Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season has been a great one for some quarterbacks and a not-so-great one for others.
You might say that some quarterbacks pumped up their value while others lost some air.
Let’s get a look at the gauge.
Rising: Tom Brady
Tom Brady will one day be wearing a yellow jacket in Canton, so what’s he doing among the riff-raff of mortal quarterbacks on a “rising-falling” list?
After serving a four-game Deflategate suspension, there was some concern that Brady would be rusty.
So much for that.
Brady completed 14 of his first 16 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 33-13 victory at Cleveland. He led the Patriots (4-1) to touchdowns on each of their first three possessions. The second of his three touchdown passes, a 5-yarder to tight end Martellus Bennett, gave the Patriots a 23-7 lead less than three minutes into the second quarter.
The 39-year-old connected on 28 of 40 passes for 406 yards with no interceptions. It was the eighth 400-yard passing game of his career.
Sure, this was the Browns. But thanks to Brady, the Patriots had an easier time beating the Browns (0-5) than any of their other opponents this season.
Falling: Brock Osweiler
The Vikings aren’t exactly a quarterback-friendly defense. But Brock Osweiler was struggling even before Sunday’s 31-13 loss, and Sunday’s performance in Minnesota drove home the point that the Texans aren’t getting enough of a return on their four-year, $72 million investment.
Osweiler completed 19 of 42 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
While the Vikings were jumping out to a 24-0 second-quarter lead, Osweiler completed just four of his first 13 passes. The Texans were 1-for-13 on third down.
Osweiler’s passer rating of 70.6 is 40th of the 45 quarterbacks who have thrown passes this season. He’s thrown six touchdown passes and seven interceptions. The Texans knew that Osweiler needed talent around him, signing Lamar Miller and drafting promising rookie Will Fuller.
Osweiler hasn’t done much with those tools. Through Sunday’s 1 p.m. games, the Texans were 26th in the league with 310.4 yards per game and 31st with 16.4 points scored per game.
Perhaps the Texans should have remembered that Osweiler lost his starting job to a creaky 39-year-old last season.
Rising: Matt Ryan
Last week, Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a home victory over a team that reached Super Bowl 50.
On Sunday, Ryan led the Falcons to a road victory over the team that won Super Bowl 50.
By that “A equals B, B equals C” logic, Ryan rises for the second straight week.
Ryan’s stats don’t jump off the page this week. He completed 15 of his 28 throws for 267 yards and a touchdown. But he did it without an interception against the unbeaten Broncos, who came into Week 5 with the league’s second-ranked pass defense (169.5 yards per game).
Julio Jones’ 300 receiving yards last week were more than Ryan threw for on Sunday. Jones regressed to two catches for 29 yards in Denver, so Ryan spread the ball around to seven different players.
Running back Tevin Coleman, who wasn’t even sure he’d play in Denver because of concerns about his sickle cell trait, led the Falcons with four catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. That TD came midway through the third quarter and put the Falcons (4-1) in control of the game.
Ricardo Allen had just intercepted Paxton Lynch, and on a three-play drive Ryan completed a 20-yard pass to Jones and a 31-yarder to Coleman for the touchdown to make it 20-3.
The Falcons held off a late rally and won 23-16. They’ll have a two-game lead in the NFC South when Week 5 wraps up.
And Ryan did nothing Sunday to hurt his MVP candidacy.
Falling: Ryan Tannehill
Ryan Tannehill’s free fall continues. It reached the point Sunday where Dolphins fans chanted for backup Matt Moore during the Dolphins’ 30-17 home loss to the Titans.
Despite Tannehill’s 191-yard showing in which he threw two interceptions, Dolphins coach Adam Gase doesn’t plan on giving the fans what they want.
Adam Gase says Ryan Tannehill will be the QB the whole season.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) October 9, 2016
The Dolphins (1-4) once again made big plays, but not nearly enough of them. DeVante Parker had a 50-yard reception and Damien Williams had a 58-yarder. Tannehill completed 12 of 18 passes, which means that 16 of his passes yielded 83 yards.
Tannehill put together only one touchdown drive. The Dolphins’ other touchdown came on a punt return. They had eight first downs for the second straight week.
Before the 2015 season, Tannehill signed a contract extension that pays him an average of $19.25 million a year through 2020. Right now that looks like a waste of cap space.
Rising: Marcus Mariota
Marcus Mariota turned in his first interception-free game of the season and ran for his first touchdown of the season in the Titans’ 30-17 win at Miami.
Mariota completed 20 of 29 passes for 163 yards with three touchdowns, keeping the Titans (2-3) a game behind the first-place Texans in the AFC South.
The Titans struck first when Mariota out-raced the Dolphins defense for a 5-yard touchdown in the first quarter. The mobile dimension of Mariota’s game was on full display. He ran for a season-high 60 yards on seven carries. But he also showed his growth as a pocket passer.
Marcus Mariota was 12-of-13 for 105 yards and two TDs when passing between the painted field numbers Sunday. He… https://t.co/5Tp4byx7s7
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) October 10, 2016
Mariota took a step forward in his development. If he maintains this momentum he and the Titans can make some hay when a three-game homestand begins next week against the Browns, Colts and Jaguars.
Falling: Andy Dalton
The good news is that Andy Dalton threw a season-high two touchdown passes.
The bad news is that both of them came in garbage time with the Bengals staring at a 28-0 deficit in their 28-14 loss at Dallas.
Dalton was sacked four times and had to run six times for 34 yards, which suggests that the Cowboys’ pass rush and pass coverage both were effective. It also could mean that Dalton still can’t read a defense. He clearly had a tough time throwing the ball away.
If it weren’t for those two throwaway TD passes in the final 10:10 of the game, Dalton would have just three touchdown passes this season. As it is, his five touchdowns tie him for 21st in the league.
The Bengals trailed 21-0 at halftime, their biggest halftime deficit since they lost 35-7 at Pittsburgh in Week 13 of the 2011 season. The Bengals (2-3) are off to their worst start since that year, which was Dalton’s rookie season.
Dalton’s never really been on a Hall of Fame trajectory in his career, but he’s been good enough to get the Bengals into the playoffs five straight times. So far, he doesn’t look good enough this year.
Rising: Matthew Stafford
What a difference a week makes in the NFL.
A week after the Bears earned their first win over his Lions, Matthew Stafford delivered in crunch time and helped hand the Eagles their first loss, 24-23.
The Lions (2-3) trailed 23-21 with two minutes left and faced third-and-4 from the Eagles’ 39. Stafford found Golden Tate for 27 yards, and an unnecessary roughness penalty got the Lions to the 6 and set up Matt Prater’s game-winning, 29-yard field goal.
Stafford’s key completion to Tate came a week after Tate ran the wrong route on an interception in the Lions’ loss at Chicago. Something must have been done in the last seven days for Tate to regain Stafford’s trust.
Not only is Stafford the first quarterback to beat the Eagles (3-1) this year, he’s the first quarterback to throw a touchdown pass against them. He threw two of them to Theo Riddick in the first quarter and another to Marvin Jones in the second quarter to give the Lions a 21-7 lead. Stafford completed 19 of 25 passes for 180 yards and no interceptions, regaining his right to claim a spot among the top half of NFL quarterbacks.
Well, it’s something.
The NFC Pro Bowl quarterbacks right now would/should be Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, and Sam Bradford, which is confusing.
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) October 9, 2016
Falling: Joe Flacco
It’s not all his fault, but Joe Flacco is a falling quarterback for the second straight week.
Following last week’s loss to the Raiders, the Ravens (3-2) again lost at home to an inconsistent team. They fell 16-10 to the Redskins (3-2), who entered the game with the league’s 25th-ranked passing defense.
The Ravens allowed a touchdown on a punt return and Flacco was sacked three times and hit eight times. While not getting a lot of help, Flacco has thrown just two touchdown passes over the last three weeks. He’d have thrown a potential game-winning touchdown to Breshad Perriman with 39 seconds left on Sunday, but it was overturned on replay.
Blaine Gabbert is averaging a pathetic 5.9 yards per pass attempt.
But guess what? So is Joe Flacco.
— Football Perspective (@fbgchase) October 9, 2016
Baltimore converted just three of 15 third-down attempts for a season rate of 36 percent.
All of the Ravens’ games have been decided by six points or less. Even when they were 3-0, not everyone was convinced that Flacco and the Ravens were elite.
They’re even less convinced now.