Our eyes can only do so much. Beyond the simple analysis of players on the field, the ruthless data on spreadsheets never lie. Here’s a look at 2019’s best quarterbacks from a statistical standpoint.
The numbers within the parentheses are the adjusted rank with 332 pass attempts and 400 pass attempts.
Y/A+ = yards per attempt index
NY/A+ = net yards per attempt index
AY/A+ = adjusted yards per attempt index
ANY/A+ = adjusted net yards per attempt index
Comp%+ = completion percentage index
TD%+ = touchdown percentage index
INT%+ = interception percentage index
Sack%+ = sack percentage index
Rate+ = passer rating index
50 – Ryan Finley, Cincinnati Bengals, 65.1 Grade (50, 50)
Finley’s only saving grace is a league-average interception rate. In three starts with the Bengals, Finley completed 47 percent of his passes and tossed a pair of touchdowns and interceptions, respectively. The 2019 fourth-round pick was abysmal, posting a passer rating of 62.1 in his games. He also lost a fumble in each start. He had to play two of the best defenses in the NFL with home games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, but his worst performance came against a porous Oakland defense. Finley averaged 3.71 yards per attempt, completed 41.9 percent of his passes, and posted a passer rating of 39.0. For context, spiking the ball results in a rating of 39.6. Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions, and he did not post a sub-45 rating in a single game. It was bad.
49 – Brian Hoyer, Indianapolis Colts, 70.4 Grade (49, 49)
Hoyer is back with the Patriots after throwing 65 passes for the Colts in 2019. Hoyer has had his moments in the league (including a winning record with the Cleveland Browns), but 2019 was not his best year. Hoyer was one of the best examples of a Jekyll and Hyde quarterback in 2019 as he posted a TD%+ of 117, better than Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. By the same token, only Will Grier posted a lower INT%+. Hoyer had a decent performance against the Steelers in Week 9, completing 65 percent of his passes and throwing three touchdowns, but he threw a red-zone interception. After a rating of 105.9 against the Steelers, Hoyer laid an egg against the NFL’s worst defense. Three interceptions later against the Dolphins, Hoyer ended with a 38.8 rating and a loss.
48 – David Blough, Detroit Lions, 71.4 Grade (47, 47)
The most fitting statistic for Blough’s season is his negative-one approximate value on Pro-Football-Reference. Blough started five games with the Lions, leading them to five losses. He had solid games against the Bears and Broncos, but six interceptions tanked his attempts. He was not as bad as some of the quarterbacks on the list, but he had no saving grace from a stats perspective. He was below average in every metric, and it is unlikely that he sees the field much in 2020 as Matt Stafford returns from injury. Blough was awful in terms of yards per attempt, touchdown rate, and interception rate.
47 – Matt Barkley, Buffalo Bills, 72.2 Grade (48, 48)
Barkley had a weird year with the Bills. He did not start a game, but he came in relief for Josh Allen twice. He had two positive attributes as he had a NY/A+ of 104 and a Sack%+ of 122. On the contrary, he threw zero touchdowns, leaving him pooled at the bottom of the TD%+ with a 51. A passer rating of 56.0 does not inspire confidence, but the Patriots were in the midst of one of the most dominant stretches by a pass defense in recent years. The Bills drafted the 2020 version of Matt Barkley in Jake Fromm, so it seems unlikely that Barkley will get much action this season.
46 – Brandon Allen, Denver Broncos, 75.1 Grade (46, 46)
Allen posted a mind-bogglingly awful Comp%+ of 33, 28 points worse than third-stringer Will Grier. Allen was below average in every category, but some of his numbers were not awful including his INT%+ of 99. Allen led the Broncos to one win, a defeat of the Browns in which he completed 60 percent of his passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. It was one of the best “bad quarterback, good performance” games of the season as he posted a 125.6 passer rating. In his next two starts, he completed 42 percent of his passes, threw two picks, and had a passer rating of 50.4 in losses to the Vikings and Bills.
45 – Dwayne Haskins, Washington Redskins, 78.2 Grade (42, 43)
Haskins does not belong in this section of quarterbacks as his seven starts went reasonably well, but his two relief appearances resulted in four interceptions and zero touchdowns. As a starter, Haskins completed 59 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns, three interceptions, and a solid 85.5 passer rating. In his final two starts, he lit up the Eagles and Giants for a 72 percent completion rating, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions, good enough for a 131.3 rating. Neither was the stoutest of defenses, but Haskins should be in the top half of quarterbacks next season. The 2019 first-rounder will half to fend off Kyle Allen, but he should be the clubhouse leader in Landover.
44 – Devlin Hodges, Pittsburgh Steelers, 78.3 Grade (44, 44)
Unlike Haskins, Hodges seemed to start confidently. In his first five games (three starts), his lowest passer rating was 87.9. In total, he completed 71 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, a pair of interceptions, and a 103.2 rating. For context, Patrick Mahomes had a passer rating of 105.3 in 2019. At that point, Hodges won all three of his starts and had outscored his opponent in both relief appearances. Then, Buffalo happened. Hodges threw four interceptions, including one on the final two drives. Over the next two weeks, Hodges and the Steelers unraveled to lose to the Jets and the Ravens. In the last three games, Hodges completed 54 percent of his passes for a touchdown and six interceptions. His passer rating of 39.6 could have been achieved by spiking the ball into the turf on every play.
43 – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 80.2 Grade (45, 45)
Roethlisberger was above average with an Int%+ of 111 and Sack%+ of 126, but he was abysmal in other metrics. He was pooled at the bottom of TD%+ (51) with zero passing touchdowns in 62 attempts. Roethlisberger completed 56 percent of his passes, tossing one pick and averaging 5.66 yards per attempt. His 66.0 passer rating was poor, but in fairness to Roethlisberger, he had the highest passer rating against the Patriots until Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson posted back-to-back better performances almost two months later. In 2018, Roethlisberger was above average in every metric for the third time in his career (2012 and 2014). He will return as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback in Week 1.
42 – Jeff Driskel, Detroit Lions, 81.3 Grade (43, 42)
Driskel was below average in every metric with his highest only being a 92 for TD%+. Driskel lost all three of his starts, but the Lions were competitive, losing by one possession in each game. In the first two games, Driskel was not awful. He completed 58 percent of his passes, compiling three touchdowns and one interception. He posted a 109.3 passer rating against the Cowboys in Week 10, also adding a rushing touchdown. However, Driskel played poorly against the Redskins the following week, throwing three interceptions and posting a 50.9 passer rating. Driskel added some value with his rushing (something that was not accounted for in the rankings), but it seems unlikely that Driskel will be anything more than a backup in 2020.
41 – Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, 83.4 Grade (41, 41)
Nearly every statement in the Ben Roethlisberger section applies here besides being a starting quarterback in 2020. Newton was a fellow member of the 51 TD%+ club, and his only two above-average traits were Int%+ and Sack%+. Across the board he is slightly better than Roethlisberger. The 2015 MVP had a 71.0 passer rating in two starts, leading the Panthers to a pair of one-possession losses. In what was his final start with the Panthers, Newton completed 49 percent of 51 passes for 333 yards and zero touchdowns or interceptions. Newton had led the Panthers down inside the Tampa Bay five-yard line, but a failed conversion by Christian McCaffrey ended Newton’s final game. Will Newton play in 2020? He is likely still a starting-caliber quarterback, but it is unclear where he could get a starting job.