Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

The rookie class is on the board! Two first-year quarterbacks were forced onto the field in Week 4, with Bailey Zappe providing the Patriots with a relief appearance after Brian Hoyer was knocked out of the game against the Packers, and Kenny Pickett replacing a benched Mitch Trubisky in the Steelers contest against the Jets. 

Speaking of Gang Green, Zach Wilson made his 2022 debut, and he actually held his own on the road in Pittsburgh. 

A total of six quarterbacks selected in the past two NFL draft classes — all from 2021 — saw considerable playing time during Week 4’s action.

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. At least 10 attempts are needed to qualify for this piece, which is published each Tuesday during the NFL season.

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High-Caliber Throws: 

  • In the fourth, Lawrence threw with good anticipation on an in-breaking route at the intermediate level that went for a 15-yard gain to Christian Kirk. 

Low-Caliber Throws: 

  • Lawrence’s second throw of the game was well short of Kirk in the flat and fell incomplete.
  • Not a blatant miss, but Lawrence had Agnew for a touchdown in the first half on a long ball that was a yard or two overthrown.
  • In the second quarter, Lawrence fumbled while scrambling. No defender hit him. Just dropped the ball.
  • Lawrence’s interception in the third quarter came on a late, fadeaway throw deep down the field. 

Summary: Lawrence struggled in the rain, on the road, against a quality Eagles defense. There’s no way around it. Some of the longer plays from Jacksonville’s offense came on wide-open throws, like the long completion to Kirk late in the game. 

Grade: D+
Season Grade: C

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High-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • Fields’ first throw of the game was a rocket over the middle through a closing window. 
  • The long ball to Darnell Mooney for 56 yards was gorgeous. Perfect placement and awesome illustration of Fields’ arm strength.  
  • In the second, Fields threw with anticipation and impressive velocity on a long out route to Mooney.

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays: 

  • Early in the second, he had a bad miss on an easy throw into the flat. Ball was thrown much too high and fell incomplete. 
  • While inside the red zone in the third quarter, Fields misfired wide on a throw across the field that was incomplete. His target was open.  
  • In the third, Fields vacated a clean pocket, generating pressure for himself before throwing it away. 

Summary: The Bears won in Week 3 despite Fields’ throwing efforts. It was pretty ugly. As usual, he made magic with his legs, but he’s still not making quick decisions, and his accuracy is not improving. 

Grade: D+
Season Grade: D+

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High-Caliber Throws: 

  • Mills threw with good anticipation and accuracy on a long throw between the hashmark and the numbers to O.J. Howard for a 22-yard gain.
  • In the fourth, Mills couldn’t have strolled down the field and placed the ball more accurately in Nico Collins’ hands on a 58-yard long ball. 
  • On the next play, Mills fired a fastball between the “1” and the “3” in Brandin Cooks’ jersey for a touchdown against tight coverage. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • While I’ll mostly give him a pass for his interception because he was hit as he threw, Mills made a bad decision to attempt to release the football inside such a muddy pocket. It sailed well over the intended target. 
  • In the second, Mills ripped a high heater over Nico Collins’ head down the numbers. Not an easy thing to do.  
  • Down 10 in the fourth, Mills was late and too far to the inside on a long throw across the field toward the sideline. 
  • After spinning away from pressure late, Mills lofted a prayer to the middle of the field and was picked by Bryce Callahan.

Summary: It wasn’t pretty for the majority of this contest, yet a few studly throws from Mills late brought the Texans right back into the game. Those minimal big-time throws were encouraging; the rest of his performance wasn’t. He has to play with more steadiness to boost his grade.

Grade: C-
Season Grade: C-

Kenny Pickett

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High-Caliber Throws: 

  • Pickett’s first completion was impressive, while rolling left with a defender in his face, he was able to throw accurately to Pat Freiermuth for 14 yards. 
  • In the third quarter, Pickett threw with perfect placement on a back-shoulder throw down the left sideline to George Pickens. 
  • While taking a shot up the middle early in the fourth quarter, Pickett got the ball to Freiermuth down the seam for a sizable gain. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • While not the worst pass I’ve seen, Pickett’s first NFL throw, a deep ball to Chase Claypool hung in the air forever and was tipped and intercepted. 
  • His second interception came after retreating in the pocket and floating the ball into the flat. Way late. Should’ve simply been a throwaway. 

Summary: About as expected for a rookie called into his first NFL action mid-game from Pickett in Week 4. Most of his drop backs gave way to easy, underneath throws, but I like that he did make some tosses at the intermediate level and down the field. His accuracy was mostly good, and his interceptions came off bad decisions. 

Grade: C-
Season Grade: C-

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High-Caliber Throws: 

  • Late in the first, Wilson had a miraculous escape from multiple Steelers defenders before throwing the ball away. 
  • On the next play, he zinged a strike from the far hash to the opposite sideline against reasonably tight coverage. Perfect timing, velocity, and ball placement. 
  • In the third, he dropped it down almost to a sidearm delivery to rip the ball to Tyler Conklin over the middle. 
  • On his last throw of the day, Wilson started by looking left then got all the way back to the right side of the field before finding Corey Davis for a 17-yard gain. Wasn’t the most accurate throw but got there in a hurry. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • While under pressure in the second, he pumped inside the pocket, then threw way too late near the numbers on a throw that was nearly intercepted. 
  • With under a minute to go in the first half, Wilson significantly retreated in the pocket and lofted a long ball to Corey Davis that forced the wideout out of bounds. 
  • His interception on the next play was simply an overthrow on an incredibly long throw across the field on a deep over. 
  • Wilson also missed badly on a straight-forward throw into the flat. 

Summary: Wild ride from Wilson in this contest, his first action of the 2022 regular season. He had some insane escapes from inside the pocket and flashed his arm talent throughout. But he also had a few misfires on easy throws. Overall, a solid outing, on the road, against what’s been a stingy defense.  

Grade: B-
Season Grade: B-

Bailey Zappe

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High-Caliber Throws: 

  • Early in the second, Zappe got to his second read and threw a strike to Nelson Agholor. Not amazing accuracy at first glance, yet it was thrown down and away from coverage. 

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • Zappe’s first throw was a blatant miss while beginning to scramble on a target to an open running back. 
  • In the second, he skipped a pass into a receiver on a designed rollout to his right.  

Summary: For being a mid-round rookie thrust into his NFL debut action on Lambeau Field, Zappe had a respectable effort. Now, most of the Patriots offense was short, conservative throws into the flat and passes that got the ball out of the rookie’s hand in a hurry. I saw only one highly impressive throw from him in this contest.  

Grade: C-
Season Grade: C-





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