We’ve been through four weeks of the 2022 NFL season and we’ve seen a little bit of everything when it comes to quarterback play. Massive breakouts from some young rising stars. The intricate struggle of veterans with big money. Amazing shiny results from former backups getting a chance to start. Lots of signalmen trying to get a new contract. And now, with the Steelers fielding Kenny Pickett on Sunday, the rookie has a chance to start.

It’s a lot to break. So we turned to Matt Bowen and Jason Reed to answer some big questions about the most important position in the game, including which breakouts are real and which early difficulties are causing problems. We then reached out to our NFL Nation reporters for information on 11 different QB situations in the league. Should we be worried about Russell Wilson’s slow start in Denver? What is the secret to Trevor Lawrence’s early season success? Are the Texans looking forward to the 2023 NFL Draft quarterback class?

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Let’s answer some important QB questions, starting with a ranking of the top five performers in the center of the game right now from Bowen and Reed.

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Jump to questions related to the team:
NFL Nation Answers

Who are the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL right now?

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Matt Bowen, NFL Analyst:

1. Josh Allen, Bills
2. Lamar Jackson, The Ravens
3. Jalen Hurts, Eagles
4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
5. Justin Herbert, Chargers

We know about Hurts’ dual threats, the physical element he brings to the position and his ability to play outside of structure. But it was his development as a pocket thrower that propelled him to the top of my list. Hurts reads it with speed, isolating his targets and delivering the ball accurately. His quick start was really impressive.

Jason Reed, Andscape NFL Senior Writer:

1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
2. Josh Allen, Bills
3. Lamar Jackson, The Ravens
4. Justin Herbert, Chargers
5. Jalen Hurts, Eagles

Mahomes has reinvented himself — with a lot of help from Chiefs coach Andy Reed — over the past two seasons. With opponents starting to use the umbrella cover to limit big passes, he had to make major adjustments. At first it was ugly, but he showed that he could adapt. And with the Chiefs’ off-season decision to trade explosive wide receiver Tyreke Hill, the adjustments continued. He is tied for the NFL’s lead in touchdown throws with 11 in four games.


Who are the most disappointing quarterbacks?

Bowen:

1. Justin Fields, Bears
2. Matt Ryan, Colts
3. Baker Mayfield, Panthers

I expected Fields to jump in his sophomore year, given his physique and talent as a playmaker. But for four weeks, the Bears have been lacking a real passing element, although part of that has come down to a lack of offensive talent. Fields does not look at things purely from his own pocket and misses opportunities to break free. His 26.2 QBR is 31st in the NFL.

Reed:

1. Carson Wentz, commanders
2. Baker Mayfield, Panthers
3. Matt Ryan, Colts

In just four games, the Wentz trade was a real disaster for the Commander. Perhaps no one should have expected much after two franchises had left him in so many offseasons, but Wentz was terrible. Washington’s offensive line isn’t among the best in the NFL – Wentz was fired 17 times, a league record – but the veteran QB holds the ball too long and makes a lot of questionable decisions.


Which quarterback do you think is the real one?

Bowen: Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars. Don’t let that week four game in bad weather against a very good Philadelphia defense change your mind about Lawrence. Under new Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson, Lawrence’s shooting mechanics have improved significantly, and the Jaguars’ formation puts him in better shooting positions. Coaching matters. Lawrence has completed 65.7% of his shots and has an 8:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Reed: Jalen Hurts, Eagles. It’s been in development for a while now, and with several playmakers around him on offense (and top-notch defense), don’t be surprised at his continued growth. He has 1,120 passing yards and eight touchdowns (four passes, four rushes).


Which quarterback is most worried about the start of the season?

Bowen: Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers. I expected more from Garoppolo. Playing offensively with one of the most elaborate route trees in the NFL, he registered an overall QBR of 33.2, which ranks 27th in the NFL. Forced to play after Trey Lance was injured, Garoppolo hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in any of his three games, and his 61.0% completion percentage is well below his performance over the last few seasons.

Reed: Tom Brady, Buccaneers. Look, I know it’s downright sacrilegious to ask GOAT questions, but Brady just wasn’t that good, especially by his own high standards. Remember: the seven-time Super Bowl winner is 45 years old. And don’t be fooled by his three-touchdown 385-yard play against the Chiefs on Sunday night; Tampa Bay ran for a total of 3 yards, losing in double figures.


Which non-leading quarterback is most likely to win MVP this season?

Bowen: Justin Herbert, Chargers. If Los Angeles can handle the injuries and stay in the playoffs, then Herbert will be in business. The Chargers quarterback completed over 66% of his passes and threw nine touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season. And he’s more than capable of creating breakout games given his hand and movement talent.

Reed: Jalen Hurts, Eagles. If the Eagles stay relatively healthy, Herts has the talent to lead them to a great regular season record. It is clear that he is already at the beginning of the discussion.


Which quick-start one-time backup is more likely to stay in the NFL starter?

Bowen: Gino Smith, Seahawks. Smith’s 77.3% completion percentage isn’t just leading the NFL this season. It is also the highest by any quarterback with at least 125 pass attempts in four games of a season in league history. He throws the ball with efficiency and makes smart decisions. And, as we saw in Week 4, he can push the ball around the field. His 17 completions of at least 15 yards downfield are the best in the league. With Smith at center, the Seahawks could compete in the NFC West.

Reed: Cooper Rush, Cowboys. How could you not go all-in on Rush? He was more than just a game manager, performing big when the Cowboys needed him the most, and posting the NFL’s fourth-best QBR (73.9). The factor is that injured Pro Bowl left tackle Tyrone Smith is missing from the offensive line. Rush saves the Cowboys season, and that’s no exaggeration.

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Ravens: Is Lamar Jackson playing better than his 2019 Season MVP?

In many ways, yes. As in his MVP season, Jackson leads the NFL in touchdown passes (11) and is in the top 10 in rushing (316 yards). It’s even more impressive this season because he’s played three different starting left tackles and hasn’t gotten any help from his run play.

The biggest blow to Jackson was finishing games. He threw no touchdowns and three interceptions in the fourth quarter for the Ravens, who would be 4-0 if they could hold a big lead. — Jamison Hensley


Cowboys: Dak Prescott wants to play in Week 5, but what are the chances Dallas will stay with Cooper Rush?

The hot hand will not reach. Instead, it will depend on whether Prescott can play physically. Not only must he demonstrate the ability to grab the ball to make accurate shots, but he must also show that he can withstand the shock of being snapped to the center of his surgically repaired right thumb. Rush’s play allowed the Cowboys to be more conservative with Prescott’s return, but when Duck is ready, he should return immediately.

You can compare this to 2016 when Prescott replaced Tony Romo (back) and kept the role even after the latter was ready to play, but the Cowboys were on an eight win streak when Romo returned. This Rush crime is not a Prescott crime. — Todd Archer


Broncos: How concerned is the team about Russell Wilson’s slow start?

At the moment, the team is not overly concerned, despite a lackluster 44.9 QBR in four games. Of course, the Broncos want more from him and the whole offense, but the alarms are not raised. But is the command correct? The concern may be mounting, given that for some people the Super Bowl hype kicked in the moment the Broncos traded for Wilson.

However, this book takes some time to study. It’s all about timing, and given the Broncos’ injuries at the wide receiver and stability issues at the narrow end, the learning curve was steep. Add to that a few shots, a bunch of penalties and questionable time management, and it’s no wonder Wilson wasn’t at his usual level. Denver just needs good performances to gain strength. — Jeff Legvold


Texans: Houston is favorite to win first pick for 2023. Will he target QB?

Absolutely. The No. 1 pick in a class filled with talented quarterback prospects would put the Texans in the driver’s seat to find a long-term answer in that position. Ohio state CJ StroudAlabama Bryce Young and Kentucky Will Lewis all names are currently ranked high on draft boards.

And in four weeks, current starter Davis Mills barely hit a QBR of 28.4, the fourth-worst record in the NFL. The Sportzshala Football Strength Index gives Houston a 33 percent chance of picking the top pick in the draft. — dj favorite


Colts: Is this team in a better position with Matt Ryan than with Carson Wentz?

So far, the results may suggest that the answer is no. However, context is important here. Ryan was uncharacteristically sloppy with losses, but also lacked the biggest advantage Wentz had for him: a stellar running game. The Colts led the NFL in yards per attempt last season, trailing Jonathan Taylor’s league-record 1,811 yards.

Disastrous offensive play has left the Colts 27th in yards per game (87.8) this season…