05 Oct Week 4 Wrap: Wilson Reigns Supreme
The best week of quarterback play across the NFL, week four featured countless dimes, game winning drives, and stellar performances from some of the game’s most recognizable passers.
Culminating in a thrilling battle between two under-rated quarterbacks (Cousins and Smith), these are the week four quarterback grades:
- Russell Wilson –
Game Grade: .903 (28 points, 31 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .584
Game 3rd Down: 1.154 (15 points, 13 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .500
I love when performances prove that the box score means very little. Wilson was tremendous in this game. Evading pressure, dropping dimes in the bucket, throwing against his body, scrambling for huge gains, he did it all. This was the kind of performance that I envisioned when I chose him as my 2017 MVP. Marvel at the GIF below.
- Aaron Rodgers –
Game Grade: .815 (22 points, 27 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .624
Game 3rd Down: 1.000 (8 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .636
There isn’t a tougher quarterback to defend in the NFL, and nobody knows that better than the Chicago Bears. Rodgers tormented the Bears again with pristine accuracy, unrivaled pocket movement, and the big play. The GIF below is a prime example of his ability to quickly recognize where the pressure is coming from, find a launch point, get to it, and throw an absolute dime. He does something every week that is truly a marvel.
- Andy Dalton –
Game Grade: .765 (26 points, 34 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .439
Game 3rd Down: 1.000 (4 points, 4 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: -.085
Even though it’s mostly Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde shows up under center for the Bengals sometimes. This game was good Andy Dalton. He threw with terrific touch and understanding of the Browns coverages. He got the ball out of his hands quickly, extended plays, and made first downs with his legs. Back-to-back quality games from the Bengals QB.
- Alex Smith –
Game Grade: .762 (32 points, 42 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .620
Game 3rd Down: .750 (6 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .357
Playing it close to the vest, in a tight game, shouldn’t be frowned upon. Alex Smith played this brand of football on Monday night, but dipped into his play maker bag on a number of crucial third downs. He was poised, made plays with his legs, and made the throw of the weekend on the Chiefs game winning drive. Patrick Mahomes is going to have to wait a while if Smith keeps this up.
- Kirk Cousins –
Game Grade: .741 (20 points, 27 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .531
Game 3rd Down: .600 (6 points, 10 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .381
Washington will be insane to let Cousins walk. His cerebral brand of football, accuracy and high-football acumen were all on display in this game. In the GIF, he manipulates the single-high safety, and puts an absolute dime on Vernon Davis. On what would’ve been the game winning drive, he had three impressive scrambles, and a perfect touchdown pass that slipped through the fingers of Josh Doctson.
- Drew Brees –
Game Grade: .706 (24 points, 34 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .705
Game 3rd Down: .750 (6 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .500
Drew Brees does so well in this project for two reasons: 1.) He never makes any mistakes (nine negative plays out of 122 drop backs) and, 2.) He hits on the shot plays built into the structure of the offense. His quick release mitigates the pass protection issues the Saints currently have and his accuracy sets his receivers up for big gains after the catch. At 38, he’s still a top shelf quarterback.
- DeShaun Watson –
Game Grade: .686 (24 points, 35 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .441
Game 3rd Down: .778 (7 points, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .324
Scouts may have sold DeShaun Watson’s ability to extend plays a tad short. The last two games have been very Russell Wilson-esque in terms of manipulating the pocket and finding vacated areas to throw from. His accuracy has improved the last two games but, even more impressively, so has his ability to see what the defense is giving him. The GIF below displays great patience to allow the route to develop and anticipate it coming open. The Texans have to be very encouraged about what they’ve seen the last two weeks.
- Cam Newton –
Game Grade: .658 (25 points, 38 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .333
Game 3rd Down: .667 (6 points, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .091
As a passer, Cam Newton didn’t do anything special against the Patriots. But that’s a step up from where he has been the first three games of the season. Newton’s accuracy issues only showed up on one throw out of the 38 registered drop backs. He exposed the glaring holes and breakdowns in communication in the Patriots defense as the Panthers ran roughshod in Foxboro. Best of all, Vintage Cam showed up, as he ran the ball as effectively as he has since 2015. Panthers fans should be very encouraged with this performance.
- Carson Wentz –
Game Grade: .633 (19 points, 30 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .534
Game 3rd Down: 1.167 (7 points, 6 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .881
This was the best game of Carson Wentz’s young NFL career. His touch and accuracy have never been better, dropping perfect passes over Chargers defenders, directly into the bread basket of his teammates. He showed a total understanding of this offense, and has made it his own (except on one play (GIF below.)) On this play, he gets a basic soft cover-2 shell and has the perfect play for it: two seam-routes to expose the weakness down the middle, Wentz doesn’t process it pre-snap, and forces the ball into coverage.
Still, Wentz has grown a lot in year two. The errors in his game look more correctable now than they did last year. He has been the best quarterback in the NFL on third down in 2017.
- Tyrod Taylor –
Game Grade: .607 (17 points, 28 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .566
Game 3rd Down: .556 (5 points, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .533
Even the biggest Tyrod Taylor fan couldn’t have envisioned this start to the season for the diminutive quarterback. This match-up was speed vs. speed, and Taylor took it to the Falcons defense. The 17 points scored by the Buffalo offense didn’t do Taylor’s performance justice. Scoring two 3-point plays, and four 2-point plays, this was a game for Taylor’s highlight reel. The Bills receivers aren’t creating a lot of separation by Taylor is making it work with perfect throws and moving the sticks, on third down, with his legs.
- Matt Ryan –
Game Grade: .571 (24 points, 42 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .589
Game 3rd Down: .545 (6 points, 11 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .575
The Atlanta offense sorely missed Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu at the end of the game. The drops were crucial, but that incidental turnovers were back breaking. All three of Ryan’s give aways could be attributed to other forces (poor receiver play and bad officiating.) Still, Ryan made enough plays for his team to win the game, but they ultimately came up short.
- Tom Brady –
Game Grade: .571 (28 points, 49 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .591
Game 3rd Down: .769 (10 points, 13 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .825
Magnifying holes in Brady’s game is a more illuminating task than it is with other quarterbacks. The misses here and there, with most others, are shrugged off – but not with Brady. He had a few misses in this game that we really just aren’t accustomed to seeing. The miss to Dwayne Allen begs the idea of an older, tired arm. I know better than to jump to that conclusion, but it’s something to keep an eye on as the season gets into November and December.
- Eli Manning –
Game Grade: .571 (28 points, 49 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .442
Game 3rd Down: .615 (8 points, 13 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .350
Eli was far from the reason the Giants lost their fourth straight to start the season. For the most part, he was accurate, on-time, and he even extended plays using his legs. His strike, down the seam, to O’Dell Beckham (GIF below) was his best throw of the season. When he gets manageable third downs, Manning is still a serviceable quarterback.
- Ben Roethlisberger –
Game Grade: .571 (16 points, 28 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .440
Game 3rd Down: .286 (2 points, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .167
Every time I grade a Roethlisberger game, I expect the grade to be sub-par. Not that he’s been dazzling this year (his .440 mark is middle of the pack) but the design of the Steelers offense is so… bland. Screens, quick hitters, heavy running game, they have completely minimized Roethlisberger. He avoids the bad plays to allow this style to work, but it feels like this is his last year.
- Jameis Winston –
Game Grade: .513 (20 points, 39 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .500
Game 3rd Down: .500 (4 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .480
Inconsistencies are part of the game for most quarterbacks, and Jameis Winston is no different. His mechanics were off and, as a result, so was his accuracy in this contest. Short hopping throws, floating passes to the perimeter and just flat out missing on a number of plays, this wasn’t his best game. However, he saved the performance when the game was on the line, registering seven points on the final seven drop backs.
- Dak Prescott –
Game Grade: .500 (20 points, 40 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .526
Game 3rd Down: 1.000 (12 points, 12 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .595
Dak does things every week that put the spectator’s jaw on the floor. This week, it was shrugging off Aaron Donald as though he were a child, and completing the pass for a long gain. Dak had a few mistakes (one dropped INT and one that was picked as a result of being careless with the ball in the pocket) but even his off-days are better than most quarterback’s good days. Prescott scored 12 points on 12 third down drop backs.
- Trevor Siemian –
Game Grade: .462 (12 points, 26 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .408
Game 3rd Down: .363 (4 points, 9 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .268
Nothing about Trevor Siemian’s game is great, but plenty of it is good. That, mixed with a top-shelf defense, and a quality ground game, is a terrific recipe for success. The ball doesn’t explode off of his hand, he doesn’t have plus athleticism, but short area efficiency has improved, his touch passing is more than adequate, and he drives the Broncos bus pretty well.
- Phillip Rivers –
Game Grade: .455 (15 points, 33 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .493
Game 3rd Down: .625 (5 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .250
Rivers’ game was saved by a perfect throw, splitting two Eagles down the middle of the field for a 75-yard touchdown. Outside of that, Rivers is having a difficult time with the poor pass protection in front of him. No one throws the ball away more than LA’s newest quarterback, and his propensity to gamble is increasing with each loss the Chargers endure.
- Jared Goff –
Game Grade: .444 (16 points, 36 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .513
Game 3rd Down: .273 (3 points, 11 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .342
Sean McVay has done a brilliant job of assembling a cast of players to execute his scheme. Credit Jared Goff for being the point guard of this high-octane offense. He’s seeing the rush extremely well, he needs every bit of his big arm for some of the throws he’s asked to make, and he has been very accurate. The knock in this game was a couple of missed downfield reads.
- Josh McCown –
Game Grade: .441 (15 points, 34 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .402
Game 3rd Down: .750 (9 points, 12 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .488
Josh McCown is exactly what Jets fans were afraid of coming into the season. His penchant for the occasional big play, and his third down prowess are not just keeping the Jets in games, but winning them. His 2-2 mark is putting the tank-job on hold for now. Aside from the Oakland game, and the fourth quarter of the Buffalo, McCown has been sharp.
- Derek Carr –
Game Grade: .412 (25 points, 38 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .485
Game 3rd Down: .400 (2 points, 5 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .333
Denver’s secondary, for the most part, manhandled the Raiders vaunted receiving corps. It’s a different game for the Raiders when Michael Crabtree isn’t on the field to bail the passing game out with his 50/50 ball prowess. Under siege for most of the afternoon, Carr couldn’t finish the game after a back injury puts him on the sideline for approximately a month. His 64-yard touchdown pass was an absolute dime.
- Carson Palmer –
Game Grade: .389 (21 points, 54 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .363
Game 3rd Down: .154 (2 points, 13 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .208
If Carson Palmer wants to be an effective quarterback again, he’s going to have to do it outside of Arizona. The pass protection there, paired with his style of play, is an unmitigated disaster. With a constantly collapsing pocket (interior and on the edge) it’s a marvel that Palmer is able to have any modicum of success. On the rare occasion that he’s able to break the pocket, he tends to press, and that’s when his mistakes occur.
- Brian Hoyer –
Game Grade: .292 (14 points, 48 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .342
Game 3rd Down: .286 (4 points, 14 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .318
San Francisco’s offense is broken beyond repair – and that’s a surprise given their coach. Communication breakdowns halt multiple drives per game, pass protection is shaky, drops are a problem, and the quarterback is playing terrible. Hoyer’s accuracy and timing have been as bad as the 49ers could’ve imagined, and his time to get it fixed, is running out. The strange thing about it is, he has made some sparkling throws just about every game. His teammates surely aren’t giving him a ton of help.
- Marcus Mariota –
Game Grade: .231 (3 points, 13 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .580
Game 3rd Down: -.750 (-3 points, 4 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .256
The same inconsistencies in mechanics that plagued Mariota in 2016, showed up in this game. Throwing from a stiff base forces his arm into awkward positions, like the GIF below, causing the ball to sail on him. Still, his explosive running ability, and live arm when the mechanics are correct, could make him the most electrifying player in the game someday — he’s just still not there yet.
- Matt Stafford –
Game Grade: .216 (8 points, 37 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .554
Game 3rd Down: .000 (0 points, 11 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .522
Minnesota’s blanket coverage and clever blitz packages forced Matt Stafford into some uncharacteristically erratic throws and poor decisions. Even in his worst game of the year, the best part about Stafford was his ability to threaten the defense regardless of down and distance. The GIF below is a 3rd and 17 play, no problem for the Lions’ quarterback. Minnesota got its hands on a lot of footballs and, if they catch even just one of them, this game probably has a different result.
- Blake Bortles –
Game Grade: .200 (7 points, 35 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .432
Game 3rd Down: .200 (2 points, 10 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .216
Bortles’ position on the big-board is the greatest mirage of this project. The Jaguars have protected him as much as they can with the ground game and defense. In this game, he just needed to give them one competent drive, in the second half, to get a victory – he failed. The ball consistently flutters out of his hand like someone just learning how to throw a football and he doesn’t see the field particularly well.
- Joe Flacco –
Game Grade: .189 (7 points, 37 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .274
Game 3rd Down: -.750 (-6 points, 8 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: -.172
Patience has to be wearing thin in Baltimore. The offense has been entirely swallowed up by a black hole and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel – and it starts with Flacco. The lazy mechanics are simply who he is at this point. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in trying to key the defense or go to his hot-reads. Watching him on tape, it looks like his mind is made up before he snaps the football. It leads to egregious interceptions and missed open targets, as seen below.
- Jay Cutler –
Game Grade: .150 (3 points, 20 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .322
Game 3rd Down: .250 (1 point, 4 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .280
Jay Cutler has been a complete bust for the Dolphins to this point. His lazy mechanics and lackadaisical attitude are a better indicator of the quarterback he has been than all the pre-season reports about how the Miami offense wouldn’t miss a beat without Ryan Tannehill.
- DeShone Kizer –
Game Grade: -.047 (-1 point, 22 drop backs)
2017 Grade: .148
Game 3rd Down: -.143 (-1 point, 7 drop backs)
2017 3rd Down: .184
It’s pretty rare, during this project, that a quarterback has more negative drop backs than positives. With the built-in, easy completions, most QBs will trip their way into enough plays to prevent that. With Kizer, nothing seems to come easy (12 drop backs were deemed garbage time as well.) The GIF below is a prime example of a young quarterback trying to find his way. The post route is the initial read, and he gets the coverage he wants. With room to step up into the pocket, this play should be a touchdown. Kizer foregoes the throw, checks it down, and throws an interception on the next play – costing his team seven points.