QB Index, Week 11: Andrew Luck among surprises
I don’t know what I expected from Andrew Luck this season, but I didn’t expect this. He is second in passing touchdowns and the hardest quarterback in football to sack. Luck has put early questions about his arm strength to rest, but he’s undeniably emerged from years of shoulder trouble as a different player in a far different offense.
There’s no telling what the Colts’ offense would look like under Josh McDaniels, but it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job than Colts coach Frank Reich. So many of Luck’s throws are delivered on time, right as his back foot hits the end of his drop. Many of his receivers’ names are unfamiliar, but they are wide open unfamiliar receivers. The Colts play at the fastest pace of any team in football, a stat reflected in the terrific tempo and rhythm the unit plays with as a whole. While the offensive line has received a lot of the credit, Luck and Reich have made the group look better with decisive throws and play-calling that keeps defenses off-balance.
Signs of the old Luck are still ever present, but the 29-year-old is now often using his athleticism to buy time in the pocket, like Tom Brady or Philip Rivers, rather than opting to run for a first down or freestyle under pressure. He’s a strong pick for the Comeback Player of the Year Award, as my colleague Chris Wesseling points out. It’s as if Luck spent his time away from the game thinking about what kind of quarterback he wanted to be in the second phase of his career and now he’s executing that vision with remarkable maturity and feel. After working with three different play-callers in his career, Luck has found his forever coach.
Before moving on to the Week 11 quarterback rankings, let’s take a look at a few more of the pleasant surprises at the position this season:
Jared Goff’s "oh man" throws: There was a throw by Goff in the Rams’ Week 9 loss to the Saints that took FOX analyst Troy Aikman’s breath away.
"Oh man," Aikman said after watching the play, marveling at the timing and anticipation required to complete the pass.
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With the exception of Patrick Mahomes and possibly Aaron Rodgers, no one has thrown more "oh man" passes this season than Goff. He sees plays develop before they happen, finding completions that look impossible when he releases the ball. He figured to take another jump in Year 2 under Sean McVay, but the 24-year-old quarterback still entered this season with the reputation for being a cog in the machine. While the Rams’ offense can sometimes resemble the surgical precision of the Peyton Manning-era Colts, Goff has proven he can make plays on his own with a healthy serving of panache. Goff is leading the NFL in accuracy on deep throws, according to PFF, and it’s not particularly close.
Goff is yet another lesson in patience with young quarterbacks. Not only were we too quick to judge his rough rookie season, even the Goff-Wentz debate from the 2016 draft now lives on. It’s possible for a No. 1 and No. 2 overall pick at quarterback in the same draft to both be great!
Marcus Mariota’s midseason surge: One of my favorite parts of covering the NFL is how often the season can shape-shift on the fly. The Titans’ offense was a tough watch for most of the first six weeks of the season, bottoming out with a touchdown-free performance in Buffalo and a shutout loss to Baltimore.
Since then, Mariota has played an excellent, controlled brand of quarterbacking. He’s been sharp with his decision making and has shown a better feel of when to use the threat of running to open up passing lanes. He’s connected on his shot plays. Mariota’s rough early grades drag down his overall numbers, but he has a shot to climb into the top 15 at the position if he keeps rolling.
Mitchell Trubisky’s similarity to Russell Wilson: The Bears’ offense is never boring and Trubisky is a big reason why. His running ability was well known before his second season, but no one expected Trubisky to provide far more value as a runner than any other quarterback in the league according to ESPN’s QBR. (PFF, which weighs running from QBs as less important, also rates Trubisky as having the most running value at the position.)
Trubisky’s scrambling skills and playing style remind me of Russell Wilson, especially if his deep ball can connect more often like it has over the last few weeks. Trubisky is doing a better job of going through his progressions of late, but his tendency to bail from the pocket when his primary receiver is taken away often leads to big plays, whether throwing or running. Like Mariota, Trubisky’s early games are dragging down his overall grade. However, since Week 4, he’s grading out as a top-15 starter with his best game coming against Detroit in Week 10. There are still too many missed throws along the way, but at least Trubisky is leading an entertaining brand of offense the Bears last saw way back in never.
And now, on to the rankings. The QBs are ranked based on 2018 play alone. The next ranking of all 32 starters comes after Week 12.
2018 stats: 9 games | 77.3 pct | 2,601 pass yds | 8.6 ypa | 21 pass TD | 1 INT | 28 rush yds | 3 rush TD
2018 stats: 10 games | 67.0 pct | 3,150 pass yds | 9.1 ypa | 31 pass TD | 7 INT | 158 rush yds | 2 rush TD
2018 stats: 10 games | 68.4 pct | 3,134 pass yds | 9.4 ypa | 22 pass TD | 6 INT | 82 rush yds | 0 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 61.1 pct | 2,741 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 17 pass TD | 1 INT | 145 rush yds | 0 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 67.3 pct | 2,459 pass yds | 9.0 ypa | 21 pass TD | 4 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 71.1 pct | 3,015 pass yds | 8.5 ypa | 21 pass TD | 3 INT | 80 rush yds | 2 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 66.3 pct | 2,472 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 26 pass TD | 9 INT | 61 rush yds | 0 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 71.3 pct | 2,685 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 17 pass TD | 5 INT | 81 rush yds | 1 rush TD
2018 stats: 7 games | 71.0 pct | 2,148 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 15 pass TD | 3 INT | 96 rush yds | 0 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 66.1 pct | 2,888 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 21 pass TD | 7 INT | 75 rush yds | 2 rush TD
2018 stats: 10 games | 65.2 pct | 2,748 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 17 pass TD | 7 INT | 28 rush yds | 2 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 68.5 pct | 2,086 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 17 pass TD | 5 INT | 352 rush yds | 4 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 66.0 pct | 1,967 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 21 pass TD | 5 INT | 210 rush yds | 0 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 64.9 pct | 2,389 pass yds | 8.4 ypa | 17 pass TD | 7 INT | 268 rush yds | 1 rush TD
2018 stats: 9 games | 63.1 pct | 2,255 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 18 pass TD | 10 INT | 49 rush yds | 0 rush TD
Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.
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