As first slow part of the offseason engulfs us, I thought it would be a good time to review the NFC East and see where the Eagles line up. In the first part of this series, I evaluate the QB position and where each team stacks up against each other. Stay tuned as the remainder of the offense, defense, and coaching staff will be reviewed as the start of free agency approaches.
1. Carson Wentz - Philadelphia Eagles
2018 Stats: 279/401 (69.6%) - 3,074 Yds - 21 TD - 7 INT - 102.2 Passer Rating
2018 PFF Grade: 79.4 (14th)
Key Stat: When throwing 20+ Yards downfield, Wentz threw just 3 TDs compared to 4 INTs for a passer rating of 70.8.
The oft-injured star quarterback has proven that when he is on the field,
the team wins he is one of the best young arms in the game. When not facing pressure, Carson threw for an impressive 75.2% completion percentage. On throws without play action, Wentz threw for a passer rating of 112.6. Both of these marks are tops in the division and among the best in the league. Now more than ever, with the loss of Nick Foles, the Eagles cannot afford to have Wentz missing so many games due to injury. Wentz is a stud but he needs to be on the field to prove it.
2. Alex Smith - Washington
2018 Stats: 205/328 (62.5%) - 2180 Yds - 10 TD - 5 INT - 85.7 Passer Rating
2018 PFF Grade: 70.2 (t-24th)
While Smith didn’t have the best 2018 season (devastating, career-threatening injury aside), his tenure in the league proves that when he is available he is a reliable veteran QB in the league. Also, the poor guy had to play in Washington. If you look back to 2017, however, Smith was the most accurate deep ball passer in the league, was phenomenal when throwing from a clean pocket, and even ran for 5.9 yards a carry. While age isn’t on his side moving forward, Smith is the second best QB of the bunch for now.
One storyline to follow for 2019: The #Redskins are planning as if they won’t have QB Alex Smith next season, sources say. They believe he’ll miss the entire season with his broken leg issues and are acting accordingly. If he’s ready, they will be pleasantly surprised.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 27, 2019
3. Eli Manning - New York Giants
2018 Stats: 380/576 (66.0%) - 4,299 Yds - 21 TD - 11 INT - 92.4 Passer Rating
2018 PFF Grade: 64.3 (31st)
Key Stat: When throwing from a clean pocket, Manning threw for 3300 Yds, 16 Tds and a passer rating of 101.2
If Wentz was tier 1, and Smith was tier 2, lets call this tier 4 because there is a significant drop off in level of play between Alex Smith and Eli Manning. While Manning still does some things well (notably stay healthy, throw very droppable passes, and stay cemented in the pocket), his overall level of play has dropped from good to below-average over the past few seasons. When throwing from a clean pocket, Eli still somewhat resembles an NFL quarterback, but on the 34% of his drop backs when he faces pressure, Eli might as well be a turtle hiding in his shell. For what its worth, Eli still finds a way to get the ball downfield. Last season he led the division in both deep completions (28) and yards (922). While Eli’s career has been riding on fumes for a while now, his last name and pedigree will likely keep him around for another season or two.
4. Dak Prescott - Dallas Cowboys
2018 Stats: 356/526 (67.7%) - 3,885 Yds - 22 TD - 8 INT - 96.9 Passer Rating
2018 PFF Grade: 74.6 (19th)
Key Stat: 15 of Dak’s 22 TDs came on plays where he stayed in the pocket for 2.5 seconds or more.
Dak was phenomenal in deep ball situations throwing for 8 TDs and just 1 INT on 57 attempts downfield for a passer rating of 115.7 (4th in the league). Unfortunately for Dak, however, these are not the deep ball situation power rankings. The only reason Prescott didn’t finish the season as the worst quarterback in the NFC East is that Carson Wentz and Alex Smith were injured. The only reason he made 4th on this list is the recent news that the Eagles would allow Foles to test free agency. When kept clean, Prescott was exceedingly mediocre with the 19th best passer rating in the league. Also, Prescott has trouble getting rid of the ball in time, leading the league with 49 sacks (tied with Deshaun Watson) in situations where he holds the ball for 2.5 seconds or longer. After his “impressive rookie season” Dak has simply looked more and more like a fourth round quarterback. Keep telling yourself he’s a franchise QB, Cowboys fans.
5. Colt McCoy - Washington
2018 Stats: 34/54 (63.0%) - 372 Yds - 3 TD - 3 INT - 78.6 Passer Rating
2018 PFF Grade: 60.1 (unqualified)
I included Mr. McCoy simply because he will be starting next year for Washington. As a 32 year old quarterback, McCoy has nothing left to surprise us with and simply is what he is. Fortunately, he is enough to convince the Washington Front Office to stay away from Nick Foles.
The Eagles clearly have the advantage in the QB department. To add to the advantage, all three of their divisional rivals seem to think they also have the correct guy for the job. While a wise man could argue that none of the three are prepared for 2019 in the QB department, fortunately, a wise man isn’t running any of those organizations. It’ll be interesting to see if any of those teams are bluffing and decide to add to their team throughout the free agency period and in the NFL draft. For now, favor goes to the Eagles.
Thanks to Pro Football Focus for all statistics involved in this article. Stay tuned to BGN as the series continues with the running back position.