If you watch enough football, sooner or later, all of the seasons start to run together. It’s easy to confuse one season for another and forget what players dominated a particular season and what players are hoping you forget a particular season. Well, we’ve managed to compile a list of the best and worst quarterbacks from every season since 2000 to help you remember.
Naturally, a few names appear more than once, but for the most part, it’s an interesting mix of quarterbacks who have shined for long periods and ones who had one brilliant season amidst several okay seasons. Meanwhile, you may have to do a Google search for some of the worst quarterbacks in order to remember them while others you’ll have no trouble remembering for one reason or another.
Without further delay, here is the ultimate list of the best and worst quarterbacks every season since 2000.
2000: Jake Plummer (WORST)
Why He’s here: Plummer had more than a few bad years during his 10-year NFL career, and this was one of the worst. The 2000 season was one of five in which Plummer threw at least 21 interceptions. His 4.4% interception rate that year was also the third highest of his career. On top of that, his 13 touchdowns were the third lowest in his 10 seasons, as he provided little upside to his risk-reward style of play.
Team Success: The Cardinals were 3-11 with Plummer as a starter are 3-13 overall. They finished last in the NFC East and fired head coach Vince Tobin after seven games.
By the numbers: Completed 270 of 475 passes (56.8%) for 2,946 yards with 13 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.
2000: Daunte Culpepper (BEST)
Why he’s here: The Vikings made a smart decision by not forcing Culpepper onto the field as a rookie. The 2000 season was his second in the league and first as a starter, and the year on the sidelines paid big dividends. He took the league by storm, showing off not only incredible arm strength but the ability to use his legs, rushing for 470 yards and seven touchdowns in addition to his nearly 4,000 yards passing. At that time, we were still getting used to quarterbacks whom were genuine threats running the ball, so Culpepper’s success with his legs was a big deal.
Team Success: Behind Culpepper, the Vikings finished 11-5. They started fast, winning their first seven games before struggling a little the second half of the season. However, Minnesota ended up in the NFC Championship Game that year, ultimately bowing out to the Giants.
By the Numbers: Completed 297 of 474 passes (62.7%) for 3,937 yards with 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
2001: Chris Weinke (WORST)
Why He’s Here: Fresh off winning the Heisman Trophy the previous year, most expected a little better out of Weinke as a rookie, especially since he was a 29-year-old rookie after a minor league baseball career prior to playing at Florida State. However, he soon became yet another example of a Heisman winner whose talents didn’t translate to the NFL. Not that he had a great supporting cast around him, but the talent just wasn’t there with Weinke, who never got much of a chance to play after his rookie season.
Team Success: Behind Weinke, the Panthers went 1-15 in 2001, which explains why they quickly moved on from him the next season.
By the Numbers: Completed 293 of 540 passes (54.3%) for 2.931 yards with 11 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
2001: Kurt Warner (BEST)
Why He’s Here: Warner wasn’t quite as good as he came out of nowhere to lead “The Greatest Show on Turf” in 1999, but he was still the best in the league in 2001. He led the NFL in touchdown passes, passing yards, and passer rating on his way to winning his second MVP. Unfortunately for Warner, this was the end of him being an elite quarterback, as a broken finger the next season began his slow and steady downfall. But he was brilliant in 2001, a season only topped by his 1999 campaign.
Team Success: With Warner under center, the Rams went 14-2 in 2001, giving them the best record in the NFL. Alas, the Rams failed to capture their second Super Bowl win in as many years, losing Super Bowl XXXVI 20-17 to the Patriots to help begin New England’s dynasty.
By the Numbers: Completed 375 of 546 passes (68.7%) for 4,830 yards with 36 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
2002: David Carr (WORST)
Why He’s here: Nobody said being a rookie in the NFL was going to be easy, and Carr found out the hard way in 2002. Considering the Texans were an expansion team and forced Carr into the starting lineup right away behind a porous offensive line, it’s almost a little unfair to declare him the worst in the league that season. He set an NFL record for being sacked 76 times that season. He also recovered 12 of his own fumbles, setting another record. Nobody’s saying it was entirely his fault, but no one can deny how ugly it got for Carr in 2002.
Team Success: Things got off to a promising start, as the Texans beat the Cowboys in their first game as a franchise. But it was all downhill from there. Houston finished the season 4-12, with only the Bengals and Lions winning fewer games.
By the Numbers: Completed 233 of 44 passes (52.5%) for 2,592 yards with nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
2002: Rich Gannon (BEST)
Why He’s here: Fifteen years into his NFL career, Gannon somehow found the magic touch. Things got increasingly better for him after joining the Raiders in 1999 and becoming acquainted with Jon Gruden and the West Coast Offense. Everything came together for him in 2002 when he was the league MVP. It was arguably the most shockingly brilliant season by a quarterback in NFL history given that he was 36 years old for most of the season. On the other hand, he did go to the Pro Bowl every year from 1999 to 2002, but nobody could have foreseen Gannon playing at the level he reached in 2002.
Team Success: With Gannon working his magic, the Raiders won the AFC West with an 11-5 record. They ultimately became AFC champions, only to lose the all-Pirate Super Bowl to the Buccaneers 48-21 with Gannon throwing five interceptions, three of which the Tampa defense turned into a pick-six.
By the Numbers: Completed 418 of 618 passes (67.6%) for 4,689 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
2003: Kordell Stewart (WORST)
Why He’s here: This season came toward the back end of Slash’s career when he couldn’t produce much on a football field anymore. In fact, he never threw another pass in the NFL after this season. It was also one of his least productive seasons as a runner. The interception rate of 4.8% that Stewart posted in 2003 is a big reason why he’s earned the distinction of worst quarterback in the NFL that season. It also doesn’t help that he lost his job to Chris Chandler, became the starter again when Chandler struggled, only to lose it again to then-rookie Rex Grossman once the Bears were out of the playoff picture.
Team Success: Despite such poor quarterback play from Stewart and others in 2003, the Bears weren’t terrible, ultimately finishing 7-9, albeit three games out of a playoff spot.
By the Numbers: Completed 126 of 251 passes (50.2%) for 1,418 yards with seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
2003: Steve McNair (BEST)
Why He’s here: This was a career year for McNair, who remains one of the more underrated quarterbacks of his era. If he hadn’t missed two games late in the season due to injury, McNair would have undoubtedly recorded a career-high in passing yards. His seven interceptions all season were astounding compared to a career-high 24 touchdown passes. Ultimately, he and Peyton Manning were named co-MVPs, and with Manning just starting to peak around this time, it’s high praise for McNair to be on equal footing with Manning.
Team Success: Despite missing two games, McNair led the Titans to a 12-4 record in 2003. However, Manning and the Colts were also 12-4 and won the tiebreaker to give Indy the AFC South title. After a road win in Baltimore, the Titans lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to eventual Super Bowl champs New England.
By the Numbers: Completed 250 of 400 passes (62.5%) for 3,215 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
2004: A.J. Feeley (WORST)
Why He’s Here: The Dolphins gave up a 2nd round pick to acquire Feeley, only to watch him spend the 2004 season in a lackluster quarterback battle with Jay Fiedler. Talk about two guys who had no business being starters in the first place. Over the 11 games in which he appeared, Feeley registered a pitiful 61.7 quarterback rating. His performance helped inspire the Dolphins to sign Gus Frerotte the following offseason, as Feeley didn’t throw another pass in the NFL until 2006 when the Eagles made him their backup.
Team Success: With the services of Feeley and Fiedler, the Dolphins finished 4-12 in 2004, tying them with the Browns for the second-fewest wins in the league. The team started the season 1-9, forcing Dave Wannstedt to resign as head coach.
By the Numbers: Completed 191 of 356 passes (53.7%) for 1,893 yards with 11 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
2004: Peyton Manning (BEST)
Why He’s here: This was Manning’s second MVP award (sharing the previous year with Steve McNair) and his first of several appearances on our list. At the time, his 4,500-plus yards and 49 touchdowns were both career-highs that Manning would only rarely top the rest of his career. Oddly enough, it was one of three seasons in which he attempted less than 500 passes, which makes it perhaps his most efficient season. Some who remember this season consider it one of the best seasons ever by a quarterback, as Manning was one vote shy of being the unanimous pick for NFL Offensive Player of the Year.
Team Success: With the league’s MVP at quarterback, the Colts went 12-4 and won the AFC South. However, after steamrolling the Broncos in the Wild Card Round, the Colts lost in New England in the Divisional Round.
By the Numbers: Completed 336 of 497 passes (67.6%) for 4,557 yards with 49 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
2005: Brett Favre (WORST)
Why He’s here: In retrospect, this season was the beginning of the end for Favre. One could argue that some of the younger, less-established quarterbacks were worse than Favre this season. However, he led the league with 29 interceptions and had a grotesque interception percentage of 4.8%, not to mention the worst passer rating of his career at 70.9. Yes, Favre threw a lot of interceptions during his career, but not at that kind of rate. Also, Favre typically played well enough for the positives to outweigh all of his bone-headed interceptions, but that didn’t happen this season.
Team Success: Amidst Favre’s problems, the Packers were a pitiful 4-12 this season. Coincidence or not, this is the year the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers. However, the team stuck with Favre for two more seasons until handing the keys over to Rodgers.
By the Numbers: Completed 372 of 607 passes (61.3%) for 3,881 yards with 20 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.
2005: Carson Palmer (BEST)
Why He’s here: This was Palmer’s breakout season and not enough people remember just how good he was. The 32 touchdown passes is a number he didn’t top until 2015. His 2.4% interception percentage was also the lowest he had until much later in his career. Over the course of the 2005 season, Palmer matched Peyton Manning (surprise, surprise) with nine straight games of a quarterback rating of 100 or better. Unfortunately, this season is remembered more for how it ended with Palmer suffering a serious knee injury that at the time was potentially career threatening. Of course, Palmer recovered and went on to have many more good seasons, even if none of them ever matched his 2005 campaign.
Team Success: Palmer’s biggest accomplishment in 2005 may have been helping the Bengals breaking their 15-year playoff drought. Cincinnati finished 11-5 and won the AFC North, only to lose to the Steelers in the playoffs after Palmer’s injury.
By the Numbers: Completed 345 of 509 passes (67.8%) for 3,836 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
2006: Andrew Walter (WORST)
Why He’s here: If you don’t remember Walter, you’re probably not the only one. He probably wishes he could forget his play on the field in 2006 for the hapless Raiders. Walter played in 12 games for the Raiders that season amidst both struggles and injury problems for Aaron Brooks. Of course, Walter didn’t exactly solve the team’s problems at quarterback, with a 1.1% touchdown rate and a 4.7 interception rate. You’d almost have to try to put up numbers that bad. When you consider that Randy Moss was with the Raiders that year, you’d think Walter could have put up better numbers by throwing jump balls toward Moss on every play.
Team Success: Behind Walter and Brooks, the Raiders finished a pitiful 2-14 in 2006, making them the worst team in the league. With such poor quarterback play, they were desperate enough to draft JaMarcus Russell the next year in another move that didn’t work out.
By the Numbers: Completed 147 of 276 passes (53%) for 1,677 yards with three touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
2006: Peyton Manning (BEST)
Why He’s here: This is already Manning’s second appearance on our list and it will in no way be the last. He didn’t win the MVP this year but he did have the highest passer rating in the league for the third straight season. He was also a big part of the Colts setting a new NFL record for converting 56% of their third-down opportunities. The 2006 season is yet another example of how good Manning was in his prime and how he could play the game both physically and mentally in a way that no other quarterback ever has.
Team Success: Manning also gets credit for being the best quarterback in 2006 because it was the season of his first Super Bowl win. The Colts went 12-4, although that wasn’t even good enough to give them a bye. However, after wins over the Chiefs and Ravens, Manning led the Colts in a 2nd-half comeback against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, erasing a 21-3 deficit on their way to the Super Bowl.
By the Numbers: Completed 363 of 557 passes (65%) for 4,397 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
2007: Kellen Clemens (WORST)
By the Numbers: Completed 130 of 250 passes (52%) for 1,529 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Why He’s here: An injury to Chad Pennington forced the Jets to turn to Clemens in his second pro season, but the results weren’t pretty. Clemens barely averaged 150 yards passing over the 10 games he played while also throwing an interception 4% of the time. Upon his return, Pennington was so bad that the Jets actually went back to Clemens to give their fans the illusion that he might actually develop into a decent quarterback one day.
Team Success: Between Pennington and Clemens, the Jets won just four games in 2007, although two of the wins during that 4-12 campaign came against the 1-15 Dolphins. The next year, the Jets were so desperate that they brought in an over-the-hill Brett Favre rather than give Clemens another chance.
By the Numbers: Completed 130 of 250 passes (52%) for 1,529 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
2007: Tom Brady (BEST)
Why He’s here: It took a while, but this is Brady’s first appearance on our list. The 2007 season was also his first MVP year. The 50 touchdown passes threw this season is a total he’s never come close to matching. The 8.7% touchdown rate is borderline insane and the 1.4% interception rate isn’t bad either. Of course, it helps that the Patriots brought in the likes of Randy Moss and Wes Welker prior to this season. When all is said and done, this could be Brady’s most impressive year and arguably the best single season a quarterback has ever had.
Team Success: Obviously, the 2007 season will long be remembered for the Patriots going 16-0 during the regular season. The team’s average margin of victory during the regular season was 37-17. The Patriots, of course, eventually lost tot he Giants in the Super Bowl, but that only takes away a little bit of what Brady accomplished that season.
By the Numbers: Completed 398 of 578 passes (68.9%) for 4,806 yards with 50 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
2008: Dan Orlovsky (WORST)
Why He’s here: In Orlovsky’s defense, he didn’t make his first career start until the 2008 season. He was also one of five quarterbacks to play for the Lions that season, so he wasn’t the only one who was horrible. However, Orlovsky stands out from the pack because of the time he took a snap out of the shotgun and then proceeded to run out of the back of the end zone without realizing it. That play was an immense failure at such a fundamental level that it more or less guarantees that he was the worst quarterback in the league that year.
Team Success: As most remember, 2008 was the year the Lions went 0-16. Orlovsky had the misfortune of being the starter for seven of those games. The following year, the Lions drafted Matthew Stafford, and the rest is very average history.
By the Numbers: Completed 143 of 255 passes (56.1%) for 1,616 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
2008: Peyton Manning (BEST)
Why He’s here: Manning isn’t close to finished being on our list. This was also just his third of five MVP seasons. This was one of Manning’s more challenging seasons, as he underwent two knee surgeries prior to the season and didn’t play at all in the preseason. But if you looked at his numbers at the end of the season, you’d never be able to guess he was anything less than 100%. Manning had some of the best individual performances of his career during this season, at times having to single-handedly carry the Colts to make sure they reached the playoffs.
Team Success: Indianapolis struggled early in the season, start 0-2 and being 4-4 midway through the season. But Manning helped them go 8-0 in the second half to finish 12-4 despite a disappointing loss to the Chargers in the Wild Card Round.
By the Numbers: Completed 174 of 55 passes (66.8%) for 4,002 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
2009: JaMarcus Russell (WORST)
Why He’s here: This wasn’t Russell’s rookie season. This was his third year in the league, so there were no excuses for being this bad and posting such atrocious numbers. By this point, Russell was beyond overweight and beyond incompetent as an NFL quarterback. That’s reflected in his passer rating of 50 this season. When your completion percentage is under 50%, something is seriously wrong. Fortunately for the Raiders and people everywhere who enjoy watching good football, the 2009 season would be the last time Russell played in the NFL.
Team Success: The Raiders ended up 5-11 in 2009, which wasn’t even the worst record in their division. But any wins that came with Russell on the field were despite him and not because of him.
By the Numbers: Completed 120 for 246 passes (48.8%) for 1,287 yards with three touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
2009: Drew Brees (BEST)
Why He’s Here: It’s tough to pinpoint when Brees had his best season, but his 2009 campaign is definitely right up there. A combination of a 6.6% touchdown rate, 2.1% interception rate, and 70% completion rate definitely stood out until Brees had a late-career resurgence. The fact that he was second-team All-Pro and MVP runner-up to in-prime Peyton Manning also speaks highly of Brees during the 2009 campaign. Of course, the fact that Brees ended the season with a ring on his finger makes it a little easier for 2009 to stand out as his best season and the year when he was the best in the game.
Team Success: Brees led the Saints to a 13-3 record, making them the top seed in the NFC playoffs. After surviving an overtime game in the NFC Championship, Brees and the Saints beat Manning and the Colts by two touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
By the Numbers: Completed 363 of 514 passes (70.6%) for 4,388 yards with 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
2010: Jimmy Clausen (WORST)
Why He’s Here: As a rookie out of Notre Dame selected in the 2nd round, Clausen shouldn’t have been this bad. He took over early in the season for a struggling Matt Moore but averaged less than 120 passing yards per game. Considering he had the likes of Steve Smith, Jonathan Stewart, and DeAngelo Williams around him, Clausen should have been able to do better. Instead, the Carolina offense was as anemic as they get that season, and with a solid supporting cast, Clausen has to be the one to take the blame. In his first start, Clausen fumbled three snaps, losing two of them, prompting Smith to yell at him on the sidelines. Things never got much better from there.
Team Success: The Panthers went 2-14 in 2010. With the talent around Clausen, they should have been at least a little better. However, that season gave Carolina the first overall pick the following year, a pick they used on Cam Newton.
By the Numbers: Completed 157 of 299 passes (52.5%) for 1,558 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions.
2010: Tom Brady (BEST)
Why He’s Here: Fresh off a contract extension that made him the highest-paid player in the league, Brady went out and earned his money in 2010. Going through an NFL season with just four interceptions is unreal and Brady’s lowest mark in a season when he started all 16 games. His 7.3% touchdown percentage was also the second highest of his career to date. During a November win over the Lions, Brady earned a perfect passer rating, doing so for just the second time in his career. From start to finish, Brady was nearly perfect in everything he did in 2010, ultimately being the unanimous choice for MVP.
Team Success: Despite going 14-2 during the regular season and earning the top seed in the AFC playoffs, the Patriots lost to the Jets in the Divisional Round, making it three straight seasons without a playoff win for New England.
By the Numbers: Completed 324 of 492 passes (65.9%) for 3,900 yards with 36 touchdowns and four interceptions.
2011: Curtis Painter (WORST)
Why He’s Here: You’d think after watching Peyton Manning from the sidelines for a couple of years that Painter would have learned a thing or two. When veteran Kerry Collins, who was signed to replace Manning following neck surgery, got hurt early in the season, Painter took over and fell flat on his face. Even with a playoff-caliber roster around him, Painter had trouble moving the ball and avoiding costly errors, failing to lead the Colts to a single win. Eventually, the Colts were desperate enough to replace Painter with Dan Orlovsky, which didn’t go much better.
Team Success: With Manning out for the season, the Colts were an abysmal 2-14 in 2011. Indy was 0-8 in games Painter started, and after getting the top overall pick, they drafted Andrew Luck to replace Manning.
By the Numbers: Completed 132 of 243 passes (54.3%) for 1,541 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.
2011: Aaron Rodgers (BEST)
Why He’s Here: After leading the Packers to the Super Bowl the previous season, this is the year that Rodgers really took things to the next level and let it be known that he would be one of the league’s elite quarterbacks for many years to come. From 2010 to 2011, his touchdown count went from 28 to 45 and his interceptions dropped from 11 to six. More importantly, his passer rating of 122.5 is the highest in a single season of any quarterback, as of the end of the 2018 season. Behind Rodgers, the Packers scored 560 points, a number topped by less than a handful of teams in NFL history. Needless to say, Rodgers took home MVP honors this year.
Team Success: With Rodgers at his best, the Packers went 15-1. However, they lost their first playoff game to the Giants, becoming the only team to finish the regular season 15-1 but not win a playoff game.
By the Numbers: Completed 343 of 502 passes (68.3%) for 4,643 yards with 45 touchdowns and six interceptions.
2012: Mark Sanchez (WORST)
Why He’s here: How quickly they fall sometimes. After taking the Jets to the AFC Championship Game in his first two seasons, Sanchez looked like a young quarterback on the rise. But things fall apart for him in 2012. Early in the season, Sanchez went four straight games without completing at least 50% of his passes. Later that season came the infamous butt fumble play, a low point for Sanchez that will never be forgotten. If that weren’t embarrassing enough, Sanchez was benched in favor of Greg McElroy multiple times during the 2012 season.
Team Success: Amidst Sanchez’s struggles, the Jets finished 6-10 in 2012, a long fall after back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game. The season inspired the Jets to draft Geno Smith, essentially ending Sanchez’s tenure as a starter in the NFL after three seasons.
By the Numbers: Completed 246 of 453 passes (54.3%) for 2,883 yards with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
2012: Aaron Rodgers (BEST)
Why He’s here: After winning MVP honors the previous season, Rodgers kept on rolling in 2012. He didn’t quite match the mesmerizing touchdown and interception numbers from the previous season, but he came close. He continued to lead the league passer rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio and was top-5 in virtually every category. MVP honors that year went to Adrian Peterson, although Rodgers was undoubtedly the best quarterback in the league.
Team Success: The Packers went 11-5 in 2012, winning the NFC North. Green Bay took care of the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, only to lose to the 49ers in the Divisional Round.
By the Numbers: Completed 371 of 552 passes (67.2%) for 4,295 yards with 39 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
2013: Eli Manning (WORST)
Why He’s Here: The back half of Eli’s career hasn’t gone all that well for him and the Giants, but the 2013 campaign takes the cake (in a bad way). This was the only time other than his rookie season that the younger Manning brother threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Early in the season, he threw four interceptions in a game that just happened to be the final time he and his brother played on the same field against one another. But Eli somehow managed to top that performance by tossing five picks in a shutout loss to Seattle late in the season. It was an all-around ugly season for Eli, but to his credit, he was able to bounce back and play a little better in the years to follow.
Team Success: Despite such a terrible season from their quarterback, the Giants were only 7-9 in 2013. Against all odds, they actually remained competitive inside a dreadful NFC East into December.
By the Numbers: Completed 317 of 551 passes (57.5%) for 3,818 yards with 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions.
2013: Peyton Manning (BEST)
Why He’s here: This year was the fifth and final time Manning won league MVP honors. It’s also arguably the greatest season a quarterback (or an NFL offense for that matter) has ever had. Manning started off the season by throwing seven touchdown passes against the Ravens, who were the reigning Super Bowl champs at the time. Obviously, that was a tough act to follow, but Manning rarely slowed down after starting the season in such spectacular fashion. Manning and the Broncos set a number of records that season, including being the first NFL team to eclipse 600 points in the regular season. The accolades for that season are almost endless, as it was an utterly amazing display of offensive proficiency.
Team Success: After a 13-3 regular season, things came crashing down for Manning and the Broncos in the Super Bowl. The game started with the ball being snapped over Manning’s head for a safety and snowballed from there. Denver would fall 43-8 in a forgettable night for Manning and the Broncos.
By the Numbers: Completed 450 of 659 passes (68.3%) for 5,477 yards with 55 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
2014: Josh McCown (WORST)
Why He’s here: Even for a journeyman and career backup like McCown, this was bad. The previous season, McCown threw just one interception for the Bears in 224 pass attempts. That created the expectation that he may not win games for the Buccaneers but at least he wouldn’t lose them. Well, that didn’t happen with McCown’s 4.3% interception rate. His completion percentage also dropped from 66.5% to 56.3% from his part-time duty in Chicago the previous season. No one expected McCown to lead the Bucs to the Super Bowl, but he fell well short of the rather meager expectations in 2014.
Team Success: With McCown and Mike Glennon at quarterback, Tampa Bay finished the 2014 campaign 2-14. McCown started 11 of those games and was 1-10. The next season, the Bucs used the top overall pick on Jameis Winston.
By the Numbers: Completed 184 of 327 passes (56.3%) for 2,206 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
2014: Aaron Rodgers (BEST)
Why He’s Here: In case you lost count, this is three times in four years that Rodgers made our list as the best quarterback in the league. Officially, this was the second time he won MVP in a four-year span. It was also the year the world learned that when Rodgers tells you to “R-E-L-A-X,” you should listen. After a slow start for both Rodgers and the Packers, things picked up and it was more of the same from Rodgers, displaying incredible efficiency. The five interceptions he threw in 2014 is the second-lowest since he became a starter and his 112.2 passer rating is topped only by his other MVP season in 2011.
Team Success: Despite the slow start, the Packers finished 12-4 and made their way to the NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks. Rodgers orchestrated a late drive to set up a field goal that sent the game to overtime. Alas, Rodgers never got to touch the ball in overtime, as Seattle won the game to return to the Super Bowl.
By the Numbers: Completed 341 of 520 passes (65.6%) for 4,381 yards with 38 touchdowns and five interceptions.
2015: Peyton Manning (WORST)
Why He’s Here: Two years after Manning put together arguably the greatest season a quarterback ever had, he was arguably the worst in the game. Part of the problem is that Manning created such high expectations for himself that he’s judged differently from other quarterbacks. But nine touchdowns to 17 interceptions isn’t acceptable for any NFL quarterback. To say he was a shadow of his former self would almost be overstating his performance. Manning didn’t look like himself and didn’t have much left in the tank at this point. Also, he barely got his job back from Brock Osweiler at the end of the season, as it took a series of turnovers in Week 17 that weren’t really Osweiler’s fault for the Broncos to go back to Manning.
Team Success: Despite Manning’s poor play, he was able to go out on top with a Super Bowl win. The Broncos went 12-4 behind a historically great defense. They were even good enough to go 5-2 in games Osweiler started. To his credit, Manning did enough, but it was the Denver defense that was largely responsible for beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game and the Panthers in the Super Bowl.
By the Numbers: Completed 198 of 331 passes (59.8%) for 2,249 yards with nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
2015: Cam Newton (BEST)
Why He’s here: When Newton won a Heisman and national championship at Auburn and became the top overall pick in the draft, this is the kind of player the Panthers envisioned him becoming. He hit the ground running in 2015 and never let up. In retrospect, this appears to be the peak of Newton’s career. Week after week, he couldn’t be contained, as a passer or a runner. Week after week, his incredible skill set and unique body size was on display, and the combination left opposing defenses almost helpless against Newton. Being able to have his highest touchdown total and lowest interception total in the same season made the 2015 campaign truly magical for Newton.
Team Success: Newton and the Panthers finished the 2015 season 15-1, starting the season 14-0. However, Newton met his match in the form of Denver’s defense in the Super Bowl, causing Carolina’s near-perfect season to end in disappointing fashion.
By the Numbers: Completed 296 of 495 passes (59.8%) for 3,837 yards with 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions plus 636 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
2016: Brock Osweiler (WORST)
Why He’s Here: Osweiler could have played it safe, stayed in Denver as Peyton Manning’s successor, and had an amazing defense helping him win games. Instead, he signed a $72 million contract and tried to forge his own path. As we all know, that didn’t work out too well. Osweiler just couldn’t stop himself from throwing interceptions, negating any positives he brought to the Texans. Toward the end of the season, Osweiler was benched in favor of Tom Savage. He only got his job back for the playoffs because Savage picked up a concussion. But that only led to him being humiliated even more, especially on the heels of that big contract.
Team Success: Despite Osweiler’s best efforts, the Texans actually won the mediocre AFC South in 2016 with a 9-7 record. After beating the Raiders during the Wild Card round, Osweiler and the Texans were humiliated the next week at New England.
By the Numbers: Completed 301 of 510 passes (59%) for 2,957 yards with 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
2016: Matt Ryan (BEST)
Why He’s Here: After years of being solid but rather unspectacular, Ryan finally put forth an outstanding season in 2016 that earned him MVP honors. His numbers suddenly skyrocketed from steady and boring to undeniably impressive, averaging over 300 yards per game for the first time in his career and throwing at least one touchdown pass in every game. He also averaged an amazing 9.3 yards every time he threw the ball. The receivers in Atlanta deserve a little bit of the credit, but there’s no denying that Ryan put on a master class on how to play the quarterback position in 2016.
Team Success: After guiding the Falcons to an 11-5 record, Ryan continued to play at a high level for two and a half playoff games, helping Atlanta take what appeared to be a commanding 28-3 in the Super Bowl. Of course, for a multitude of reasons, the Falcons failed to hold the lead and ended up losing 34-28 in overtime without Ryan getting a chance to touch the ball in the extra session.
By the Numbers: Completed 373 of 534 passes (69.9%) for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
2017: DeShone Kizer (WORST)
Why He’s here: It’s a little unfair to name a rookie playing for the Browns the worst quarterback in the league. It’s not like Kizer was set up for success. He certainly didn’t have some of the advantages Baker Mayfield did in 2018. Kizer also deserves some credit for beating out a few veterans for the job. However, we can’t ignore the fact that he threw twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, leading the league with 22 picks. On the rare occasion that the Browns had a chance to win a game, Kizer wasn’t able to make winning players to get Cleveland over the hump. In the end, Kizer appeared in 15 games without producing any wins, and that alone is enough to make him the worst quarterback of 2017.
Team Success: As most of us remember, the Browns went winless in 2017. They averaged just over 14 points per game, the fewest in the league and were once again gifted the top overall pick in the draft.
By the Numbers: Completed 255 of 476 passes (53.6%) for 2,894 yards and 11 touchdowns with 22 interceptions.
2017: Tom Brady (BEST)
Why He’s here: Brady’s third MVP season gets him on our list for the third time. It’s impossible not to mention the fact that everything Brady did during the 2017 season he did at the age of 40. Not 30, not 35, not even 38, but the big 4-0. It probably wasn’t Brady’s best season as an individual. In fact, the 2017 season is borderline top-5 in Brady’s career. However, he still out-performed the rest of the quarterbacks in the league, proving that his arm and mind are just as capable of controlling a game as ever.
Team Success: The Patriots cruised to a 13-3 record and yet another AFC East title. It was business as usual in the playoffs, as Brady orchestrated a brilliant 4th quarter comeback against the mighty Jacksonville defense in the AFC Championship Game. However, Brady’s brilliance was bested in the Super Bowl by Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to a 41-33 shootout win over New England.
By the Numbers: Completed 385 of 581 passes (66.3%) for 4,577 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
2018: Josh Rosen (WORST)
Why He’s here: On the one hand, Rosen is hardly to blame for his terrible rookie season. On the other hand, it’s hard to deny that he was the worst quarterback in the league. The plan was for Rosen to sit behind Sam Bradford for a year, but after an 0-3 start, that plan went out the window. Rosen was thrown into the fire behind an inept offensive line and with few proven skill players outside the aging Larry Fitzgerald. It wasn’t all bad for Rosen, but 14 interceptions and 10 fumbles are tough to forgive. The bottom line is that he wasn’t set up for success and it showed.
Team Success: The Cardinals finished 2018 a league-worst 3-13, with two of those wins coming against the 4-12 49ers. They received the top overall pick in the draft, and following a coaching change drafted Kyler Murray, prompting them to trade Rosen to the Dolphins.
By the Numbers: Completed 217 or 393 passes (55.2%) for 2,278 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
2018: Patrick Mahomes (BEST)
Why He’s here: Where in the world did this guy come from? That was the question the NFL spent 2018 asking after watching Mahomes. After he spent his rookie season sitting behind Alex Smith, few knew what to expect out of the son of a former major league pitcher who flew a little under the radar in college at Texas Tech. But starting in Week 1, Mahomes was undoubtedly the most electric player in the league in 2018. His arm strength was incredible, his anticipation was beyond his years, and his moxie was unparalleled. In short, he took the league by storm, orchestrating a Kansas City offense that sizzled like a steak on the grill all season long. Even with over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes, the numbers may not even do justice to how amazing Mahomes was on the field in 2018.
Team Success: The Chiefs won the AFC West and home-field advantage in the playoffs with their 12-4 record. However, Mahomes couldn’t save them in Kansas City’s first trip to the AFC Championship Game in a quarter century. Despite 295 yards passing and three touchdowns from Mahomes, culminating in a 24-point 4th quarter, Tom Brady and the Patriots bested the Chiefs in overtime to reach the Super Bowl.
By the Numbers: Completed 383 of 580 passes (66%) for 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.