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NFC South round up: How do the Quarterbacks compare to each other this year?

Is Ryan still the fourth best QB in this division? Hint: the answer is no.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The importance of the Quarterback position can’t be overstated. Fortunately, all four NFC South teams appear to have good-to-great ones on their teams, which is rare in today’s NFL. That said, how does Matt Ryan compare to his counterparts in the division? Is Drew Brees still a top QB? Has Cam Newton taken a step backwards? Is Jameis Winston the next great thing? Let’s see how their 2016 seasons compare so far.

Matt Ryan

At 6-4, the Falcons currently lead the NFC South and Ryan is a big part of that. After 10 games, here is his stat line:

236/346 (68%) - 3,247 yards (9.4 y/a) - 24 TDs - 5 Ints - 115.1 QB Rating

Ryan is currently first in passing yards, tied for first in TDs, second in passer rating, second in yards per attempt and second in net yards per attempt.

Advanced stats also show that Ryan is having a great season. He’s currently ranked 3rd in ESPN QBR, 1st in Football Outsiders DYAR and DVOA rankings and 2nd in PFF’s rankings.

Needless to say, Ryan is having an incredible year. It’s hard to argue that he’s the “fourth best QB” in the division in 2016. In fact, the numbers would indicate that he’s the best QB in the NFC South in 2016. While the early MVP talk may have cooled off a little bit, the Falcons wouldn’t be in the division lead without him.

Drew Brees

Make no mistake: at 37 years old, Brees is still playing at a very high level (unfortunately). His Saints are sitting at 4-5, but are very much still in the playoff race, given the uneven nature of the NFC this year. Here’s what his stat line looks like so far:

236/376 (62.7%) - 2,992 yards (8.0 y/a) - 24 TDs - 7 Ints - 107.0 QB Rating

Brees is currently second in passing yards, tied for first in TDs, third in passer rating, tied for fifth in yards per attempt and fourth in net yards per attempt. He’s fourth in ESPN QBR, second in Football Outsiders DYAR and DVOA rankings and 5th in PFF’s rankings.

Brees is still playing incredible football. Were it not for the banner season Ryan is having, you could easily make the case that Brees is the best in the division this year. As it stands right now, he would easily be second.

Cam Newton

After an MVP 2015 season and a Super Bowl appearance, Cam Newton and the Panthers have come crashing down in 2016. At 3-6, the Panthers only real hope for the playoffs is to win out, which is not beyond the realm of possibility, but would require a dramatic turn-around. Here’s how Cam has looked so far:

161/277 (58.1%) - 1983 yards (6.7 y/a) - 8 TDs - 13 Ints - 67.6 QB Rating

Cam has also added 261 rushing yards on 57 attempts (4.6 avg) and 4 TDs.

Newton is currently 24th in yards, 23rd in TDs, 27th in passer rating, 16th in yards per attempt and 22nd in net yards per attempt. Advanced metrics are also decrying his 2016 season so far. He’s 13th in ESPN QBR, 20th in DYAR and 26th in DVOA and 8th (really?) in PFF’s rankings.

After an impressive 2015 season, Newton has had as bad of a follow-up season as you can have. If the Panthers are going to go on a run to finish the season, they need him to return to his 2015 form immediately.

Jameis Winston

After winning rookie of the year in 2015, many people felt Winston was ready to take the next step forward in 2016. Many even declared that he was already a better QB than Matt Ryan going into this season. At 4-5, his Buccaneers are still in the playoff hunt, but it’s easy to say Winston has been erratic so far.

204/339 (60.2%) - 2,349 yards (6.9 y/a) - 19 TDs - 10 Ints - 87.5 QB Rating

Jameis is currently 17th in yards, 7th in TDs, 23rd in passer rating, 23rd in yards per attempt and 21st in net yards per attempt. ESPN QBR has him ranked 16th, Football Outsiders has him 14th in DYAR and 16th in DVOA and PFF has him at 17th on their rankings.

You can argue whether Newton or Winston is third or fourth in the NFC South, but it’s clear that Winston has not had the sophomore season that everyone was hoping for. He has shown he can be brilliant at times, but has shown an equal propensity for terrible decision making. If the Bucs are going to compete for the division in 2016, he has to bounce back and become a more consistent QB.

What are your thoughts on the NFC South QBs so far?