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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Is Wentz the Vikings toughest remaining quarterback challenge?

By Matthew Coller

The Minnesota Vikings are not only 5-0, but they have beat an impressive list of quarterbacks on their way there including Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning. This Sunday the Vikings’ No. 1 ranked defense takes on rookie Carson Wentz, who has a 99.9 quarterback rating in five games. Looking forward on the schedule and considering the way each quarterback has played this year, there is a chance that Wentz will be their toughest challenge the rest of the way. Here’s how they stack up from toughest to easiest…

1 – Detroit Lions, Matt Stafford

Stat line: 68.9 completion percentage, 7.8 Yards Per Attempt, 14 TD, 4 INT, 106.0 rating

Pro Football Focus currently has Matt Stafford only behind Tom Brady, Wentz, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Sam Bradford. A change in the team’s offensive philosophy last year has been a driving force for success for Detroit’s quarterback. When it comes to short passes, Stafford has the lowest percentage of air yards in the league, meaning his receivers are doing a lot of the work after the catch – and that’s by design. Detroit’s passing attack won’t be easy to slow down now that Stafford is back in 2011 form.

2 – Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers

Stat line: 60.2 completion percentage, 6.6 Yards Per Attempt, 10 TD, 4 INT, 88.4 rating

Rodgers’ last year and five games have been the worst of his career. He had the lowest rating, yards per attempt, yards per game and completion percentage of his career last season. Many blamed it on the loss of Jordy Nelson, which probably has merit but he’s continued to sputter in 2016 with an even lower yards per attempt and rating. It appears to be a combination of same-old-offense and lack of legitimate threats that has allowed other teams to slow him down. At 32, he is not out of his prime and is still a top-3 quarterback of the generation, so Rodgers deserves the benefit of the doubt that he will return to form.

3 -Arizona Cardinals, Carson Palmer

Stat line: 58.8 completion percentage, 7.5 Yards Per Attempt, 6 TD, 5 INT, 81.9 rating (before MNF)

After leading the NFL in Yards Per Attempt and tossing 35 touchdowns last year, many picked Palmer to lead the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2016. The Cards and Palmer have gotten off to a much different start, winning just one of his four starts. Despite the slow beginning to his year, Palmer is still a borderline Hall of Fame quarterback with great offensive weapons. We can expect him to bounce back and make for a tough matchup.

4- Carson Wentz

Stat line: 65.0 completion percentage, 7.6 Yards Per Attempt, 7 TD, 1 INT, 99.9 rating

After three games, the football world was ready to anoint him The Next Big Thing, but Wentz has not performed well in his last two against Detroit and Washington. However, the hype was not without good reason. He posted a 103.8 quarterback rating after three games and is still ranked No. 2 in the NFL via Pro Football Focus ratings. After Washington confused him at the line of scrimmage, the question is whether he can make needed adjustments. He hasn’t beat a tough enough team yet to be considered the best QB the Vikings will face.

5- Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott

Stat line: 68.7 completion percentage, 8.2 Yards Per Attempt, 7 TD, 1 INT, 103.9 rating

The great debate in the NFL was whether the Cowboys should continue to start Prescott or go back to Tony Romo when he’s healthy. Prescott more or less ended that debate with a dominant win over the Green Bay Packers. He has executed Dallas’s offense brilliantly, showing off his arm and presence in the pocket. Like Wentz, it’s too soon to know whether the book will be out on him soon or if the big games will keep coming, but his running game and offensive line are more likely to help him out than Wentz’s.

6- Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck

Stat line: 64.1 completion percentage, 7.3 Yards Per Attempt, 11 TD, 4 INT, 94.2 rating

Luck is a magnificent talent who should have more wins than he does. The problem: He plays for a team run by the worst general manager in professional sports, who has made a complete debacle of the roster aside from his former No. 1 overall pick quarterback. It is worth saying that Luck has been battling injuries and his play has not been to the level it was in 2014. He is still a top-end QB, he just needs more competent people making decisions around him. If Luck had a better surrounding cast, he would be at the top of this list.

7- Washington, Kirk Cousins

Stat line: 65.0 completion percentage, 7.5 Yards Per Attempt, 9 TD, 6 INT, 89.7 rating

Not even his own team is quite sure how good Kirk Cousins is. Only kind of kidding. Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this year, buying themselves more time to decide on a long-term contract. His numbers from 2015 were impressive as he managed a 101.6 rating, 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. This year things haven’t gone as swimmingly, but Cousins has still put up 7.5 Yards Per Attempt and 282 yards per game. Still, he’s the type of quarterback that needs everything to go right instead of one that can carry a team.

8- Chicago Bears, Brian Hoyer

Stat line: 68.8 completion percentage, 7.4 Yards Per Attempt, 6 TD, 0 INT, 100.8 rating

His numbers are eye-popping so far, but there are two things we need to keep in mind: Score effects and regression. The Bears are 1-3 this year and have spent a lot of time down in games, meaning that their quarterback will be throwing a lot and against prevent defenses. That can boost numbers. Think Jon Kitna going over 4,000 yards. Also, over his career, Hoyer has an 85.1 quarterback rating, which would be an above average backup in today’s NFL. Plus both Houston and Cleveland have moved on from him to try other quarterback options. It seems unlikely that he will maintain such good numbers.

9- Jacksonville Jaguars, Blake Bortles

Stat line: 61.1 completion percentage, 6.9 Yards Per Attempt, 8 TD, 7 INT, 80.3 rating

We keep waiting and waiting for Bortles to look like a quarterback who was picked third overall. Instead he has played at the level of most backups. Not that wins and losses are everything, but Bortles’ career record is 10-24 and he led the league in interceptions last season and has seven more so far this year. His throwing motion and decision making have not improved and he’s edging toward “bust” territory. But maybe Sam Bradford is a lesson in sticking with a young QB through some bad years.

The post Is Wentz the Vikings toughest remaining quarterback challenge? appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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