possible for Taylor to make it through a season without an unusual amount of adversity being plopped on his plate. This time around, injury forced him out of the lineup and cleared the way for Tommy DeVito's short-lived run, but in typical Taylor fashion, he worked his way back to the field and proved why he was signed to be Daniel Jones' backup. Taylor wasn't remarkably effective in any area, but he was steady, so much so that his Giants dominated Philadelphia in a season-ending win over the defending NFC champs. That's what Taylor provides at this stage of his career: reliably average-or-slightly-better production that will keep an offense afloat in a time of need.

Will Levis
Tennessee Titans · Rookie

2023 stats: 9 games | 58.4 pct | 1,808 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 8 pass TD | 4 INT | 57 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Because of an injury to Ryan Tannehill, Levis got his chance to earn the job earlier than most probably expected. It included a bumpy road typical of a rookie quarterback, especially against opponents who blitzed him relentlessly, but after the dust of 2023 has settled, I like Levis' prospects in Nashville going forward. The kid has guts, an explosive arm and the moxie needed to make it in this league, as evidenced by his wild comeback win over Miami in prime time. Tennessee's front office will need to help him by surrounding him with quality talent, of course, but don't sleep on Levis. There's something there.

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 12

2023 stats: 10 games | 64.8 pct | 1,616 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 4 pass TD | 7 INT | 74 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 19 | 2021: 12 | 2020: 8 | 2019: 7 | 2018: 30 | 2017: N/A | 2016: 24 | 2015: 26 | 2014: 13 | 2013: 14

It seemed likely Tannehill would lose his job to Levis at some point in 2023, but perhaps not as soon as he did. The injury bug can be a brutal pest, though, and by the time Tannehill returned to the field, it was as a backup called into action solely out of need. Tannehill should still be able to find work in that capacity, because his strengths still exist. He managed to win three of his eight starts, but his ceiling is lower at this point. It's Levis' team now, and as Tannehill approaches free agency, he'll be entering a market where he's likely viewed as a plus backup at absolute best.

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 2

2023 stats: 12 games | 62.0 pct | 2,070 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 6 pass TD | 4 INT | 54 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 25

This was not how the Steelers envisioned 2023 going for their promising young quarterback. Matt Canada was fired after the offense's dreadful start to the season, but even after that, Mike Tomlin's decision to proceed with Mason Rudolph over a healthy Pickett sure was discouraging, if not damning. Suddenly, the pressure is very much on Pickett to produce in Year 3, which may begin with a camp battle with Rudolph for the starting job. Pickett never seemed to get comfortable in his second campaign before the injuries and offensive deficiencies started to mount, setting his progress back significantly. The city of Pittsburgh no longer carries a rosy outlook regarding Pickett, and the team now needs him to prove he can be the guy. That's a lot to ask of a quarterback with limited experience and a new offense to learn.

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Year 2

2023 stats: 15 games | 64.2 pct | 2,836 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 12 pass TD | 12 INT | 193 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 12 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 34

Much to the disbelief of some of my counterparts, there were, in fact, a few moments in 2023 in which Ridder flashed the kind of potential that likely sold Arthur Smith on his viability as a starter entering the season. But those moments were so fleeting. Smith ended up going down with the ship, which helps no one, with Ridder being atop the list of those affected. The kid can move, has some arm talent and came through in the clutch in a few key moments, but the total picture just wasn't good. I gave up on him in 2023, and with a new coach now in charge, I have a feeling the Falcons will do the same in the months ahead.

Tommy DeVito
New York Giants · Rookie

2023 stats: 9 games | 64.0 pct | 1,101 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 8 pass TD | 3 INT | 195 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

The Tommy Cutlets era was fun while it lasted. The kid from New Jersey easily proved to be a sympathetic figure, a rookie living with his parents who suddenly found himself leading the Giants through a dark period. His play stunned many, at least after he got past an ugly debut in which the team actively avoided asking him to throw. He channeled some magic in front of a national television audience and padded his checking account with some quick endorsement deals, but as is often the case with reserve signal-callers, the magic eventually ran out. He'll continue to be a fun underlying character to track in the years ahead, although I don't think we'll ever find ourselves swimming in the ocean of buzz that surrounded New York around Thanksgiving again.

Jarrett Stidham
Denver Broncos · Year 5

2023 stats: 3 games | 60.6 pct | 496 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 8 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

2022 final ranking: 50 | 2021: N/A | 2020: N/A | 2019: N/A

Stiddy's first outing of the season, against the Chargers in Week 17, was a bit misleading, at least by the numbers. He finished with 224 passing yards and a touchdown, but 54 of those yards were the product of Lil'Jordan Humphrey pulling off a superhuman catch-and-run for a score. Stidham displayed some very visible rust after sitting in the background for most of 2023, but he did start to settle in just as the season reached its end. I'm feeling certain he won't be the guy in 2024, but then again, I can't confidently predict what Sean Payton and Co. will do under center. I do know they should feel OK with Stidham being an option at minimum entering the new year.

Nick Mullens
Minnesota Vikings · Year 6

2023 stats: 5 games | 67.6 pct | 1,306 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 7 pass TD | 8 INT | 25 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 55 | 2020: 42 | 2019: N/A | 2018: 28

If you're searching for a quarterback who played as if he did not give a you-know-what about protecting the ball, Mullens is your guy. The Vikings rose and sank with Mullens in his five games, enjoying the wild highs of Mullens throwing for 300-plus yards while also feeling the acute pain of multiple interceptions, with the QB hitting those thresholds in the same game thrice in 2023. Watching him is like watching a stock car race around Talladega without a restrictor plate: full throttle, baby, for better or worse. When no better option revealed itself down the stretch, Kevin O'Connell was forced to go along for the ride, clutching the frame of the car the whole way before finally demanding to be let out. 

Tyson Bagent
Chicago Bears · Rookie

2023 stats: 5 games | 65.7 pct | 859 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 3 pass TD | 6 INT | 109 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Bagent was fun to watch while he had his time in the sun, primarily because he was a thrilling improviser. When it came to throwing, however, it was a mixed bag, with the bad outweighing the good, like peanuts outnumber M&Ms in a pouch of trail mix. His story made for some strong internet fodder, and he managed to lead the Bears to a couple of wins, but years from now, we'll struggle to recall much of anything from his brief time as Chicago's starter. That's the cold reality of playing quarterback in the NFL -- but it's still better than losing to Colorado School of Mines.

Drew Lock
Seattle Seahawks · Year 5

2023 stats: 4 games | 63.2 pct | 543 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 14 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 47 | 2020: 33 | 2019: 29

Lock didn't see a ton of time in 2023, shrinking the sample size available for analysis. Folks will certainly remember his game-winning drive in a comeback victory over the Eagles on national television, and how he delivered a heart-warming interview with ESPN's Lisa Salters after the thrilling triumph. But because I'm an honest man writing in a transparent space, I must also remind everyone of the boneheaded pass he threw that resulted in an interception and opened the door for the Rams to stun the Seahawks in Week 11. Lock is essentially a gifted quarterback who does just enough to keep your belief in him alive, even while all of the other stuff in between convinces you he isn't cut out for the job. Keep fighting that emotional battle, folks. Few things are more intoxicating than potential.

Bailey Zappe
New England Patriots · Year 2

2023 stats: 10 games | 59.9 pct | 1,272 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 6 pass TD | 9 INT | 83 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 47

I must first acknowledge this harsh reality: The Patriots don't have a long-term answer at quarterback. Neither Zappe nor Mac Jones is going to be the guy. But if I had to choose between the two (as Bill Belichick was often forced to do in 2023), I'd take Zappe, who at least was tough enough to overcome some mistakes and keep fighting. Zappe shocked Pittsburgh with rapid-fire touchdown passes in the first half of the Pats' upset win over the Steelers, and he battled enough to make some games interesting. But that is approximately his ceiling, which is why the Patriots are in line to select a quarterback in April's draft.

Taylor Heinicke
Atlanta Falcons · Year 8

2023 stats: 5 games | 54.4 pct | 890 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 5 pass TD | 4 INT | 124 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

2022 final ranking: 35 | 2021: 27 | 2020: 37 | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A | 2016: N/A | 2015: N/A

Arthur Smith's yo-yo approach to the quarterback room did neither of his passers any favors, but we shouldn't be surprised that Heinicke often provided Atlanta with more offensive juice when called upon. We also shouldn't be shocked by Heinicke's inability to keep the job. He's a solid backup with playmaking abilities. Given that he'll carry a cap hit of under $9 million in 2024, per Over the Cap, I could easily see the Falcons' new regime keeping him.

Bryce Young
Carolina Panthers · Rookie

2023 stats: 16 games | 59.8 pct | 2,877 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 11 pass TD | 10 INT | 253 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 11 fumbles

Look no further than Carolina’s hiring of Dave Canales to explain how Young fared in his rookie season. He was thrown behind an incredibly inconsistent offensive line and into an offense that lacked playmakers, and was expected to create miracles with it. Instead, he predictably struggled, often resorting to the hero plays that once won him a Heisman Trophy at Alabama, but don’t work in the NFL. The hope moving forward is that Young will get back on track under Canales, who worked wonders with Baker Mayfield in Tampa Bay in 2023. We’ll see if that happens.

Trevor Siemian
New York Jets · Year 9

2023 stats: 5 games | 56.2 pct | 724 pass yds | 4.7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 40 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 54 | 2021: 38 | 2020: N/A | 2019: 55 | 2018: N/A | 2017: 31 | 2016: 22 | 2015: N/A

Siemian’s struggles came as no surprise to anyone who watched the Jets play football in 2023, but I will give him some credit. Unlike his counterparts, Siemian did settle into a comfortable place before the end of the season, leading a scoring explosion in what was eventually a narrow win over Washington and completing an astounding 32 passes with most being dump-offs underneath against a ferocious Browns defense in Week 17. Siemian was never great, but he was still largely better than anything else the Jets rolled out. It was a low bar to reach, though.

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 5

2023 stats: 6 games | 67.5 pct | 909 pass yds | 5.7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 6 INT | 206 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 18 | 2021: 24 | 2020: 24 | 2019: 23

Fresh off signing a four-year, $160 million deal, Jones was supposed to own 2023. Instead, it owned him. The injury bug returned with a vengeance, forcing Jones to miss all but six games, and in the games he played, he rarely had a chance while operating behind a crumbling offensive line. He threw six interceptions, fumbled four times and had just one bright moment in a furious comeback win over the Cardinals in Arizona. Otherwise, 2023 was a lost year for Jones, who will try to pick himself up and prove he can be the guy worth $40 million per year for the Giants.

Mitchell Trubisky
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 7

2023 stats: 5 games | 62.6 pct | 632 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 4 pass TD | 5 INT | 54 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble

2022 final ranking: 33 | 2021: N/A | 2020: 31 | 2019: T-30 | 2018: 19 | 2017: 30

In 2023, Trubisky may have played himself out of a job. The veteran backup was brought in to provide security behind Kenny Pickett, but when he was called upon, he too often made the same mistakes that saw him wash out of Chicago. At times, Trubisky made some great throws and helped the Steelers’ offense maintain a pulse, but rarely was he good enough to justify starter status. Some of this can certainly be blamed on since-fired offensive coordinator Matt Canada, but Mason Rudolph’s significantly better performance drove the final nail into Trubisky’s coffin in the Steel City -- leading to his recent release.

Case Keenum
Houston Texans · Year 11

2023 stats: 2 games | 64.2 pct | 291 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 1 pass TD | 3 INT | 1 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 48 | 2020: N/A | 2019: 34 | 2018: 27 | 2017: 14 | 2016: N/A | 2015: N/A | 2014: N/A | 2013: N/A

Keenum’s season comes down to two realities: He was surprisingly good in leading a comeback win over the Titans on the road – a performance in which he finished off a fantastic trip to the red zone with a bullet to Noah Brown for a touchdown – and he was equally as terrible in a home start against Cleveland. Keenum isn’t C.J. Stroud, not even close, and the difference was painfully visible. But he’s also not a terrible veteran option if he isn’t facing a top defense.

Jimmy Garoppolo
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 10

2023 stats: 7 games | 65.1 pct | 1,205 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 7 pass TD | 9 INT | 39 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

2022 final ranking: 20 | 2021: 20 | 2020: T-30 | 2019: 15 | 2018: N/A | 2017: 12 | 2016: N/A | 2015: N/A | 2014: N/A

Well, the Raiders’ big-time offseason signing certainly flopped. Garoppolo’s move to Las Vegas was supposed to fill the Raiders’ most glaring need, but instead, he proved to be a downgrade from Derek Carr, processing too slowly to make quality decisions and lacking the arm strength to get the job done. It was mildly surprising to see Antonio Pierce hand the keys to rookie Aidan O’Connell upon his appointment to interim coach, but the results ended up proving him right. Garoppolo, meanwhile, faces a wildly uncertain future after tanking his value in less than a full season. As it turns out, the 49ers were onto something.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 3

2023 stats: 11 games | 64.9 pct | 2,120 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 10 pass TD | 12 INT | 96rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 29 | 2021: 16

This was the year everything changed for the Patriots, with Bill Belichick limping to a 4-13 finish in his final season at the helm. One cannot mention Belichick’s departure without including the de-evolution of Jones, who took so many steps backward in his third season, New England is now expected by many to spend its high first-round pick (No. 3 overall) on a new quarterback. Jones tried to be a hero and paid the price for most of his attempts, fueling Belichick’s frustration so much that he benched Jones mid-game on four separate occasions, including in the final minutes of a one-score situation that left everyone puzzled. That’s how bad it was for Jones, and there’s no telling what new coach Jerod Mayo might do with him in 2024.

Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Year 3

2023 stats: 12 games | 60.1 pct | 2,271 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 8 pass TD | 7 INT | 211 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 11 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 59 | 2021: 43

That sound you’re hearing is the Jets’ entire fan base (and the NFL world as a whole) letting out a deep sigh after yet another tumultuous, overly discussed struggle of a season for the former No. 2 overall pick. Despite what his critics will claim, Wilson had some bright moments. He flashed potential, led the Jets to four wins in 11 starts and finished with a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio. But the bad so significantly outweighed the good that Robert Saleh finally relented and turned to Tim Boyle in a moment of exasperation. Saleh will tell reporters he believes Wilson has a bright future, but Wilson's time in New York could soon come to an end and will stand as a massive red mark on GM Joe Douglas’ résumé.

Carson Wentz
Los Angeles Rams · Year 8

2023 stats: 2 games | 70.8 pct | 163 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 56 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 36 | 2021: 19 | 2020: 35 | 2019: 10 | 2018: 14 | 2017: 3 | 2016: 25

Wentz got exactly one chance to prove he still belonged in the NFL: A meaningless Week 18 game against a reserve-filled San Francisco team. Wentz did a solid job, completing 17 of 24 passes for 163 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, adding one gritty 17-yard run for a score. It was fun to see Wentz find some success, especially after all the difficulties he’s endured since his Philadelphia tenure came to an unceremonious end. It should be enough to sell a team on inviting him to camp. Beyond that, who knows?

Tyler Huntley
Baltimore Ravens · Year 4

2023 stats: 5 games | 56.8 pct | 203 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT | 55 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 52 | 2021: 26 | 2020: N/A

For the first time in three seasons, we didn’t see significant Huntley snaps until Week 18. What a time to be alive! When the Ravens finally needed Huntley, the weather decided to be a pest, dumping rain on M&T Bank Stadium and making for a messy afternoon in Baltimore. No worries for Huntley, who completed 15 of 28 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown pass to Isaiah Likely in a game largely played with reserves. Baltimore lost, but it didn’t matter. It was nice, though, to see Huntley get some playing time in a largely jubilant Ravens season.

Easton Stick
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 4

2023 stats: 5 games | 63.8 pct | 1,129 pass yds | 56.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 144 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: N/A | 2020: N/A

For a guy who probably didn’t expect to play much in 2023, Stick did an all right job. Sure, he threw one of the most jaw-dropping pick-sixes you’ll ever see in a blowout loss so ugly, it cost his coach and GM their jobs. But Stick was thrown into a bad situation and managed to keep his team competitive in most of his outings. Considering he was playing under an interim coach behind a pretty leaky line, he faired OK. 

Sam Darnold
San Francisco 49ers · Year 6

2023 stats: 10 games | 60.9 pct | 297 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 15 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 38 | 2021: 42 | 2020: 36 | 2019: 26 | 2018: 24

Darnold’s single outing gave us proof of why Kyle Shanahan chose him over Trey Lance as Brock Purdy’s backup. He didn’t do anything remarkable in the tight Week 18 loss to the Rams but operated the offense relatively efficiently, even showing off the wheels on a gritty touchdown run. It’s fun to root for Darnold at this point because the expectations are gone. He’s just a backup trying to stay in the league, and he probably found his best fit in Shanahan’s system. After being forced through the New York meat grinder (and flopping in Carolina), that has to be a relief.

C.J. Beathard
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 7

2023 stats: 7 games | 75.5 pct | 349 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 35 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: N/A | 2020: 38 | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A

Beathard won his single start because he simply played within himself. He threw for 178 yards, didn’t make many mistakes and led the Jaguars to an easy win over the lowly Panthers. There’s no telling how he may have fared against better opponents, but it’s a good thing for the Jaguars that they didn’t have to find out. Like Gabbert, he’s another veteran backup who should only see the field in case of emergency.

Brian Hoyer
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 15

2023 stats: 3 games | 54.8 pct | 231 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 0 pass TD | 2 INT | -3 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 58 | 2021: N/A | 2020: 58 | 2019: 45 | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A | 2016: N/A | 2015: 25 | 2014: 28 | 2013: N/A

Hoyer’s 2023 was interesting because when he entered the game in relief, he wasn’t bad. But when he started, the results weren’t good. Hoyer played outside of himself in his single start, throwing two interceptions in a loss to Chicago that effectively convinced the Raiders he’s only an emergency option. The good news for Hoyer: He’s made quite a career out of this role after his starter star burned out. With Bill Belichick out of the NFL and Josh McDaniels coming off his second firing, though, it will be interesting to see if Hoyer finds a home without his most familiar coaches running clubs.

P.J. Walker
Cleveland Browns · Year 4

2023 stats: 6 games | 48.6 pct | 674 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 1 pass TD | 5 INT | 30 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 48 | 2021: 52 | 2020: 55

Walker led the Browns to two wins – one in a start, one in a replacement role – but goodness, was he a turnover machine. Every Walker game was like a roller-coaster ride without the security of a lap bar. The descents down the hills were thrilling, but there was no guarantee it would be safe. Take Walker’s outing in Seattle, where the Browns were clinging to a narrow lead late in the game, and Walker threw a pick that swung the game in the Seahawks’ favor. Or Cleveland’s close win over San Francisco, in which Walker threw two interceptions, and only a rookie kicker’s missed attempt saved them from defeat. It was telling that Kevin Stefanski opted to go with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, then Joe Flacco, then even bringing in Jeff Driskel to handle Week 18 and postseason backup duties. I’m just curious to see whether Walker gets another shot in the NFL -- and that’s written with appreciation for his efforts in a wild win over Indianapolis.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson
Cleveland Browns · Rookie

2023 stats: 8 games | 53.6 pct | 440 pass yds | 3.9 ypa | 1 pass TD | 4 INT | 65 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

The peak of Thompson-Robinson’s rookie season came in the fourth quarter of Week 11, when the Browns desperately needed a productive drive to beat a Steelers team that had little business being in a close game with Cleveland. To Thompson-Robinson’s credit, he ditched his fears and let it fly, moving the Browns 48 yards in eight plays and far enough for Dustin Hopkins to drill the game-winning 34-yard field goal. Otherwise, he was an overmatched rookie who was just starting to settle into a rhythm when he was knocked out of a road game at Denver by Baron Browning, effectively ending his chances of keeping the job in 2023. Like many of the players at this point in the list, he’s a project, but one with upside thanks to his mobility.

Jeff Driskel
Cleveland Browns · Year 8

2023 stats: 1 game | 50.0 pct | 166 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 33 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 63 | 2021: N/A | 2020: T-52 | 2019: 43 | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A | 2016: N/A

Driskel’s single start came only because the Browns had already locked up a playoff spot. Driskel showed rust in the first half of his first appearance in 2023, throwing two first-half interceptions before settling into the game and tossing a couple of touchdowns. I left that Week 18 game wondering whether he might have been a better backup option than P.J. Walker all along, but we don’t live in the world of what if? here. For one game, he did a fine job, considering the contest was meaningless. 

Blaine Gabbert
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 12

2023 stats: 2 games | 51.4 pct | 185 pass yds | 5.3 ypa | 0 pass TD | 3 INT | 45 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2021 final ranking: N/A | 2021: N/A | 2020: N/A | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A | 2017: N/A | 2016: N/A | 2015: 29 | 2014: N/A | 2013: N/A

Gabbert’s 2023 season boiled down to one meaningless Week 18 outing, in which he squared off with Easton Stick in a colossal showdown for the ages. Sarcasm aside, Gabbert didn’t surprise much. He threw a pick, moved the Chiefs into field-goal range twice, and that was about it. Gabbert is on the roster as an emergency option intended to remain behind glass unless the worst imaginable scenario – Patrick Mahomes being forced out by injury – occurs, and as Week 18 proved, that’s his ceiling.

Tim Boyle
Houston Texans · Year 6

2023 stats: 3 games | 62.3 pct | 360 pass yds | 4.7 ypa | 1 pass TD | 4 INT | 5 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

2022 final ranking: N/A | 2021: 54 | 2020: N/A | 2019: N/A | 2018: N/A

Boyle’s reputation preceded himself as soon as he arrived in New York: Aaron Rodgers’ buddy found employment because he was Rodgers’ pal. And when Boyle received a previously unexpected opportunity to start after weeks of desperate cries for change just for the sake of it, we all learned why he’d never started a game prior to his fourth NFL season. Boyle simply wasn’t good, and the venue – a nationally televised Black Friday game – wasn’t ideal for a journeyman backup to become a starter. Nor was his performance, which was painfully familiar to those who had just labored through weeks of ugly Zach Wilson performances. Boyle rightfully started just two games before Saleh made another move, effectively burying those who believed Boyle might give the Jets a better chance.

Jaren Hall
Minnesota Vikings · Rookie

2023 stats: 3 games | 65.0 pct | 168 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 14 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Much like Clayton Tune in Arizona, Hall was another overmatched rookie forced into action before he was ready. He threw a total of 20 passes in three games with zero touchdowns and one interception. Josh Dobbs’ insertion and sudden rise into the news cycle came because Hall was forced out of a game against Atlanta due to a concussion, and that was probably his best chance of success in his rookie season. Like Tune, he’s a project who was drafted for his athleticism but without the expectation he’d be needed in 2023. We shouldn’t expect him to see significant time in 2024, either.

Brett Rypien
New York Jets · Year 5

2023 stats: 2 games | 47.4 pct | 172 pass yds | 4.5 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 19 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 53 | 2021: N/A | 2020: 54 | 2019: N/A

Rypien’s lone start – which occurred because Matthew Stafford was injured – was enough to convince the Rams to find a better option on the open market. With little reason to fear Rypien, Green Bay shut down the Rams’ running game (which was also missing Kyren Williams at that time) and dedicated itself solely to putting Rypien in disadvantageous situations. He predictably struggled, leading the Rams to release and replace him with Carson Wentz, bringing an abrupt end to a forgettable 2023.

Clayton Tune
Arizona Cardinals · Rookie

2023 stats: 7 games | 57.1 pct | 62 pass yds | 3.0 ypa | 0 pass TD | 2 INT | 30 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

With one week left before Kyler Murray’s return, the Cardinals decided it was time to give Tune a spin. Unfortunately for the rookie, his debut came against the NFL’s No. 1 defense in Cleveland, which feasted on his inexperience. Tune was clearly overmatched, completing 11 of 20 passes and converting just one of 12 third-down attempts. The Cardinals never had a chance with Tune in the lineup, which wasn’t an indictment of him as much as it was a bad matchup. He’s a project.

Aaron Rodgers
New York Jets · Year 19

2023 stats: 1 game | 0 pct | 0 pass yds | 0.0 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

2022 final ranking: 14 | 2021: 2 | 2020: 1 | 2019: 7 | 2018: 5 | 2017: 11 | 2016: 3 | 2015: 9 | 2014: 1 | 2013: T-4

How does one judge four snaps fairly? The answer: They don't, and I can't either. I'd love to disqualify Rodgers from inclusion because his season was entirely meaningless. His run out of the tunnel at MetLife Stadium -- United States flag in hand and all -- meant more than any of the downs he played. As such, his ranking is also irrelevant. Nothing to see here.

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