And Justin Fields -- is he starting to turn the corner? I think so..
A total of eight quarterbacks selected in the past two NFL Draft classes saw considerable playing time during Week 8 action.
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. At least 10 attempts are needed to qualify for this piece, which is published each Tuesday during the NFL season.
- Lawrence's 22-yard touchdown to Evan Engram was an absolute dime up and over the covering defender. Long throw too.
- The end-zone interception was a play when he didn't see Justin Simmons. Bad decision. Lots of traffic.
- Late in the second, Lawrence had Christian Kirk open on a short out-breaking route. The throw was too far inside and fell incomplete.
- The game-sealing interception was too far to the inside on a longer out-breaker.
Summary: I've noticed for weeks, the Jaguars offense is too "schemed-up." Optimistically, it can be categorized as "QB friendly" but there's simply not enough opportunities for Lawrence to showcase his natural talent. Plenty of underneath throws. However, in this game, it was somewhat understandable, given how good the Broncos defensive front is. And Lawrence, individually, took a step back against Denver. He's entering very concerning territory in his second NFL season.
Season Grade: C-
- Late in the second, Fields put it on Velus Jones Jr. on a deep shot down the sideline the rookie wideout dropped.
- Fields shrugged off a rusher and scrambled to his left for nine yards.
- In the third, after play-action, a rusher was immediately in Fields' face. He dropped his delivery sidearm and flicked the football to Darnell Mooney into the flat.
- Fields' touchdown throw in the fourth quarter to Cole Kmet was perfectly placed with the ideal trajectory.
- On his opening throw of the game, Fields woefully under threw Equanimeous St. Brown on a long ball down the field.
- He was slightly off target on his final pass of the game, a short throw to his right.
Summary: Another step in the right direction for Fields. He combated Dallas' tremendous defensive line well for most of the afternoon and made a few impressive throws from less-than-ideal arm angles. Fields is clearly starting to play with more confidence in the Bears offense.
Season Grade: C
- While the rookie wideout was out of bounds by a few blades of grass, Pickett delivered a nice back-shoulder toss to George Pickens down the right sideline in the second.
- In the second, after a rollout, Pickett threw late and too far to the inside on a throw toward the sideline that was tightly covered and nearly intercepted by Darius Slay.
- His interception on the final throw of the game didn't quite have enough air under it, which allowed it to be tipped.
Summary: Pickett didn't have much of a chance in this one against the Eagles, as the Steelers offensive line was drastically overwhelmed throughout. Then a lot of what the rookie did was check it down as the Philadelphia lead increased. Not much to take from this outing from Pickett from an individual perspective.
Season Grade: C
- Early in the first, he rolled right then flicked a sidearm delivery for 16 yards
- While not the most difficult throw of his life, Wilson connected with Garrett Wilson for a 54-yarder on a double move.
- The touchdown to Tyler Conklin in the first quarter was a dart with pressure mounting from his right.
- In the third, he threw with perfect timing and accuracy on an out-breaking route run by Garrett Wilson for eight yards. Tight coverage.
- Through layers of coverage in the fourth, Wilson found C.J. Uzomah for what amounted to a 27-yard gain.
- His late second quarter interception was a high throw on a checkdown with pressure in his face.
- His second interception -- a pick by Devin McCourty -- was a very bad decision while scrambling to his right.
- The third pick came on another scramble drill when Wilson didn't locate the safety over the top of the play and threw well high of the intended target.
Summary: Believe it or not, Wilson made a few nice throws in the loss to the Patriots. It was just the interceptions were ghastly. He is severely struggling against pressure this season.
Season Grade: C-
- Late in the second, Jones stepped into the pocket and fired a pass over the middle between two defenders for a 22-yard gain.
- His first throw of the game was well behind a slant that was broken up.
- At the beginning of the fourth, Jones forced a throw to Rhamondre Stevenson who wasn't open and was nearly picked.
Summary: This was a vintage 2021 Jones outing. Vast majority of his throws were easy, high-percentage tosses into the flat, checkdowns to his backs, and angle routes out of the backfield. His downfield touch was not great, and he took plenty of hits. There simply were not many throws to go in either category.
Season Grade: C-
- Mills fired a perfectly thrown ball to O.J. Howard on a deep over against tight coverage.
- Late in the game, down 14 points, Mills threw a rocket down the sideline to Brandin Cooks between two defenders.
- His second-to-last throw was a scramble drill deep shot to Cooks for 44 yards.
- At the early stages of the second, Mills threw behind a corner route run by tight end Howard that was nearly intercepted.
- Right after that, Mills floated to his left directly into the arms of Bud Dupree for a 13-yard sack.
- Early in the fourth, with a defender wrapped around him, Mills tried to hit a checkdown over the middle but the ball sailed and was nearly intercepted.
- His third-to-last throw of the game was a miss on an out route.
Summary: Mills is consistently inconsistent in more games this year than last, although it wasn't until December that he started to play his best football as a rookie. The "wow" throws are there every week, so are long stretches of inept play, like Mills labored through in the first half of this one.
Season Grade: C-
Sam Ehlinger, Colts
- In the third, he made a nice long ball toss to Alec Pierce for 47 yards. The rookie wideout had a step on the corner assigned to him.
- On the final drive of the game, Ehlinger waited patiently in the pocket and delivered a strike to Michael Pittman that was dropped.
- In the first quarter, Ehlinger got to his second read after starting to his left and was almost intercepted by an underneath defender.
Summary: The stats didn't jump off the page, but Ehlinger managed the game well in his first professional start. He connected on plenty of high-percentage throws and made a small collection of quality throws late. His pocket presence needs to be refined, and got him into trouble on a few occasions. Overall, the Colts should be encouraged by Ehlinger in Week 8.
Season Grade: B-
Malik Willis, Titans
- Willis avoided pressure in the pocket, pumped, and as he drifted left, somehow got it to an open Robert Woods on a scramble drill.
- Willis' first drop back of the game, Willis had a wide-opening in-breaking route, failed to pull the trigger and took a sack.
- On his second-quarter interception, Willis deployed a play-action fake to the wrong side and threw behind a route over the middle which led to the pick.
Summary: Willis didn't have many dazzling plays in his debut NFL start, one completion while improvising was his lone high-caliber play in what was an incredibly run-heavy, low-volume passing contest. It wasn't an abysmal showing from the third-round pick though, as he got it out quickly with quality velocity on a handful of his throws. Can't give him a high grade here however.
Season Grade: D+