Everyone likes to talk about quarterbacks and even more so, assigning takes to quarterbacks. Welcome to the Quarterback Confidence Index, where we take the pulse of the quarterbacks manning current playoff teams.
A 10 means you’re Patrick Mahomes or God or something. A lower score means less confidence. Easy, right?
Here’s how confident playoff teams, ranked by seed, need to be in their quarterbacks to lead a deep run and potentially win a Super Bowl title.
Jalen Hurts has been to the playoffs before and is putting on an MVP-level campaign this year, but it’s fair to wonder how this offense will fare in the postseason. Yet there is the added fact that this offense can function as well as it does because Hurts has been as good as him this season. There should be a lot of confidence in the Hurts and Eagles offense going into the playoffs, but they have yet to do it.
If Kirk Cousins can just keep throwing to Justin Jefferson, the Vikings might just win the goddamn Super Bowl. However, Kirk Cousins is sensitive to his Kirk Cousins moments who can sink the whole ship if the talent around him is not right. So far it has been, but Cousins’ track record on its own is a little hard to get behind. Still, he’s not the worst quarterback in the world and can go through pieces of quality play.
If this was based only on how Geno Smith has played this year, his numbers would be higher. It’s just hard to predict how this offense will perform in the playoffs when they get there. They struggled against the Buccaneers in Germany, but that could be a one-time performance against a very, very good defense. Smith has been a legitimate playmaker this season, it’s just hard to predict what he’ll look like in the postseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady bounced back from a slow start to the season on Sunday and showed why at 45 years old he still has the skills to come back and play. he’s still a good starter who just needs to get the ball into the hands of some very talented receiving players.
Daniel Jones is having the best season of his career so far, but he hasn’t yet risen to the level he can count on to win a playoff game. Jones isn’t dragging the Giants down, but he isn’t the main reason they win either. Saquon Barkley gets an 11/10 on the reliability scale for running.
Prescott is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the Cowboys offense has come back to life since being brought back into the starting lineup. Their postseason record has been shaky lately, but Prescott could definitely be the reason why they win some tough games in January.
Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a great quarterback, but he was deep in the playoffs twice as a starter. He’s a pro when it comes to pulling off Kyle Shanahan’s attack, even though his own limitations sometimes put a cap on their ceiling. Still, there are far worse options in the playoffs than a quarterback who was a stone’s throw from winning the Super Bowl and nearly beating the Rams in the NFC Championship game this year.
Patrick Mahomes plays as the best quarterback in the NFL because he is the best quarterback in the NFL. The Chiefs have a chance to score 30 on anyone as long as Mahomes is below center. No Tyrek Hill? No consistent blocking? No problem for Mahomes. He’s entered a truly elitist space where it feels like he can solve any problem in his path.
In a very short time, Tua Tagovailoa has mastered Mike McDaniel’s new offense and has the Dolphins offense humming through the season so far. Tagovailoa may not have much playoff experience, but if he can keep the Dolphins offense afloat at this level, they can absolutely play in the Super Bowl this year.
Ryan Tannehill has had a strong career in Tennessee, but he’s not the guy who can make an offense in top productions based on the strength of his existence. He’s a solid quarterback in a not-so-solid situation, but that hasn’t stopped the Titans in the past.
Lamar Jackson- 9/10
Lamar Jackson has had some dark moments this year, but he is the reason why the Ravens can commit a functional offense, currently ranked third in DVOA according to Football Outsiders. Things may not always look pretty with Jackson, but he is capable of playing winning football on a fairly consistent basis, even with injuries around him. Jackson isn’t as consistently elite as Mahomes, but he’s the Atlas of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Jets have managed to avoid losing games despite some shaky performances from their sophomore quarterback. The Jets will need better play from Wilson if they want to keep the ship afloat and make the playoffs. At this point, Wilson’s play will make a playoff game more difficult than it already is.
Josh Allen — 9.5/10
See, Josh Allen has had a weird streak of games, but that’s okay. Allen’s style of play can be a little dangerous at times, but it’s a much bigger advantage to the Bills than a disadvantage. The interceptions he threw against the Jets and the Vikings were crucial reasons why they lost, but this offense can’t even begin to function without him. Everything will be fine in Buffalo and Josh Allen is still one of the best quarterbacks in football.
It’s hard to have a whole lot of faith in Mac Jones or the Patriots offense when it comes to their chances of a deep playoff run, but he managed to make the postseason as a rookie. Jones didn’t offer much once the Patriots reached the playoffs, but at least he has the experience of being in that situation. Still, he needs to grow more as a playmaker and become more comfortable with his supporting cast before confidence in him can grow.
Non-playoff young QBs
The confidence interval for the young quarterbacks not currently on playoff-bound teams is a bit different. Rather than looking at how these quarterbacks project for future playoff runs, this only looks at their chances of coming out as a legitimately good long-term starter.
Trevor Lawrence – 9.5/10
Trevor Lawrence may not have taken off the way people expected, but he’s had legitimate moments of high-level quarterback play this season under Doug Pederson. The stats may not do Lawrence justice this week, but he did play well against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday. The Jaguars have finally found a good quarterback and he still has a chance to reach his lost ceiling, even if it’s going to take longer than people thought.
Fields has found his job as one of the most explosive runners in all of football as his passing skills continue to grow. If Fields can get close to where he is as a runner with his passing ability, the Bears will have an MVP-level quarterback for the first time since Sid Luckman in the 1940s.
Mills is a quality quarterback, but he’s probably not the guy to start in the long run without a great supporting cast around him. If the Texans get the first pick in the 2023 NFL draft, Mills is unlikely to be the quarterback for the future, but he still has a spot in this league for the next decade.
Kenny Pickett – 4/10
It’s too early to say with Pickett either way, but the Steelers just need a little more play from Pickett as he grows. Right now, the Steelers are too conservative with Pickett, but that could change as he gains more experience in the coming years.