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NFL QB Index, Week 4: Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson coming for No. 1 spot; Russell Wilson tumbles

NFL QB Index, Week 4: Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson coming for No. 1 spot; Russell Wilson tumbles

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 3 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback’s standing heading into Week 4.

2022 stats: 3 games | 71.2 pct | 1,014 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 9 pass TD | 2 INT | 113 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The Bills were forced to play with roughly a quarter of their Week 1 starters on the shelf in dripping-hot Miami. Inside a loss boiled in what-ifs, Allen’s largely heroic performance was shoved in the rearview mirror by a handful of turnover-worthy throws; a 20-play, nine-minute march that fizzled into a field goal; an uncharacteristic dying wobbler to Isaiah McKenzie on fourth-and-goal in Buffalo’s penultimate drive; and the frustrating final snap that saw the clock tick away into nothingness as play-caller Ken Dorsey melted down on CBS. Allen’s miscues don’t overshadow his 400 yards passing and 47 yards on the ground that kept Buffalo alive until the end. High credit to Miami’s fearless approach on defense, but it’s remarkable that Allen had the Bills in position to win. 

Philadelphia Eagles · Year 3

2022 stats: 3 games | 67.3 pct | 916 pass yds | 9.3 ypa | 4 pass TD | 1 INT | 167 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 1 fumble

The rapid rise of Hurts — two years removed from running the scout team — is my favorite development of the young NFL campaign. With Jalen at the motherboard against the Commanders on Sunday, Philly scattered Washington’s defense for 24 points and 322 total yards … by halftime. His exploits on the ground are noted, but Hurts ascended this list thanks to a pair of on-field lashings with his arm. I love the nature of this missile to DeVonta Smith. Hurts shows complete trust in his receiver nestled between defenders — and total confidence in his own ability to deliver. With A.J. Brown creating equal chaos downfield, I’ll ask the same question my colleague Baldy asked: Is Jalen suddenly the best deep passer in the NFL? He has competition, but his heightened play has the Eagles rolling as Super Bowl material on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens · Year 5

2022 stats: 3 games | 63.6 pct | 749 pass yds | 8.5 ypa | 10 pass TD | 2 INT | 243 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble

If you’re an observer of his weekly clinics, you see a quarterback throwing the ball more exquisitely than ever before. Lamar zapped the Patriots into submission with four passing scores while rumbling through layers of the enemy for 107 ground yards and a fifth touchdown. We’ve talked before about his deep ball lifting the offense, but it’s also the accuracy on those throws. This bull’s-eye to Devin Duvernay was delivered with a sense of ease. Jackson’s bet-on-himself campaign has him richly embedded in the MVP conversation as a signal-caller/adventurer exploring new vistas. 

Kansas City Chiefs · Year 6

2022 stats: 3 games | 67.9 pct | 857 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 8 pass TD | 1 INT | 30 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

The Chiefs were hurt by a backup kicker who cost the team four points in a game they lost by three. The offense wasn’t helped by a stagnant ground game, either, but Mahomes struggled to mesh with his gaggle of new wideouts in Sunday’s surprise defeat at Indianapolis. He still pulls off feats few humans would dare — this laser beam to JuJu Smith-Schuster; his Fred Astaire act on the two-point conversion toss to Travis Kelce – but Mahomes was off on a would-be bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, symbolic of an offense that’s struggled to maximize itself two weeks running. I trust the Chiefs to bury their frustrations and figure it out. 

Los Angeles Chargers · Year 3

2022 stats: 3 games | 66.1 pct | 910 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 7 pass TD | 2 INT | 9 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Herbert wasn’t himself in Sunday’s roughing up by Jacksonville. The fractured rib cartilage he suffered 10 days prior against the Chiefs seemed to alter his play. Toiling behind a line missing star left tackle Rashawn Slater and reliable center Corey Linsley was no help. Herbert’s typical accuracy was down a tick. I thought he played with an air of caution against a Jaguars front that battered him early with a strip-sack. He laughed that off to whip a 54-yard comet to Jalen Guyton — a throw few would even dream of — but the Bolts played with fire, letting Herbert hang around in a blowout. 

2022 stats: 3 games | 71.3 pct | 925 pass yds | 9.2 ypa | 8 pass TD | 2 INT | 1 rush yd | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Buried in an abyss against the Ravens, Tua was asked to make a bundle of massive throws to rescue Miami. He made a bundle of throws. Trailing Buffalo 17-14 in a neck-and-neck turf war, the banged-up Dolphins quarterback produced again with a 45-yard heater to Jaylen Waddle on third-and-22. It landed in stride and set up Miami’s go-ahead touchdown three plays later. Debates rage over Tagovailoa’s arm strength, but Mike McDaniel isn’t listening. Tua will toss a few puzzlers, but he’s also responsible for the sturdiest QB play Dolphins fans have witnessed since the Clinton administration. 

Green Bay Packers · Year 18

2022 stats: 3 games | 72.3 pct | 684 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 8 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Rodgers sizzled in the first half against Tampa, guiding two lengthy touchdown drives that carved out a 14-3 advantage. With the back-to-back MVP hitting 12 of his first 13 throws against a vicious Bucs defense, it was fair to wonder if Green Bay had turned a corner. Especially with tackle David Bakhtiari back in the mix across from Elgton Jenkins. The Packers never scored again, though, reminding us the attack remains a work in progress with plenty of new faces. Does any of this suggest a lesser product under center? Absolutely not. 

Los Angeles Rams · Year 14

2022 stats: 3 games | 72.5 pct | 761 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 5 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

It wasn’t his flashiest performance, but Stafford saved the day for the Rams with one of Sunday’s finest escape acts: spinning away apparition-like from Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins to uncork a sidearm special into the arms of Cooper Kupp at the sticks. It galvanized a Rams offense that ripped down the field for a touchdown that built a 20-9 lead and pumped oxygen into the sideline — something Stafford has been doing since the day he arrived.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 23

2022 stats: 3 games | 65 pct | 673 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | -4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

The Buccaneers are a snoozefest on offense. It’s not Brady’s fault. The lineup against the Packers — shattered by injury — was missing Chris Godwin, Julio Jones and the suspended Mike Evans. This led to Russell Gage being targeted 13 times while Tampa’s ground game squeezed out 34 yards. Brady still had the Bucs in position to tie the game on the final possession. It’s easy to confuse the idea of a TB12 decline with the ravaged environment he’s being asked to thrive in. It’s somewhere in the middle when he’s not protected well.

Arizona Cardinals · Year 4

2022 stats: 3 games | 63.8 pct | 784 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 65 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

The Cardinals have trouble getting out of bed. They fell into a 37-7 hole in the opener against Kansas City, a 20-0 drought in Las Vegas and watched the Rams go up 13-0 on Sunday. They’ve never held a lead in regulation. Murray’s fourth quarter against the Raiders showed how magical he can be — a one-man band of beauty — but it’s a rare experience this autumn. His connection with Marquise Brown burned bright on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep elongated marches of 16, 17 and 19 plays from ending in field goals. Murray has thrown three touchdown passes all year and too often fades away inside a confused attack.

Cincinnati Bengals · Year 3

2022 stats: 3 games | 64 pct | 812 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 6 pass TD | 4 INT | 73 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Sunday’s romp over the Jets allowed the Bengals to reset the compass after a shaky 0-2 start. Burrow was better protected and dialed up the big play that eluded him in previous weeks with a well-placed ball under pressure to Tyler Boyd that morphed into a 56-yard catch-and-run score. Burrow took a violent hit on his subsequent touchdown strike to Ja’Marr Chase, but that’s who he is: a rough-and-tumble leader willing to sell out his body for points. Miami will provide a stiffer test come Thursday night, but the timing is ideal after the Dolphins’ defense played an outrageous 90 snaps against Buffalo. 

Tennessee Titans · Year 11

2022 stats: 3 games | 62.5 pct | 647 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 11 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Tannehill shook off his disaster in Buffalo with a fast start against the Raiders. Armed with Derrick Henry looking again like a bag of bricks, the Titans quarterback manned the attack on a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown march that ate up half the opening frame. Tennessee reached paydirt on its following two drives, too, burying the Raiders in a 21-10 hole during a nearly perfect first half. Tannehill’s rugged style of play appeals to me, but he’s also capable of on-target touch passes, which he used to fry Vegas in a bounce-back performance. 

Minnesota Vikings · Year 11

2022 stats: 3 games | 62.2 pct | 758 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 5 pass TD | 3 INT | 19 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Cousins was quiet on Sunday until he decided to punch out the Lions with a spicy one-minute drill that saw him lace back-to-back 28-yard strikes to K.J. Osborn, the second of those doubling as the game-winning score. A happy result wrapped about a concerning development: Justin Jefferson has vanished. After being erased by Darius Slay and the Eagles in Week 2, the one-time OPOY candidate managed just 14 yards off three catches on Sunday. My faith in Cousins producing career numbers was fueled entirely off Jefferson’s star turn. This isn’t the same offense if he remains a whisper. 

Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 2

2022 stats: 3 games | 69.4 pct | 772 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 6 pass TD | 1 INT | 22 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles 

Lawrence is on the rise. You can feel Doug Pederson’s effect on the second-year starter, riding a 5:0 touchdown-to-pick ratio over the past two games after ripping through the Chargers for three scores on Sunday. Lawrence’s too-frequent misfires and overthrows of yesterday are gradually being replaced with accurate rips, triggering a 76.8 completion percentage and 120.3 passer rating since Week 2. Armed with a powerful James Robinson-led ground game and a nasty defense, Lawrence and friends have the juice to steal the AFC South title. 

2022 stats: 3 games | 58.9 pct | 748 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 7 pass TD | 2 INT | 15 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

The arc of Goff’s career too easily renders him an afterthought. He’s tied for the fifth-most passing touchdowns league-wide while guiding a Lions offense that ranks sixth in points per drive and a healthy 12th in yards per march. He’ll hurt you with a poor throw, only to turn around and unfurl a beauty. He’s improved alongside the offense, sporting an 18:4 touchdown-to-pick ratio over his last eight starts. If the Lions move on after this season, he’s all but guaranteed himself another gig. 

Cleveland Browns · Year 7

2022 stats: 3 games | 66.3 pct | 596 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 1 INT | 64 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Brissett is bound to come back to earth, but his performance against the Steelers was a rock-solid piece of game management. He played well against the Jets, too, while forming a connection with Amari Cooper over the course of two straight 100-yard games for the receiver. Brissett obviously leads a run-heavy offense, but he also peppered Pittsburgh with a rash of big-boy throws and critical converted sneaks. With Jacoby at the helm, only six attacks are scoring more points per drive than Cleveland’s. Any Browns fan would have taken that back in August. 

2022 stats: 3 games | 63.3 pct | 640 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 92 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 5 fumbles

In an alternate universe, Mariota — an overt stopgap — has ceded the job to rookie Desmond Ridder. In our universe, the veteran has played well enough to hang around, build rapport with rookie wideout Drake London and finally coax a juicy line out of physical specimen Kyle Pitts (5/87). Mariota hasn’t been shy passing downfield, ranking third in the league in air yards per attempt (10.1). If Arthur Smith can turn 31-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson into the NFL’s third-leading rusher, he’s creative enough to keep this going with his back-from-the-wilderness signal-caller. It’s on Mariota, though, to wipe away his string of killer, late-game turnovers. 

Las Vegas Raiders · Year 9

2022 stats: 3 games | 60.8 pct | 850 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 6 pass TD | 4 INT | 26 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

I’m waiting for Carr to pull the Raiders out of this mess. He was clean enough in Sunday’s loss to the Titans — mistakes unfolded around him — but the game’s best quarterbacks dial it up in key situations. Vegas repeatedly collapsed on third down, failing on all but one of 12 tries. I’ll factor in their 3-for-3 status on fourth down, but none of this is good enough. It was depressing to see Darren Waller and Davante Adams cross signals on a botched lob into the end zone. Even more so when Waller flubbed a would-be touchdown strike that bounced off him for an interception. Raiders fans don’t want Carr blamed for any of this, but he’s not doing enough. 

Washington Commanders · Year 7

2022 stats: 3 games | 63.1 pct | 861 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 7 pass TD | 3 INT | 57 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The hot-and-cold Commanders never found a way back into Sunday’s embarrassing loss to the Eagles. Wentz is a player who walks into pressure, but Philly’s nine sacks and 17 QB hits came almost entirely off a four-man rush against a Washington line that occasionally dialed up seven protectors. Nothing worked against a flock of Eagles who seemed to enjoy battering their former teammate. If nothing else, Wentz displayed high-level toughness.

2022 stats: 3 games | 59.4 pct | 743 pass yds | 7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 22 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The Wilson of 2022 doesn’t look like a quarterback worthy of the two first-round picks and everything else the Broncos mortgaged for his services. Against a feverish Niners defense on Sunday night, Wilson suffered accuracy issues and played his part in the offense converting just six of its 19 third-down attempts at a stagnant 3.7 yards per snap. Russ also used his arm and mobility on a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that put Denver up for good, but Sunday night’s wacky 11-10 triumph did little to calm an agitated Broncos fan base. 

2022 stats: 3 games | 62.7 pct | 514 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Thrust into a job title that burns under the hot lights — DALLAS COWBOYS QUARTERBACK — Rush promptly outperformed Joe Burrow in Week 2. In Week 3, he faced the island-game spotlight of Monday Night Football and came away with a road win over the rival Giants. Rush came through when it mattered most, delivering a gorgeous over-the-shoulder, go-ahead scoring strike to CeeDee Lamb in the fourth quarter. The toss by Rush was a next-level quick strike plenty of veterans are still perfecting. Over back-to-back, game-deciding touchdown drives in the second half, Cooper caught fire to hit 12 of 13 passes, including that lob to Lamb. Every front office in the league has taken notice.

Indianapolis Colts · Year 15

2022 stats: 3 games | 64.1 pct | 769 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 4 INT | 16 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 7 fumbles

Sunday’s upset win over the Chiefs had more to do with a batch of key mistakes by Kansas City and less to do with Ryan setting fire to terra firma. He fumbled twice (losing one) and was blown to pieces against a Chiefs front that piled up five sacks. Ryan also put the game on his back to direct an eight-minute touchdown march to seal the win. His season highpoint came at an unexpected juncture, but I don’t expect the pocket punishment to cease anytime soon inside an offense still sitting dead last in points per drive.

New Orleans Saints · Year 8

2022 stats: 3 games | 63.5 pct | 858 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 5 INT | 16 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Winston has tossed up five fourth-quarter picks over his past two starts. To be fair, though, we’re talking about a quarterback toiling through a transverse fracture in his back. Winston’s alpha nature and inner fire aren’t in question, but should the Saints give Andy Dalton a shot? There’s plenty of fervor over Justin Herbert playing hurt, but what about a man operating with a broken back?

San Francisco 49ers · Year 9

2022 stats: 2 games | 62 pct | 365 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 5 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Garoppolo was a GameManager+ last season behind a line anchored by the mighty Trent Williams. With the left tackle shelved due to a high ankle sprain, Jimmy G’s day job figures to be a chore beside a patchwork front five. In the loss to Denver, he cost the team points with his now-notorious safety. He also tossed too many turnover-worthy lobs and threw behind Deebo Samuel on what vibed as a huge gain. “I think Deebo’s gonna go to the house on it,” Shanahan said, per The Athletic’s Matt Barrows. It’s not unlike your ex moving back in: The early rush is soon replaced by a dark remembrance of what drove you nuts in the first place. 

2022 stats: 3 games | 64.1 pct | 560 pass yds | 6.1 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 125 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Jones is stuck behind a disorganized line picked on by the enemy. Dallas edge rusher DeMarcus Lawrence treated rookie tackle Evan Neal like an open barn door, piling up three sacks on the night. Jones has been pressured more than any quarterback this season, forced to look for answers in a passing game missing Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson and now Sterling Shepard — not to mention Kenny Golladay’s fizzle-out act. I still see something in Jones. He’s large, athletic and looks the part. Whether it’s Brian Daboll or the next guy, some coach somewhere will cling to the promise of Danny Dimes rumbling for yardage when not magnetized to the ground. 

Seattle Seahawks · Year 10

2022 stats: 3 games | 77.5 pct | 717 pass yds | 7 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 15 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Smith has produced a pile of efficient tape. He still leads the league in completion percentage, but Seattle ranks just 20th in points per drive. This is a field-goal offense led by an efficient quarterback who was supposed to be supported by a competent ground game (it ranks 29th) and an underrated defense (also toward the bottom of the barrel). Put it all together, and one doomed throw by Geno is all it takes to lose. 

Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 6

2022 stats: 3 games | 60.2 pct | 569 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 23 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Pittsburgh’s taverns and late-night greasy spoons are packed with yinzers calling for Kenny Pickett to trot into Heinz Fie … Acrisure Stadium. Mike Tomlin’s response after last Thursday’s loss to the Browns: “Definitively no.” The Steelers aren’t a panic-prone organization, even if they see Trubisky’s obvious limitations. He makes plays outside the pocket, but continues to miss wide-open targets. Against the Browns, Pittsburgh converting just one of nine third-down tries contributed to the defense tiring out over 36-plus minutes on the field. 

New England Patriots · Year 2

2022 stats: 3 games | 66 pct | 786 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 2 pass TD | 5 INT | 37 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Mac made a handful of big throws on Sunday — mistakes, too — before suffering a “pretty severe” high ankle sprain that figures to bench him for multiple weeks. Jones is stuck developing on a Patriots team that feels, suddenly, like an average operation struggling to get by. In comes New England’s ultimate company man, Brian Hoyer, to reliably motor along as a ham-and-egger for a team lacking an identity.

Carolina Panthers · Year 5

2022 stats: 3 games | 51.9 pct | 550 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 40 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 5 fumbles

ESPN’s QBR paradigm and the metrics-heads over at Pro Football Focus often disagree on where these quarterbacks fall, but both have Baker lodged at No. 32. I still see a player who can make all sorts of throws, but it’s a throwback — of the wrong kind — to waltz around with a 51.9 completion percentage in 2022.

2022 stats: 3 games | 57.9 pct | 662 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

I was caught flat-footed on Sunday’s Around the NFL Podcast calling him David Mills. I quickly corrected myself, realizing I’ve done this for a year-plus: my mind cycling back to Brad Pitt’s hardboiled, temper-tinged detective dude from Se7en. Our Mr. Mills threw a pair of picks in Sunday’s loss at Chicago. The second, hauled in by Roquan Smith off a tipped pass, essentially gave the Bears the game. We haven’t seen last year’s ceiling from the second-year arm — giving the Texans free license to search elsewhere for 2023 — but Mills is guaranteed a long leash as a backup with spot-start potential.

2022 stats: 3 games | 51.1 pct | 297 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 95 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

I adored the Bears’ approach: Line up against the Texans and run the ball 40 times. It’s what they did well against the Packers in Week 2. It simultaneously rescues the line from disturbing pass-blocking issues and takes heat off a seemingly lost Fields. He already has five fewer pass attempts than Jimmy Garoppolo and sits 30 behind Cooper Rush. It’s hard not to wonder about his development in another system.

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.

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