As hard as it is to believe, we’ve reached the halfway point of the 2022 NFL regular season. But perhaps even more difficult to believe is some of the wretched play we’ve seen from some of the most high-profile NFL quarterbacks.
And we’re not talking middle-of-the-pack guys. We’re talking Pro Bowlers, Super Bowl champions, and NFL MVP award winners here.
But let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. If you clicked in expecting to see Tom Brady on this list, you’re going to be disappointed. Is the 15-time Pro Bowler, seven-time Super Bowl champ, and three-time NFL MVP playing the best football of his career? No, he’s not.
But he’s playing a helluva lot better than people are giving him credit for. I mean, the guy is second in passing yards, behind only Patrick Mahomes. He’s above his career average in completion percentage. And he’s thrown one interception all season — and that was all the way back in Week 1.
The reason Brady is taking so much heat is that we’re not used to seeing him with a losing record. But as the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are in first place, by the way, he’s the scapegoat. That and so many people hate him for winning so much and are enjoying watching him lose for a change. But he’s certainly not the reason that’s happening.
But I digress.
While Brady isn’t one of the high-profile QBs who’s disappointed through this first half of the 2022 campaign, let’s get to five who have, starting with one who’s already lost his job.
5. Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
We kick off the list with 2016 NFL MVP and four-time Pro Bowler Matt Ryan.
After 14 years with the Atlanta Falcons, Ryan was dealt to Indianapolis during the offseason, and many thought he would help the Colts become a true contender in the AFC South. With All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor taking pressure off the passing game and a solid receiving corps around him, Ryan didn’t need to come in and play at the level he did when he won MVP.
But he at least needed to play decently for the Colts to compete, and there were weeks that he did just that. Ryan threw a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions in Indy’s Week 3 upset of the Chiefs and threw for 389 yards with three touchdowns and zero picks in Week 6 in a win over the Jaguars.
Overall, however, he was far too inconsistent and struggled with turnovers, which led to him getting benched by newly-fired Frank Reich following the Colts’ Week 7 loss to the Titans, a game in which Ryan threw a pair of interceptions. And he didn’t fall to QB2. He’s now the third-string quarterback behind Sam Ehlinger and Nick Foles.
Even without playing the last two weeks, Ryan still leads the NFL in interceptions (9) and is tied for the league lead in fumbles (11).
4. Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Coming off a 2021 season in which he completed 68.4% of his passes, the second-best clip of his career, for a career-high 4,804 yards with 23 touchdowns in leading the Las Vegas Raiders to a 10-7 record and their first playoff berth in five years, Derek Carr was all set up to be even better in 2022 with the addition of Davante Adams.
But that’s not been the case.
Through eight games, the Raiders are a disappointing 2-6, have lost three leads of 17 points or more, and Carr’s numbers are down almost across the board. His completion percentage is 6.1% lower than it was a season ago. He’s currently on pace to throw for 809 fewer yards than he did in 2021.
His touchdown pace is roughly the same, which it shouldn’t be with Adams on the roster. And his passer rating has taken a dip as well, down from 94.0 to 88.5. The positive is that Carr has been throwing fewer interceptions. After 14 a year ago, he’s on pace for 11.
Like Matt Ryan, we’ve seen flashes of why Carr has been to three Pro Bowls, and he nearly beat the Chiefs as well with a two-touchdown, interception-free outing in a one-point loss. Overall, however, he’s just not getting it done.
3. Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams
The 2021 season was certainly a magical one for Matthew Stafford. After a dozen years in Detroit, he was sent to LA and provided the perfect Hollywood story in leading the Rams to their second Super Bowl title.
And make no mistake about it. Stafford played a significant role in that story, tying a career-high in completion percentage at 67.2% while throwing for 4,886 yards with 41 touchdowns. Sure, he led the league in interceptions with 17, but that ultimately didn’t matter in the end.
Stafford could easily again lead the NFL in picks this season, as he’s already thrown eight, a few of which were returned for touchdowns. At least last year, his other stats could shadow the problem. That’s not the case this season.
While his accuracy is actually up — he’s completing a career-best 68.4% of his passes — everything else is down.
After throwing for the aforementioned 41 touchdowns a year ago, Stafford is on pace to toss only 17. He’s also on pace to throw for 789 fewer yards. And after ranking sixth in the NFL in 2021 with a 102.1 passer rating, he’s currently 23rd in that department at 84.9.
Not everything going on with the 3-5 Rams is Stafford’s fault, as he’s certainly dealt with issues on the offensive line. But he’s also made some poor decisions and poor throws in this first half and will have to be better for LA to even make the playoffs let alone make a real run at back-to-back titles.
But he might not even get that chance to start the second half of the year as he’s now in concussion protocol. The hits literally keep on coming for the champs, don’t they?
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Aaron Rodgers won’t be joining his predecessor, Brett Favre, in receiving three straight NFL MVP awards or joining Peyton Manning as a five-time winner. Sorry, there’s no sarcastic font to use.
Look, we all knew Rodgers would take a hit with the loss of Davante Adams. What quarterback wouldn’t? And he’s had to deal with injuries to Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard as well.
But we can’t ignore the fact that the 10-time Pro Bowler has made some poor decisions and plenty of poor throws during the Packers’ 3-6 start.
Like everyone else on this list, Rodgers’ numbers are down from what they were a year ago. His completion percentage has dropped from 68.9% to 64.7%. While not by much, he’s on pace for fewer yards. After throwing for 37 touchdowns in 2021, he’s only on pace for 26 in 2022. And after leading the league in passer rating a season ago at 111.9, he currently ranks 16th in that department at 89.0.
The biggest shock, however, isn’t any of the numbers that are down. It’s the one that’s up, that being Rodgers’ interception count. After throwing just nine picks over the previous two seasons combined, the all-time leader in touchdown-to-interception ratio has thrown seven through nine games, including three this past week against Detroit, two of which came in the end zone.
Again, not everything is his fault, but Rodgers has to take some of the blame for what’s happening in Green Bay, especially seeing as he’s the NFL’s highest-paid player.
1. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
Speaking of high-paid players, we close things out with Russell Wilson, who recently signed a five-year/$242.5 million extension with the Denver Broncos, a deal that’s looking like a big waste of money at the moment.
After 10 years with the Seattle Seahawks, with whom he went to nine Pro Bowls, two Super Bowls, and won a championship, Wilson was supposed to be the savior of a Broncos franchise that hasn’t come close to the postseason since Peyton Manning skipped town after helping Denver win Super Bowl 50.
And maybe he will be at some point. But if that year comes, it won’t be this one, as Wilson is off to a horrendous start wearing orange and blue.
He’s completing a career-low 58.8% of his passes and is on pace to throw just 14 touchdowns, which would easily be the lowest total of his career. And after ranking fifth in passer rating in 2021 at 103.1, Russ currently sits in 26th in that category at 83.5, just above Davis Mills and directly below Carson Wentz. He also ranks 28th in QBR.
And to make matters worse for Wilson, he has to watch as the biggest positive QB surprise of the season, Geno Smith, has his old team atop the NFC West at 6-3 while the Broncos sit in third in the AFC West at 3-5.
If you’re looking for more QB fun, check out the standings in my season-long competition as I dish out Week 9 grades.
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