We are through six weeks of the 2021 season, and Kyler Murray is still playing at an MVP level. He has the Cardinals at 6-0 and is completing 73.8% of his passes through those six wins. Carson Wentz and Derek Carr also had big weeks, and Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to an impressive overtime win. But Sam Darnold and Daniel Jones each took a step backward in losses.
On a weekly basis throughout the season, I will rate my current confidence in each quarterback's play. Who is unstoppable and in the MVP conversation? Who is struggling and needs to find consistency? Who is rising, and who is falling, after each week's game slate? Which rookies are exceeding expectations, and which veterans are leading their offenses to playoff contention? And remember, this is based on the present, not future potential.
True backups will not be included, though teams with multiple legitimate starting options might have multiple QBs listed in the rankings. Backups in line to play for injured starters will also be ranked. The list will be accompanied each week with some of the biggest takeaways and lingering thoughts from the recent performances under center, including what both the tape and numbers say about some of the game's starting quarterbacks. Here are this week's QB rankings and some notes regarding the position.
Last updated: Oct. 20
Tannenbaum's current QB rankings
Biggest takeaways from Week 6
We have yet another new No. 1 quarterback on the rankings. Simply put, Arizona's Kyler Murray is playing like the league's MVP right now. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, he has a plus-8.6% completion percentage above expectation, and he has thrown at least three touchdown passes to three different receivers. And on Sunday, Murray was 7-of-10 for 148 yards and two passing touchdowns on throws traveling more than 10 yards downfield, per ESPN Stats & Information. It was his fourth game this season with multiple passing scores on deep throws -- more than he had in his first two seasons combined (three).
Meanwhile, last week's No. 1 fell 10 whole spots on my board this week. Yeah, it was that bad for the Chargers' Justin Herbert. In what was supposed to be a huge matchup for Herbert against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, the second-year QB struggled all day. He completed a season-low 56.4% of his passes for 195 yards, a touchdown and an interception. In all, he finished the day with an 18.5 Total QBR. Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale had him and the Chargers' offense on their heels all game long.
The Colts' Carson Wentz looked great on Sunday. No player threw more interceptions in 2020 than Wentz, as he had 15 in 12 games with the Eagles. This season, he has only thrown one so far, a marked improvement for him. I like the trajectory of his play, and it's encouraging from an Indianapolis perspective. Wentz threw two deep TD passes on Sunday against Houston: a 51-yarder to receiver Parris Campbell and a 28-yard dart to tight end Mo Alie-Cox. On the season, he has completed 50% of his passes at least 20 yards downfield (fifth) for a QBR on such throws of 97.7 (sixth).
The reason speed is so important in evaluating the QB position is showing up in Cleveland's Baker Mayfield. He simply can't outrun some of the faster defensive linemen, which has led to some of his injuries. Mayfield is taking extra hits because of it, and it's costing him. He aggravated a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder on Sunday, and he is out Thursday night against Denver. Case Keenum will start in his place.
Las Vegas' Derek Carr played exceptionally well in a win over the Broncos, especially in light of what the Raiders dealt with as an organization over the past week. He now has four 300-yard games this season. The deep ball was a big factor again on Sunday, as he went 6-of-10 for 219 yards and a pair of touchdown passes on throws of at least 15 air yards, per ESPN Stats and Information. And he is finding receiver Henry Ruggs III on a lot of those, especially the really deep ones. This season, Carr is 5-of-7 targeting him 30-plus yards downfield, including 2-of-2 on Sunday.
Dak Prescott's 24-yard pass to receiver CeeDee Lamb on third-and-25 with 31 seconds left against the Patriots was spectacular. It set up the game-tying field goal that would ultimately send Dallas to overtime and an eventual win. Prescott is playing at a championship level right now. The Cowboys turned the ball over twice in the Patriots' end zone and still won.
Jacksonville's Trevor Lawrence got his first NFL win on Sunday morning in London, a meaningful step forward. He was excellent under duress, throwing for 103 yards when seeing pressure against the Dolphins.
The positive for the Giants' Daniel Jones? He was able to play against the Rams after going through concussion protocol. The negative? He was terrible, committing four turnovers. Jones had shown so much improvement there, but he'll need to have much more consistency with ball security for the rest of the season to show he's New York's guy.
Over the past two weeks, Carolina's Sam Darnold has a completion percentage of 48.7% and yards per attempt of 4.9. He desperately misses running back Christian McCaffery. Darnold plummeted from No. 18 to No. 25 for me this week. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile was solid in Week 6, and he rose from No. 29 to No. 23. While he did have a turnover (fumble), he looked quicker in the pocket on 40 attempts. Roethlisberger is not where he once was, but I saw steps in the right direction this week.