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A superstar quarterback goes down for the year seemingly every week. This time it was Justin Herbert, and his replacement was promptly shut out 42-0 in the first half last night. We'll get to the QB carousel, but first my 10 QB observations start with the WR issues plaguing Patrick Mahomes:

1. Kansas City wideouts causing mischief for Mahomes

It's no secret the Chiefs WR room has been costing Kansas City this year. It might be worse than you thought, though. Here's seven stats to prove it. 

1) Patrick Mahomes has the worst WR drop rate (9.1%) by any QB in eight years (Derek Carr in 2015).

2) Mahomes has had an NFL-high 22 passes dropped by WRs this year, already a career high.

3) Chiefs WRs may have cost Kansas City three wins, which could cost the Chiefs homefield and who knows what else. 

  • Kadarius Toney drop resulted in a pick-six in a one-point loss vs. Detroit
  • Marques Valdez-Scantling dropped potential game-winning TD vs. Eagles
  • Toney offside penalty negated potential game-winning TD vs. Bills

4) Mahomes is averaging 4.2 yards per attempt targeting WRs in the second half of losses this season. That's the lowest rate among 238 qualified QB seasons since he entered the league in 2017. 

5) Mahomes has the same number of passing touchdowns targeting WRs 10+ yards downfield as Keenan Allen this year (one). Mahomes has one touchdown pass and six interceptions on those throws.

6) Mahomes ranks 21st in yards per attempt targeting wide receivers this season (career-low 7.36). He's averaging more targeting running backs and tight ends (7.44). 

7) Mahomes has the same number of touchdowns to Toney as he does the other team when targeting Toney this year (one of each thanks to his Week 1 pick-six on Toney's drop).

Perhaps the Chiefs' WR struggles after Tyreek Hill left are just showing up one year late. The good news is, if Kansas City can eliminate some miscues they could have an opening in the AFC given how good its defense is and all the injuries to the top contenders in the conference. Question is, how costly will it be if Mahomes has to go on the road in the playoffs rather than have a sixth straight AFC title game at Arrowhead?

2. Tua enters tough stretch without 4 of 5 starters on O-line

The Dolphins are currently without four of their five starting offensive lineman after center Connor Williams tore his ACL in Week 14. It comes at a tough time for Miami after it blew a 14-point lead in the final three minutes on Monday. The Dolphins' final four opponents are the Jets, Cowboys, Ravens and Bills, who all rank top 10 in scoring defense and pressure rate this season. Tua Tagovailoa has the third-worst completion percentage against pressure this season (41.0%).

The injury impact may not be as detrimental as it would be to other teams. Tua has the quickest average time to throw this year and has been pressured at the lowest rate in the league despite playing behind a patchwork line most of the year already.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how Tagovailoa performs vs. these defenses as Miami tries to hold off Buffalo for the AFC East title amid a tough closing stretch. The Dolphins haven't beaten a team that entered with a winning record since last September!

3. Giving Lamar Jackson and Joe Flacco their flowers

Two players had 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes in Week 14: former teammates Lamar Jackson and Joe Flacco. Bet you didn't think you'd be saying that at any point in 2023. 

It was refreshing to hear Flacco's answer after the game when asked about going from the couch to the football field. 

Jackson also deserves some flowers for his performance. He often gets held to an impossible standard, especially in the clutch, but he came through with one of his best clutch performances in a 37-31 win vs. the Rams. His go-ahead touchdown pass on 3rd-and-17 to Zay Flowers was incredible. He drifted vs. pressure from Aaron Donald to create time for this rocket. 

The ensuing two-point conversion was absolutely electric. What a season for Lamar Jackson, and to lead this drive in the rain, and finish in the fashion he did, without his top red zone target (Mark Andrews) was a thing of beauty. 

Jackson ended up throwing for 100 yards in the fourth quarter of a one-score game for the second time in his career. 

4. Stafford dimes under pressure

Matthew Stafford is up to his old bag of tricks. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes (10) in the last three weeks and has been dishing out dimes. Sidearm, quick flick of the wrist, with pressure in his grill. This is vintage Stafford. 

His touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp well before his break was majestic.

Stafford got crushed after delivering this candidate for throw/catch of the year.

This looked a lot easier than it probably was. 

Stafford's touchdown to Puka Nacua in Week 13 for good measure with the DB blitzer bearing down on him.

On Thursday, I picked the Rams as the most likely sub-.500 team to make the playoffs because of how a vintage Stafford and a healthy offense are clicking at the right time headed into a soft portion of their schedule. 

With throws like this, Los Angeles will certainly be playoff bound.

 5. QB carousel

Easton Stick and Nick Mullens represent the 55th and 56th different starting QBs this year, and Davis Mills could be number 57 as we creep toward last year's NFL-record number of 68 different starting signal-callers used. Now over half the league has used multiple starters as the injuries pile up. 

The latest big blow is the season-ending finger injury to Justin Herbert, who will exit his fourth season with zero career playoff wins. Amazingly, the Browns and Vikings have both had four different starting QBs this year, and both could make the playoffs. Only seven teams have ever made the playoffs with that distinction (none since 2015 Texans), and now it could happen twice in the same year.

While all the injuries have created an opportunity for backup QB mania and the sensational stories of Joshua Dobbs, Jake Browning, Joe Flacco and Tommy DeVito, the truth is it mostly negatively impacts the quality of play. Backup QBs are 29-41 this season with 78 touchdown passes and 75 interceptions. They collectively average 6.3 yards per attempt. None of those figures are particularly notable for backup QBs throughout the history of the league. So we can't even say we're really seeing "good" play by backups. 

Here's the look at the starting QB sequence for every team. 

TeamStarting QB Sequence This Season


Deshaun Watson > Dorian Thompson-Robinson > P.J. Walker > Deshaun Watson > P.J. Walker > Deshaun Watson  > Dorian Thompson-Robinson > Joe Flacco 


 Jimmy Garoppolo > Aidan O'Connell > Jimmy Garoppolo > Brian Hoyer > Jimmy Garoppolo > Aidan O'Connell


Anthony Richardson > Gardner Minshew > Anthony Richardson > Gardner Minshew


Daniel Jones > Tyrod Taylor > Daniel Jones > Tommy DeVito


Kirk Cousins > Jaren Hall > Josh Dobbs > Nick Mullens


Aaron Rodgers > Zach Wilson > Tim Boyle > Zach Wilson


Josh Dobbs > Clayton Tune > Kyler Murray


Justin Fields > Tyson Bagent > Justin Fields  


Matthew Stafford > Brett Rypien > Matthew Stafford  


Bryce Young > Andy Dalton > Bryce Young


Desmond Ridder > Taylor Heinicke > Desmond Ridder


Ryan Tannehill > Will Levis


Joe Burrow > Jake Browning


Mac Jones > Bailey Zappe 


Kenny Pickett > Mitchell Trubisky


Justin Herbert > Easton Stick


Geno Smith > Drew Lock


C.J. Stroud > Davis Mills


Jordan Love


Patrick Mahomes


Trevor Lawrence


Lamar Jackson


Tua Tagovailoa


Josh Allen


Jared Goff


Jalen Hurts


Dak Prescott


Brock Purdy


Derek Carr


Baker Mayfield


Sam Howell


Russell Wilson

6. Brock Purdy YAC defense Part II

Last week, I wrote counterpoints to critics discounting Brock Purdy's MVP case because of the 49ers YAC and supporting cast. 

The debate on social platforms raged on this week. Whether you believe Purdy is the real deal or think he's a "game manager" like Cam Newton, you should check out the video I made with our social team to paint a bigger picture. 

7. Dak Prescott and the best QB heaters since 2000

In most years, Brock Purdy might be an MVP favorite as he's on pace to set the all-time record for yards per attempt (9.9) in a season. However, Dak Prescott is on quite the hot stretch with 23 touchdown passes, two interceptions, 305 passing yards per game and a 118.5 rating in eight games since losing 42-10 to Purdy and the 49ers. 

Is this one of the best QB heaters in recent memory though? Here's my top 10 stretches since 2000:

1) 2019 Lamar Jackson: 25 Pass TD, 1 INT, 630 Rush yards, 4 Rush TD in last eight games

You won't find a better stretch than the one that capped Lamar Jackson's unanimous MVP season in 2019. In addition to the video game numbers above, he beat four playoff teams in the final eight games, including the Patriots and 49ers. 

2) 2007 Tom Brady: 38 Pass TD, 4 INT, 3,059 Pass yards in first 10 games

Brady had an NFL-record 10 straight games with at least three touchdown passes to begin the 2007 season when he ultimately had 50 touchdown passes. He also posted the highest passer rating in a 10-game span all time (134.0).

3) 2004 Peyton Manning: 37 Pass TD, 128.2 rating in nine-game span

Manning threw 37 touchdowns in a span of nine games! He had five straight games with four-plus touchdown passes. 

4) 2013 Peyton Manning: 25 Pass TD, 3 INT, 366 pass yards per game in first seven games

The start to Manning's record-setting 2013 season was incredible. He averaged 366 passing yards in the first seven games and threw seven touchdown passes in the opener vs. the Ravens, the defending Super Bowl champions. 

5) 2010 Tom Brady: 22 TD, 0 INT in season-ending eight-game win streak

It wasn't quite 2007 Brady, but 22 touchdowns and no picks during an eight-game win streak is insane! He did it against five playoff teams and four teams that finished the year with a top-six scoring defense. 

6)  2016 Aaron Rodgers: 18 Pass TD and 0 INT in final seven games

Rodgers had four or five stretches for consideration here. I picked this one because he had a perfect 18 touchdowns and no picks in the final seven games and the Packers won the final six to "run the table" and make the playoffs. He beat three teams with winning records in this stretch, too. 

7) 2011 Drew Brees: 25 Pass TD, 3 INT, 353 pass yards per game during seven-game win streak

Brees set a then-NFL record with 5,476 Pass yards, thanks to the above production during a win streak to finish the year. Five of the seven wins were vs. playoff teams, too. 

8) 2015 Russell Wilson: 24 Pass TD and 1 INT in final seven games

This is probably when the legend of "Let Russ Cook" was born. It was maybe the first time he put the team squarely on his back after they had been led by Marshawn Lynch and the Legion of Boom in previous years. This stretch also wasn't good enough to win MVP because of Cam Newton's finish.

9) 2015 Cam Newton: 21 Pass TD, 1 INT, 293 Rush yds, 5 Rush TD in final eight games

This stretch is why Russell Wilson didn't win MVP in 2015. Newton capped the Panthers' 15-1 season with near perfection in the final eight games.

10) 2014 Aaron Rodgers: 30 Pass TD and 2 INT in 10-game stretch

It's hard to believe this stretch is 10th on the list, but that's how many good stretches there are. He also averaged 9.4 yards per attempt in this span. 

You'll notice Dak Prescott is not on this list. Why? Most of the QBs above have better numbers in their stretch than Dak. I couldn't even squeeze Patrick Mahomes' best runs on this list. The deciding factor, though: Dak has one win vs. a team with a winning record in this stretch and has not faced a team that ranks in the top half of the league in scoring defense. If Prescott is going to land on a list like this with mostly MVPs he'll need to keep up his hot hand against the Bills, Dolphins and Lions in the next three weeks. 

8. Is Tommy DeVito good?

The flavor of the month has gone from Joshua Dobbs to Tommy DeVito as Dobbs is now the Vikings' emergency QB in Week 15 and DeVito can become the first undrafted rookie QB to ever win four straight starts. 

Question is, could DeVito be more than just a one-hit wonder? Chris Trapasso dove into the tape and the numbers this week and offered some optimism for DeVito mania fans. 

Also, ICYMI, DeVito and Zach Wilson won NFC and AFC Offensive Player of the Week awards for Week 14, the first time the Giants and Jets swept those awards since 2015 when Eli Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick did it in the same week. Proof that you literally never know what will happen week in, week out.

9. Is Jake Browning good?

Maybe Cincinnati's season isn't over, after all. Are the Bengals going to make the playoffs with Jake Browning? He has the highest completion rate (79.3%) through three starts in NFL history. Don't get too excited, though; that's been aided by the shortest average pass length in the NFL in the last three weeks (4.7 air yards per attempt). He was the beneficiary of a 54-yard touchdown from RB Chase Brown and a 46-yard catch from Joe Mixon last week. 

If you thought Brock Purdy's 49% YAC rate was high, check out Browning's. Sixty-three percent of his pass yards have come on YAC as a starter. I'm not out on Browning either. He's completed 20-of-24 passes on throws of 10+ air yards in the last three games. I'll have to see more before declaring him a competent NFL starting QB. He's certainly not as good as the NFL-record start would imply. 

10. Howell can tie an NFL record

The wheels are coming off in Washington. Sam Howell can throw a pick-six in a fourth straight game on Sunday at the Rams, which would tie Matt Schaub for the longest streak all time. I don't know about you, but I like when history is made.