With Anthony Richardson and Bryce Young back, Aidan O'Connell starting for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo and Dorian Thompson-Robinson in for Deshaun Watson, a grand total of nine quarterbacks selected in the past two NFL draft classes saw considerable playing time in Week 4.
Let's dive deep into the individual efforts of each quarterback and assign a grade on a per-snap basis, taking every individual aspect of their performance into account. More than 10 attempts were needed to qualify for this piece, which publishes weekly on Tuesdays.
- In the third quarter, he made a defender miss on a nifty scramble but did take a big hit short of the first-down marker.
- On a 3rd-and-11 in the third quarter, Young bounced around in the pocket and found his target for a first down, throwing an accurate ball while on the move and a defender closing in.
- Late in the game, Young somehow slipped out of a would-be sack and did enough to pick up a first down on 3rd and 4.
- On the first play of the second quarter, he attempted a bubble screen and should've been intercepted by a Vikings defensive lineman.
- While trying to evade an outside rusher in the third quarter, Young had a costly fumble.
- On the last offensive play for the Panthers, Young took a sack. Can't do that. He has to get the ball out of his hands to give one of his receivers a chance to make a play on the football.
Summary: This was reminiscent of a rookie year Mac Jones or an early-career Jalen Hurts game. Essentially no difficult asks throw-wise. Young wasn't protected well all contest but did hold onto the ball for a long time often and outside of a few creative scampers, was unable to evade pressure and generate big plays outside of structure.
Season Grade: D
- Midway through the third, after moving to his left away from pressure, he threw a short pass against the momentum of his body to Najee Harris with a defender closing in that ultimately went for 32 yards.
- On a third down in the third quarter in the red zone, Pickett misfired on an out-breaking route to Allen Robinson. The route was covered too.
- On the play Pickett was injured, he unnecessarily spun away from pressure that really wasn't there, directly into a sack.
Summary: A down performance from Pickett, who mostly was timid with his targets until his injury. He wasn't able to connect down the field or even at the intermediate level with his receivers but wasn't making many mistakes.
Season Grade: C-
- When getting hit as he threw the ball, Ridder made an anticipatory toss on a deep comeback in the second.
- The third-quarter touchdown thrown to Drake London at the front left pylon was well-placed from Ridder.
- He also put a back-shoulder throw where only Kyle Pitts could high-point it, but the tight end landed out of bounds.
- Late in the game, Ridder threw with perfect rhythm, trajectory, and timing on a wheel route to one of his tight ends.
- Ridder attempted to spin away from a blitzer and spun right into a sack early in the second quarter.
- Later that quarter, he was way late on a comeback that was intercepted.
- His next throw was comparably late deep over the middle. It was picked by the deep middle safety who barely had to move from his pre-snap alignment.
- Late in the second, Ridder threw woefully short on a deep ball to Drake London.
Summary: Some late throws saved Ridder's grade that was bound for another "F" after a dreadful stretch in the middle of this game. He mostly kept it conversative by targeting the flats and checking the ball down. In the overwhelming majority of the cases in which he did crank the intensity, it ended poorly for the Falcons offense.
Season Grade: D+
- While in the pocket, being hit as he threw the ball, Howell delivered a down-the-seam rocket to a well-covered Logan Thomas for 27 yards.
- Early in the fourth quarter, Howell evaded multiple defenders, escaped to the right, and found a target for seven yards.
- A few plays later, he snuck and spun away from a defender to get four yards on a scramble.
- Howell demonstrated his deceptive speed on a 20-yard scamper up the middle on 3rd and 7 in the fourth quarter from deep in his own end.
- On 3rd-and-17 late, Howell squeezed one into his receiver over the middle for 15 yards against air-tight coverage.
- The game-tying touchdown at the final whistle of regulation to Dotson was a perfectly-placed rocket near the front right pylon.
- Howell dropped it into the bucket to Terry McLaurin on a third down in overtime. The throw was made well down the field near the sideline with a defender in his face. Review showed McLaurin was out of bounds, but the connection was gorgeous.
- In the first quarter, he had an open Dotson in the end zone but overthrew him.
- After the gorgeous throw to Thomas, Howell held the ball a bit too long and the ball popped dangerously up into the air in the end zone and was nearly intercepted.
- In the third, Howell underthrow a long ball attempt to Dyami Brown down the middle of the field that was broken up.
Summary: What a rebound performance from Howell after what transpired at home in Week 3. On the road, against a ferocious Eagles defense, Howell didn't look overwhelmed whatsoever for the duration of this game. In fact, he played confidently throughout and made minimal mistakes in the narrow defeat.
Season Grade: B-
- Purdy's 42-yard long ball to Brandon Aiyuk was perfectly placed away from the deep safety.
- In the fourth, he threw a gorgeous back-shoulder to Aiyuk down the left sideline.
Summary: In a game in which Purdy had one incompletion, it should come as no surprise there were no low-caliber throws or plays from him. The majority of his completions were of the schemed-open variety and, as usual, Purdy made the right decisions and threw accurately to open receivers.
Season Grade: B
- Stroud found Nico Collins near the right sideline with under 30 seconds to go in the third quarter after escaping the pocket. Long run on that play for the young quarterback, but he kept his eyes up.
- While subtly drifting to his left in the pocket, Stroud found Collins again and floated a pass to him for 14 yards in the fourth quarter.
- The long touchdown to Collins -- 52 yards -- was a gorgeous touch throw up and over the trailing cornerback, placed perfectly in stride.
- Late in the first, he was late on a deep comeback to Tank Dell that was broken up.
- In the second, Stroud threw behind Robert Woods on an in-breaking route.
Summary: The numbers were gaudy for Stroud in this one, but they weren't the result of a variety of high-degree of difficulty throws. That doesn't mean the rookie was bad against the Steelers, more that he threw to many wide open targets in this one. And hats off to him for finding them. The mistakes were few and far between, and Stroud really settled in as the game progressed
Season Grade: C+
- O'Connell delivered a gorgeous back-shoulder down the left sideline to Davante Adams in the fourth quarter that was just out of bounds.
- The 4th and 10 conversion to Adams wasn't a tight-window throw but was made with anticipation.
- Early in the second, he had Adams open on a deep over and threw behind the wideout, causing an incompletion.
- On a 3rd-and-1 late in the second quarter, O'Connell threw behind an out-breaking Hunter Renfrow for what led to a pass breakup.
- On the first play of the third quarter, he showed minimal pocket awareness, standing in with a collapsing edge next to him, which came via Khalil Mack. It led to a fumble.
- With under three to go in the fourth, O'Connell threw a very dangerous in-breaking route through plenty of traffic that was knocked away.
- He simply didn't see Asante Samuel Jr. on the game-sealing interception at the goalline.
Summary: As expected for a rookie QB in his first start (on the road), this game was filled with check downs and easy, schemed open looks for O'Connell. The impressive plays were few and far between and his pocket presence must improve if he's going to develop in the NFL. His lacking arm strength was on display on more than a few occasions too.
Season Grade: D+
- Midway through the third quarter, Thompson-Robinson threw a strike to Amari Cooper near the sideline while fading to his left. Small throwing lane too.
- Midway through the first, he attempted an in-breaking throw down the seam that was undercut by the linebacker and should've been intercepted.
- Off play-action in the first, Thompson-Robinson uncorked a very ill-advised long ball on a post while being hit. The ball landed about 10 yards short of the intended target and could've been intercepted.
- He was late on a slant on his next throw that was made behind Amari Cooper. The window had closed when the ball arrived, was tipped, and intercepted.
- In the third, he didn't locate an underneath defender on an in-breaking route at the intermediate level that should've been intercepted.
- DTR reversed his field twice on an 18-yard sack in the third.
- In the fourth, he severely airmailed a deep over target to Donovan Peoples-Jones that was intercepted.
Summary: This was about as overmatched as you'll see a rookie quarterback in his first start. Tough sledding for Thompson-Robinson and the Browns offense, up front and down the field in the blowout loss at the hands of the Ravens.
Season Grade: F
- Richardson ripped a rocket down the seam to Josh Downs through tight coverage with perfect accuracy.
- While stepping up and to his right and throwing on the run, Richardson found Mo Alie-Cox at the intermediate level on a play that amounted to a 32-yard touchdown.
- Early in the fourth, with defenders draped on him in the pocket, Richardson demonstrated the value of his arm strength when he was still able to stretch the field on a 38-yard pass down the right sideline to Alec Pierce.
- Late in the fourth, he made a free rusher completely whiff before finding an open receiver while rolling left.
- While it was a long throw, in the second quarter, Richardson had an open Michael Pittman breaking near the sideline and overthrew him.
- On the first play of the third, he had Isaiah McKenzie wide open down the sideline on a wheel route and the throw was way late, so it was able to be knocked away by the safety.
Summary: This was a reasonably rare game in which the quarterback's individual play was far more impressive than his stat line. Yes, there were plenty of pass breakups in this game, but the comeback endeavor hardly looked too much for Richardson. He flashed his arm talent, scrambling talent, and demonstrated signs of accuracy throughout.
Season Grade: C