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Alex Gallardo/Associated Press
The seventh Sunday of the 2020 NFL regular season featured a lot of quarterback play worthy of our attention.
In some cases, guys put together dazzling performances. In others, it was just the opposite.
With that in mind, here’s a stock report based on Week 7 showings from some of the league’s rising and sinking signal-callers.
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Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Baker Mayfield’s third NFL season has been a roller-coaster ride, but Sunday represented a peak following a Week 6 valley for the Cleveland Browns’ 2018 No. 1 overall pick.
Mayfield completed all but six of 28 passes, five of which went for touchdowns, as the Browns defeated the division-rival Cincinnati Bengals 37-34. And he did a lot of that work despite losing top wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on a first-quarter interception.
The 25-year-old was practically perfect from that point on, and he completed five of his six deep pass attempts over the course of the next three-and-a-half quarters.
In seven games this season, Mayfield has never posted a passer rating between 75 and 100. He’s had three sub-75-rated games and four triple-digit-rated performances. The good news is he should have a chance to get into a groove with three consecutive home games against the vulnerable Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles coming up.
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Steven Senne/Associated Press
The Cam Newton experiment hasn’t panned out for the New England Patriots.
The 2015 MVP, who entered Sunday as the league’s sixth-lowest-rated qualified passer, was benched after throwing three interceptions on just 15 passes in a sad effort against a shorthanded San Francisco 49ers defense in Week 7. It was New England’s third consecutive loss, and the 33-6 margin was the Pats’ worst home defeat in 22 years.
Pats head coach Bill Belichick insists Newton will remain the starter moving forward. And while he’s been healthy (a COVID-19 diagnosis earlier this month notwithstanding) and he continues to make a strong impact with his legs, the reality is Newton’s arm hasn’t gotten the job done. He’s passed for 200 yards just once as a Patriot, and he fell short of the 100-yard mark in three quarters Sunday.
Now he’ll have to travel to Buffalo to face a tough Bills defense. If things don’t turn around for Newton soon, the Pats might decide to end the Newton era after just one season.
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Kyusung Gong/Associated Press
Few NFL stocks are rising as fast as Justin Herbert’s.
The rookie Los Angeles Chargers No. 6 overall pick entered Sunday as one of the league’s 10 highest-rated passers before throwing three touchdown passes to zero interceptions in a 39-29 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was Herbert’s first win as an NFL starter, but that just goes to show how limited his support has been. The 22-year-old was the league’s highest-rated third-down passer and a deep-ball-throwing sensation in his first four starts despite a lack of continuity along the offensive line and several critical injuries on offense. Sunday, he again put on an exhibition with his arm while adding 66 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Herbert is the Offensive Rookie of the Year front-runner right now, and now he’ll have a chance to make more statements in upcoming divisional matchups with the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders.
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Jack Dempsey/Associated Press
In Drew Lock’s defense, he doesn’t appear to be completely healthy.
The sophomore Denver Broncos second-round pick missed time earlier this season as a result of a shoulder injury, and he appeared to hurt his knee on an awkward slide in Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. But that doesn’t completely get him off the hook for a zero-touchdown, two-interception showing in a 43-16 defeat.
Since returning to the lineup last week against New England, the big-armed Lock has thrown zero touchdown passes to four interceptions, and the Broncos have scored a grand total of one touchdown (a goal-line Lock run against Kansas City). Against the Chiefs, that cannon arm was quiet as he completed just two of six deep passes despite a large deficit.
Unfortunately for Lock, he joined an organization desperate to find a franchise quarterback and likely low on patience. His 63.3 passer rating thus far in 2020 isn’t something general manager John Elway will tolerate for much longer. If the 23-year-old Missouri product doesn’t turn a corner at home against the Chargers next week, we could start to hear calls for rookie backup Brett Rypien to gain some opportunities under center in Denver.
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David Becker/Associated Press
Success at or beyond the age of 43 is unprecedented in the world of NFL quarterbacking, but Tom Brady is changing that.
The immortal, rejuvenated Brady threw four touchdown passes Sunday as his Tampa Bay Buccaneers hammered the respectable Las Vegas Raiders 45-20. One of those touchdowns was a work of art to Scotty Miller, which was one of six deep completions on the day for Brady.
His overall numbers still aren’t where they were in his prime, but Brady now has six touchdowns and no picks in back-to-back blowout victories over strong opponents, and the Bucs are in first place with a 5-2 record. His rate-based stats are also way up compared to his final season in New England.
Bolstered support is likely a factor there, and that supporting cast will become even stronger when newly signed received Antonio Brown is activated as early as Week 9. Prior to that, though, Brady just might continue to feast in a Week 8 matchup with the New York Giants.
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Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
Yeah, a win’s a win. But that doesn’t change the fact that Ben Roethlisberger put together his first truly poor performance of the 2020 season in a 27-24 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
The 38-year-old averaged just 5.5 yards per attempt and threw three interceptions. He hit on five deep passes, but two of those were completed to Titans defenders.
It was actually the second consecutive underwhelming performance from Roethlisberger, who was at least a fantasy football disappointment in a quiet game as the Steelers cruised to a victory over the Browns in Week 6.
But this was Big Ben’s first multi-interception showing of 2020, which puts pressure on him ahead of a critical Week 8 road meeting with the division-rival Baltimore Ravens. At the very least, a poor performance there would remove Roethlisberger from MVP conversations.
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Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
Just as nobody is about to remove Ben Roethlisberger from Hall of Fame consideration, nobody is about to crown Kyle Allen as the long-term answer under center for the Washington Football Team. Still, Allen put together a surprisingly stellar effort in his third start in place of the benched Dwayne Haskins on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.
Allen, who flashed at times as the Carolina Panthers’ starter in place of an injured Cam Newton last season, threw two touchdown passes in a turnover-free performance as Washington crushed its division rival 25-3 at FedEx Field. His 52-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin was the highlight of the day, and altogether he was a solid 3-of-5 on deep passing attempts before WFT was able to lay off the gas pedal down the stretch.
Was he facing a good defense? No, but you can’t blame him for who he plays, and the fact remains he picked apart the Cowboys D to move Washington into the playoff picture in the horrible NFC East.
The 24-year-old was inconsistent last year in Carolina, though, so to be viewed as a potential long-term solution, Allen will at least need a strong showing against the Giants following Washington’s Week 8 bye.
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John Minchillo/Associated Press
Another Allen is a lot more secure in his job with the Buffalo Bills, but Josh Allen had a worse Sunday than Kyle.
The formerly red-hot third-year No. 7 overall pick has cooled off dramatically in the last few weeks. And while his Buffalo Bills were victorious Sunday, they failed to score a touchdown in an unimpressive 18-12 victory over the horrendous New York Jets.
The Bills will take the W, but it’s not a good sign that their entire offensive output amounted to six field goals against a pass defense that ranked 31st in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) at Football Outsiders entering Week 7. Allen, who has taken criticism in the past for his lack of accuracy, completed just one of seven deep passing attempts in New York.
The 24-year-old enticing Wyoming product has just four touchdown passes to three interceptions the last three weeks. He’ll need to turn it around next week against New England before a tough matchup with the Seattle Seahawks in Week 9.
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Sam Craft/Associated Press
Aaron Rodgers looked to prove Sunday against the Houston Texans that his dud Week 6 performance against the Buccaneers was an aberration, and he did exactly that with four touchdown passes in a turnover-free blowout victory.
Rodgers was a prime MVP candidate before throwing two picks and taking four sacks in an ugly showing in Tampa, but he looked inspired again in Houston as the Packers cruised to a 35-20 victory.
The 36-year-old completed four of seven deep passes and posted a 132.4 rating altogether.
Now he’ll look to send yet another message as the Packers return from a weird road trip to host the division-rival Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. With his supporting cast getting healthier and acclimated, look for another strong performance in that spot.
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Kyusung Gong/Associated Press
Meanwhile, the following saw their stock only increase or decrease slightly Sunday:
UP: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions: The 32-year-old hasn’t been right very often this season, but he passed for 340 yards and led a last-minute touchdown drive to essentially keep Detroit’s season alive in a victory that could serve as a turning point.
DOWN: Sam Darnold, New York Jets: It can’t get much lower. The third-year No. 3 overall pick was already the league’s lowest-rated qualified passer before completing only 12 passes and throwing two interceptions in a Week 7 loss to the Bills.
UP: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals: The rookie No. 1 overall pick kept fighting as his team went toe-to-toe with the much more talented Browns despite a lack of support from the defense and the offensive line. Burrow completed 35 of 47 passes and compiled 440 combined passing and rushing yards in a close loss.
DOWN: Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers: Jimmy G threw two interceptions on his four deep pass attempts and didn’t throw any touchdown passes in San Francisco’s blowout victory over New England. His team’s stock rises, but his drops a tad.
UP: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals: The second-year top pick put together 360 yards through the air and 67 more on the ground while generating four touchdowns in a huge prime-time victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He’s taking off.
DOWN: Gardner Minshew II, Jacksonville Jaguars: The second-year sixth-round pick at least threw two touchdown passes to zero picks against the Chargers, but it was another loss, and he completed just 14 of 27 passes overall while taking five sacks. He’ll need to be better if he wants this job long term.