Week 1 Wrap

Week 1 Wrap

We’re back and running! Week one is in the books and so are all the throws made around the National Football League. Some slight alterations have been made to the grading process. Grades will be up Thursday mornings for the entire season.

Week one was a sloppy showing with a mixed bag of quarterback performances. Visit the rankings page to see where your favorite quarterback currently ranks. These week-by-week pieces will be stored in the commentary section.

Let’s go:

  1. Sam Bradford –

Game Grade: .788 (26 points, 33 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .788

Game 3rd Down: 1.000 (9 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: 1.000

Before the game I tweeted – “Alright, Sam, time to show the country what I already know about you.” And he did. Showing off the league’s best ball placement, ability to slingshot the football from any arm-angle and the toughness to deliver strikes under duress, Bradford balled out. He scores as many two-point plays as anyone, with dimes on corner routes, up the seam, he can make every throw – and he did it in Primetime.

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2. Matt Stafford –

Game Grade: .775 (31 points, 40 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .775

Game 3rd Down: .846 (11 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .846

So far, so good for the Lions and the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. Stafford was brilliant. He distributed the football all over the lot, he extended plays by finding different windows and platforms to set and throw, and his most impressive play of the day was a 17-yard scamper on 3rd and 16. This guy is a top-notch quarterback, and his arm-talent and accuracy were on display, week one.

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3. Phillip Rivers –

Game Grade: .719 (23 points, 32 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .718

Game 3rd Down: .375 (3 points, 8 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .375

After a tumultuous start, Rivers had a hell of a night. Eight of his first 12 attempts came on third down and just one of his final 31 attempts came on the money down. It was a strange game for a number of reasons, but Rivers pinpoint accuracy and penchant for big plays late in this game gave his team hope when all seemed lost. He protects that bad offensive line from being even worse, by getting rid of the football just before chaos ensues.

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4. Tyrod Taylor

Game Grade: .700 (21 points, 30 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .700

Game 3rd Down: .917 (11 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .917

Without Taylor, the Bills would’ve been in trouble Sunday. He extended plays, bought time while his lackluster targets struggled to create separation, and threw with tremendous accuracy. He made plays with his legs and put players in a position to make big gains after the catch. Supremely impressive opener from the much-maligned Bills quarterback.

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5. Drew Brees –

Game Grade: .700 (21 points, 30 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .700

Game 3rd Down: .375 (3 points, 8 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .375

New Orleans shortcomings at every level of the roster, besides the backfield, showed up again on Monday. Lack of protection and the loss of a game-breaking receiver be damned, Brees was sharp again. His accuracy was supreme, he carried out his fakes like the professional he is and dropped some absolute seeds in this game. His stats weren’t gaudy because they couldn’t run the ball or protect, and we’re constantly behind the chains – but that’s what this site is all about, separating the quarterback from his team’s performance.

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6. Alex Smith –

Game Grade: .618 (21 points, 34 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .618

Game 3rd Down: .250 (2 points, 8 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .250

Alex Smith did what he does best in this game – execute the game plan. Capitalizing on a brilliant play caller, and loaded stable of weapons, Smith distributed the football with accuracy and poise in the season’s opener. His best throws were the long touchdown to Kareem Hunt and the sideline throw against cover-2 to Chris Conley. He had one bad miss when he attacked Travis Kelce on a go-route against single-coverage. On that play, Tyreek Hill came wide-open across the field on a post-route – Smith didn’t see him.

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7. Derek Carr –

Game Grade: .618 (21 points, 34 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .618

Game 3rd Down: .286 (2 points, 7 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .286

Derek Carr always falls somewhere between brilliant performance and a product-of-the-system. The Raiders run so many fades/back shoulder concepts to the boundary against man coverage that Carr doesn’t make many tough reads. He is, however, very accurate on these passes. He dropped a seed for a touchdown to Seth Roberts and a dime on the pass that set-up the TD. He missed a couple of throws, particularly on third down, but he was sharp most of the day.

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8. Matt Ryan –

Game Grade: .606 (25 points, 42 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .606

Game 3rd Down: .857 (6 points, 7 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .857

The Bears did two things that almost no one did to the Falcons in 2016. Chicago pressured Matt Ryan, and kept everything in front of them. The MVP only needed one play to win the game for his team, however, as he delivered a three-point play (highest grade awarded on any given play) with an 88-yard touchdown to Austin Hooper. Ryan was sharp throughout the game exceling in play-pass, in-breaking routes, and subtle pocket movement to buy time.

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9. Dak Prescott –

Game Grade: .595 (25 points, 42 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .595

Game 3rd Down: .538 (7 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .538

Even on his off-nights, Dak Prescott is impressive. He missed a few throws, but nothing egregious. For the most part, he was his usual-self – calm, collected and completely in control. Even when his arm is slumping, he does something special whether it’s destroying a team pre-snap, or extending a play. He is the most impressive young quarterback in this league.

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10. Marcus Mariota –

Game Grade: .591 (26 points, 44 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .591

Game 3rd Down: .750 (8 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .750

Mariota had more highlight plays than he did misses – the surest fire way to land a good grade. He was precise, created yardage with his legs both by running and setting up to throw, and threaded some tight needles. He was excellent on third down, registering 10 points on 10 drop backs. The most impressive part of his game is his eye discipline. The combination of holding a safety with his eyes, the quick release and the big arm make these 20-yard dig routes extremely difficult to defend.

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11. Jared Goff –

Game Grade: .533 (16 points, 30 drop backs)

2017n Grade: .533

Game 3rd Down: .300 (3 points, 10 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .300

This was the first game of Jared Goff’s professional career where he looked competent. Don’t get too excited just yet, there is a long way to go. While Sean McVay drew up a wonderful plan to attack soft-spots in the Colts very shaky zone defense, Goff still had a variety of misses and bad decisions. The three GIFs below are a microcosm of his game. The good play, he shows great mechanics under pressure and drops a dime to Gerald Everett. Another one, he inexcusably throws the ball several yards short, and on the next, he misses a wide open touchdown, down the middle of the field, in favor of a check down.

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12. Aaron Rodgers –

Game Grade: .565 (26 points, 46 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .565

Game 3rd Down: .500 (6 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .500

Rodgers is nearly impossible to deal with. Despite scoring just 17 points, he puts the Packers in advantageous positions time and time again. He was accurate, he threw from all the awkward platforms that have turned him into the star that he is today, and he made some massively important first downs

with his legs. Look at the torque and drive he has on this ball as he falls away from his target – impressive.

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13. Mike Glennon –

Game Grade: .500 (21 points, 42 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .500

Game 3rd Down: .500 (5 points, 10 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .500

Glennon played far better than I ever would’ve expected. He operated in a crowded pocket often, extended some drives by making sound decisions, and threw accurate passes on third down. Unfortunately, his teammates let him down at the end of the game, but he was at his best with the game on the line.

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14. Russell Wilson –

Game Grade: .500 (15 points, 30 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .500

Game 3rd Down: .250 (3 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .250

Seattle never gave Wilson much of a chance. Under duress from the moment he touched the ball on most plays, even Wilson’s extraordinary Houdini act wasn’t enough. He made some incredibly impressive throws on the move, but also missed some key throws — including a potential touchdown on a third and goal situation. Under impossible circumstances, he still posted a solid score, and gave us this tasty treat of superb quarterbacking.

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15. Ben Roethlisberger –

Game Grade: .486 (18 points, 37 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .486

Game 3rd Down: .333 (3 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .333

In the 2016 grades, I talked about how the Steelers were reducing Roethlisberger’s role in the offense – the same was true on Sunday. Bubble screens, quick dump offs, Pittsburgh isn’t asking him to do a lot. And that probably has something to do with his general ineffectiveness. He threw behind receivers frequently, looked slow and indecisive in the pocket, and held the ball too long on slower developing routes. That cliff is looking really close, but Antonio Brown consistently bails him out.

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16. Carson Wentz –

Game Grade: .465 (20 points, 43 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .465

Game 3rd Down: 1.09 (12 points, 11 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: 1.09

The Carson-coaster was open to all ages on the opening Sunday of the season. His exceptionable ability to shrug off would-be-sackers and throw from awkward platforms was on display, but so was his penchant for crippling mistakes. The good plays outweighed the bad, however, especially on third down where he was spectacular.

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17. Blake Bortles –

Game Grade: .409 (9 points, 22 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .409

Game 3rd Down: -.111 (-1 point, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.111

Jacksonville may have found a way to beat my grading system. It includes registering 10 sacks and a defensive score, while hiding the quarterback altogether. Of Bortles’ 22 registered drop backs, nine came on third down – typically short yardage. Yet still, Bortles struggled posting negative plays on 33% of his third down plays. I don’t have any GIFs for you because there were literally zero interesting plays. Blake is playing because no one else is there and the Jaguars made that quite clear with this formula.

18. Tom Brady –

Game Grade: .385 (15 points, 39 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .385

Game 3rd Down: .778 (7 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .778

It’s extremely rare that the Patriots lose a game in Foxboro under the Belichick and Brady reign. What’s not uncommon, is Tom Brady shaking off rust early in the season. His accuracy wasn’t as on point as usual, he looked uneasy in the pocket and his lower-body-mechanics were stagnant. This wasn’t an age thing, or a collapse thing, he just had an off night – it happens.

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19. Trevor Siemian –

Game Grade: .343 (12 points, 35 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .343

Game 3rd Down: .182 (2 points, 11 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .182

Siemian’s night was punctuated by a couple of highlight reel plays (running and throwing), but weighed down by some poor decisions. Throwing the ball away on the final drive instead of sliding to keep the clock ticking, an ill-advised throw into coverage on a busted screen play, and stepping into a sack that knocked the Broncos out of field goal range late. His touchdown run and a shot up the seam to Virgil Green were flashes, but he has to cut out the bone-headed mistakes.

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20. Eli Manning –

Game Grade: .324 (12 points, 37 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .324

Game 3rd Down: -.111(-1 point, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.111

The proverbial cliff came two years ago for Eli, but he can still make plays due to his preparation. Without O’dell Beckham, this offense is extremely hamstrung, and it starts with Eli. His arm isn’t what it used to be and his questions decision making is magnified ten-fold because of it. He couldn’t escape the constant Dallas pressure and made just one “plus” play.

21. Carson Palmer –

Game Grade: .255 (12 points, 47 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .255

Game 3rd Down: .300 (3 points, 10 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .300

I broke out every negative short-hand in my arsenal for Palmer’s game notes – it was not a good day. There were a number of miscommunications, which is odd for an offense that has essentially been intact for three years. Short-hopping throws to the boundary, missing wide over the middle, failing to anticipate, Palmer had a game he’d like to forget.

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22. Cam Newton –

Game Grade: .231 (6 points, 26 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .231

Game 3rd Down: .167 (1 points, 6 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .167

Cam Newton looked exactly like you’d expect a guy that threw just two pre-season passes, coming off shoulder surgery, to look. He was rusty, inaccurate and didn’t trust his eyes the way he normally does. The GIF below is as easy of a touchdown as a quarterback in the NFL will get. That’s why he gets a -3 (lowest score possible) for that egregious throw.

23. Kirk Cousins –

Game Grade: .217 (10 points, 46 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .217

Game 3rd Down: -.237 (-3 points, 11 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.273

An all-around awful day for the future $30 million man, Cousins was as sloppy as ever. His mechanics were a mess, his decision making was poor, the chemistry with his new receivers was completely out of sync and his accuracy was atrocious. The bad day was highlighted by a back-breaking interception. Throwing off his back foot, Cousins missed an open receiver that would’ve set up a first and goal, in the fourth quarter, trailing only by two.

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24. Brian Hoyer –

Game Grade: .211 (8 points, 38 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .211

Game 3rd Down: .400 (4 points, 10 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .400

Brian Hoyer was my most disappointing quarterback from week one. Not because his accuracy was off-point, it was, but I expect that from a quarterback with limited talented to draw on. I was let down because of the number of mental gaffes — situations where Hoyer neglected an obviously open target. One of the play’s I referenced in my off-season praise pieces, was the layered roll-out drive concepts. He passed up a second level pass and checked it down. I expected more – both from Hoyer, and his teammates. If he doesn’t elevate the mental side of the game, and his skill players make plays like the one below, it’ll be another long year.

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25. Josh McCown –

Game Grade: .205 (8 points, 39 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .205

Game 3rd Down: -.090 (-1 point, 11 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.090

Despite posting positive results on 24 of 39 drop backs, Josh McCown played an extremely vanilla brand of football in week one. Dump offs, screens, stick routes, clear-outs for the back, the Jets wanted to protect their quarterback. Once the scoreboard turned against the Jets, McCown opened it up, and imploded. If there were a reasonable option on the bench, New York would make a switch immediately.

26. DeShone Kizer –

Game Grade: .195 (8 points, 41 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .195

Game 3rd Down: .417 (5 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .417

The same issue from the pre-season arose on opening day for Kizer – sacks. Of the seven sacks surrendered by the Browns, six were the rookie’s fault. He holds the ball far too long while surveying the field (I was going to share a GIF, but there were too many.) He did show more moxee than any Browns quarterback has shown since Derek Anderson. His big arm gets him out of trouble, but everything needs to speed up. It was a rough debut, but you can see that the potential for growth is there.

27. Joe Flacco –

Game Grade: .056 (1 points, 18 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .056

Game 3rd Down: -.500 (-3 points, 6 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.500

Baltimore did its best to hide Joe Flacco like the Jaguars did with Bortles. At one point in the third quarter, in a 17-point game, the Ravens ran the ball 12 consecutive plays. The big lead helped, but so did Flacco’s general ineffectiveness. He still has that gun-slinger mentality regardless of how far his accuracy has fallen off in recent years. The play below was woefully under-thrown (and yes, I watched it multiple times. It was NOT tipped.)

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28. DeShaun Watson –

Game Grade: .036 (1 point, 28 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .036

Game 3rd Down: -.200 (-1 points, 5 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.200

Watson clearly wasn’t ready to play, evident by a number of things. The playbook is extremely handicapped with Watson in the game. Half-field reads, bootlegs, this was essentially a pre-season game plan once Tom Savage was knocked out of the game. The same woes that Watson had at Clemson showed up in his debut. Throws to the perimeter are anyone’s guess as to where it will go – sailed or short hop, there’s no telling.

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29. Andy Dalton –

Game Grade: -.059 (-2 points, 34 drop backs)

2017 Grade: -.059

Game 3rd Down: -.833 (-10 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.833

Mis-identifying coverage, throwing off-target, taking unnecessary sacks – these are all bad. But the worst play from Andy Dalton’s no good, very bad day was a throwaway on 4th down. Dalton locked on targets all game and misfired frequently when he did have a man. There were only two negatively graded games for all of the 2016 season; Dalton gets us half way there with his week one showing. I doubt I’ll ever get a grade of negative 10 points on 12 third-down drop backs again. This was just a putrid performance and one that should open the door for AJ McCarron to be seriously considered as the starter.

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Jay Cutler and Jameis Winston were off this week. Scott Tolzien is not going to be graded as I believe this is likely his last year in the league and, frankly, I don’t think anyone cares.

 

@WingfieldNFL

 

See ya’ back here, same time next week, for the week 2 grades.

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