T-19. Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams)
We all remember the time Jared Goff received $110 million in guaranteed money. He was dealt with a worse offensive line this time around and struggled, but that’s also the kind of thing the Rams paid him that much money to offset in the first place.
The Rams managed to finish 9-7 in spite of some awful quarterback play, a testament to some of the talent on the roster as well as the presence of Sean McVay. Goff from time to time is capable of good play in rhythm, but taken out of it he looks more like rookie Goff.
Let’s put it this way; Goff threw one touchdown pass all season in comparison to seven in 2018. He was the third least accurate deep passer into open windows and showcased his struggles under pressure, just finishing inside the top 20. He fared better in stats into tight windows and in the shotgun, though.
The Rams are in a tough spot with a playoff window that isn’t as wide open as it once looked and an expensive quarterback that pretended to be great for a while. Improving the aging offensive line will help matters, but that only goes to show how much work the Rams have to do to mask Goff’s flaws as a passer.
Best Throw (Week 8 vs. Cincinnati, Cooper Kupp)
Goff finished 11th in tight window accuracy in 2019 in spite of his regressing statistics, and throws like this were why. A beautiful ball to Cooper Kupp.
T-19. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Quite possibly the best season of Matthew Stafford’s career ended just after it started.
Staffords placement on this list does somewhat of a disservice to his 2019 season; He wasn’t consistently accurate, but with Darrell Bevell he was more at home than ever before, taking more chances and throwing more deep passes than he did in Jim Bob Cooter’s kindergarten offense.
Stafford finished inside the top five on throws of 36-40 yards as well as 41+ yards, and was also third on throws to open windows. He also didn’t throw a single dropped interception or inaccurate completion, a testament to his improved care of the ball in comparison to previous seasons. Still, there are many areas where he finished less than stellar in accuracy, though I imagine he did better than the likes of Jeff Driskel or David Blough.
Stafford was on pace to throw for 12 deep touchdowns in 2019 before a back injury derailed that possibility. It’s a shame too because he was piecing together a great season in spite of a porous head coach and potentially the league’s worst defense.
Whether or not Stafford gets traded to a team like the Dolphins or not remains a mystery, and even though his consistent accuracy wasn’t great this year, he was in a far more natural setting this time around, making his 2019 entertaining to watch.
Best Throw (Week 2 vs. Los Angeles Chargers, Kenny Golladay)
Stafford had many good throws to choose from, but this dime on the run to Kenny Golladay stands out in my opinion.
18. Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers)
The Chargers wasted Philip Rivers’ career. This wasn’t done by the usual means of failing to acquire talent around him, but rather by being the unluckiest team in the NFL.
Missed kicks, key drops, and consistent blown fourth quarters have defined the Chargers for much of the 2010s’, and after a great 2018 in deep passing accuracy Rivers has found himself on the decline. That didn’t stop him from throwing the ball downfield 62 times, including 28 of them on throws of 31+ yards.
Rivers still looked great throwing under pressure, but he threw the most interceptions (7) and dropped interceptions (5) of any deep passer in 2019. That in combination with the Chargers’ tendency to remain in close games for the rest of football’s existence led to their downfall this season. At least he wasn’t overwhelmingly terrible in any deep statistic, though.
It’s clear Rivers is washed, and the Chargers see that, as they’re moving on from him in the offseason. Who knows where Rivers will take his talents, but it’s going to feel like a drug induced dream seeing him without a Chargers uniform on.
Best Throw (Week 3 vs. Houston, Travis Benjamin)
In typical Chargers fashion, Rivers’ best throw comes on a dropped touchdown from Travis Benjamin. This beauty could’ve possibly won the Chargers this game against the Texans, but the football gods had other plans apparently.
17. Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears)
Bears fans are fed up with hearing about Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson 420 times per day, that much is obvious. And yeah, his deep passing efforts don’t compare to those two.
I really enjoyed Trubisky’s rookie season and saw potential in him as a starter, but a mixed sophomore season left me feeling concerned. Things proved worse in 2019 when more bad than good was seen, though in his defense Matt Nagy doesn’t appear to be much of a play caller either.
One benefit of Trubisky’s 2019 season is that he finished 9th in accuracy throwing to his left, directly spitting in the face of a famous criticism of his play. He also finished in the top 10 in several other areas as well, including under center, against interior pressure, and on throws of 26-30 yards. He also would love to have those seven accurate incompletions back.
Still, it’s clear that Trubisky has issues as a starting quarterback, but signs point to the Bears keeping him for at least one more season. Having said that, Trubisky’s season as a deep passer finished much better than expected, as evident that there was far worse before him.
Best Throw (Week 3 at Washington, Taylor Gabriel)
This is among the best throws of Trubisky’s career and a fantastic pressure play to Taylor Gabriel for the touchdown.
16. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
Tom Brady has never ranked really high on The Deep Ball Project, but in 2019 he put up perhaps his best season as a deep passer in quite some time.
It seems strange to say this considering Brady is at the 16th spot, but he was somewhat impressive in 2019 in spite of his age and the receivers he was playing with. His accuracy was lacking under pressure, but otherwise he was mostly respectable elsewhere. The soon-to-be free agent also ranked inside the top 10 on throws to his left, on throws of 26-30 yards, in the shotgun, and to open windows.
As far as Brady’s deep ability goes, I’ve never really thought it was exceptional when I started charting deep passes back in 2015, but in his early 40s it looks significantly better than what’s become of Drew Brees’ arm. Having any expectations for his deep passing game after his age 42 season is kind of incredible, actually.
Between losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement, Josh Gordon to mental health issues, playing with Antonio Brown for about a week, being without rookie wideout N’Keal Harry, and trading for Mohamad Sanu, the Patriots had a lot happen on their receiving corps. With that in mind, however, Brady managed to do slightly above average as a tight window passer, finishing 15th in accuracy.
Others are probably higher on Brady’s deep accuracy than I am, and that’s their point of view. Nevertheless, he had enough quality throws in the mix to land in the middle of the pack, and at his age that’s quite an accomplishment.
Best Throw (Week 8 vs. Cleveland, Phillip Dorsett)
This is a great rainbow toss to Phillip Dorsett down the sideline. Right in the breadbasket.
15. Ryan Fitzpatrick (Miami Dolphins)
The man, the myth, the legend, the Amish Rifle.
Bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick was automatically going to RKO the Dolphins’ plans of a perfect 0-16 season, but what we didn’t see coming is how much fun the so-called Fitzmagic would look doing so. Did you know he went to Harvard? He managed to improve from 24th in deep accuracy in 2018 to 15th in 2019, all despite a worse offensive line and far worse receiving corps than the one he had in Tampa Bay.
Fitzpatrick stood out most throwing bombs of 41+ air yards, ranking second in accuracy in that category. He was also third in clean pockets, and impressively finished 9th in tight window accuracy. But more significantly, he was able to play well enough to assure that the Patriots would not get a first round bye for the first and only time in the 2010s’, so he deserves a statue in Kansas City if we’re being realistic.
Fitzpatrick’s arm isn’t the strongest in the league, and as such he’s always suffered from limited accuracy in comparison to some of his peers, hence his reputation as a journeyman. But while he wasn’t outstanding in 2019, his efforts made what seemed like a hopeless Dolphins offense look like a respective and competitive unit.
Overall, Fitzpatrick’s placement on this year’s Deep Ball Project is a pleasant surprise, as was his first season in Miami.
Best Throw (Week 1 vs. Baltimore, DeVante Parker)
While DeVante Parker couldn’t secure this catch in bounds, Fitzpatrick launched it perfectly to him on the back shoulder toss just before he got jacked up by a Ravens pass rusher.
T-13. Case Keenum (Washington Redskins)
A wild Case Keenum appeared!
You know your team had it rough when the quarterback that qualifies for this year’s list only attempted 17 deep passes. Dwayne Haskins showed some promise near the end of his rookie season, but an ankle injury suffered in Week 16 prevented him from finishing the year out. Keenum’s sample size is way too small for him to even be in the top 15 in accuracy, but I suppose it’s barely enough to count.
Even with the small sample size there are some redeeming factors from Keenum’s 2019 season in deep passing. He was the most accurate passer throwing to his left and was the third most accurate passer on throws of 21-25 air yards. Less impressive is that he finished dead last among all quarterbacks in tight window accuracy at 14.29%.
Keenum has always been good enough to be a high quality backup, not a consistent starting quarterback, and that was apparent this season. I guess, however, he did enough to suggest he did solid enough in accuracy, though with 17 passes.
Best Throw (Week 6 at Miami, Terry McLaurin)
A dime from the back of Keenum’s end zone to the outstanding rookie wideout Terry McLaurin.
T-13. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)
The emperor of eyeliner ties at #13 on this year’s Deep Ball Project.
Derek Carr has had plenty of highs and certainly plenty of lows throughout the course of his career, but in his last two seasons he’s actually been pretty solid with his deep accuracy. He was also one of two quarterbacks to avoid throwing a single deep interception this season, and even did it without throwing a dropped INT.
Carr finished inside the top three in accuracy to the 31-35 area, and stayed consistent the further he pushed the ball down the field, as he was 8th in accuracy throwing 41 yards or more. He did above average in accuracy to tight windows and was 8th throwing to his left.
Depending on the type of person you are, you either feel Carr is part of the problem with the now Las Vegas Raiders or one of the team’s bright spots. I guess you could say I’ve normally been a bit of the former because I feel his struggles with pressure are greater than some of his peers. Even so, it’s surprising to see him finish in the top ten in accuracy under pressure and interior pressure.
Outside of his bad accuracy throwing 26-30 yards, there isn’t too much to majorly pick at here. Carr put together a quality deep passing season for the second year in a row.
Best Throw (Week 8 at Houston, Tyrell Williams)
Once again we have an incompletion in this section. This is a terrific throw that Tyrell Williams should’ve held onto but the pass was disrupted before he could come down with the ball cleanly.
12. Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
Much to my dismay, Lamar Jackson did not make the top 10 in deep accuracy this season.
The reigning MVP was ripped to shreds for his postseason performance against the Chargers last year, and many questioned if he was even a top 30 quarterback. Needless to say, he proved those theories wrong, piecing together a sensational sophomore season onto breaking numerous records.
While a spot at #12 seems like an insult to the league MVP, keep in mind Jackson just turned 23 in January. He has plenty of time to refine his accuracy and has already taken big steps in making himself one of the league’s most dangerous offensive weapons.
(It should be noted that while Jackson was in the top 10 in accuracy out of the shotgun, a large part of that was in the pistol formation, a hybrid of the traditional shotgun offense and under center formations.)
As a deep passer Jackson continues to get better even if he hasn’t cracked the top 10 in accuracy just yet. He was in the top 5 on both throws of 36-40 and 41+ yards, tied for second in accuracy under pressure, fourth against interior pressure, second throwing to his right, and fourth throwing inside tight windows.
Not bad for a running back.
Best Throw (Week 2 vs. Arizona, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown)
It was impossible to pick any other throw because none were more deserving than this rainbow delivery to Hollywood Brown to essentially seal a week 2 victory against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful throw.
11. Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
The NFL’s reigning dad joke champion is also quite possibly the league’s most polarizing quarterback. You either think he’s a borderline top 10 quarterback or a guy that’s virtually wasting the precious careers of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
Regardless, though he has issues with missing open receivers (finishing 20th in accuracy in 2019), Cousins has managed to do well enough in deep accuracy during his time in Minnesota. In addition to just barely finishing outside of the top 10, Cousins threw the second most touchdowns downfield with a whopping 9 of them. Incredibly, four of them were thrown outside of the pocket.
My biggest issue with Cousins is that he has left a lot of plays on the field when targeting Diggs and Thielen, but he appeared to improve his connection with them to an extent in 2019, leaving less deep passes on the turf. Ultimately, there isn’t a single statistic where he did awful in accuracy wise.
Areas that Cousins’ accuracy impressed include on throws of 41+ (3rd) and outside the pocket (5th, though he had a larger sample size than the four quarterbacks above him combined). He made the cut as a top 10 passer throwing to the middle and right of the field, tied for second in edge pressure accuracy, and was also sixth in tight window accuracy as well.
Overall, things could definitely improve and probably should if Cousins wants to see extended time in Minneapolis, but things looked pretty good from his deep accuracy.
Best Throw (Wild Card Round at New Orleans, Adam Thielen)
Duh. The biggest throw of Cousins’ career was a dime to Adam Thielen, and ultimately helped secure the first postseason victory of his career.