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NFL QB Index, Week 2: Tua Tagovailoa soars into top five; Jordan Love surges in rankings

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 1 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 2.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7

2023 stats: 1 game | 53.8 pct | 226 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 45 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Mahomes was typically excellent, exhibiting his trademark blend of patience and improvisational skill in Week 1. He only missed one important throw, firing a third-down pass just a little too high for Skyy Moore. It was his teammates, of course, who failed him. Kadarius Toney has already been lambasted enough, and he wasn't the only flop (though he was the biggest). For the first time in quite a while, Mahomes and Co. -- notably missing Travis Kelce -- couldn't pull off another thrilling comeback.

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 4

2023 stats: 1 game | 66.7 pct | 170 pass yds | 5.2 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 37 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Hurts' two best throws in Week 1 were vastly different. His first, a touchdown pass on a sprintout to the right, padded Philadelphia's early lead and made it look like the Eagles might cruise to victory over the Patriots. But by the time he made his second -- a beautiful dime dropped on A.J. Brown along the sideline that was ultimately ruled an incompletion on review in the fourth quarter -- the game had become a nail-biter. New England's defense largely contained Hurts and the Eagles, forcing him to accept underneath targets and take what the Patriots gave him. Much of what Hurts accomplished was within Philadelphia's offense. He wasn't great because New England didn't allow him to be. Hurts also fumbled away a possession late, with disaster ultimately averted thanks to the Eagles' defense and Kayshon Boutte's inability to toe-tap in the biggest moment of the game. We won't look back on this as a signature day for Hurts, but he did enough to help the Eagles beat a Patriots group that might surprise some folks.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: As in Week 1, Hurts wasn't spectacular on Thursday night. In fact, at times, it seemed there was reason to be concerned about the state of the Eagles' offense. But Philadelphia's commitment to the run -- including two butt-push touchdowns for Hurts -- lifted the group out of the rut. Hurts' majestic touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith was pretty nice, too.

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 4

2023 stats: 1 game | 62.2 pct | 466 pass yds | 10.4 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 5 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Dolphins fans who have longed for Tagovailoa to outplay Justin Herbert lived their dream in Week 1. The yardage total (466) speaks for itself, but what was more encouraging about Tagovailoa's 2023 debut was how he looked when racking up his astronomical numbers. Tagovailoa commanded the offense, appeared comfortable in and out of the pocket, found open targets and even dropped a few jaw-dropping dimes, including two in the most important drive of the game late in the fourth quarter. Tyreek Hill's 215 yards don't happen if Tagovailoa doesn't put the ball on him at the perfect time in key moments. Enjoy this jump in the rankings, Dolphins fans -- your quarterback earned it with a statement of a performance.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 4

2023 stats: 1 game | 69.7 pct | 228 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 18 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Herbert wasn't bad in the loss to Miami. In fact, he was very solid. He just wasn't the better quarterback in the game. The Chargers racked up 233 yards on the ground, taking away some of the yardage share from Herbert, but what mattered most was how Herbert performed in the biggest moments. And it wasn't great, folks: Herbert was pressured into an intentional grounding, then sacked on two of the final three plays of Los Angeles' last possession. This shouldn't wipe out what Herbert did well. He finished 23-of-33 for 229 yards and a touchdown, and he kept the Chargers in the thick of a shootout. He operated the offense effectively. He just wasn't great.

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 3

2023 stats: 1 game | 75.0 pct | 241 pass yds | 7.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 21 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Lawrence improvised early and showed off his rare talent when he rolled away from the rush toward his left, flipped his hips and found Calvin Ridley open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. That same talent was evident when he squeezed a bullet through a needle's eye to Ridley for an incredible completion, proving this is going to be a vital connection for the Jaguars this season. Then came the dimes: a beauty of a pass along the boundary to Zay Jones for a touchdown, a masterpiece of a deep ball to Evan Engram for a big gain and another difficult, on-the-run completion to Jones that set up Travis Etienne's game-sealing touchdown run. Lawrence's stat line included an interception, but it wasn't truly his fault, as the ball was deflected off the hands of his intended target. Lawrence capitalized in almost every key moment (save for short-yardage situations, which the Jaguars will have to improve on) and led the Jaguars to a gritty season-opening win. Expect more of this from a star who is blossoming before our eyes.

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 4

2023 stats: 1 game | 45.2 pct | 82 pass yds | 2.6 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | -1 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

With his rain-soaked mop flopping over his Bengals headband, Burrow tossed his helmet onto a pillar on the Bengals' sideline in Cleveland, plopping onto the bench with a helpless look on his face. No matter how hard he tried, the new $275 million man couldn't cash even the smallest of checks in Week 1. The Browns never afforded Burrow the time to get comfortable, and the rain was as relentless a presence as Cleveland's pass rush, the combination making for an ugly day. Burrow finished with the third-fewest passing yards (82) of a QB to make at least 30 attempts with zero picks in a game since 1950, per NFL Research. The numbers matched the tape. Tee Higgins didn't catch any of his eight targets, and the Browns put the entire Bengals offense in clamps all afternoon. Myles Garrett's sack of Burrow on fourth-and-4 in the fourth quarter perfectly captured the most frustrating day of Burrow's career. The good news: It's only Week 1.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 6

2023 stats: 1 game | 77.3 pct | 169 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 0 pass TD | 1 INT | 38 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

As expected, Jackson's first game in Todd Monken's offense wasn't perfect. In fact, it was sloppy at times. Jackson threw an ugly, off-platform interception, was careless with the ball when scrambling (fumbling twice, with one ending in the hands of the Texans) and threw a wounded duck of a pass over the middle that didn't matter only because of a defensive pass interference penalty. But the good parts were very encouraging. Jackson quickly established a rapport with rookie Zay Flowers, an offseason darling who lived up to expectation in Week 1. He dropped a pass into the waiting arms of Odell Beckham Jr. for the latter's first reception as a Raven. His pass to J.K. Dobbins set up the Ravens for a Justice Hill rushing score. And he was dynamic, as usual, when it came to improvising. Now, it's about building on that start.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 6

2023 stats: 1 game | 70.7 pct | 236 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 1 pass TD | 3 INT | 36 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

As far as Allen is concerned, MetLife Stadium might as well have been built out of kryptonite. His superhero abilities never seem to penetrate the walls of the facility, based on how his last two outings have gone there against the Jets. Allen's Monday night was eerily similar to his showing a year ago, when he struggled with turnovers against an opportunistic defense. Allen's first interception was essentially an arm punt, but he made a bad decision on a prayer of an off-balance heave over the middle, resulting in Jordan Whitehead's second interception of the night. His third pick might as well have been telegraphed from the International Space Station, with Whitehead once again in perfect position to receive the message. Add in a fumble caused by running into his own teammate, and you get a nightmare of an opening night for Allen, who was visibly frustrated with his performance afterward. Even his passing touchdown to Stefon Diggs was questionable, as Allen just barely avoided exceeding the line of scrimmage when releasing the throw. We'll see if this game ends up mattering much by the end of the season, but for one week, it was nothing but bad news.

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Year 2

2023 stats: 1 game | 65.5 pct | 220 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 20 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Perhaps Merriam-Webster should include a photo of Purdy alongside the definition of smooth in its next dictionary. Purdy is one of the NFL's coolest cats in the pocket. If anyone was concerned about lingering elbow issues after he suffered a UCL injury in the NFC title game, I can guarantee they feel just fine about it now. Purdy put together an excellent performance, delivering fantastic strikes to Brandon Aiyuk for two touchdowns and connecting with Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey in a resounding blowout win over the Steelers. The only teammate he struggled to connect with was tight end George Kittle, and history tells us they'll iron that out over time. This 49ers team is primed to chase a title, and Purdy looks more than fit to lead them there.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 8

2023 stats: 1 game | 62.9 pct | 253 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | -1 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

I was shocked to see folks on the internet quickly build a narrative centered on Goff underachieving in Week 1. Sure, his stat line wasn't spectacular, but he didn't make any crushing mistakes, stood tall in the face of frequent pressure, operated effectively within the offense, spread the ball around the field and came through in a few key moments that tilted the game in favor of Detroit. I'm still not sure he intended to throw his pivotal third-down pass on the game-winning drive to Josh Reynolds, but guess what? He completed it -- with a defender bearing down on him, no less, leading to Detroit's go-ahead touchdown. Goff did his job well enough that I found myself surprised by his downfield connections on a few occasions. He played an important part in a big season-opening win. And most importantly, when the lights burned their brightest, Goff didn't wilt.

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 12

2023 stats: 1 game | 79.4 pct | 177 pass yds | 5.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 1 rush yd | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

This is the version of Wilson most Broncos fans expected to see a year ago. He appeared much more comfortable and in command of the offense in his first game under Sean Payton, spreading the ball among a variety of targets and improvising when necessary. Such improvisation produced two touchdown passes that were nearly identical, with Wilson rolling right and firing bullets to open targets (Lil’Jordan Humphrey and Courtland Sutton) along the back line of the end zone for scores. Wilson wasn’t outrageously productive, but he was consistent, operated at a quality pace and never looked overwhelmed as he so often under Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos were much more organized as a whole, too. The lone negative: Denver didn’t win.

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 8

2023 stats: 1 game | 54.2 pct | 143 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Prescott didn’t do anything special in Week 1 because he didn’t need to. Dallas’ success on defense and special teams handled the job for him. Prescott posted a pedestrian passing line, going 13-of-24 for 143 yards. He overthrew CeeDee Lamb in the end zone, and largely resorted to finding open targets underneath. Tony Pollard scored two rushing touchdowns, while Prescott’s longest completion of the night came in the first quarter on a pass to Lamb, who juked a defender and took it 49 yards before being forced out at the Giants’ 19. That was about it for the Cowboys’ star quarterback; nothing more to see here.

Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 15

2023 stats: 1 game | 63.2 pct | 334 pass yds | 8.8 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | 11 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Stafford racked up 334 passing yards by relying on the likes of Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell, who each finished with 119 receiving yards in a win over the Seahawks. Yes, that’s the Rams in 2023, a team lacking star power but still finding ways to win, thanks to Stafford. It’s remarkable, too, how much an improved offensive line can help a quarterback. Stafford’s outing stands as proof. He’s healthy, he’s sharp and he’s once again a winner, at least for a week. Welcome back, Matthew.

Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers · Year 4

2023 stats: 1 game | 55.6 pct | 245 pass yds | 9.1 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT | 12 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Now that is how you start the post-Aaron Rodgers era. Love looked like a player who had the benefit of three seasons to marinate behind Rodgers, appearing composed and prepared to run the offense as Matt LaFleur intended. The fourth-year passer was sharp throughout most of the Week 1 win over the Bears, firing three touchdown passes and even finding a way to turn apparent disaster into a positive outcome, throwing a back-foot rainbow to a wide-open Luke Musgrave, who didn’t score only because he stumbled. No matter: Love threw a perfect fade to Romeo Doubs on the next play, driving a dagger into the hearts of Bears fans and capping a resounding debut as Green Bay’s permanent starter.

Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints · Year 10

2023 stats: 1 game | 69.7 pct | 305 pass yds | 9.2 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

One doesn’t simply step into a new environment and thrive right away. It takes time. Carr proved this with his performance in Week 1, struggling amid frequent pressure (he was pressured on 51.4 percent of dropbacks in the game, per Next Gen Stats). But good signs were there early on: Carr connected with Michael Thomas twice early in this game and could have done so a third time had he not short-armed a throw along the goal line. Luckily for him, the Saints were playing a Titans team that lacked offensive firepower, affording Carr time to get acclimated. He did just that, establishing a rapport with receiver Rashid Shaheed, whom Carr found on a double move down the sideline for the most important touchdown of the day. He went back to Shaheed again late to help the Saints ice the game.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 3

2023 stats: 1 game | 64.8 pct | 316 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 15 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Let’s take a moment to applaud Jones for his persistence and fortitude. Jones and the Patriots easily could have laid down and accepted defeat to the Eagles after his off-target throw to Kendrick Bourne resulted in a Darius Slay pick-six. How did he respond, you ask? Quite well. Jones bounced back from the early mistake by stringing together completions to a variety of targets -- Mike Gesicki, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Demario Douglas and Ty Montgomery all caught passes from Jones on the team’s first scoring drive. Jones capped an impressive possession by lofting a beauty over Reed Blankenship to Hunter Henry for a nine-yard touchdown. He didn’t look away from Bourne after the early miscue, either: Jones and Bourne hooked up for two touchdowns. In the end, Jones’ efforts weren’t quite enough to push the Patriots to victory, but he was certainly impressive in chunks of the game. I like where he’s headed under the watchful eye of Bill O’Brien.

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 11

2023 stats: 1 game | 61.5 pct | 112 pass yds | 4.3 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

This wasn’t the start most in Seattle hoped to see. Smith’s first half against the Rams featured a handful of quick completions underneath, brief Jaxon Smith-Njigba involvement and a devastating DK Metcalf double move that produced Seattle’s lone touchdown. There just wasn’t much to be had in the second half for the Seahawks, who found themselves trailing by 11 early in the fourth quarter. Smith didn’t have a ton of time to operate, his receivers struggled to get open quickly and when the deficit became significant, the Seahawks were forced to throw. Smith couldn’t throw them out of that hole.

Jimmy Garoppolo
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 10

2023 stats: 1 game | 76.9 pct | 200 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 11 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

The Week 1 win over the Broncos was a classic Garoppolo performance filled with minor peaks and valleys, an occasional surprise, an injury scare and a thrilling finish. At first blush, folks might think Garoppolo’s favorite target is going to be Jakobi Meyers. He did catch two touchdown passes, after all, but he also benefited from avoiding Pat Surtain II for most of the day, thanks to the presence of Davante Adams. Those were the two main characters in Garoppolo’s Sunday sonnet, in which Garoppolo threw an ill-advised pass into traffic (producing an end zone interception) and wasn’t perfect with his accuracy, but also dropped a handful of dimes on Meyers and Adams (including two perfectly placed touchdown passes to the former). Garoppolo lucked out on a risky throw to Austin Hooper, and capped off the comeback by running for a first down coming out of the two-minute warning. Yep, a typical day for Jimmy G.

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · Year 7

2023 stats: 1 game | 55.2 pct | 154 pass yds | 5.3 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 45 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Watson's first outing of 2023 was average, but still worthy of a passing grade. Early pressure forced Watson out of his comfort zone against the Bengals, and amid bad weather, he sent a number of passes into the dirt, several feet short of his intended target. But he also engineered a few quality drives (including one that ended due to a Jerome Ford fumble), and capped off the victory via a touchdown pass to Harrison Bryant. Watson had one “wow” throw on the day -- a dime dropped between two defenders into the arms of Donovan Peoples-Jones -- but that was about it for thrilling plays. He threw an ugly interception on a deflected pass, and he ran for a score, too. In total, that was enough for the Browns to advance to Week 2 as a winner.

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 12

2023 stats: 1 game | 75 pct | 344 pass yds | 7.8 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 7 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

I’ve seen enough insurance advertisements this offseason to understand the importance of protection. Cousins, however, played as if he was told he was invincible in Week 1. The veteran was careless with the football all afternoon, fumbling twice and throwing an interception. The turnovers robbed the Vikings of scoring chances throughout the first half. Tampa Bay only turned one of the takeaways into points (a field goal), but by the time Baker Mayfield started to settle in and find a rhythm, it became clear the Vikings had wasted a golden opportunity. Cousins did find some success thanks to creative route concepts that got rookie Jordan Addison open for a score, but Minnesota’s first-half failures made Justin Jefferson’s 150-yard day feel hollow. Minnesota’s inability to convert on its final possession -- and its failure to get a stop and regain possession late -- brought back unsavory memories of how last season ended for the Vikings. Unlike the bulk of last year, Cousins couldn’t lead the team to a narrow victory.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL UPDATE: After two weeks, it's become painfully clear the Vikings have problems with turnovers. This time, though, the primary culprits were Cousins' teammates. Cousins had a very solid bounce-back performance and racked up big numbers because he was forced to try to dig the Vikings out of a hole. Although they lost, Cousins' fight to the very end was commendable.

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 5

2023 stats: 1 game | 53.6 pct | 104 pass yds | 3.7 ypa | 0 pass TD | 2 INT | 43 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Nightmarish is an understatement when describing the Giants’ Week 1 loss. But first, let’s talk about the positives: Jones engineered a quality opening drive, helping the Giants move down to the Dallas 8-yard line with a balanced blend of run and pass. The first wheel fell off Big Blue’s bus, though, when Andrew Thomas committed a false start. A second wheel careened off when center John Michael Schmitz snapped a grounder to the left of Jones, and the third wheel -- this time, coming from the rear drivetrain -- went flying when Dallas blocked Graham Gano’s field goal attempt and Noah Igbinoghene returned it 58 yards for a touchdown. Jones found himself in a hellscape for the rest of the game, facing near-constant harassment from Dallas’ defense. In one instance, two Dallas defenders forced Jones to the sideline, where he foolishly attempted to salvage the play by tossing a pass that was intercepted by Stephon Gilmore. Even when he connected with a target, things went haywire: One pass to Saquon Barkley was quickly popped into the air for DaRon Bland to return for a touchdown. Jones’ best pass of the night ended in disaster when Isaiah Hodgins had the ball punched out downfield. By the time the fire burned itself to mere embers and the Giants were reduced to ash, the scoreboard read 40-0, with Dallas holding the advantage.

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 3

2023 stats: 1 game | 64.9 pct | 216 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 59 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

For all the optimism the Bears carried into the season, the same problems still exist. Fields is running entirely too often to operate this offense consistently and efficiently. He tied for the most rushing attempts for Chicago in Week 1, and the vast majority weren’t designed runs, but scrambles attempted out of necessity. Chicago has some talent on the outside that Fields can use to his advantage. His touchdown pass to Darnell Mooney was an example of the offense’s potential. But Chase Claypool was a non-factor, and the scoreboard deficit put Fields in a bad spot. He didn’t help himself with his pick-six thrown directly to Quay Walker, whom Fields must have not seen when firing a pass over the middle. In total, it wasn’t the type of performance Bears fans were hoping to see against a Packers team that finally seemed beatable. Fields is only partially responsible for the outcome.

Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 6

2023 stats: 1 game | 61.8 pct | 173 pass yds | 5.1 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 11 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Defensive coordinator Brian Flores made a regrettable decision that swung Week 1’s Bucs-Vikings game in favor of Tampa Bay when he decided to drop eight defenders into coverage late in the first half. Mayfield quickly seized the opportunity, firing his first impressive throw of the day down the seam between two defenders to Chris Godwin, converting a key third down on a drive that ended in a beautiful strike down the middle of the field to Mike Evans for a 28-yard touchdown. Most of this game was defined by quick decisions made simpler for Mayfield via shorter routes, but the old Mayfield -- the version that once owned the hearts of Browns fans everywhere -- resurfaced once he settled in. Flores’ decision to again drop eight burned him again when Mayfield had time to survey and find rookie Trey Palmer on a drag route along the goal line for Tampa Bay’s go-ahead touchdown. It isn’t Mayfield’s fault Flores made those calls. The QB just happened to be the perfect guy to capitalize, starting his time in Tampa Bay with an encouraging win, even if he didn’t wow onlookers statistically.

Sam Howell
Washington Commanders · Year 2

2023 stats: 1 game | 61.3 pct | 202 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 11 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

Howell’s first game as Washington’s full-time starter was a bit of a roller coaster. At times, he tried to do too much. On one pass drop, Howell sensed pressure, attempted to evade it and ended up being stripped on a sack for a fumble returned for a touchdown. But in other instances, Howell’s improvisation elevated the Commanders, like when he rolled to his left, flipped his hips forward and fired a dart to Brian Robinson for a touchdown. Howell dropped a dime on Curtis Samuel, leading to a field goal just before halftime of the Week 1 game against the Cardinals. Howell also weathered a vicious blow from Kyzir White that drew a penalty flag. Howell took his lumps -- Zaven Collins picked off a tipped pass -- but the QB scrambled for a go-ahead touchdown that proved crucial. It wasn’t perfect, but it was fun and it produced a win.

Anthony Richardson
Indianapolis Colts · Rookie

2023 stats: 1 game | 64.9 pct | 223 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 40 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The potential is so visible with Richardson. It’s evident in his arm strength, his pocket poise and his ability to take off for positive gains. It was also painfully clear when Richardson exited with an injury late against the Jaguars, as Indianapolis ran into a brick wall along the goal line with Gardner Minshew at the controls. But let’s stick with the results from the fourth overall pick: First off, he was a bit of a mixed bag, which isn’t a bad thing. He missed on occasion, but he also threw the ball better than I expected, showing progress in his intermediate accuracy. It wasn’t a sweeping improvement, but after watching him rip missiles over the middle and miss his targets in the preseason, I was very encouraged by what I saw on Sunday. Richardson looked remarkably comfortable for a quarterback with limited collegiate experience and zero NFL experience. His interception in the fourth quarter was one of the fatal blows to the Colts’ hopes, but Indianapolis has to be excited. And for those expecting the Colts to use Richardson like a young Cam Newton, they saw their prophecy fulfilled with Richardson’s first career touchdown, a short rushing score via a play that was a staple in Newton’s Carolina days: QB power. That’s just flat-out fun stuff.

C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans · Rookie

2023 stats: 1 game | 63.6 pct | 242 pass yds | 5.5 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | 20 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Stroud didn’t do anything that would grab the attention of the greater NFL world in his professional debut, but the small details were encouraging. He relied heavily on veteran Robert Woods to move the chains, settled in during the second half and even used his legs a little bit. Stroud’s trademark accuracy didn’t show up in his attempts outside the numbers, but I give him a bit of a pass, considering how often he was facing pressure from Baltimore’s relentless defense, which was clearly bent on making him uncomfortable. Stroud can be much better on passes down the sideline, but considering how Houston shortened the game for him amid so much defensive heat, it was a positive start for a quarterback with zero regular season experience.

Bryce Young
Carolina Panthers · Rookie

2023 stats: 1 game | 52.6 pct | 146 pass yds | 3.8 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 17 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Young never showed signs of being an overwhelmed rookie making his professional debut, but he also never looked entirely comfortable. Atlanta forced Young into some quick decisions with its pass rush, and that’s where Young struggled to consistently deliver accurate passes. His best drive of the day -- a 12-play, 75-yard scoring march -- was peppered with short passes and ended with -- you guessed it -- a quick throw to tight end Hayden Hurst for Carolina’s only touchdown of the day. There were things to like, but he can’t rescue the Panthers on his own -- especially not in his first NFL game.

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 2

2023 stats: 1 game | 67.4 pct | 232 pass yds | 5.0 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

So much for the preseason hype. After a strong showing in the preparatory period, Pickett regressed to a version that had Steelers fans concerned in the first half of last season. It didn’t help that San Francisco dug Pittsburgh into a deep deficit incredibly quickly, forcing Pickett to throw 46 passes behind an offensive line that certainly didn’t live up to expectations. Pickett didn’t do much to aid his cause, either. His attempt to throw Diontae Johnson open resulted in an interception, and his second pick -- a bullet fired into double coverage -- was even worse. Fred Warner deserves an assist for tipping that pass to Talanoa Hufanga. Pickett, meanwhile, deserves a prolonged film session to see that he isn’t a superhero. On the bright side, he was much better on quick throws (114.6 passer rating on throws released in under 2.5 seconds versus 49.3 on passes over 2.5 seconds), including the throw he placed perfectly into the hands of Pat Freiermuth for Pittsburgh’s only touchdown. But he can’t try to win the game by himself. Pittsburgh is talented enough to win as long as Pickett plays within himself, which he didn’t do in Week 1.

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 12

2023 stats: 1 game | 47.1 pct | 198 pass yds | 5.8 ypa | 0 pass TD | 3 INT | 5 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The lingering narrative of negativity that has followed Tannehill since Tennessee’s Divisional Round loss to Cincinnati two seasons ago surely received new life in Week 1. Tannehill was terrible for much of the day against the Saints, routinely throwing passes into traffic while trying to remain upright amid relentless pressure (he was pressured on 40.5% of dropbacks, per Next Gen Stats). It was clear Tannehill was trying to force DeAndre Hopkins to become a notable character in the game. The problem, though, was this played into New Orleans’ hand: Tannehill threw two of his three interceptions when targeting Hopkins, including one back-shoulder throw attempt that was doomed from the start. The other was an ill-advised toss into double coverage that never had a chance of being completed. Burn this tape, Ryan.

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Year 2

2023 stats: 1 game | 83.3 pct | 115 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | -1 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

At the end of the first quarter against the Panthers, Ridder was 3-of-3 passing for -11 yards. Fortunately for Atlanta, the game didn’t follow this trend. Ridder didn’t do anything special, but luckily for him, his teammates were magicians. Bijan Robinson’s devastating juke sent Frankie Luvu flying, accounting for Ridder’s lone passing touchdown, and Kyle Pitts fought through C.J. Henderson to make a fantastic grab, setting up Tyler Allgeier’s second rushing score. Ridder was at his best on quick passes, in which he didn’t need to work through his progression to find open targets, and Atlanta unsurprisingly relied heavily on its two-headed rushing attack of Robinson and Allgeier. The Falcons gained 130 of their 221 total yards on the ground. Ridder didn’t need to do a ton to help the Falcons win, and he doesn’t get a boost in the rankings because of that fact.

Joshua Dobbs
Arizona Cardinals · Year 6

2023 stats: 1 game | 70.0 pct | 132 pass yds | 4.4 ypa | 0 pass TD | 0 INT | -3 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

The moment Dobbs was traded to Arizona, most everyone knew a bumpy road awaited him. Dobbs deserves credit, though, for trying to make the most of a tough situation in Week 1. He directed an impressive first-half drive that would’ve ended in a touchdown had Zach Ertz held onto a well-placed pass over the middle into the end zone, and he didn’t shy from letting it rip downfield on multiple occasions. But as is traditionally the case with characters attempting to play hero, Dobbs eventually ran into an unstoppable force in the form of Washington’s loaded defensive front, which morphed from willing participant to menacing foil in the second half, unleashing a full-fledged assault on the quarterback and reaping the rewards of their efforts. He was sacked twice in the second half -- including one takedown achieved by Jonathan Allen whipping a forearm right into his facemask, knocking Dobbs to the turf -- and crumbled under Washington’s defensive avalanche, fumbling a snap (recovered by Washington in a key moment) because he was too quick to pull away from the center. It was a valiant effort, but it wasn’t enough to propel the Cardinals to an upset win.

Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Year 3

2023 stats: 1 game | 66.7 pct | 140 pass yds | 6.7 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 6 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

On behalf of the entire football world, I apologize, Jets fans. You didn’t deserve this fate. An offseason spent dreaming of a new era at quarterback evaporated after just four Aaron Rodgers snaps. Sure, the Jets have a championship-worthy defense, but as Wilson reminded us Monday night, there’s a reason New York was willing to make a blockbuster move for Rodgers in the offseason. Wilson strung together a couple of nice throws as the Jets fought back to win the game, but that doesn’t change the fact he isn’t a competent starting quarterback right now. On his lone touchdown pass, Garrett Wilson did almost all of the work on that phenomenal grab. Jets fans can hope Zach Wilson improves over time, but the sad fact regarding expectations is they usually don’t come with patience. I hope I’m wrong by the end of the season.

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