I'll be frank -- collectively, the young quarterbacks have been disappointing through three weeks of this NFL season, especially the rookies. Justin Herbert sits far above any of the young passers at this point of the season, and believe it or not, Davis Mills has actually been respectable in his first two pro appearances.
A grand total of eight quarterbacks selected in the past two NFL Draft classes saw considerable playing time -- more than 10 pass attempts -- during a wild Week 3.
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. Now that we're into Week 3, the quarterbacks are listed from best to worst by season grade.
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- Late in the third, he zinged a rocket on a back-shoulder throw down the numbers to Jared Cook for 21 yards.
- On a 3rd and 2 with under a minute to go in the fourth and the game tied, Herbert rifled the ball to Keenan Allen on a slant with three Chiefs defenders in close.
- The game-winning throw was a gorgeously placed, not-too-lofted end-zone fade to Mike Williams.
- Midway through the second quarter, Herbert pumped in the pocket to get a defender in the air. But instead of throwing the ball away after that, he held it, and took a sack.
- Late in the fourth, he missed Keenan Allen open on a short out route. The throw was high and outside.
Summary: In what was the biggest win to date in his NFL career, Herbert wasn't asked to do nearly as much as normal. The majority of this contest featured easy, short, wide-open completions. He rarely put the ball into precarious situations and made two critical throws late to secure the victory on the road.
Season Grade: B+
- Midway through the first, Jones got to his third progression all the way across the field and threw a pass low and away -- where it needed to be to Kendrick Bourne for 14 yards.
- With a defender essentially in his lap, Jones fired a seam throw to Jonnu Smith through traffic that should've been cut but was dropped as the tight end was hit right as the ball arrived.
- From a clean pocket late in the half, Jones waited for Jakobi Meyers to cross the field and hit him in stride for a 17-yard gain with a defender in tight.
- He creatively escaped the pocket and scrambled for 12 yards in the fourth quarter.
- Early in the second, Jones, while feeling some heat in the pocket, threw a deep over to Jakobi Meyers that had no business of being attempted. There was a cornerback underneath the route and a safety over the top. The pass was inaccurate anyway -- maybe a good thing for the Patriots -- and fell incomplete.
- He had a wide open Meyers on what's becoming a patented deep over in the second quarter, but the throw was off-target -- too far out in front -- and fell incomplete.
- Early in the fourth, Jones deployed a super-slow spin move in attempt to avoid pressure that ended in a 14-yard sack.
- Jones missed Bourne down the sideline on a go route early in the fourth quarter. The receiver had a step or two but the pass was overthrown.
- He was about a second late on a throw at the intermediate level to Brandon Bolden that was easily knocked away with under a minute to go.
Summary: This was the most aggressive we've seen Jones early in his NFL career, and the intensified aggression was almost assuredly game-script dictated, as the Patriots fell into a hole in the first half. The offensive results for New England indicated loud and clear that Jones is not ready to be an aggressive, down-the-field thrower. As he did in the first two contests, Jones worked the ball well underneath but was again awkward moving inside the pocket and when asked to consistently rip it through tight windows.
Season Grade: B-
- Late in the first quarter, Burrow threw with perfect timing and accuracy on an out-route to Ja'Marr Chase for 15 yards.
- The long touchdown to Chase right before the end of the half looked like the two were back at LSU scorching the SEC.
- Burrow's nine-yard touchdown to Chase was a fine demonstration of pocket patience and the ability to get through reads.
- On his first throw of the game, Burrow made a questionable decision throwing a deep corner route with a sinking boundary defender. The pass was too high anyway but altogether was a bad play.
- Midway through the fourth, Burrow threw slightly behind Chase on a slant. It was knocked away.
Summary: For the third-straight week, Burrow didn't have much on his plate throwing the football. But also for the third-straight week, he connected with Chase on a gorgeous long ball for a touchdown. Burrow kept the ball out of harm's way against one of the league's most turnover-happy defenses -- that was without T.J. Watt -- in solid, workmanlike performance.
Season Grade: B-
- While rolling right on his first drive, Mills threw with correct timing and accuracy on an 11-yard route to Brandin Cooks near the sideline.
- Late in the second quarter, Mills looked left then seemingly automatically snapped his head to the right side of the field and lofted a perfect pass to Cooks for 30 yards.
- Early in the fourth, Mills eluded a free rusher up the middle and found Cooks for five yards. This was impressive mostly due to the pocket navigation.
- His last throw of the game was on target to Cooks after stepping into a very messy pocket.
- In the third, after escaping pressure inside the pocket, had Anthony Miller down the field but underthrew him by a few yards and the pass fell incomplete.
- On a throwback to Miller into the flat, Mills threw late and high.
Summary: Nothing overly special, nothing overly bad from Mills in this game. And none of his four sacks were on him. Most of his work was done underneath, at the intermediate level, or on simple throws to open receivers against zone coverage.
Season Grade: B-
Season Grade: B-
- In the third, Hurts somehow escaped from a plethora of Cowboys defenders and found Quez Watkins downfield for 41 yards. The ball was a tick underthrown, the whole play was impressive.
- Hurts had a creative eight-yard scramble near the end zone midway through the third.
- With the game out of reach in the fourth, Hurts waited patiently in a slightly floating pocket and found Jalen Reagor on a deep over for a 24-yard gain.
- Hurts' garbage-time touchdown was a thing of beauty and showcased his entire skill set. He moved out of the pocket to elude defenders the threw it accurately to Greg Ward in the end zone.
- The first-quarter interception was well underthrown on a go ball to Reagor.
- On the next drive, Hurts threw behind Zach Ertz over the middle on a short pass.
- In the second, he delivered a pass behind Ertz on a slant.
- The Trevon Diggs pick six was late on a short out-breaking route by Devonta Smith.
- Diggs broke up another target for Smith on a throw slightly behind the in-breaking wideout.
Summary: After watching the first two games, despite a solid "B" grade, a contest like this one from Hurts felt imminent. The schemed-open element to the offense can only work for so long. Hurts was routinely late on throws outside the numbers, his deep-ball accuracy continued to be a problem, and the Cowboys pass rush had a strong evening.
Season Grade: C+
- While being hit in the second quarter, Fields delivered a strike to Darnell Mooney for nine yards. The throw had to have serious mustard on it because of a linebacker drifting underneath the route.
- On a rollout to his left, Fields squeezed one into Allen Robinson near the sideline.
- In the third, Fields ripped fastball on a sideline route to Robinson that went for 18 yards.
- Not a throw, but one Fields didn't make. On his second sack of the afternoon, Fields executed a play-action fake and had Mooney open over the middle on a slant. Instead of letting it rip, he hesitated, which allowed the blitzing linebacker to get home.
- Late in the second, Fields had Mooney on an easy comeback route, but the pass sailed two feet over the receiver's head.
- On a classic play-action bootleg, Fields had Marquise Goodwin on a deep comeback near the sideline. The throw was a tick late and ultimately broken up.
- Early in the fourth, Fields tried to throw a pass into the flat to Mooney that, frankly, never should've been attempted. Had it been on-target, it probably would've been intercepted by an underneath defender.
Summary: For as talented as Fields is, this felt like your classic "overwhelmed rookie in his first start" type of game. But it wasn't just Fields. Chicago's offensive line was overwhelmed, the Browns covered extremely well and were prepared for easy completions on play-action bootlegs.
Season Grade: C-
- On his first throw of the game, Wilson fit the football into Corey Davis on an 11-yard comeback route just inside the numbers against tight coverage.
- While being hit, and after having to pump fake because the throwing lane closed, Wilson hit Michael Carter out of the backfield on an angle route between two linebackers. The ball was dropped.
- With under four to go in the third, Wilson lofted a nicely placed pass to Braxton Berrios downfield for a 22-yard gain with two Broncos defenders in the vicinity.
- On the final drive of the game, Wilson found Davis on a long throw to the sideline but it fell incomplete.
- His second throw of the contest featured an open Elijah Moore on a deep comeback across the field near the sideline. It skipped to its intended target.
- Late in the second, with Von Miller clearly bearing down on him, Wilson held the ball far too long and took an eight-yard sack.
- With a check-down option right in front of him, Wilson ate the football and was sacked again with under one minute to go in the first half.
- In the third quarter, he again had Moore open on a deep comeback, but the throw was low and outside.
- Wilson's interception to Justin Simmons was an intermediate-level throw made about a half-second too late.
Summary: Wilson was not overly accurate early in the game, and while I love his natural improvisational tendencies, he needs to stop hitting snooze on his internal alarm clock inside the pocket. He's also being too careless with the football at times.
Season Grade: D+
- Lawrence shook a defender on a second-quarter scramble that netted four yards.
- With under a minute to go in the first half, Lawrence got to his second read fired a strike over the middle to Marvin Jones for 13 yards.
- Lawrence's 12-yard touchdown to D.J. Chark right before the half was the best, most advanced throw he's made in the NFL. He looked right, checked the middle of the field, stayed patient in the pocket for making the super-long throw across the field into the back left corner of the end zone to Chark. The ball needed to have the proper velocity and arc to be completed. It did.
- Mid-way through the fourth, Lawrence threw a four-seam fastball to Marvin Jones near the sideline that just fit into its target.
- With five minutes to go in the game, Lawrence showcased good anticipation on a long out-route to Chark for 12 yards.
- In the third, while drifting left, Lawrence threw high and wide to Jacob Hollister near the sideline.
- The next throw was made toward the same sideline and was too far to the inside. It was nearly intercepted.
- On a flea-flicker late in the third, Lawrence should've thrown the ball away but instead lofted it while fading away from the throw. Byron Murphy was gift-wrapped the interception.
- To start the fourth, Lawrence felt a free blitzer in his face and made a hurried throw into the flat that sailed over the head of the intended target.
Summary: Another stinker from Lawrence. But there were a few more advanced plays -- that didn't occur in garbage time -- from him than what he demonstrated through the first two weeks. He's still mostly playing overly anxious, and the offensive line was more leaky against the Cardinals than it had been in the opening two games.
Season Grade: D+
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