NFL history is filled with classic quarterback matchups. Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino. John Elway vs. Brett Favre. Um, Tom Savage vs. Blaine Gabbert?
Injury after injury to star players and some miscalculations about how prepared players were to start has brought about some quarterback contests this season that are not all that riveting, to put it politely. The Patriots are playing the Saints? Great. We can’t wait to watch Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
But when the Cardinals are playing the Texans this week, and both Carson Palmer and Deshaun Watson are on injured reserve, then we get that Gabbert vs. Savage matchup that sounds like a proverbial dumpster fire.
This season has had its share of games with lackluster quarterback play. There was only one memorable highlight from Jets vs. Buccaneers last week, and it was Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown throwing back-to-back picks.
But these other matchups have been so awful that Fitzpatrick and McCown didn’t even make our list. Here they are, ranked from least bad to the absolute worst.
6. Week 5: Brian Hoyer vs. Jacoby Brissett
There was not a single touchdown scored in the entire first half when the then-winless 49ers lost to the Colts 26-23 in overtime. These two teams traded field goals until Brissett finally got in the dang end zone himself on a 3-yard run in the third quarter.
But neither quarterback had a terrible game. Brissett went 22-of-34 passing for 314 yards and one pick despite taking four sacks. That could have been worse. Hoyer threw for a season-high 353 yards and two touchdowns, yet fumbled twice. He was benched the following week and later released by the 49ers.
5. Week 2: DeShone Kizer vs. Joe Flacco
Look, it’s not really Kizer’s fault that he’s not very good. The consensus on the rookie before the draft was that he was raw and needed time to develop. Instead, he was thrust into a starting role in Cleveland without a ton of talent around him. And Week 2 was his worst showing. Kizer, who was dealing with a migraine headache, finished with 182 yards, no touchdowns, three picks, and a lost fumble.
How did an elite quarterback like Joe Flacco end up in these rankings? Because he’s been stinking it up this season:
This season, Joe Flacco has more completions for negative yards (12) than completions of at least 20 yards (10).— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) November 14, 2017
His prosaic game — 217 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick — was at least enough to beat the Browns. And that was one of Flacco’s best games this year.
4. Week 1: Blake Bortles vs. Tom Savage
The NFL wasted no time in giving us a clash of two bad quarterbacks right off the bat in Week 1. Make no mistake: The Jaguars did not obliterate the Texans 29-7 because of anything great that Bortles did. On the contrary, the defense won it for Jacksonville in spite of a 125-yard, one-touchdown performance from its quarterback.
Oh, and Bortles also slapped Allen Robinson right in the knee immediately after Robinson tore his ACL. Bortles meant well, but come on, man.
Savage didn’t even last the entire game. At halftime, he was benched for rookie Deshaun Watson, who honestly should’ve been starting all along. Savage took six sacks, lost two fumbles, and completed 7 of 13 passes for 62 yards.
3. Week 9: C.J. Beathard vs. Drew Stanton
Drew Stanton is lucky that Adrian Peterson ran all over the Niners, because it’s the only reason the Cardinals won. In his first start of the season, Stanton completed just 50 percent of his passes for 201 yards, two scores, and a pick.
As uninspiring as that sounds, Beathard was worse. He threw the ball a whopping 51 times but completed only 24 passes. He finished with 266 yards, no touchdowns, and a pick. The 49ers lost 20-10.
2. Week 5: Matt Cassel vs. Jay Cutler
Matt Cassel was starting for an injured Marcus Mariota. Jay Cutler took the field for the Dolphins. Cassel and Cutler had 233 passing yards combined. As in, if you add their passing yards together, that’s the total that you get. Cassel averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt, somehow topping Cutler’s 3.3-yard average.
Cassel had this embarrassing play, which is basically a visual representation of his overall performance. The Dolphins returned it for a touchdown.
Cassel finished with a total quarterback rating of 16.8. Cutler’s was 6.5. That is just disgusting for two professional quarterbacks starting games in the National Football League. The Dolphins pulled off a 16-10 win, and we’re shocked this one wasn’t on a Thursday night, because it was a poopfest.
1. Week 11: Tom Savage vs. Blaine Gabbert
Get excited folks, because possibly the worst quarterback matchup of the year is coming up on Sunday. The Texans are sticking with Savage as the starter still, because why sign a certain someone in free agency who might actually make the team competitive?
The Cardinals are starting Gabbert because Stanton is dealing with a knee injury. Bruce Arians said that Gabbert just gets a bad rap because he’s played on “shitty teams,” but, well, the same swear word could describe Gabbert’s skills as a quarterback.
This one lands at the bottom of our rankings, even if it hasn’t been played yet. Let’s just say we don’t have high expectations.