Week 5 Wrap: Smith Storms Towards MVP

Week 5 Wrap: Smith Storms Towards MVP

The top five is an interesting group this week. One of the more-maligned quarterbacks in recent memory, a former MVP that folks were righting off, a sophomore with a brilliant third down reel and a pair of usual suspects. Quarterbacking was mostly bad across the league. After Andy Dalton’s .545, the rest of the QBs struggled.

BYE weeks: Matt Ryan, Trevor Siemian, Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins

Not graded: Case Keenum, Matt Cassel, E.J. Manuel, Jacoby Brissett

*Backup quarterbacks will be graded at the end of the season

  1. Alex Smith –

Game Grade: .878 (36 points, 41 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .682

Game 3rd Down: 1.154 (15 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .610

There should be no questions, to this point, about who the MVP of the league is. Alex Smith is in such a groove right now, that the Chiefs offense cannot be stopped. Accuracy, getting the offense (and protections) into the right call, distributing the football, hitting deep shots, scrambling, moving to throw, he pitched a perfect game in this one. The first GIF is a display of Andy Reid’s offense incorporating a hi-lo concept after throwing shallow crosses at the Texans. The second GIF is pure play making ability by Smith.

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  1. Cam Newton –

Game Grade: .784 (29 points, 37 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .432

Game 3rd Down: .786 (11 points, 14 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .298

2015 vintage Cam Newton is back – or close to it. This off-season, I wrote that Cam was the fourth best quarterback in football. Not that I’m neglecting some of the short area accuracy, because that’s still there, but the dynamic element to his game should not be overlooked. He’s back to being a short yardage conversion beast. He’s attacking down the field with tremendous touch, zip and accuracy. He’s playing with a confidence and rhythm that we didn’t see last year. Cam scored 11 points on 14 third down drop backs and had just three negatively graded plays of his 37 registered plays. The Panthers are a dangerous outfit, and they have their transcendent quarterback to thank.

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  1. Carson Wentz –

Game Grade: .767 (23 points, 30 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .571

Game 3rd Down: .750 (9 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .852

The Carson Coaster we full of excitement on Sunday as his ability to extend plays was on full display (GIF below.) The mistakes were few and far between and Wentz was on-point and in command in this game. He continues to excel on third downs and throwing the football down the field.

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  1. Aaron Rodgers –

Game Grade: .722 (26 points, 36 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .642

Game 3rd Down: .429 (3 points, 7 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .608

The NFL is Aaron Rodgers’ league – we’re just living in it. The best quarterback in the game (and of all time in this writer’s humble opinion) notches another scalp in Dallas. Rodgers took down the Cowboys by extending plays like no one before him, and throwing pinpoint dimes regardless of his platform. Rodgers has just six negatively graded plays (in 110 drop backs) over his last three games. He is truly a marvel to watch and I am simply out of superlatives for him.

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  1. Dak Prescott –

Game Grade: .714 (25 points, 35 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .565

Game 3rd Down: 1.111 (10 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .696

Prescott’s thunder was stolen by the greatest to ever do it, but the sophomore sensation turned in another dazzling performance. Extending plays (GIFs below) are something of commonplace with Dak. He’s in control of the short passing game and among the deadliest big play weapons in the NFL. The Packers and Colts famously went from one Hall of Fame player to the next (jury still out on Luck,) looks like the Cowboys have too.

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  1. Blake Bortles –

Game Grade: .647 (11 points, 17 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .459

Game 3rd Down: .667 (4 points, 6 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .286

As I’ve been saying this whole season, the Jaguars found out how to beat this grading system. Blake Bortles only drops back to throw when it’s absolutely necessary. He is playing well within what they’re asking him to do. Even his interception was a good play on his part. It was just a fluke of an occurrence, and a great example of why stats mean nothing.

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  1. Joe Flacco –

Game Grade: .636 (14 points, 22 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .336

Game 3rd Down: .429 (3 points, 7 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.055

This game was the blueprint John Harbaugh envisioned when the 2017 Ravens were assembled. Joe Flacco got help via a terrific performance from the defense and running game. Flacco was quick and concise, and hit the big play a number of times (including a three-point dime to Wallace – GIF below.) This was Flacco’s best game since he slaughtered the Dolphins last December.

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  1. Russell Wilson –

Game Grade: .250 (10 points, 40 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .594

Game 3rd Down: .571 (8 points, 14 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .580

Russell Wilson is such an enigma. The Seahawks would have trouble scoring any points if he were to go down. He is under siege just about every rep and he creates plays more than any other quarterback in football. His ability to keep the play alive and extend drives, in dire circumstances, were largely responsible for the Seahawks earning a massively important division win on the road. There were multiple escape-artist plays to choose from for his GIF, but I went with the negative play because it was so out of character for Wilson.

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  1. Josh McCown –

Game Grade: .594 (19 points, 32 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .442

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

2017 3rd Down: .420

This game was designed for Josh McCown’s Jets. Simple hitches, screens and flares, keeping the offense on schedule, taking advantage of coverage breakdowns and one improvisational play was all it took for the Jets to get a win. The game plan was as safe as could be and Josh McCown did exactly what was asked of him.

  1. Tom Brady –

Game Grade: .545 (24 points, 44 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .581

Game 3rd Down: .462 (6 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .736

Despite having accuracy issues, Tom Brady still had a solid game. He made a couple of nice touch throws on the sideline, he took what the defense gave him, and was dependable on third down. It’s rare to see Brady miss multiple throws a game, or to see him neglect an open target, but he committed both demerits on Thursday. Even Brady’s bad night is an above average score for the rest of the league.

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  1. Andy Dalton –

Game Grade: .545 (18 points, 33 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .461

Game 3rd Down: .200 (2 points, 10 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: -.022

All things considered, Andy Dalton played well enough for the Bengals to their second straight win. He missed a couple of throws, had two interceptions (one was not his fault, the other a tipped high pass) but was otherwise solid. He made more scramble plays, hit the big ball, and was decisive against a tough Buffalo defense.

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  1. Jameis Winston –

Game Grade: .477 (21 points, 44 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .493

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

2017 3rd Down: .389

I commended Jameis for trusting his eyes in the pre-season and early on in 2017. In this game, he locked on targets (GIF below allows the single high safety to come all the way over for a should-have-been-INT), threw with poor anticipation, neglected open receivers and was not accurate. He saved his score with an impressive final two series, but it was a tad too late at that point.

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  1. Carson Palmer –

Game Grade: .429 (12 points, 28 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .372

Game 3rd Down: .750 (6 points, 8 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .279

To say Carson Palmer has played well this year would be a lie, but he has the dealt with the worst circumstances of any quarterback. The Cardinals pass protection is laughable, the running game is non-existent and only one receiver separates consistently. Palmer was under siege, yet again, all game and it caused him into some two unforced errors. 18 of Palmer’s drop backs were not counted due to third and long screens, throw aways and garbage time.

14.Brian Hoyer –

Game Grade: .422 (19 points, 45 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .360

Game 3rd Down: .416 (5 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .339

Five or six throws occur every game that remind you why Brian Hoyer isn’t someone’s entrenched long term starter. Despite the deficiencies and general brain farts, he is gaining his footing in this Kyle Shanahan reunion. He will thread tight windows and throw with exceptional touch, and those glimmers make you understand why he’s been such a trusted backup for so long (GIF below.)

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  1. Phillip Rivers –

Game Grade: .372 (16 points, 43 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .463

Game 3rd Down: .462 (6 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .311

In a game with an over-the-hill-quarterback on the other side, Phil Rivers might be joining his fellow 2004 classmate. Rivers missed two WIDE OPEN touchdowns and had another horrendous pick in the end zone. He doesn’t trust his protection (and who could blame him) and his once flawless accuracy seems to be slipping. I’m not used to seeing Rivers play this poorly.

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  1. Deshaun Watson –

Game Grade: .364 (8 points, 20 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .436

Game 3rd Down: .333 (2 points, 6 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .325

The three-point dime for a touchdown to Will Fuller saved Watson’s score in this game. He took 13 snaps in garbage time that didn’t register, but his elusiveness and big play ability continues to flash every week. I do wish, however, that he’d learn to take the small gains the defense provides for him. The GIF below is a 2nd and 26. He has D’onta Foreman wide open for an easy 10-15 yards, but forces it into a window and the interception is dropped.

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  1. Jared Goff –

Game Grade: .340 (16 points, 47 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .464

Game 3rd Down: .643 (9 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .423

I can’t remember a game where I gave out this many 0-point-plays (throwing into traffic, typically the culprit.) Jared Goff has come much further than I ever thought he would in terms of confidence, poise and processing the defense. This showed through three quarters as the Rams’ receivers struggled to separate, but Goff kept them in the game. Then, at the end, he crumbled with three fourth-quarter turnovers. The interceptions were his fault; the fumble was a blind-side shot.

  1. Tyrod Taylor –

Game Grade: .333 (13 points, 39 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .512

Game 3rd Down: .461 (6 points, 13 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .603

Taylor’s game was interesting because of the progression of peaks and valleys. The rain could be the excuse for his poor accuracy on a number of throws, but he missed a read that took a touchdown off the board for his team (GIF below.) The interesting part: he atoned for his mistakes almost immediately afterward (second GIF was a few plays after the first GIF.) Taylor has been as good as the Bills could’ve hoped he’d be through two weeks.

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  1. Matt Stafford –

Game Grade: .250 (10 points, 40 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .489

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

2017 3rd Down: .439

The league-wide pass protection epidemic struck Detroit on Sunday. Stafford was never comfortable, uncharacteristically ignored open targets, threw the football off the bodies of his targets, and made a couple of questionable decisions. It was a difficult day for the Lions offense. I feel comfortable chalking this bad day up as an anomaly for Stafford.

  1. Eli Manning –

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

2017 Grade: .397

Game 3rd Down: -.333 (-4 points, 12 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .192

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you know I have not been kind to Eli Manning. But the Giants are in need of an offensive overhaul. Eli has his fair share of mistakes (neglected open targets, two inexcusable fumbles, missed deep shots.) Manning also had two hero-type of plays – his touchdowns to Rogers Lewis and O’dell Beckham were examples of exceptional quarterback play. Manning’s inability to navigate on the rare instances where he has a clean pocket, drops, and a lack of separation are just as big of an issue as poor line play.

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  1. Mitch Trubisky –

Game Grade: .200 (5 points, 25 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .200

Game 3rd Down: .556 (5 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .556

Trubisky’s rookie debut was typical of most debuts. There were flashes to get the fans excited but, ultimately, he has a long way to go. He was impressive moving the launch point and throwing on the run, but he lacked rhythm and accuracy otherwise. His touchdown was a bad decision and bad throw, and his back-breaking interception was an atrocious all around play.

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  1. Jay Cutler –

Game Grade: .200 (5 points, 25 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .295

Game 3rd Down: .222 (2 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .265

It’s difficult to imagine a worse start for Cutler in Miami. He is more interested in staying on his feet, and keeping his uniform clean, than he is in completing passes. He is seeing ghosts in clean pockets, his accuracy is still an issue and he is misfiring on plays wide open down the field. His interception in the GIF below was one of the worst instances of field awareness I’ve seen from a quarterback this year.

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  1. Ben Roethlisberger –

Game Grade: .120 (6 points, 50 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .356

Game 3rd Down: .000 (0 points, 9 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .133

It’s becoming more obvious, with each passing week, why the Steelers are minimizing Ben Roethlisberger’s role in the offense – he is no longer the player he once was. He’s often late on reads, his ball doesn’t have the same velocity it used to, he doesn’t evade the rush like he once did, and his accuracy to the middle of the field is a potential turnover every time he lets it rip. This throw was a staple for Roethlisberger and Brown for a long time, and Ben can’t get it there.

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  1. Deshone Kizer –

Game Grade: .048 (1 point, 21 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .135

Game 3rd Down: -.333 (-2 points, 6 drop backs)

2017 3rd Down: .114

And as quickly as he arrived, the Deshone Kizer era in Cleveland may be a wrap. He isn’t ready to play – he never was. The GIF below shows him neglecting a lay-up touchdown. He’s still taking too many sacks and he can’t decipher coverages pre or post-snap. Kevin Hogan played well in relief and if he plays the rest of the season, with a new rookie QB next year, Kizer may never start for the Browns again.

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  1. Sam Bradford –

Game Grade: -.214 (-3 points, 14 drop backs)

2017 Grade: .500

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

2017 3rd Down: .438

A terrible decision to let him play, Sam Bradford didn’t even make it to half time. His knee wasn’t stable, his mobility was non-existent, and he couldn’t generate velocity from his lower half. Put this tape in the garbage and start over when he’s healthy.

@WingfieldNFL

Week 6 wrap, next Thursday.

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