Confidence is slippery and not always easy to hold. It must be earned. It must be maintained. It can fluctuate — even disappear — in an eyeblink. It can take years to put down real roots. So yes, in our quarterly check-in on the NFL Quarterback Co
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Confidence is slippery and not always easy to hold. It must be earned. It must be maintained. It can fluctuate — even disappear — in an eyeblink. It can take years to put down real roots.
Complain all you want about unprepared players and ugly football tarnishing the NFL season, but don’t blame the quarterbacks. Today’s QBs are better than ever.
So yes, in our quarterly check-in on the NFL Quarterback Confidence Index, there are some big changes. We have young quarterbacks who have put four more confidence-building weeks in the bank since the last time we did this. We have veteran quarterbacks who don’t look the way they should look at this point in the season. We have, as we always do, injury situations that have affected teams’ depth at the most important position.
With that in mind, please enjoy the November edition of the QB Confidence Index (check out October’s here). And remember, this is an assessment of each team’s current level of confidence in its overall quarterback situation, not just its starter.
QB Confidence Index: 10.0 | October rating: 9.9
What’s there to say? Tom Brady is a four-time Super Bowl champ and surefire Hall of Famer playing perfect football since his return from suspension, and he’s backed up by Jimmy Garoppolo, who proved eminently capable of winning games in his absence. Confidence is never low around the Patriots, but at this point they deserve a perfect rating on this scale.
QB Confidence Index: 9.5 | October rating: 9.1
Since the last time we did one of these, Drew Brees has played the Panthers, Chiefs and Seahawks. In those three games, he completed 74.2 percent of his passes, averaged 366 yards per game and threw eight touchdown passes against just two interceptions. Brees is much closer to 40 than he is to 30, but so is Brady, and the old guys are giving their teams no reason for doubt at this point.Matt Ryan is having a bounce-back season for the Falcons, and he’s second in the league in Total QBR.Joe Robbins/Getty Images
QB Confidence Index: 9.3 | October rating: 8.9
Putting a real center in front of Matt Ryan appears to have been the trick to unlocking his potential in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Ryan is leading the league in passing yards, is second only to Brady in yards per attempt and has 19 touchdowns to four interceptions. Last season, the Falcons’ confidence in Ryan (who never misses a game) was hurt by the red zone turnovers. With that under control, he’s an MVP candidate.
QB Confidence Index: 9.2 | October rating: 7.8
No one knew whether Derek Carr would take the critical next step in his third season (see: Bortles, Blake, way, way below), but he absolutely has. Putting the Raiders on his back with 513 yards in Sunday’s overtime victory over Tampa Bay has Carr in the MVP conversation as well. And the two extra years he has in the bank give him a slight edge in the confidence ratings over the red-hot guy we’re going to talk about next.
QB Confidence Index: 9.2 | October rating: 6.3
No matter who starts once Tony Romo gets back, Dallas belongs up here. Rookie Dak Prescott has earned a high level of confidence in a short period of time. Sunday was his worst game so far, and he capped it with a fourth-quarter comeback and overtime touchdown pass against the Eagles. That’s a pretty good “worst game.” If they start Romo, they’ll have as much confidence in their backup (Prescott) as any team in the league. If they keep starting Prescott, they have an experienced star behind him who knows their offense better than anyone on the planet. Once Romo’s healthy, the Cowboys’ quarterback situation ranks with any in the NFL.
QB Confidence Index: 9.0 | October rating: 9.3
The Packers still have Aaron Rodgers, so it’s nuts to think of them being this low on the list. But it’s also nuts to think of Rodgers with a yards-per-attempt figure as low as 6.34. That would be his lowest ever over a full season, though last season’s figure was 6.68, so it’s possible we should have seen this coming. The Packers look like they have to figure out a way to win without a run game or a vertical passing game, and they surely have confidence that Rodgers can operate the offense they need. But there’s something just a little bit off with Rodgers right now, and until we see the old stuff again, he could keep inching lower.
QB Confidence Index: 8.9 | October rating: 9.6
Something’s off with Russell Wilson, too, and it could be just the injuries that have dogged him since Week 1. But he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in more than a month, and he has just 44 rushing yards all season. He’s still their guy, and it says a lot about him that he hasn’t missed a game and that they’re 4-2-1 in spite of their massive protection problems. But Wilson’s performance so far downgrades him from where he started the year.
QB Confidence Index: 8.9 | October rating: 6.4
Matthew Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter are a match made in heaven. Stafford hasn’t thrown an interception in any of his past four games, and the Lions are 3-1 over that span and back in the hunt. Like Ryan, Stafford is a guy you forget sometimes because he’s always seemed to be just short of great. But we hold No. 1 picks to high standards, and this year Stafford is living up to them.Missing several weapons, Philip Rivers has 15 touchdown passes and seven picks this season.AP Photo/Denis Poroy
QB Confidence Index: 8.8 | October rating: 8.2
There’s still no one out there doing more with less on a weekly basis than Rivers, whose team gives away leads the way a grandmother gives away $5 bills. But as the group around him has crumbled to an incredible extent, the Chargers’ confidence in Rivers as the guy who gives them a chance each and every week has only grown.
QB Confidence Index: 8.6 | October rating: 9.1
If the Steelers’ confidence in Big Ben Roethlisberger has reason to waver, he has already shown what it is by missing a game because of injury. Whether he’ll stay healthy the rest of the year remains in question. Heck, whether he’s healthy right now is a question. But Pittsburgh’s number stays high, because Big Ben’s as good as anyone when he’s healthy and because Landry Jones didn’t look as bad as he did last season.
QB Confidence Index: 8.5 | October rating: 8.4
It wouldn’t be a surprise if you looked through all of the stats and standings and the Bengals were 11th in everything. A preseason favorite and a perennial playoff team, Cincinnati has kind of muddled around the middle so far, and Andy Dalton’s performance is a part of it. He has been just fine. He’s fourth in yards, 12th in Total QBR — he’s not getting them beaten. But he’s also still looking for his 10th touchdown pass of the season, and his next game is in Week 10.
QB Confidence Index: 8.1 | October rating: 7.8
Cam Newton has spoken to commissioner Roger Goodell about the hits he’s taking. No word on whom he plans to talk to about his completion percentage of 57.0.
QB Confidence Index: 7.9 | October rating: 7.9
Eli Manning’s durability keeps the Giants’ confidence level high, but his performance hasn’t been what they thought it would be in his third season with Ben McAdoo. The lack of a run game hurts, as does the play of the offensive tackles. But eight touchdowns and six interceptions at the midpoint of the season ain’t cutting it, even for a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
QB Confidence Index: 7.9 | October rating: 7.6
Carson Palmer had a concussion the last time we did this. Currently, he does not. The Cardinals’ offense still looks sick, though, and the team’s confidence seems at its highest when Palmer is handing off to magical running back David Johnson.
QB Confidence Index: 7.9 | October rating: 6.3
Rookie Carson Wentz is one of the great stories of the year so far, and the team’s confidence in him is growing by the week. It also bears mentioning here that Chase Daniel inspires as much confidence in his team as any backup in the league. After starting the year at a 3.8, Philly is among the highest risers on this chart. If he keeps avoiding mistakes, Wentz can keep the Eagles rising up the board, even if he’s doing it only 6.69 yards at a time.The Colts are having trouble protecting Andrew Luck, but he has created most of their offense.Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
QB Confidence Index: 7.8 | October rating: 7.8
Andrew Luck is playing fine, and better now than he was earlier this season. And like many of these guys, he’s doing it while his team struggles to protect him. But that’s what keeps the confidence lower than Luck’s talent and performance say it should be — the idea that it could all come crashing down at any point. He has been sacked 31 times already — six more than any other quarterback in the league.
QB Confidence Index: 7.6 | October rating: 7.3
The Ravens have confidence that Joe Flacco will be exactly who he is. The question is, so what? If Flacco is 25th in completion percentage, 30th in yards per attempt and 29th in touchdown passes, should that really be costing them $22 million a year? I think we can all be fairly confident in the answer to that question.
QB Confidence Index: 7.1 | October rating: 6.3
Sam Bradford has been what they hoped he would be — when he has had time to be that. No running game, no tackles … kind of a recurring refrain here, but Bradford has performed about the way you’d have expected him to perform and hung in against some tough circumstances. Also, backup Shaun Hill won the Week 1 game.
QB Confidence Index: 6.2 | October rating: 5.1
Kirk Cousins is second in passing yards but only 11th in touchdowns and sixth in interceptions. He has won Washington some games, and he has cost Washington some games. He has offered some reason to improve his team’s confidence in him, but probably not enough to convince them to give him the contract he seeks.
QB Confidence Index: 5.8 | October rating: 5.1
Alex Smith backed up by Nick Foles might give Andy Reid confidence, but the Chiefs win with their run game and their defense. All they need from their quarterbacks is to be responsible with the ball. Nobody does that better than Smith, but he does little to make you think he’s going to be the reason you win. Foles gets the nod this week, which brings added turnover risk and can’t help the confidence.
QB Confidence Index: 5.6 | October rating: 5.3
Jameis Winston has six touchdown passes and just one interception since the last time we put this list together, so good for him for addressing the problem that kept his ranking so low. He still feels not fully formed as a trustworthy quarterback, but the signs point in the right direction.
QB Confidence Index: 5.6 | October rating: 4.4
Why not put Winston and Marcus Mariota together? Just like in the 2015 draft. Mariota has shown flashes of brilliance and reliability, but he has also shown the kinds of struggles you’d expect from a second-year guy. The Titans aren’t asking much of Mariota yet, but when they do ask, they sometimes get a fun answer.
QB Confidence Index: 5.0 | October rating: 6.1
Yeah, Jay Cutler looked good Monday against a good defense. Don’t fall for it, NFL fans. Don’t go into the light! Cutler will break your heart, just like Fredo did Michael’s, except he won’t feel bad about it afterward. Plus, Brian Hoyer-as-reliable-backup was a big reason for the Bears’ QB confidence early on. He’s gone now.Trevor Siemian ranks No. 21 in the league in Total QBR, and he’s averaging only 6.95 yards per attempt.Photo by Rich Gabrielson/Icon Sportswire
QB Confidence Index: 5.0 | October rating: 6.0
I don’t know, Trevor Siemian has an 87.1 passer rating, which isn’t that bad when you … WOW!!! Did you see what Von Miller just did??? Yeah, that’s the Broncos’ QB situation in a nutshell.
QB Confidence Index: 5.0 | October rating: 4.5
Tyrod Taylor ranks eighth in Total QBR. Some look at that and wonder why the public perception of Taylor isn’t better. Some look at it and wonder what’s wrong with the QBR formula. Taylor is right now playing without his running back and his top three or four wide receivers, so it’s nice of QBR to cut him a break. But his QBR in the fourth quarters of games is only 27.1. And that’s not going to help with the confidence.
QB Confidence Index: 4.2 | October rating: 4.2
What’s left to say about Ryan Tannehill at this point? Nothing has changed since a month ago. He’s 51-for-75 for 647 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in three games since then. The Dolphins are 2-1 because Jay Ajayi went into hyperdrive. With Tannehill, It feels like nothing has changed in a couple of years. They Dolphins might be stuck with Tannehill for a little while longer, but they’re anything but confident in him.
QB Confidence Index: 3.9 | October rating: 3.9
Bill O’Brien saw something in Brock Osweiler. It will be awesome when he decides to show the rest of us what it was.
QB Confidence Index: 3.5 | October rating: 5.3
You don’t even have to make that good of a throw for Allen Robinson to catch it, Blake Bortles. Just get it near him, and he’ll do the rest. Robinson is tied for 46th in the league in catches. But hey, at least Bortles’ third-year regression didn’t get Robinson fired, as it did former offensive coordinator Greg Olson.Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown seven touchdown passes and 11 interceptions this season, and he was briefly benched.AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
QB Confidence Index: 2.7 | October rating: 3.1
No one ever said, “If you have four quarterbacks, you don’t have any,” but they absolutely could have. The Jets had four, benched Ryan Fitzpatrick, started Geno Smith, then put Fitzpatrick back in when Smith got hurt because Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg aren’t ready yet. They have as much confidence in Fitz as I do that my 10-year-old really will go easy on the Halloween candy.
QB Confidence Index: 2.5 | October rating: 2.8
When you give BLAINE GABBERT every single chance to fail and fail again before turning it over to Colin Kaepernick, you’re living a quarterback nightmare and counting the minutes until the draft.
QB Confidence Index: 2.0 | October rating: 2.5
When you give CASE KEENUM every single chance … oh wait. Already did that one. Sorry. Anyway, confidence in Jared Goff looks to be awfully low for a guy who hasn’t thrown one interception yet, let alone four in one game. To paraphrase Bob Watson in the “Bad News Bears” sequel, let the kid play.
QB Confidence Index: 0.8 | October rating: 0.4
Josh McCown is healthy again, and Cody Kessler looked not not-promising when he had the job for a minute, but let’s be real about the curve on which we’re grading the Browns’ quarterback situation. They’re more confident about quarterback when they watch the college games on Saturdays than they are when they watch their own games on Sundays.