It’s like the first and second year quarterbacks read last week’s article and used it as fuel to rebound in Week 4, because Zach Wilson , Justin Fields , Jalen Hurts , and Trevor Lawrence were all much better over the weekend than they had been previously.
Mac Jones was workmanlike (again) against the Buccaneers , Joe Burrow got more aggressive on Thursday Night Football, and Justin Herbert was, well, Justin Herbert. And Trey Lance’s debut — after Jimmy Garoppolo’s injury — went as most of us expected.
A grand total of nine 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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- On Herbert’s second throw of the contest, he looked right then ripped a laser on the total other side of the field near the sideline. Crazy velocity.
- Later in the first, Herbert rifled a throw down the numbers to Jared Cook for a 22-yard gain.
- His touchdown to Cook was ripped right over a waiting underneath linebacker.
- Herbert’s wheel route touchdown to Austin Ekeler couldn’t have been placed in the running back’s hands better.
- Late in the first, Herbert airmailed a deep out route to Jalen Guyton .
- Early in the second quarter, Herbert had Mike Williams wide open down the right sideline but the ball was overthrown
- In the fourth, Herbert forced a back-shoulder to Cook that wasn’t there, the ball was short of its intended target.
Summary: Herbert was mostly typical Herbert against the Raiders porous secondary. Bunch of ridiculous lasers — especially on third downs — in the win over Las Vegas. He wasn’t as good under pressure as normal, and the Raiders got after him consistently in this contest. The high-level throws are a blast to watch every week.
- Late in the first, Hurts was driven backward by a Chiefs rush but, while on the run and fading away, found Kenneth Gainwell for a 12-yard gain.
- Midway through the third, Hurts made an awesome throw to Ertz down the seam while being hit. The tight end was hit as the ball arrived and it fell incomplete.
- Late in the fourth, Hurts threw with perfect rhythm on a deep corner to Ertz for a 19-yard gain.
- Hurts’ next throw was an absolute dime to DeVonta Smith for what was nearly a 34-yard touchdown down the sideline. Smith inadvertently stepped out of bounds before the catch, so it was ruled illegal touching.
- With under a minute to go in the game, Hurts creatively flipped one to Ertz in the backfield a split second before he was sacked.
- His touchdown to Greg Ward in the waning seconds of the game was a strike over the middle.
- On his first drive, Hurts had Zach Ertz breaking open in the end zone down the seam but the ball sailed over his head.
- Late in the second quarter, Hurts rolled right and made an ill-advised, almost nonchalant looking toss into traffic that was intercepted by Deandre Baker .
- Hurts threw too far out in front of Greg Ward on a short out-breaking route in the end zone in the second half.
- Late in the game, Hurts was dealing with a rusher in his face and forced the ball to a receiver who was blanketed. Very dangerous.
- Diggs broke up another target for Smith on a throw slightly behind the in-breaking wideout.
Summary: This was Hurts’ finest game of the season to date. He worked the quick game well — as he had been — but made a variety of strong throws at the intermediate level and down the field. What’s encouraging about Hurts’ development is that he didn’t have to lean on his legs much Sunday. He was a deft pocket passer.
- In the first quarter, Burrow threw with perfect timing and accuracy on an out-route to Ja’Marr Chase for 15 yards.
- Burrow found Chase down the left sideline — with a step — and dropped it in the bucket beautifully in the third quarter.
- In the third, his back-shoulder toss to Trent Irwin was perfectly placed.
- Burrow threw with pinpoint accuracy on a slant to Tyler Boyd in the fourth quarter.
- The touchdown to C.J. Uzomah to tie the game in the fourth was a gorgeous improvisation and precise toss while escaping to his left.
- In the second, Burrow attempted a long ball on a scramble drill — rolling right — that was overthrown and nearly picked.
- In the third, his timing and accuracy were off on an out-breaker to Ja’Marr Chase that fell incomplete.
Summary: We finally saw a more aggressive Burrow in this game, and the score likely aided in the ramping up of his aggression as a passer. And an aggressive Burrow is a the best Burrow. He also did a good job keeping the ball protected, although there were still a fair amount of underneath tosses.
- Late in the first, Fields showed advanced quarterbacking — he held the middle of the field safety there just long enough to uncork a bomb to Darnell Mooney running a post behind him. The play went for 64 yards and traveled about 50 yards in the air.
- After not finding an open receiver, Fields demonstrated his deceptive speed, outrunning a defensive back to the corner for an 11-yard scramble.
- Following a ridiculous spin out of the grasp of a free rusher, Fields lofted a pass downfield to tight end Cole Kmet . But the tight end fell as the pass was arriving.
- In the third, Fields threw with perfect timing and accuracy on a deep dig run by Allen Robinson for 28 yards.
- Later in the third quarter, Fields dropped in one the buckey to Mooney for 32 yards down the sideline.
- Fields made a magnificent throw on a deep flag route to Robinson between two Lions defenders.
- On a connection with Mooney on a deep over, the throw was high and a little too far out in front of the receiver. Had Fields hit him in stride — he was wide open — it would’ve been a bigger gain.
- Late in the second, he fired too high for Marquise Goodwin on a routine comeback near the sideline.
Summary: Fields looked considerably more comfortable in his second start than a week ago. A few throws were still slightly late, but he manipulated defenders with his eyes, and put a couple of amazing throws on film. The competition must be considered, but the arrow is now pointing in an upward direction.
- Late in the first, Jones looked right then came back to the middle to find Kendrick Bourne open for 17 yards.
- After sliding to his right, away from pressure, Jones found Bourne over the middle again for 16 yards.
- In the fourth quarter, off play-action after being under center, Jones fit a ball to Nelson Agholor near the sideline right before the cornerback could break it up. The play went for 12 yards.
- With under seven minutes to go in the fourth, Jones delivered a pretty back-shoulder to Jakobi Meyers down the right sideline for 21 yards.
- On the final drive of the game, Jones threw with perfect timing and placement to Meyers near the sideline.
- With under four minutes to go in the opening quarter, Jones forced the football down the seam moments before he was hit. Antoine Winfield, who was sitting on top of the route, picked it off.
- After feeling some pressure, Jones short-armed a dump off to Meyers that was high and fell incomplete.
- From inside the 10 yard line late in the fourth, Jones rolled right, then made a bad decision to throw across his body on a short dump off and was lucky the ball was not picked.
- Jones missed an out-route to Meyers on the final drive of the game.
Summary: For the sake of the structure of this article, Jones has been the most difficult watch through four weeks. He simply does not attempt many difficult throws. The “best throws” section feels a bit forced. He doesn’t make many bad decisions either. The entire offense is based around utilizing the flats, checking it down quickly, and utilizing a variety of screens, and other quick throws. This outing wasn’t much different than the first three, although he nearly threw a pick in the red zone late after an ill-advised interception early.
- Early in the game, he made two on-time, on-target throws across the field to the sideline.
- Late in the first, after recoiling because a linebacker was in his throwing lane, Wilson dropped it down to almost sidearm to rifle it into Corey Davis over the middle.
- He made a gorgeous downfield throw — on the run — to Jamison Crowder after rolling to his right. Wilson started the play by looking to his left
- After fumbling a snap, he regained his composure and found Crowder deep down the field crossing from right to left.
- Wilson’s most ridiculous throw came on a bootleg in which he pointed Davis to the end zone. The ball was perfectly lofted into the receiver’s numbers for a 53-yard score.
- In overtime, Wilson delivered a deep flag route perfectly to Keelan Cole just before the wideout ran out of bounds.
- In the first quarter, he threw behind Davis on a dig that fell incomplete
- Late in the second, he tried to throw across his body while being flushed right. Ryan Griffin was available, but the throw was low and behind its intended target.
- In the fourth quarter, he threw late and behind on an out route. Very dangerous. He was lucky it wasn’t intercepted.
- Wilson’s clear-cut worst pass of the afternoon came in overtime, with a chance for a walk-off touchdown. He had Griffin in the flat, completely uncovered. The throw was low and outside and hit the turf.
Summary: Quite easily the most impressive performance of Wilson’s youthful NFL career. He looked a lot like the playmaking quarterback that ascended from obscurity at BYU to becoming the No. 2 overall pick in April. Not only did he connect on a bunch of big plays — many of which came when he needed to improvise — Wilson got it out quicker than he had through the first three weeks.
- After not liking what he saw to the left, Lance pieced together a nifty scramble for seven yards late in the fourth.
- A few plays later, he squeezed a fastball into Mohamed Sanu for seven more yards.
- Late in the game, he ripped a heater to George Kittle down the seam for what would’ve been a touchdown. A big hit from the safety dislodged the football. Easily Lance’s best throw of the day.
- On Lance’s first throw in his relief appearance, he had George Kittle open in the flat. Should’ve been an easy completion. The pass was inaccurate and fell incomplete.
- Ironically the 73-yard touchdown to Deebo Samuel was actually severely underthrown.
- Late in the fourth, Lance airmailed a slant route.
Summary: Lance clearly was not ready to operate Kyle Shanahan’s offense in this game. He was antsy when he first read was covered, didn’t navigate the pocket very well, and was mostly a shade off-target on most of his throws. He did put a few nice scrambles on film and looked a little more comfortable deep into the fourth quarter. There weren’t a litany of egregiously bad plays though.
- In the third, he found Brandin Cooks sitting down near the sideline. Throw needed to be low and outside and was.
- In garbage time, Mills was patient scanning the field before ripping a strike to Cooks for 16 yards over the middle.
- Midway through the first, Mills tried a throw over the middle that had no business being attempted. Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was waiting for it for an easy interception.
- In the second, he held the ball far too long deep in his own end and was sacked near the goal line.
- Also in the second quarter, Mills hesitated then threw underneath on an out-breaking route that was nearly intercepted.
- In the fourth, he made an ill-advised throw deep down the middle of the field that was easily picked.
Summary: Mills made this start, on the road, against one of the NFL’s best defenses, in a rain-soaked outing. All that needs to be considered. However, he can’t get another other than an “F” because he did not take care of the football and didn’t have any legitimately standout throws.
- Late in the first, Lawrence stepped up into the pocket, then ran when he saw a lane. He flashed impressive acceleration to outrun the linebacker to the corner to pick up 11 yards.
- While under pressure and rolling right, Lawrence ripped a long throw over the covering cornerback to Laviska Shenault for a 52-yard gain.
- With under five minutes to go in the third, Lawrence found Jamal Agnew on a deep over and dropped it in the basket perfectly with a defender trailing and one underneath the throw.
- Lawrence made the long out-breaking route from the far hash throw to Shenault late in the third for what amounted to a 20-yard gain.
- Midway 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.
- Early in the game, Lawrence abandoned what was an incredibly clean pocket, reversed his field behind the line and ultimately had to throw the ball away.
- Late in the second, Lawrence again escaped from the pocket when it wasn’t necessarily. He drifted backward and out and threw the ball away.
Summary: Strictly from a throw perspective, this was the most encouraging contest early in Lawrence’s career. He’s still overly antsy inside the pocket and his ball placement could be fine-tuned.
Grade: B- Season Grade: C-
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