There is so far one inescapable fact about the AFC North during the 2017 regular season, and that is quite simply that the quarterback position across the division has left an awful lot to be desired. In fact, while looking up some numbers yesterday, I couldn’t help but take notice of just how bad it really is.
Take, for example, the fact that there are nine quarterbacks who have thrown at least six interceptions so far during the first six weeks of the 2017 regular season. Not only is every team in the AFC North represented in that bottom nine, they are at or right at the bottom.
Nobody in the NFL has thrown more interceptions than the Cleveland Browns’ DeShone Kizer at nine, who was benched after five games, but has already been reinserted when his backup threw three on Sunday. Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger share second place with Cam Newton in throwing eight interceptions.
The Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton is right behind them in the next group, having thrown six interceptions in five games as they come off a bye week. And might I point out that a pair of former AFC North quarterbacks, Carson Palmer and Josh McCown, are also in the bottom 10? It’s so bad that Kevin Hogan, Kizer’s backup, is right there at 10 with five interceptions.
And it’s not as though the turnovers are the only ugly numbers. Dalton is the only starter in the division averaging at least seven yards per pass attempt. Kizer and Flacco are both averaging just 5.4 yards. Roethlisberger is the only one averaging at least 250 yards per game. And Dalton is the only one averaging at least 65 percent of his throws being completed.
Dalton and Roethlisberger are at least averaging a minimum of a touchdown pass per game. Both of them have seven touchdown passes. Kizer has just three, while Flacco has four over the course of his team’s first six games.
Roethlisberger is the only quarterback in the division within the top 10 for explosive plays, throwing the eighth-most with 18. Kizer is tied for 15th with 15, Dalton is tied for 20th with 14, while Flacco pitifully is 32nd with just six. Even Kevin Hogan has eight.
All four starters have a quarterback rating below 90, Dalton’s being the highest at 87.5, which ranks 19th out of quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts. Roethlisberger’s 78.2 is 27th, while Flacco is 31st with a rating of 66.1, and Kizer’s 49.5 is 32nd. Flacco and Kizer of the two worst quarterback ratings in the league among starters.
I can build up excuses for most of the quarterbacks in the division. Flacco and Dalton have been dealing with musical linemen, while Kizer is a rookie in over his head. Roethlisberger has had some fluky interceptions, to be sure—though he also has a fluky touchdown—but there’s no arguing that he needs to play better overall.