28 Sep Week 3 Wrap: Goff Goes Off
Week three was the wackiest week in recent NFL history. So it makes sense that Jared Goff and Blake Bortles both finished in the top three for the week’s grades. There is still a lot of volatility in this list, as most quarterbacks are right around the 100 drop back mark. In a few more weeks, the cream will rise to the top of the season grades.
Here are the rankings for the week three performers:
- Jared Goff –
Game Grade: .926 (25 points, 27 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .542
Game 3rd Down: .571 (4 points, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .370
It’s time for this analyst to eat some crow. I have done nothing but criticize Goff since before the Rams drafted him but, in this game, he was sensational. Money on third down, big-time, downfield throws, good mechanics in and out of the pocket, nothing negative to say in this game whatsoever.
- Dak Prescott –
Game Grade: .875 (14 points, 16 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .538
Game 3rd Down: .000 (0 points, 2 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .400
Dak only needed a limited number of opportunities to show that he was the best player on the field Monday night. 21 total drop backs reduced to 16 (two third down give-up plays and three throw-aways), Dak still posted five 2-point plays. He mechanics are picturesque, his dual-threat ability is truly a marvel, and he is a winner in every sense of the word.
- Blake Borltes –
Game Grade: .871 (27 points, 31 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .530
Game 3rd Down: .857 (6 points, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .222
London is always very welcoming to the Jaguars. Blake Bortles was exceptional in this game. He had three separate third down throws that counted as 2-point plays, and he registered just two negative plays on the day. He threw with touch, accuracy, timing, and he escaped some bad plays along the way. The play below (Bortles first throw of the day) set the tone for his performance the rest of the afternoon.
- Kirk Cousins –
Game Grade: .862 (25 points, 29 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .476
Game 3rd Down: .818 (9 points, 11 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .313
This performance was vintage Kirk Cousins. Accurate down the seam, to the boundary, in control of the game situations, no mistakes, and terrific in the face of pressure. His touchdown pass to Vernon Davis (GIF below) had to be perfect, and it was. When it’s going right for Cousins, in this Jay Gruden scheme, it’s a thing of beauty.
- Drew Brees –
Game Grade: .793 (23 points, 29 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .705
Game 3rd Down: .429 (3 points, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .417
Drew Brees has just seven negative plays on 88 drop backs this season. He carved up the Panthers using all levels of the field, with a variety of pass catchers, from a number of different formations. His accuracy and deception are deadly and he continues to play the position at an elite level week-in, and week-out.
- Aaron Rodgers –
Game Grade: .660 (31 points, 47 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .585
Game 3rd Down: .500 (7 points, 14 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .556
Aaron Rodgers is an icon of the sport. No one has ever managed the pocket the way he does, and that skillset was on display Sunday against the Bengals. Changing the launch point multiple times on a given play, he’s nearly impossible to sack. He creates more “sandlot” yardage than any player that has ever played the game. Enjoy him while we still have him.
- Andy Dalton –
Game Grade: .633 (19 points, 30 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .327
Game 3rd Down: .125 (1 point, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: -.225
Andy Dalton was afforded two luxuries, under new coordinator Bill Lazor, that he didn’t have previously – an improved ground game, and simplified, half field reads. With an abundance of shallow crosses, quick hitters and two-receiver-route-combinations to one side of the field, Dalton had his best game of the year.
- Brian Hoyer –
Game Grade: .628 (27 points, 43 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .364
Game 3rd Down: .538 (7 points, 13 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .345
This was, far-and-away, Brian Hoyer’s best game with the 9ers. He threw the ball well in the face of pressure, opened up the vertical aspect of the offense, and dropped some absolute dimes (3-point play on the deep shot to Pierre Garcon.) You’ve probably already seen that play, as well as the interception to start the game, so these GIFs are lesser known plays. One, he misses an open option in the middle of the field (albeit a tight window) that would’ve extended the drive. On the positive GIF, he escapes pressure and makes a perfect throw to the boundary.
- Carson Wentz –
Game Grade: .600 (21 points, 35 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .511
Game 3rd Down: .545 (6 points, 11 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .833
This is a difficult game to evaluate from a scouting perspective. On one hand, Wentz didn’t make any glaring mistakes, and just five of his 35 drop backs graded negatively. On the other, he executed the close-to-the-chest game plan and put his team in position to win. His only 2-point play was the final throw of the game to set up the 61-yard winning field goal. Wentz had another extremely reliable third down performance.
- Tyrod Taylor –
Game Grade: .588 (20 points, 34 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .554
Game 3rd Down: .583 (7 points, 12 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .667
By air or by ground, Tyrod Taylor is carrying this Buffalo offense in 2017. The short and intermediate misses are fewer and further between than in 2016, his scramble-ability remains top-shelf and he’s making splash plays in the passing game. The dime to Nick O’Leary below is one of the finest throws I have seen all season. Two of his three games have been exceptional thus far.
- Matt Stafford –
Game Grade: .574 (27 points, 47 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .667
Game 3rd Down: .333 (4 points, 12 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .686
The best sign of an elite quarterback is the faith you feel when watching him in crunch time. Even stuck at 1st down and 30 on the final possession, Matt Stafford had the Lions believing. I have highlighted his escape-ability the last two weeks, but this week, it was his touch passing. His accuracy and ability to throw from a crowded pocket are such unique traits.
- Marcus Mariota –
Game Grade: .571 (20 points, 35 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .623
Game 3rd Down: .231 (3 point, 13 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .371
Tennessee’s defense, ground game, and screen-passing-game did the heavy lifting in the victory over Seattle. Credit Mariota for throwing accurate passes in the underneath areas, making plays with his legs, and not making any poor decisions throughout the course of the game. This formula, with the addition of Mariota’s play-making skill set, makes the Titans a dangerous team.
- DeShaun Watson –
Game Grade: .571 (24 points, 42 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .356
Game 3rd Down: .181 (2 points, 11 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .160
In what was easily the best game of his young career, DeShaun Watson capitalized when the Patriots went to their two-man package (cover two, man underneath.) He exploited that defense with some scrambles, extending drives in some cases. He made the play of the weekend (GIF below) avoiding a number of sacks before throwing back across to the other side of the field. He’s a master of evading pressure, but the accuracy concerns (GIF number 2) remain ever present. He missed a third down throw mid-way through the fourth quarter that would’ve kept the Texans offense on the field, with a two-point lead. This is a good tape to build off of, but there’s still a long way to go as a passer.
- Eli Manning –
Game Grade: .568 (25 points, 44 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .388
Game 3rd Down: .375 (3 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .222
Eli’s second half was the best version of Manning the Giants have seen this year. It wasn’t enough, however, to undo some poor choices in the first half. Manning’s deteriorating arm has been masked by his exceptional preparation in year’s past, but he isn’t seeing the field like he once did. In the GIF below, he missed an opportunity at a tight window for a first down, instead, taking the check down to the back. Either that window is too tight for his regressing arm, or he didn’t see it – both are a problem. The overall score was a solid and he made some vintage Eli throws (the first touchdown to Beckham) so it’s nice to see there’s a little something left in the tank.
- Russell Wilson –
Game Grade: .560 (28 points, 50 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .508
Game 3rd Down: .111 (1 point, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .308
I can’t remember a game where Wilson missed so many easy throws. He started off slowly with some high throws, and a pretty poorly played first half – at least till the end of it. He bounced back with two beautiful touch passes up the near sideline, and then played a terrific second half. The nine negative plays were a season high for Wilson, but his 2-point plays gave him an impressive score.
- Tom Brady –
Game Grade: .550 (22 points, 40 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .598
Game 3rd Down: 1.125 (9 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .852
Despite putting the ball on the carpet three times, Brady still had an exemplary game. Those plays cost him some points (lack of awareness of backside pressure + poor ball security in the pocket), but he made some positively dazzling throws. On third down, he was an absolute menace, registering nine points on eight drop backs. He isn’t slowing down any time soon.
- Josh McCown –
Game Grade: .520 (13 points, 25 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .389
Game 3rd Down: .556 (5 points, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .379
Josh McCown played the kind of game you hope to get out of a veteran journeyman. Minimal mistakes, hit the big play when called upon, and lead the team to victory. McCown was sharp on third down and only had four negative plays of his 25 recorded drop backs.
- Matt Ryan –
Game Grade: .486 (18 points, 37 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .596
Game 3rd Down: .500 (4 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .586
Two of Ryan’s three interceptions were on tipped passes that were fairly decently located. Still, it wasn’t his sharpest game. His worst miss actually came on a third down completion on the verge of the red-zone. The lack of zip forced the receiver to slow down, preventing YAC, and costing the Falcons a first down. Still, Ryan’s worst games are better than most quarterback’s good games.
- Carson Palmer –
Game Grade: .469 (23 points, 49 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .353
Game 3rd Down: .375 (6 points, 16 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .225
Carson Palmer is in a difficult spot. He’s in a vertical based offense without the requisite pass protection to execute those big plays. He remains a cerebral quarterback with a big arm, but it’s fair to question if he has enough trust in his line to make the big play. The GIF below best signifies the difference in the Cardinals offense from 2015 to now. Arians has the perfect call for man-free, they get the safety where they want him, and Palmer ignores the deep shot. Third and five or not, the Cardinals capitalized on this kind of coverage often in 2015 – not so much anymore.
- Alex Smith –
Game Grade: .381 (8 points, 21 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .552
Game 3rd Down: .000 (0 points, 4 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .200
Alex Smith was asked to do very little in this game. I do hope, though, that the incorrect rumor of his downfield passing prowess can be put to bed (see the dime in the GIF below.) The Chargers kept giving the Chiefs field position, but they didn’t have an answer for Melvin Ingram. Smith didn’t help matters, stepping into a pair of Ingram sacks. This game consisted almost entirely of dump off passes on third and long, hence the discrepancy in passes thrown and drop backs registered.
- Jameis Winston –
Game Grade: .371 (13 points, 35 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .493
Game 3rd Down: .000 (0 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .471
Winston was undone by the turnover bug once again. The throws he can make between the numbers, over the linebackers and underneath the safeties, is among the best in the business. He can carve up teams for chunk yardage, and he did it against the Vikings, but the three of four bad decisions/throws he makes every week gives the defense an opportunity to put the Bucs away – and that’s just what the Vikings did.
- Trevor Siemian –
Game Grade: .341 (15 points, 44 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .397
Game 3rd Down: .300 (3 points, 10 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .219
Siemian was sharp for the second consecutive game with the exception of four atrocious plays. Both of his interceptions were egregious throws/decisions, the fourth down play at the end of the game was a clear-cut miss, and the failed deep ball to Emanuel Sanders was woefully under-thrown. Outside of those plays, he was accurate, poised and commanded the game regardless of down and distance. If he lays the pass to Sanders out in front of him, the outcome of this game is probably different.
- DeShone Kizer –
Game Grade: .294 (15 points, 51 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .182
Game 3rd Down: .333 (4 points, 12 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .258
Cleveland is going to find itself in a tricky position in regards to the quarterback going into the 2018 draft. DeShone Kizer makes one or two plays every game that are sheer brilliance, but the negatives far outweigh the positives. He hangs on to the ball too long, he doesn’t progress through reads quickly enough, and he throws far too many ‘interceptable’ balls.
- Ben Roethlisberger –
Game Grade: .256 (11 points, 43 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .407
Game 3rd Down: -.222 (-2 points, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .138
Ben Roethlisberger mentioned he didn’t sleep much Saturday night, and it showed. Seven of his first 11 passes were noticeably off-target. His mechanics in the pocket continue to be erratic and his accuracy is a pass-by-pass proposition. He uncharacteristically whiffed on a couple of deep passes, he doesn’t maneuver away from pressure like he once did, and he still challenges windows that aren’t open. His third down tape has been a bit of a nightmare (4 points on 29 drop backs.)
- Jay Cutler –
Game Grade: .156 (5 points, 32 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .373
Game 3rd Down: .100 (1 points, 10 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .286
The bugaboos that made Chicago fans weary of Jay Cutler showed up in this game. Throwing from his back foot, inaccuracies, and a lack of overall urgency called his desire into question. On multiple times occasions in the fourth quarter, he let the play clock run out before snapping the ball despite trailing by multiple scores. Several of his completions were located high and behind.
- Joe Flacco –
Game Grade: .118 (5 points, 32 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .319
Game 3rd Down: .167 (1 points, 10 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .048
Joe Flacco’s historically bad statistical day wasn’t as dreadful as the box score would lead you to believe. Pass protection and drops were an issue (Flacco’s first interception was a drop that led to a pick.) Still, Flacco’s lazy mechanics and questionable accuracy are a weekly thing.
- Derek Carr –
Game Grade: .043 (1 point, 23 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .500
Game 3rd Down: .000 (0 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .318
Raiders fans aren’t used to seeing their time mop up garbage time the last two years, but Derek Carr’s final two possessions were irrelevant (14 unregistered drop backs.) During the plays that counted, the Redskins corners were stingy, the pass rush was ferocious, and Derek Carr was out of rhythm all night. His first interception was a bad read, but the other two were fantastic plays by the defense. Carr threw a fourth pass that could’ve been picked off and probably returned 100 yards for a score.
- Cam Newton –
Game Grade: .037 (1 point, 27 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .202
Game 3rd Down: -.714 (-5 points, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: -.125
Keeping Cam Newton healthy is clearly a priority for the Panthers, but hemming his game in isn’t doing anyone in that organization any favors. An offense that used to use his dynamic skillset to push the ball down the field and create designed runs for Newton is now a dink-and-dunk operation. That’s not Newton’s game, and he’s suffering as a result. His short area accuracy was a major problem in this game, and resulted in a few turnovers.
- Phillip Rivers –
Game Grade: .000 (0 points, 32 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .505
Game 3rd Down: -.333 (-3 points, 19 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .125
Phillip Rivers has two or three games a year where it just doesn’t go well for him – this was one of those games. Each of his three interceptions were terrible throws and or decisions, he missed open targets throughout the game, and couldn’t deal with the Chiefs tough pass rush. Burn the tape and move on.
- Mike Glennon –
Game Grade: -.047 (-1 point, 21 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .267
Game 3rd Down: -.285 (-2 points, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .222
It’s truly astonishing that the Bears won this game given the quarterback play they got from Mike Glennon. A number of failed exchanges, blown plays, neglected open targets and plenty of check downs, the Bears rode its defense and running game to a victory. Glennon’s field vision leaves a lot to be desired. The way he moves is so awkward, it makes you wonder how he got this far in the first place. Nine of his 21 drop backs resulted in positive grades, and eight resulted in negative grades. In the GIF below, he fails to recognize an uncovered receiver and takes the check-down option to the back.
See the 2017 season rankings here.
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Back next week with the week four wrap.