Air Index

Presented By

NFL QB Index, Week 8: Patrick Mahomes plummets

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 7 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 8, based solely on 2021 play.

Rank
1
Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 6

2021 stats: 6 games | 73.1 pct | 1,813 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 16 pass TD | 4 INT | 70 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 6 fumbles


If Prescott spent the bye week examining his upcoming schedule in addition to rehabbing his injured calf, he must have liked what he saw. The Saints and Cardinals will be challenging, but games against the Broncos, Falcons, Chiefs, Eagles and two against Washington set up well for an MVP run. Right tackle La’el Collins returns this week and wideout Michael Gallup may not be far behind. It almost isn’t fair.

Rank
2
1
Kyler Murray
Arizona Cardinals · Year 3

2021 stats: 7 games | 73.5 pct | 2,002 pass yds | 9.0 ypa | 17 pass TD | 5 INT | 126 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 6 fumbles


The next time you consider saying that a quarterback can make “all the throws,” watch Murray’s toss on third-and-24 late in the second quarter of last Sunday's game. He held the middle safety with his eyes, then tossed the ball 50 yards on a rope along the sideline to A.J. Green, who was waiting in a hole in the Texans’ zone that Murray’s helmet could have barely fit through. The handful of quarterbacks alive who can make that throw -- you could count them on one hand -- are stretching the bounds of what play calls are possible.


UPDATE: Murray completed 22 of 33 passes for 274 yards, with zero touchdowns, two interceptions and 21 rushing yards, in Thursday's loss to the Packers.

Rank
3
1
Tom Brady
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 22

2021 stats: 7 games | 67.0 pct | 2,275 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 21 pass TD | 3 INT | 37 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles


What I’ll remember about the game in which Brady topped 600 passing TDs: His frustration with Mike Evans and O.J. Howard not understanding when they were the hot route on a blitz, and his frustration with his coaches before a timeout, probably for a delay getting the play in. Brady averaged fewer than 6 yards per attempt for just the third time as a Buc on a day when he peppered terrific darts into microscopic windows in the red zone on the way to four touchdowns in a 38-3 win. This is what qualifies as a down week for Brady lately.

Rank
4
Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 4

2021 stats: 7 games | 64.9 pct | 1,943 pass yds | 8.6 ypa | 10 pass TD | 5 INT | 480 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Even in a blowout loss, Lamar had a handful of big-time throws and led his team in rushing with 88 yards. The next-closest Ravens runner was Devonta Freeman with 14. Still, this Ravens offense is proving streaky because it relies so much on the deep ball. Jackson's average depth of target against the Bengals was over 15 yards down the field, and he now leads the league in the category by a full yard. No quarterback is being asked to do more. Jackson could use more chain-moving throws added to the offense.

Rank
5
Derek Carr
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 8

2021 stats: 7 games | 67.7 pct | 2,269 pass yds | 8.5 ypa | 12 pass TD | 5 INT | 29 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Carr wrecks basic defenses. He's reached the stage of his pre-snap mastery that he's going to figure out what opponents are trying to accomplish by the second quarter, and he's going to hammer their weak spots if they don't adjust. The Eagles didn't adjust. While he didn't need to throw deep much last week, Carr leads the league in attempts of 20-plus air yards without sacrificing any efficiency. His 43-yard toss on third-and-15 last week to Zay Jones, a beautiful back-shoulder bomb, is the type of play we didn't see in the Raiders' offense a few years ago.

Rank
6
3
Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 13

2021 stats: 7 games | 69.3 pct | 2,172 pass yds | 9.0 ypa | 19 pass TD | 4 INT | 24 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


I thought Stafford had his best game of the year against the Lions. Yes, it was against the Lions. Yes, he had the best wow:woof throw ratio of the season. In a game with few possessions and little margin for error, Stafford did an excellent job coming back from 10 points down with an assortment of high-level throws. Sean McVay trusts Stafford to go empty on third-and-1 with the game on the line, and Stafford responds with great decision making.

Rank
7
Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 4

2021 stats: 6 games | 64.8 pct | 1,723 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 15 pass TD | 3 INT | 214 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles


To the Allen enthusiasts who can't understand why he ranks seventh after a strong start to the season:


  1. The ranks are based on 2021 only.
  2. This is the best year of NFL quarterbacking I've ever seen.
  3. Allen's first two sluggish weeks still count for one-third of his total grade.
  4. Negative plays count. Allen has more turnover-worthy plays than anyone else in the top 15, according to Pro Football Focus.
  5. He's still seventh in the best year of quarterbacking I've ever seen, with very little separating the top 10!
  6. Life is short; tell someone you love them.
Rank
8
Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 2

2021 stats: 6 games | 65.4 pct | 1,771 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 14 pass TD | 4 INT | 72 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble


This week will be another telling check-in for Herbert's development. After Wink Martindale and the Ravens' defense flummoxed him with pressure, Bill Belichick arrives in town. The Patriots shut out the Chargers a year ago, making Herbert look mortal in the worst game of his short career. It's on Herbert and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi to show how this year is different -- and that the Ravens game wasn't the start of a trend.

Rank
9
1
Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers · Year 17

2021 stats: 7 games | 68.3 pct | 1,710 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 15 pass TD | 3 INT | 44 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 0 fumbles


Another week, another clean, unflashy game from Aaron Rodgers, Game Manager. That approach will probably have to change with the schedule getting tougher. Rodgers' increased use of Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan is a good sign, but Lazard and Davante Adams' absence on Thursday night will test Rodgers' resourcefulness. Rodgers' well-timed runs -- and his threat to run, like on last Sunday's fourth-down touchdown to Adams -- have allowed the Packers to mask an offensive line that's down from previous seasons.


UPDATE: Rodgers completed 22 of 37 passes for 184 yards, with two touchdowns against zero picks, in Thursday's win over the Cardinals.

Rank
10
4
Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 5

2021 stats: 7 games | 67.5 pct | 2,093 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 18 pass TD | 9 INT | 219 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles


This ranking feels awkward, a reminder that this column is about 2021 play alone. It's not that Mahomes consistently struggled before Sunday's blowout loss in Nashville. He's sixth in QBR and fifth in EPA/CPOE composite, two worthy efficiency metrics. But his four fumbles and nine sacks in the last three weeks are as concerning as his picks. Every opposing defense runs the same game plan, rarely blitzing, flooding the field with defensive backs and limiting deep plays outside the numbers. This plan is increasingly working.

Rank
11
2
Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 2

2021 stats: 7 games | 68.9 pct | 1,956 pass yds | 9.2 ypa | 17 pass TD | 8 INT | 44 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles


He has made so much progress from the first few weeks of the season, when he was struggling to avoid pressure. Now he's turning would-be sacks into big plays, like his first touchdown to C.J. Uzomah on Sunday. Another form of progress can be seen against the blitz. While he was well below average last season, especially against the Ravens, he is the top-graded passer against blitzes this year, per PFF, averaging 11.9 YPA. His timing, anticipation and knowledge of where the Ravens were sending pressure was that of a 10-year veteran Pro Bowler.

Rank
12
1
Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 10

2021 stats: 6 games | 69.5 pct | 1,769 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 13 pass TD | 2 INT | 57 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles


There's a strong argument that Cousins, fifth in PFF's passing grades, spent the bye week too low on these rankings. His advanced metrics (EPA, QBR) are outside the top 10, but I'm willing to award bonus points for playing with more verve than any version of Cousins I've seen before. What every other metric beyond QB Index fails to measure is how much I want to watch said quarterback and how they are entertaining me personally. Kid Cuzi is doing better than ever on this vital front.

Rank
13
1
Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 10

2021 stats: 7 games | 65.1 pct | 1,737 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 7 pass TD | 5 INT | 139 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 3 fumbles


Tannehill's season is a perfect example of why TD-to-INT ratio is such a limited stat. He's playing as well or better compared to his previous years, even if it's not all showing up in the box score. His accuracy was on point against the Chiefs, with the heroic revival of A.J. Brown changing the entire offense. If this is Tannehill's regression, it's impressive. After 33 starts (and 23 wins) in Tennessee, he's settled in as a high-quality QB1.

Rank
14
Matt Ryan
Atlanta Falcons · Year 14

2021 stats: 6 games | 68.0 pct | 1,668 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 12 pass TD | 4 INT | 26 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles


The big plays are back, and Ryan now fully understands that he's replaced one unicorn in Julio Jones with another in Kyle Pitts. Ryan reminds me of 2018-2019 Drew Brees, his arm strength still good enough to play at a very high level because of his decision-making. If these rankings were based just on the last three Falcons games, Ryan would be near the top five.

Rank
15
Carson Wentz
Indianapolis Colts · Year 6

2021 stats: 7 games | 64.4 pct | 1,695 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 11 pass TD | 1 INT | 97 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles


Frank Reich and Wentz are mostly finding the sweet spot between being aggressive and careless. Wentz did a great job avoiding pressure before his early 57-yarder to Michael Pittman last week. While Wentz put the ball in harm's way a number of times after that, his deep shots drew long penalties. Reich's back-to-back pass calls while up five in field goal range late in a driving rainstorm showed a rare mentality and confidence. Wentz and Pittman came through again.

Rank
16
1
Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 3

2021 stats: 7 games | 63.5 pct | 1,727 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 5 pass TD | 4 INT | 229 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Daniel Jones is now a good quarterback. By good, I mean league average. And by league average, I mean someone who is going to make a lot of money on his next contract. Injuries have made the Giants' offense hard to evaluate, and Jones melted down against the Rams in Week 6, but he's held up well otherwise. The third-year pro has unquestionably improved his processing, and his athletic gifts show up each week, now even as a receiver.

Rank
17
3
Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Rookie

2021 stats: 7 games | 70.4 pct | 1,779 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 9 pass TD | 6 INT | 45 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles


It's as if Josh McDaniels was listening to local sports-talk radio before playing the Jets. "Let Mac Cook!" they said. "Throw the ball downfield!" they said. "Don't kneel on the ball before halftime, and involve Jonnu Smith!" they said. "Trounce the Jets and let us forget all the problems in our personal lives for three hours!" they said. Check, check, check and check!

Rank
18
1
Jameis Winston
New Orleans Saints · Year 7

2021 stats: 6 games | 58.9 pct | 1,114 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 13 pass TD | 3 INT | 126 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles


Jameis avoided the big mistake against the Seahawks and nearly hit on a trio of big plays in which his receivers had drops (Kenny Stills, Kevin White!) or stopped on a route (Tre'Quan Smith), something coach Sean Payton noted after the game. Winston is not great on the short stuff, as the Manning brothers noted Monday night. So much of Payton's offense is built on option routes and quick throws that it's worth wondering if Winston's a long-term fit, even if he rides the Saints' defense to the playoffs. If this ranking looks a bit high, it's partly because Baker Mayfield and Russell Wilson are missing above and partly because there's a big drop between Carson Wentz and here, even if they are only a few spots apart.

Rank
19
1
Teddy Bridgewater
Denver Broncos · Year 8

2021 stats: 7 games | 70.1 pct | 1,701 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 12 pass TD | 5 INT | 69 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


The Broncos scored 14 points in seven drives last Thursday night, a rate similar to the rest of the season. The defense just couldn't get off the field -- and Bridgewater can't afford to make killer mistakes like his first-half interception. Teddy's timing in the last few games has been a beat late, a rough trait when his offensive line is struggling to pass protect.

Rank
20
4
Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 2

2021 stats: 4 games | 69.5 pct | 835 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 7 pass TD | 4 INT | 52 rush yd | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles


The last two weeks have been a small step forward for Tua. They would have been a huge step forward if not for the two crushing mistakes he tends to make each week, typically wrapping them around 40-plus other quality dropbacks. It's worth remembering that he's started only seven more games than Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, yet he seems to be judged on a wholly different scale. The limitations are obvious; few throws are easy for Tua and it'd be great if he could make someone miss in the open field. But it's also clear his first stretch of rookie starts in 2020 were as good or better than what we've seen from most of the 2021 class, and it's becoming more clear that he's improving in Year 2. NFL Quarterbacking is hard!

Rank
21
4
Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 18

2021 stats: 6 games | 65.1 pct | 1,515 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 7 pass TD | 4 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Steelers-Browns is a sneaky-big Week 8 game, with both AFC North teams trying to edge ahead in a crowded playoff race. If Pittsburgh can't beat a diminished Cleveland squad that could again be operating with a backup quarterback, then the Steelers are officially the bottom-dwellers of the division they once owned. If Roethlisberger breaks the Browns' hearts again, it will start to feel a lot like the last two decades in Cleveland. 

Rank
22
1
Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 2

2021 stats: 7 games | 61.2 pct | 1,716 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 10 pass TD | 4 INT | 361 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 5 fumbles


Hurts was inaccurate once again in Sunday's loss to the Raiders. After the game, he regretted sliding on one run instead of picking up a first down, which is the type of head-scratching moment -- like throwing the ball away on fourth down -- that we see from him too often. Hurts has a few wow plays each week, but he could desperately use a good effort in Week 8. A loss to the Lions could send a darkening Eagles season into full-scale evaluation mode.

Rank
23
Jimmy Garoppolo
San Francisco 49ers · Year 8

2021 stats: 5 games | 64.8 pct | 1,106 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 6 pass TD | 4 INT | 26 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles


If that was it for Jimmy G in San Francisco, the Super Bowl starter went out with a whimper. (Yes, I wrote that exact same sentence three weeks ago. It applies again!) It was clearly difficult for Garoppolo to grip the ball on Sunday, and he's not making many plays that aren't schemed up for him. This is unquestionably the low point of Kyle Shanahan and Garoppolo's run together, and my "guess" would be Trey Lance starts if he's healthy. 

Rank
24
3
Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 6

2021 stats: 7 games | 66.1 pct | 1,773 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 8 pass TD | 6 INT | 76 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 6 fumbles


Goff was part of a Detroit team that was in the red zone with a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter against the Rams in Los Angeles. There were a few pretty throws mixed in before that, but ultimately, the Lions couldn't cash in with a touchdown on a single one of their five red-zone trips on the day, and the QB's struggles against pressure doomed them. The Lions' special teams earned Goff three extra possessions, and Detroit only scored one touchdown in the game, on a long screen pass where D'Andre Swift did all the work

Rank
25
1
Taylor Heinicke
Washington Football Team · Year 4

2021 stats: 7 games | 64.3 pct | 1,658 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 10 pass TD | 7 INT | 222 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles


It was a game of bad luck and bad decisions from Heinicke. His choice to dive at the goal line took seven points off the board, and a drop from Terry McLaurin erased another seven. Then again, McLaurin is the entire Washington offense, often turning Heinicke hope balls into big plays or penalties. The news surrounding Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't sound promising, so there's a chance we get an entire season's worth of the HeinickeCoaster. 

Rank
26
NR
Case Keenum
Cleveland Browns · Year 10

2021 stats: 3 games | 61.1 pct | 205 pass yds | 5.7 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 7 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles


Keenum's TNF start could not have been drawn up any better -- that is, if Baker Mayfield was doing the drawing. The Browns earned a vital win, yet it was the running game, offensive line and coaching that did the heavy lifting. Keenum completed 11 of 20 passes for 70 yards on plays where the Browns didn't use play action, and he mostly hit schemed-up, open receivers. This is not to slight Keenum. That's merely the result of good coaching. He's one of the NFL's best backups and not a massive downgrade from Mayfield, in the short term. 

Rank
27
3
Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Rookie

2021 stats: 6 games | 59.7 pct | 1,465 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 7 pass TD | 8 INT | 121 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 3 fumbles


The undeniable upward trajectory is the best part of Lawrence's rookie campaign. That alone is beginning to separate him from most of his rookie counterparts. If it continues, he'll rise higher in these rankings and make this Jaguars season feel a whole lot more meaningful. 

Rank
28
Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 9

2021 stats: 3 games | 63.4 pct | 507 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 34 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble


Even Peyton Manning was losing his mind at Pete Carroll's insistence on going run-run-pass. In Carroll's effort to play it safe, he made Geno's life harder with repeated third-and-long situations that he couldn't handle against a cohesive Saints secondary. With the bye week and Russell Wilson's potential return looming, Geno could use a big start Sunday against the Jaguars if he wants to keep extending his career as a quality backup for hire.

Rank
29
7
Sam Darnold
Carolina Panthers · Year 4

2021 stats: 7 games | 61.4 pct | 1,684 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 7 pass TD | 8 INT | 110 rush yds | 5 rush TD | 5 fumbles


It's been quite a journey for Darnold this season. He started out ranked dead last in the QB Index, rose to No. 18 after the Panthers' 3-0 start and one month later became the first starter this season benched for performance. For P.J. Walker. Darnold has 8 games since 2018 where he averaged fewer than 2 adjusted net yards per attempt, double the next-closest quarterback. These are games where he offers his team no chance to win. His adjusted net yards per attempt now ranks lower in Carolina than with the Jets. He could be running out of chances, but thankfully the Falcons' defense is up next.

Rank
30
2
Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Rookie

2021 stats: 6 games | 57.5 pct | 1,168 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 9 INT | 22 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles


Wilson's two drives before getting hurt against the Patriots were his rookie season in a nutshell. He didn't see a front-side blitz that got him sacked, he took an unnecessary hit on the sideline, he missed two makeable throws and he showed off his prodigious arm a few times, including this jaw-dropping completion. He's expected to miss 2-4 weeks, which is a shame because he's the only reason to watch the Jets.

Rank
31
2
Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Rookie

2021 stats: 7 games | 57.3 pct | 816 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 6 INT | 140 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 6 fumbles


Facing a Todd Bowles defense was a nightmare for Fields. His tendency to hold the ball created three fumbles, three interceptions and four sacks. Some of those sacks came when he decided too late to scramble and got caught. The play-calling and a fourth-string right tackle share a huge part in the blame, but Fields also needs to learn that he can't start his windup with a linebacker right in front of him, about to unload.

Rank
32
1
Davis Mills
Houston Texans · Rookie

2021 stats: 6 games | 64.9 pct | 1,047 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 5 pass TD | 7 INT | 8 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles


Mills undeniably played great against the Patriots in Week 5. The Texans have scored one touchdown in his other four starts combined, with six points on offense total the last two weeks. He throws on the run well, but the lack of a ground game or ability to adjust protections is crushing Mills' chances for survival.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter.

The Air Index presented by FedEx ranks NFL quarterback performances all season long. Check out the weekly FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote after Sunday Night Football.

Related Content

Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.