The NFL quarterback class of 2004 is widely regarded as the best of the last three decades.
Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Phillip Rivers have combined for four Super Bowl wins, 15 Pro Bowls and nearly 150,000 passing yards. Each member of that trio ranks in the top-10 all-time in passing yards and touchdowns. Manning, Roethlisberger and Rivers account for three of the top-six win leaders among active NFL quarterbacks, along with Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Yet, of their 357 combined wins, Roethlisberger is the only member of that trio with multiple victories this season. Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers are 3-2. Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers are 1-4. Manning and the New York Giants are 0-5.
Thirteen years after they entered the league together, Manning, Roethlisberger and Rivers are in the spotlight once again but for the wrong reason. The top quarterbacks from the 2004 NFL draft class are at a crossroads.
Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Throws 5 Interceptions In 30-9 Loss To Jaguars
Pittsburgh is the only team from that group with a realistic shot at contending for a playoff spot this season. Yet this past week it was Roethlisberger who criticized his own play, telling reporters, “Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” following a 30-9 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was arguably the worst performance of Roethlisberger’s career. He threw a career-high five interceptions, including two returned for scores. For the first time in 46 home games, he didn’t throw a touchdown pass.
While last week’s loss was a low point for the Pittsburgh offence, the reality is that Sunday’s struggle is part of a greater trend. Roethlisberger’s 75.8 passer rating matches Brian Hoyer of the San Francisco 49ers for 26th in the league – just behind Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles and the recently benched Mike Glennon of the Chicago Bears.
A closer look at Roethlisberger’s performances reveals the biggest issue that has plagued him: No quarterback has been worse throwing the deep ball. Roethlisberger is just 5-of-27 for 183 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions on passes that have travelled 20 yards or more downfield. Four of Roethlisberger’s five picks versus Jacksonville were on passes thrown at least 15 yards.
A Steelers offence that features Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell, along with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, ranks just 19th in the NFL with an average of 19.8 points per game this season. Pittsburgh is tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the best record in the AFC North at 3-2. They will need more from Roethlisberger if they’re going to win the division.
It won’t get any easier for the Steelers this week as they travel to face the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Chargers Quarterback Phillip Rivers Screams At OC Ken Whisenhunt After Miscommunication In 26-24 Loss To Philadelphia Eagles
While Pittsburgh is still a playoff contender, the same can’t be said for the Chargers or Giants heading in to Week 6.
Those teams have combined for one win in nine games and that lone victory just happens to be the result of a head-to-head meeting last week. With the victory, the Chargers ended a nine-game losing streak dating back to last season.
Rivers recorded his 50th career game with three touchdowns or more against New York, but completed only 21-of-44 pass attempts for 258 yards. Rivers ranks in the bottom third of the NFL in passer rating this season. He has been at his worst when he has held on to the football the longest in the pocket. Rivers has completed just 51.9 per cent of his attempts with three touchdowns and four interceptions on passes when taking 2.6 seconds or longer to throw the football.
Following last week’s win, the Chargers still have only a 4.0 per cent chance to make the playoffs according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. A big part of that projection is their schedule. L.A. will play three of its next four on the road, with games against Oakland, Denver, New England and Jacksonville.
Giants Quarterback Eli Manning Fumbles Late In 27-22 Loss To Chargers
Meanwhile, Manning and the Giants are 0-5 and will be without Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris for the rest of the year after all three wide receivers suffered season-ending injuries in last week’s 27-22 loss to the Chargers.
The Giants added Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan to their wide receiver core this week. That group has combined for just four career regular- season catches. Manning has as many touchdown passes (eight) as turnovers this season and is dealing with a neck injury after he was kneed in the head by his own teammate on New York’s final possession of last week’s loss.
The last time the Giants opened a season with five straight losses they fell to 0-9 before finally getting into the win column. Manning and company will visit the Denver Broncos and their “No Fly Zone” defence this week before back-to-back home games against the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams to round out their next three games.
New York could very well be 0-8 heading in to a Week 10 meeting with the San Francisco 49ers. ESPN’s FPI gives them a less than 1 per cent chance of making the playoffs. Considering the terrible start, brutal injuries and a tough upcoming schedule, there is a good chance things get worse before they get better for Manning and the Giants.