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NFL QB Index, Week 4: Tua Tagovailoa vaults Patrick Mahomes to take No. 1 spot

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 3 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 4.

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 4

2023 stats: 3 games | 71.3 pct | 1,024 pass yds | 10.1 ypa | 8 pass TD | 2 INT | 8 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

There isn't a quarterback on earth playing better football than Tagovailoa, and no coach and quarterback are more in sync than Tagovailoa and Mike McDaniel. Just look at his perfect 16-for-16 first half in Sunday's 70-point outburst. Tagovailoa is putting together a special season, helping the Dolphins emerge as a new power in the AFC. I'm practically gobsmacked by how easy they're making it look right now. 

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7

2023 stats: 3 games | 65.5 pct | 803 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 7 pass TD | 2 INT | 103 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The win over the Bears was a classic Chiefs beatdown, and Mahomes was once again a central figure. His command of the offense was on full display all afternoon, effectively captured by one play in particular: an incredible, on-the-move, 37-yard throw to Justin Watson with the pass rush in Mahomes' grill. The QB could do no wrong, working Chicago's defense as if all 11 opponents were his marionettes. Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Watson, Travis Kelce and Jerick McKinnon all got involved in the passing game. They even pulled off their trademark inside forward toss for a touchdown. This was peak Chiefs, and near-peak Mahomes.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 6

2023 stats: 3 games | 72.7 pct | 728 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 5 pass TD | 4 INT | 89 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Strike up the band and circle the wagons, Bills fans: A rough Week 1 is now firmly in the rearview, and Allen is back to his old self. Allen didn't light up the stat sheet on Sunday because he didn't need to, thanks to short fields provided by Buffalo's defense. His best throw was a 35-yard dime to Gabe Davis down the sideline for a touchdown. He also threw an interception when aiming for Davis again, but we'll chalk that up to Kendall Fuller making a nice play on a 50/50 ball. Allen even logged his first rushing touchdown of the season, muscling through an arm tackle in the pocket and gliding across the goal line, hopping in the air and flipping the ball in celebration. That move drew the ire of Commanders fans; Allen responded by turning around and staring them down while walking away. Allen wasn't affected by Washington's vaunted defensive front, and the dominant Bills cruised to a win.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 4

2023 stats: 3 games | 74.4 pct | 939 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 6 pass TD | 0 INT | 28 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

It is truly a treat to watch Herbert operate this offense. His athleticism allows him to evade rushers who would bottle up many other starting quarterbacks, and because he has a big arm, no throw is out of the realm of possibility. Take his 20-yard completion to Keenan Allen on third-and-17 early in the fourth quarter, when Herbert rolled to his left away from pressure, reset his feet and fired a rocket between two closing defenders. Or scrub back to just before halftime, when Herbert launched a dime off his back foot to Josh Palmer down the sideline. That set up Donald Parham's second touchdown of the day, on a bullet Herbert fired from short range just out of the reach of Vikings linebacker Jordan Hicks. Herbert put together a fantastic game; he even got a little lucky on his go-ahead touchdown pass to Palmer, which should've been intercepted but was instead tipped right into Palmer's waiting arms. This one is worth a second watch, and thankfully, it produced the Chargers' first win of 2023.

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 4

2023 stats: 3 games | 67.7 pct | 640 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 100 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 1 fumble

Much like in Week 2, the Eagles thrived offensively in Week 3 because their ground game is cooking. Hurts put his chef's hat on, too, throwing for over 250 yards, and he likely would've had another touchdown pass had A.J. Brown remembered to use his hands in the end zone on a catchable ball. That didn't end up mattering, of course. What did matter was Hurts' ability to throw while being hit from behind, sending a wobbler through Tampa Bay's secondary to Olamide Zaccheaus for the game's first touchdown. He also scored on a butt-push sneak attempt, the second of two consecutive tries along the goal line. Hurts didn't necessarily hurt (pun unintended) the Eagles, who won with relative ease, but his first interception was a tough scene -- and also likely the product of miscommunication on what appeared to be a choice route. The other pick was just a great play made by Dee Delaney on a ball Hurts probably could've put a little more oomph into. As for the snaps in between the scores (and turnovers), Hurts was dialed in, connecting with Brown nine times for 131 yards. That rapport sure looked strong on Monday.

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 11

2023 stats: 3 games | 68.9 pct | 736 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 4 pass TD | 1 INT | 22 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

I'm giving Smith a new nickname -- Mount Geno -- because for the first half of Week 4, he resembled a volcano on the verge of erupting, moving the Seahawks consistently but failing to get into the end zone thanks to a number of negative outcomes (penalties, late-arriving passes). Smith finally erupted in the second half, finding a way to finish drives with a healthy balance between run and pass, making frequent connections with his tight ends and leaning on the hard running of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet. Smith wasn't spectacular -- his interception wasn't pretty -- but he kept this offense going, occasionally pulling off a heroic act or two and capping the day with a highlight: his 5-yard touchdown pass to Jake Bobo.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 6

2023 stats: 3 games | 73.3 pct | 608 pass yds | 7.1 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 193 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Jackson pieced together a couple of touchdown drives against the Colts, going 12 plays on the opening possession and 10 for another score in the third quarter. His performance in between, however, left a lot to be desired. Jackson struggled with ball security on a soggy day in Baltimore, fumbling twice (losing one). He completed the majority of his passes, but the Ravens' offense was forced to focus on the underneath attack and looked disjointed at times. Isaiah Likely dropped an on-target pass in overtime that almost certainly would have led to a game-winning field goal, and Jackson missed Zay Flowers on another crucial third-down attempt in the extra period. Jackson still made plenty of magic with his legs and was once again the main reason the Ravens had a chance to win, but it was a clunky outing. In an unlikely turn of events, Jackson failed to elevate the Ravens above the Colts, who sacked the famously elusive quarterback four times. He might still be scratching his head over how Indy managed to contain him.

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Year 2

2023 stats: 3 games | 67.0 pct | 736 pass yds | 8.1 ypa | 4 pass TD | 0 INT | 24 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

Purdy's best throws of Week 3 each went for touchdowns, the first delivered to surprising Thursday night standout Ronnie Bell in one-on-one coverage. The second effectively put away the win for the 49ers, when he lofted a ball toward Deebo Samuel's outside shoulder with New York's pass rush bearing down on him. The throw wasn't perfectly placed (likely because of the pressure), but it was good enough to make for a relatively easy catch for Samuel over a defender (Adoree' Jackson) who never found the ball. That was essentially the night for Purdy, who wasn't as sharp as he'd been in the first two weeks, but also dealt with plenty of pressure from the Giants. Naturally, Kyle Shanahan had an answer for New York's approach: Focus on the short game. That fit Purdy's skillset -- and fed his stat line -- quite well.

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 12

2023 stats: 3 games | 69.6 pct | 1,075 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 9 pass TD | 2 INT | 17 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The turnover-plagued Vikings couldn't avoid losing that battle again against the Chargers, but this time around, it felt unfair to Cousins. If we disregard the giveaways, he's having an excellent season, and even his game-sealing interception was a product more of misfortune than anything else. Let's rewind, though: Cousins put together a stellar touchdown drive midway through the second quarter, connecting twice with Justin Jefferson and capping it with a touchdown pass to Josh Oliver. He hooked up with nine different pass-catchers on the day, powering a Vikings offense that gained 345 of its 475 yards through the air. It would have been more if Minnesota were able to protect him better. It's remarkable how well Cousins can sling it when he has time to throw. He keyed a frantic comeback in the second half, dropping beauties on K.J. Osborn and Jefferson for consecutive touchdown drives that pushed the Vikings in front of the Chargers. He wasn't perfect, and he failed to convert on the doorstep of the end zone twice in the fourth quarter, but his Minnesota teammates need to help him out. He's playing well enough to have at least one win to his name through three weeks.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 8

2023 stats: 3 games | 69.9 pct | 819 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 2 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Goff is entering his golden era with the Lions, naysayers be damned. The offense sure is fun to watch when it's humming, and for much of a Week 3 win over Atlanta, it was a well-oiled machine. Goff completed two thirds of his passes for 243 yards and a touchdown while surprisingly only targeting four pass-catchers all afternoon. Amon-Ra St. Brown had a typically productive outing, but the real star of the show was rookie tight end Sam LaPorta, whom Goff found over the top for a 45-yard score in which LaPorta had 12 -- yes, TWELVE -- yards of separation at the moment the ball arrived. It wasn't a perfect day for Goff, who ran into a few brief ruts and put too much mustard on a pass over the middle intended for St. Brown, ending in Jessie Bates' third interception of the young season. But Goff was largely good. He even iced the game by running for a touchdown on a read option, fooling the seasoned Calais Campbell in the process. Keep rolling, Jared, and keep those shades handy for when you need to block out the haters.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: A furious first half of scoring saw Goff complete a number of tight-window passes, evade a sack to find tight end Sam LaPorta for an important gain and help Detroit put 27 points on the board before the break. A sleepier second half didn't matter much for the victorious Lions, who continue to win games because Goff is doing his job well.

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 3

2023 stats: 3 games | 64.6 pct | 736 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 3 pass TD | 2 INT | 59 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Last Sunday marked the second straight week in which Lawrence was just slightly off, living too much on the wrong side of the decreasing margins of an NFL game. He ripped a bullet toward the sideline on an early third down to the only place where Tim Jones could grab it, which was just slightly wide of being catchable in bounds. Lawrence remains on target underneath and over the middle, save for the one time he trusted his arm too much and threw a pick, hauled in by Texans linebacker Blake Cashman. It’s the outside targets that aren’t quite as on time or accurate as they need to be. This Jaguars offense as a whole is a little off right now, honestly. It wasn’t all on Lawrence, of course: Calvin Ridley dropped a beautiful ball from Lawrence that should have produced a touchdown, and Jamal Agnew fumbled after catching a Lawrence rocket over the middle. Lawrence also isn’t on the field goal team (one missed attempt, one blocked), nor does he cover kicks (don’t relive the kick-return touchdown, Jaguars fans). Lawrence is still a stud -- he pulled off one incredible magic act of a scramble for positive yards in this contest -- but he’s just not as sharp as he needs to be right now. He started to rediscover it a little too against Houston; perhaps it will carry over into Sunday’s London game vs. Atlanta.

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 4

2023 stats: 3 games | 55.4 pct | 563 pass yds | 4.7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Well, folks, the Bengals still have offensive issues. Boos rained down on Burrow and Co. in the first half of Monday night’s game against the Rams after Cincinnati’s offense proved it was still stuck in a thickening mud. The Bengals went 1-for-7 on third down and failed to reach the end zone in the first half, with Burrow resorting to boundary heaves to try to move the chains. But then, the third quarter arrived, and Burrow woke up. Credit the sudden involvement of the run game, which brought much-needed balance to an offense relying disproportionately on a physically limited Burrow and allowed the quarterback to let it rip in the direction of Ja’Marr Chase for a career-high 12 receptions. That drive turned things around for Burrow, who keyed a touchdown march that gave the Bengals a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. That was also just about it for the positives for Burrow, who still isn’t comfortable and isn’t afraid to admit he’s not fully healthy. It’s fair to wonder if the calf is preventing him from driving the ball forward, and as the ESPN broadcast noted, he’s showing some signs of rust due to missing practice reps during the week. Give the guy some help, Bengals: He can’t carry the team while he’s nursing a calf injury.

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 8

2023 stats: 3 games | 67.6 pct | 647 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 44 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Cowboys fans were chirping in my mentions all weekend about how unfairly I'd treated their quarterback, and for a moment, I thought they might be right. Were Jared Goff and Geno Smith really better than Prescott through two weeks? Well, they certainly were in Week 3. At face value, Prescott's numbers were still pretty solid, but Dallas failed to piece together enough positive plays to keep up with Arizona's surprisingly productive offense. The Cowboys failed to convert on the doorstep of the end zone, turning it over on downs on fourth-and-3 from the Cardinals’ 4 because Jake Ferguson and CeeDee Lamb couldn't get open in the end zone, and safety K'Von Wallace eliminated Prescott's chance of scrambling for a touchdown. Then they failed to score a touchdown again in the red zone, settling for a field goal to briefly cut Arizona’s lead to 21-16. And finally, with Dallas desperately needing a touchdown, the Cowboys' star quarterback threw an ugly end-zone interception on a pass tossed directly to Kyzir White, the underneath defender in triple coverage. White might have been able to make that interception with his eyes closed. Prescott played well between the 20s, but Dallas' struggles in the red zone directly contributed to their loss -- and in those moments, that's where the quarterback needs to be the star.

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 12

2023 stats: 3 games | 65.4 pct | 791 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 6 pass TD | 2 INT | 57 rush yd | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Wilson had one of his better performances as a Bronco in Week 3, but no one will remember it because Denver lost by 50. It’s truly an unfair outcome for a quarterback who looked much like he did in the first half of his Week 2 performance, piecing together a couple of quality scoring drives that didn’t matter much once Miami’s avalanche buried the Broncos by halftime. The preseason talk of a trimmer Wilson is showing in his performance, as he’s been quicker to escape and extend plays than he was a year ago. That’s how he threw his only passing touchdown of the day on an early third down, hitting Courtland Sutton coming across the back of the end zone. Russ’ teammates owe him an apology for allowing this to snowball on both sides, by the way: Not only did the defense give up 70 points (via 10 increasingly demoralizing touchdowns), but Sutton also fumbled possession away twice. Wilson can’t carry the ball for him, too.

Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers · Year 4

2023 stats: 3 games | 53.1 pct | 655 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 7 pass TD | 1 INT | 74 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

It felt like we were all witnessing Love’s maturation in real time during Sunday’s stirring win over the Saints. He began by channeling his inner Brett Favre, trying too hard to improvise and producing hectic action that likely raised the blood pressure of many Packers fans. He missed a shot downfield and was constantly operating out of structure in the first half, but oddly, it was kind of fun to see. What wasn’t enjoyable was seeing Love overshoot his intended target for an ugly interception early in the second half, but that also served as a turning point for him. From there, Love calmly surveyed the field, worked through his progressions and willingly took the checkdown consistently. This approach opened up Green Bay’s offense, keying a frantic fourth-quarter comeback in which he didn’t shy from taking chances when things broke down and willingly gave his guys chances to make plays in 50/50 situations. In fact, Love’s fade is quickly becoming one of my favorites among all quarterbacks; it’s typically quite accurate, even if it doesn’t always produce scores (although the one he tossed to Romeo Doubs was deserving of the pinched-fingers emoji). I enjoyed how he used his athleticism to squeeze some passes around rushers to open targets, and how could you not like his touchdown run on a fourth-down read option, which included a tasty juke? Love is far from a finished product, but it’s easy to see the potential.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: Love and the Packers waited until after halftime to show up on Thursday, with the QB throwing for 194 of his 246 passing yards in the final two quarters. He found success downfield in the second half, but bookended positive gains with interceptions in a double-digit home loss to the Lions.

Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 15

2023 stats: 3 games | 60.3 pct | 910 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 35 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Stafford generally has been good in 2023. He’s healthy and mostly back to his old form. But Monday night’s loss in Cincinnati did not feature this version of Stafford. The 35-year-old was under constant fire from an unrelenting Bengals pass rush primed to muscle its way past the Rams’ remade line, and the absence of Cooper Kupp became painfully apparent with each fruitless Rams drive. Stafford finished with two interceptions, but only one was truly his fault (the second was deflected at the line). What was more disheartening was how difficult it was to do the most simple things, because Stafford was constantly forced to improvise. And when he did do something well, it was often wiped out by penalty. He’s moving down this week, but he needs help, folks.

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · Year 7

2023 stats: 3 games | 63.7 pct | 678 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 83 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 4 fumbles

After a week in which all of Northeast Ohio (and beyond) spent time researching Watson's massive contract, searching desperately for an escape route, Browns fans received much-needed comfort in the form of a quality day from the quarterback. He finished with just six incompletions against Tennessee, didn't make a devastating mistake (though he flirted with one), continued to nurture his connections with Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones, and even got Elijah Moore involved. Watson tossed two touchdown passes and improvised enough to help Cleveland compile second-half TD drives of 10 and 11 plays, putting away a game in which the Browns truly only needed two scores to win. The tape isn't quite as pretty as the numbers -- Watson's internal clock still seems to be a tick slow -- but it's better than where he was a week ago.

Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 6

2023 stats: 3 games | 66.7 pct | 636 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 4 pass TD | 1 INT | 30 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

The Cinderella story that the Buccaneers were authoring hit a rough patch Monday night, when the Buccaneers faced their first legitimately tough defense of 2023. Instead of comfortably surveying the field from the pocket against Philadelphia, Mayfield suffered through a wart-riddled game in the prime-time spotlight. He missed a number of targets at a variety of depths, and with rain falling in sheets in Tampa, he threw a late pass over the middle toward Chris Godwin, which Eagles safety Reed Blankenship anticipated with ease, resulting in an interception. The Eagles outgained the Bucs 472-174, and Tampa was fortunate to even end up with that many yards. Mayfield was probably asked to do too much -- the Bucs didn’t pick up a first down on the ground until the fourth quarter -- but he also didn’t live up to the expectation he’d set for himself with his play in the first two weeks. It’s a step back against a good opponent, but not a death knell.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 3

2023 stats: 3 games | 64.8 pct | 748 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 5 pass TD | 2 INT | 53 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

This felt like a drive-by performance for Jones, in that if you didn’t pay close attention in the key moments, you’d have missed most of what mattered. That’s no fault of his own, really; New York boasts a very good defense, and the Patriots were bent on pounding it on the ground (see: 35 carries between Ezekiel Elliott and Rhamondre Stevenson). Jones had some nice moments, though, with the best producing a touchdown when his quick recognition of a blown Jets coverage prompted him to drop a pass over the defense to a wide-open Pharaoh Brown. Other than that, it was fairly pedestrian. What else would you expect from a 15-10 win?

C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans · Rookie

2023 stats: 3 games | 64.5 pct | 906 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 0 INT | 35 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

During the pre-draft process, Bryce Young emerged as the favorite QB in the 2023 class. While everyone touted the Alabama product, I wondered if folks might be overlooking the draft’s most pro-ready QB -- at least in my humble opinion. Through three weeks, Stroud is proving me right. He’s settling into this offense incredibly quickly, is unfazed by the pass rush, has no problem calmly surveying the field and is trusting his renowned accuracy. It paid off in droves in Sunday’s road blowout of the Jaguars -- just look at fellow rookie Tank Dell’s stat line for further proof. My notes were filled with scribbles raving about how much Stroud trusts his offensive line and the play design. The most striking example of this came on his touchdown pass to Dell: Stroud stepped up in the pocket and lofted a pass away from the nearest defender, not only connecting with Dell, but giving him plenty of room to run into the end zone. He’s thriving, folks, and first-time offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik deserves a ton of credit for scheming through the strengths of his quarterback.

Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints · Year 10

2023 stats: 3 games | 65.5 pct | 636 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Carr exited the Saints’ Week 3 loss early in the third quarter after suffering a shoulder injury, but he had been playing well prior to the sack that forced him out of the game. He had been frustrating to watch in the first half of the first two games this season, but this contest was a departure from that pattern. Carr’s touchdown pass through traffic to Jimmy Graham was very pretty, and his first-down connection with Chris Olave was an excellent example of a great throw and fantastic catch. New Orleans is still too one-dimensional, though. It will be interesting to see if the offense opens up with the return of Alvin Kamara, whom the Saints have certainly missed so far this season. We’ll see if Carr is able to suit up for Kamara’s debut.

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 2

2023 stats: 3 games | 59.6 pct | 689 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 4 pass TD | 3 INT | 9 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Pickett looked more composed, comfortable and confident on Sunday night than he had in either of Pittsburgh’s first two games. He managed to make some key plays with his legs, and delivered a couple of pretty touchdown passes to Calvin Austin III and Pat Freiermuth. For the first time in 2023, Pickett didn’t throw an interception. It was encouraging to see him produce a more encouraging game after two weeks of struggles. For this, Pickett receives a bump this week.

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 5

2023 stats: 3 games | 64.9 pct | 562 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 107 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Jones' performance against the 49ers was passable, according to the eye test. But it was statistically forgettable. He missed some throws, had other on-target passes dropped by his intended targets and was downright unlucky on his interception, a result of well-timed contact made with Darren Waller as the ball arrived. It certainly wasn't the kind of performance we saw from Jones in the second half of New York's Week 2 win over Arizona, but San Francisco is not Arizona. Saquon Barkley's absence had a significantly negative effect on New York's offense, putting Jones and the Giants behind the sticks frequently. That's a recipe for defeat against the 49ers. 

Jimmy Garoppolo
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 10

2023 stats: 3 games | 68.1 pct | 709 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 5 pass TD | 6 INT | 19 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Like most of his Week 2 performance, Garoppolo’s Week 3 showing was a tough watch. He clearly has a connection with Davante Adams and welcomed Jakobi Meyers back into the starting lineup, leaning on both heavily (to the tune of 32 combined targets and 20 completions). Josh Jacobs was better than he was in his terrible outing in Buffalo. And still, the Raiders lost. Garoppolo threw three interceptions, two that ended promising Raiders drives and allowed Pittsburgh to build a lead. He completed 28-of-44 passes, but the mistakes largely outweighed the positives. And what’s most concerning to me is how he’s looked in the pocket this season: uncomfortable, occasionally frazzled and indecisive. Against quality pass-rushing units like Pittsburgh’s, this is a recipe for disaster. The three picks proved that. Garoppolo entered concussion protocol after playing every snap in the game and his status for Week 4 is unclear as of this writing.

Sam Howell
Washington Commanders · Year 2

2023 stats: 3 games | 65.7 pct | 671 pass yds | 6.8 ypa | 3 pass TD | 5 INT | 42 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

After two exhilarating weeks from Howell, he descended back to earth in rapid fashion against the Bills. Howell was intercepted on a pass he likely didn’t believe linebacker Terrel Bernard was capable of catching on the Commanders’ first drive of the game. He followed that up by throwing another pick off his back foot while under pressure, floating one for Micah Hyde to snag. Another Howell floater gave Tre’Davious White an opportunity to make an acrobatic play (spoiler: he did), intercepting a pass in the end zone to vanquish another scoring attempt, and his final interception -- a pick-six thrown to edge rusher A.J. Epenesa in a sequence more likely to be seen in a game of Madden than in real life -- capped an ugly, forgettable, downright depressing outing for one of my favorite young passers. Everyone has a bad day every once in a while. Howell’s arrived in Week 3.

Andy Dalton
Carolina Panthers · Year 13

2023 stats: 2 games | 58.6 pct | 361 pass yds | 6.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 11 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The Panthers’ loss to the Seahawks was very much a Dalton Scale game: some good, some bad, and in the end, just about an average performance from the QB filling in for the injured Bryce Young. Dalton did enough to move the Panthers into scoring position, correctly surveyed and found DJ Chark Jr. wide open for a touchdown, and kept this game close by delivering under pressure applied by a Seahawks defense that was not afraid to blitz him often. The plan calls for Young to return as soon as possible, but if things were different -- if the coaching staff was fighting for its job, for example -- Dalton was good enough to make a case for another go. He certainly justified his standing as one of the most trustworthy backups in the league.

Gardner Minshew
Indianapolis Colts · Year 6

2023 stats: 3 games | 66.7 pct | 398 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 3 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Minshew started in place of Anthony Richardson (concussion protocol) in Week 3. Like he did in a relief performance in Week 2, Minshew did enough to help the Colts win. He dropped a beauty into Zack Moss’ arms down the sideline for an early touchdown, found Alec Pierce for a couple of pretty completions and connected with Michael Pittman Jr. in the crucial final moments of a tight game to set up the game-tying Matt Gay field goal. He also held onto the ball too long and looked generally indecisive in the pocket against an aggressive Ravens pass rush. It wasn’t a special day, but Minshew got the job done.

Joshua Dobbs
Arizona Cardinals · Year 6

2023 stats: 3 games | 72.0 pct | 549 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 93 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Folks, gather round and prepare your confetti: Joshua Dobbs is a winning starting quarterback in the NFL! Dobbs got over the hump and into the winner's circle in a stunning Week 3 victory over the Cowboys, with a beautiful blend of exciting, and at times unhinged, quarterbacking. He only threw for 189 yards -- 69 of those yards came on one pivotal fourth quarter completion -- but he rushed for 55 yards on six attempts, setting the tone with a 44-yard gain around the left in the first minute of the game. He avoided catastrophe, leaned on a shockingly effective ground game, and did just enough -- including building a nice connection with Marquise Brown -- to help the Cardinals convert on scoring opportunities. Dak Prescott outplayed him statistically, but Dobbs came away with the win -- which is not a QB stat but does feel good for a previously winless team.

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 12

2023 stats: 3 games | 59.0 pct | 548 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 1 pass TD | 3 INT | 17 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

A week after Tannehill dropped a 246-yard passing day on the Chargers in an overtime win, the veteran reverted to the disappointing version we saw in Tennessee's Week 1 loss to New Orleans. His mistakes against the Browns weren't nearly as severe -- he finished without committing a turnover, unlike his three-giveaway season debut -- but Tannehill was as ineffective as ever, finishing with only 104 yards. With zero help from the running game (Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears combined for 26 yards on 15 carries), Tannehill wasn’t much more than a sitting duck heaving prayers down the sidelines for DeAndre Hopkins and Chris Moore. Otherwise, the whole unit was useless -- much like the other offenses that have had the misfortune of facing Cleveland's elite defense in 2023.

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Year 2

2023 stats: 3 games | 62.5 pct | 553 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 41 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

One week after Ridder helped the Falcons erase a 12-point fourth quarter deficit in a win over Green Bay, he found the going much more difficult against Detroit. It didn't help that Atlanta's vaunted rushing attack no-showed in Week 3, producing just 45 yards between Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier's 17 attempts. Atlanta's shift to throwing the ball more didn't help Ridder. His 38 pass attempts were a career-high, the Falcons essentially abandoned the element that might have kept the Lions’ defense honest. Atlanta was trying to overcome a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, which grew to 17 in the fourth, but that might be too much to put on Ridder at this point. He suffered as a result, failing to lift the Falcons' points-starved offense as most inexperienced quarterbacks would.

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 3

2023 stats: 3 games | 58.0 pct | 526 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 3 pass TD | 4 INT | 109 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

I came to a deeply disappointing conclusion late in the Bears’ loss to the Chiefs: Fields’ best chance of success in 2023 is likely, once again, as a runner. That was where he made the biggest difference in Week 3, showing off the rare athleticism that can tie an opposing defense in knots. As for the throwing part, well, when he drops to pass, he either doesn’t have enough time to throw (i.e., Chris Jones beating Darnell Wright to force Fields to ditch his progression and search for an escape route), or it seems he doesn’t trust himself enough to take a chance. In Fields’ defense, he did take a handful of chances against Kansas City, including a beautiful sideline shot that DJ Moore dropped. Fields also paid for his risks, such as when he threw an interception (which was tipped but doomed nonetheless) on the next play. There isn’t a lot to like with the Chicago offense -- starting up front -- but Fields is still quite good at improvising. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy did a better job of rolling him out, which should be a staple going forward because of the offensive line’s issues. Oh, and get him running more; it’s probably the Bears’ only hope right now.

Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Year 3

2023 stats: 3 games | 52.4 pct | 467 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 43 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Wilson’s lack of production has placed him in the center of critics’ crosshairs across the football world, and while such backlash (especially the most extreme takes) is always at least a little bit unfair, criticism is warranted. The glimpses of good are far too sparse to give Jets fans hope entering every Sunday. He holds onto the ball too long, doesn’t sense pressure and is just too slow to make a decision in most scenarios. Every once in a while, he rips a beauty of a throw -- much like he did at that famed BYU pro day -- but it’s not nearly frequent enough. His touchdown drive late in the Jets’ Week 3 loss was pretty, and one has to wonder whether he succeeded because the sense of urgency was dialed up to 10. Perhaps that’s the answer, because I haven’t seen anything else working.

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