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NFL QB Index, Week 3: Sam Howell vaults into top 15; Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts slip

NOTE: Up/down arrows illustrate movement from the Week 2 QB Index. Rankings reflect each quarterback's standing heading into Week 3.

Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 7

2023 stats: 2 games | 62.5 pct | 531 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 75 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Mahomes’ first outing with Travis Kelce back on the field reminded us of how much the All-Pro tight end can help his quarterback. Their rapport was on full display when Mahomes rolled right and found Kelce, drifting to the soft spot in coverage, for a touchdown in a classic connection between the two. Mahomes also dropped a beautiful pass on Skyy Moore for the receiver’s first TD of the season, capping an impressive drive that required a fourth-down conversion. Mahomes was sharp, even as the going wasn’t easy against an improved Jacksonville defense. His only mistake was believing he could split the safeties in Cover 2 in the second quarter, resulting in an Andre Cisco interception. In the end, though, it didn’t matter much.

Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins · Year 4

2023 stats: 2 games | 65.3 pct | 715 pass yds | 9.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 8 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 4 fumbles

When I was a youth in Northeast Ohio, me and my football-crazed friends played an adjusted form of the sport during recess known as Catch and Run. That name also describes the Dolphins’ offense through two weeks. The deep shots that defined much of Miami’s Week 1 game weren’t quite as present in Week 2, save for a couple of nice sideline strikes to Jaylen Waddle. In fact, of Waddle’s 86 receiving yards, 51 came after the catch, per Next Gen Stats. That was perfectly fine for the Dolphins, who operated underneath and used their elite speed to pick up yards. It wasn’t the 466 yards that he had in the opener, but 249 worked just fine for Tagovailoa, who continued his hot start with an accurate game that included only one blemish: a 50/50 toss intercepted by rookie Christian Gonzalez.

Josh Allen
Buffalo Bills · Year 6

2023 stats: 2 games | 76.9 pct | 510 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 4 pass TD | 3 INT | 43 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Five quarters of rough football were never going to be enough to sink Allen. The Bills' star quarterback returned to form in Week 2, thanks in part to a Buffalo running game that returned from the abyss to tally 183 yards on the ground. The much-needed balance paid off, making Buffalo significantly more difficult to stop. It showed in Allen's passing line -- 31-for-37, 274 yards and three touchdowns -- and it wasn't just a product of the run game. Allen also showed off his improvisational magic, throwing an excellent touchdown pass to Khalil Shakir to make it 21-10 just before halftime, and ended up toying with Las Vegas' defense over the final two quarters. Allen and Co. gave Bills fans reason to party on Sunday.

Justin Herbert
Los Angeles Chargers · Year 4

2023 stats: 2 games | 67.6 pct | 534 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT | 17 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Herbert has to feel like he’s been scammed. He put together another strong performance against the Titans in Week 2, completing 65.8 percent of his passes, protecting the ball and keeping the Chargers’ offense moving even without Austin Ekeler available. He pulled off an incredible feat of weathering a blow to the helmet, staying upright, rolling left and throwing off his back foot to Keenan Allen for a touchdown on fourth down. He stood tall in the pocket and delivered a strike down the seam just as Jeffery Simmons crashed into his knees for a pickup of 24 yards. And he manipulated Titans corner Roger McCreary with a pump fake that created a perfect lane to connect with Allen for a second touchdown. All of that amounted to another loss, in part because Los Angeles decided to dial up three straight passes to start overtime (three incompletions and a punt). Herbert had one target who was arguably open on those three throws, which made for a thud of a finish after another solid day.

Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles · Year 4

2023 stats: 2 games | 71.4 pct | 363 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 72 rush yds | 2 rush TD | 1 fumble

The first half of last Thursday’s prime-time affair at Lincoln Financial Field forced Eagles fans everywhere to accept a harsh reality: This offense isn’t going to just roll out of bed, put on its dancing shoes and light the football world on fire. The going has been tougher in 2023 than it was a year ago, but fortunately for the Eagles, they decided to unearth the running game from their time capsule to great effect. D’Andre Swift’s 175 yards rushing brought much-needed pacing to the offense, taking some of the load off Hurts and opening up opportunities to find receivers downfield. He did exactly that on a gorgeous, 63-yard touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith. He also scored twice on two QB sneaks to keep the Eagles ahead in what ended up being a surprisingly close finish. Hurts hasn’t done anything spectacular through two games, so he’s moving down a bit this week, but he’s also not hurting them (pun unintended). 

Trevor Lawrence
Jacksonville Jaguars · Year 3

2023 stats: 2 games | 63 pct | 457 pass yds | 6.3 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 47 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

It’s too bad almost doesn’t count in football. If it did, Lawrence would’ve had a banner day against the Chiefs. Lawrence worked his tail off to try to create positive plays for Jacksonville against a relentless Kansas City defense, but the small details proved to be the difference between an upset win over the defending champs and a painful loss. Lawrence had multiple opportunities (five, in one goal-to-go situation, in fact) to drop passes on target for touchdowns in this game and just narrowly missed by inches, forcing Jacksonville to settle for field goals in a low-scoring game. He also didn’t get a ton of help from his offensive line, which surrendered four sacks. He wasn’t perfect, but he certainly wasn’t terrible. He likely wants some throws back, though.

Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens · Year 6

2023 stats: 2 games | 74.5 pct | 406 pass yds | 7.4 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 92 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

After an unexciting first week, Jackson the Ravens took a step forward in Week 2. The star quarterback is clearly starting to settle into the new offense and execute it confidently, thanks in part to an attack that included a balanced distribution of rushing attempts -- Jackson led with 12 attempts, followed closely by Justice Hill (11) and Gus Edwards (10) -- and a deep receiving corps that lacks star power, but not ability. Odell Beckham Jr. departed due to injury, and instead of folding, Jackson just turned to the next man up, Nelson Agholor. While he missed a few downfield shots, Jackson received positive marks for how he weathered the loss of Beckham, and most importantly, how he dropped a dime on Agholor for a key touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jackson's trademark mobility helped Baltimore put the game away, securing a much-needed win over a division rival who has had the Ravens' number of late. 

Brock Purdy
San Francisco 49ers · Year 2

2023 stats: 2 games | 66.7 pct | 426 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 25 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Purdy wasn’t quite as stellar in Week 2 as he was in Week 1, but the game confirmed his best attributes. He was once again calm and collected in the pocket, helping move the ball down the field throughout the contest. He did miss a few throws, including a downfield shot to Deebo Samuel that would have produced a touchdown, but he also deserves credit for finding success on QB sneaks, including a gutsy attempt on second-and-goal from the 1-yard line with one second left on the clock in the second quarter. Purdy thrives because he executes Kyle Shanahan’s offense as the coach intends, never tries to do too much and allows his talent to combine with that of his teammates to produce magic. It wasn’t a perfect day, but it was another winning afternoon for a quarterback deserving of a spot in the top 10.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Purdy racked up 310 yards and two scores while completing 25 of 37 throws in the Niners' win over the Giants on Thursday.

Joe Burrow
Cincinnati Bengals · Year 4

2023 stats: 2 games | 56.9 pct | 304 pass yds | 4.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 4 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The difficulties that defined the Bengals’ season-opening loss to the Browns carried over into Week 2. It was painfully evident when CBS showed a graphic early in the second quarter, detailing how little Cincinnati had been able to accomplish to that point in the game: six plays, 14 yards, zero first downs. Fortunately for the Bengals, the tide started to turn in their favor when they finally put together a 13-play touchdown drive in the third quarter, but only after Burrow got an ugly interception out of his system. The key: short completions, which helped Burrow finally establish a rhythm. Tee Higgins' arrival also helped, to the tune of two touchdowns. With Burrow settling in, the Bengals nearly mounted a comeback, but they ran out of time. Is it fitting for this 0-2 start that Cincinnati's first touchdown of 2023 came via a punt return? Sure, but at least the Bengals found a bit of a groove before the final whistle. Hopefully they'll start off in that fashion next week -- that is, if Burrow's nagging calf injury doesn't cause a problem.

Geno Smith
Seattle Seahawks · Year 11

2023 stats: 2 games | 71.6 pct | 440 pass yds | 6.6 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT | 26 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

It was high noon in Detroit, and Smith was one of the main characters in what became a shootout at Ford Field. A week after Smith and the Seahawks disappeared in the second half of their Week 1 loss, Seattle played a full four quarters -- plus, some bonus ball in overtime. Smith was dialed in all afternoon, hooking up with nine different pass-catchers, including a heaping serving of targets for his tight ends, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson. His best pass of the day, though, went to WR Tyler Lockett, who caught a perfectly placed throw for a go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. Their repeat connection in overtime ended the affair, thanks to a sharp route from Lockett and an on-time, on-target rope from Smith delivered on the run. Have a day, Geno.

Jared Goff
Detroit Lions · Year 8

2023 stats: 2 games | 71.4 pct | 576 pass yds | 8.2 ypa | 4 pass TD | 1 INT | -1 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

I jinxed Goff last week when I wrote about his interception-less streak, which was flirting with history entering Week 2. His pick-six in the fourth quarter completely flipped the game in favor of the Seahawks, forcing the Lions to attempt to claw their way back in the final minutes. An explosive afternoon in Detroit saw Goff lead a touchdown drive later in the fourth quarter, connecting with Sam LaPorta on two crucial completions before the QB found Josh Reynolds on a well-placed inside pass in the end zone for a touchdown, cutting Seattle’s lead to three. Another completion to Reynolds helped the Lions move into field goal range, eventually sending the shootout into overtime. Goff’s contributions would end there, though, as Detroit failed to win possession before the game was over. I think a lot of people did not expect a repeat of the fireworks show we saw between these two teams last season, but we were wrong. The interception proved crucial, but aside from that, Goff continued to execute Detroit’s offense efficiently. They might want to reconsider their aggression on fourth down, though.

Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Year 8

2023 stats: 2 games | 71 pct | 398 pass yds | 6.4 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 20 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Coming off a Week 1 victory -- when the Cowboys shut out the Giants -- Prescott was required to move the offense a bit more in order to beat the Jets. He was rather sharp, completing 31-of-38 passes. He appeared comfortable and in command of Dallas’ offense. Prescott also succeeded in a variety of scenarios. He dropped a great pass between defenders to CeeDee Lamb in the first quarter, made a fantastic throw to him on the run on third-and-14 after breaking out of the pocket to the right, and exercised commendable patience in surveying before connecting with Luke Schoonmaker for a touchdown. Dallas’ defense and rushing attack undoubtedly helped Prescott in what was a total team win.

Kirk Cousins
Minnesota Vikings · Year 12

2023 stats: 2 games | 72.7 pct | 708 pass yds | 8.0 ypa | 6 pass TD | 1 INT | 7 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Turnovers are still the Vikings’ biggest problem through two weeks. A -6 in the margin will not produce many wins, but Cousins was only responsible for one of them in Week 2, which was an improvement from Week 1, when he had an interception and two fumbles. He likely would’ve had another touchdown against the Eagles had Justin Jefferson held onto the ball when attempting to break the plane just before halftime. The good news is that Minnesota didn’t lose this game because of Cousins. In fact, the Vikings were in this game until the final moments because of Cousins, who tried his best to throw them to a comeback win. He’s also building quite a rapport with rookie receiver Jordan Addison, which is encouraging. The offense just needs to limit giveaways.

Matthew Stafford
Los Angeles Rams · Year 15

2023 stats: 2 games | 62.4 pct | 641 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 28 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The stat line isn’t free from blemishes, but when viewing the game in total, it’s clear Stafford is certainly doing his part. He was sharp for most of the afternoon against the 49ers, delivering on-target bullets from the pocket and relying heavily on Puka Nacua on intermediate routes. He led a fantastic drive late in the first half, repeatedly connecting with Nacua and Tutu Atwell, only encountering one third-down on the entire scoring march. But the difference in talent became evident in the second half, especially when San Francisco dialed up the pressure. Stafford was thrown off schedule on a few occasions while trying to dig the Rams out of a deficit, and a Deommodore Lenoir interception effectively ended Los Angeles’ comeback hopes. Generally speaking, Stafford had a solid day. His first interception wasn’t his fault (it glanced off the waiting hands of Kyren Williams), and his second was on Van Jefferson as much as it was on Stafford. He just simply didn’t have enough to outgun the 49ers.

Sam Howell
Washington Commanders · Year 2

2023 stats: 2 games | 65.7 pct | 501 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 3 pass TD | 1 INT | 24 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

The most prominent line in my notes on Howell's Week 2 game: This guy has GUTS. Washington fought back from a 21-3 deficit that hit them like a sucker punch, but instead of falling to the turf and clutching his abdomen, Howell got up, spit out a tooth and dared Denver to take another shot. It started with Howell's nine-play, 49-yard drive that followed a Jamin Davis forced fumble and ended in Howell finding Logan Thomas in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-goal. It continued in the second half with a beautiful strike from Howell to Terry McLaurin, who caught the ball with two defenders draped all over him. Brian Robinson Jr. ran for the last two touchdowns, but Howell was sharp throughout, and proved he wasn't afraid to run when necessary. He's poised, tough, accurate and determined. I regret ever doubting him.

Russell Wilson
Denver Broncos · Year 12

2023 stats: 2 games | 68.2 pct | 485 pass yds | 7.3 ypa | 5 pass TD | 1 INT | 57 rush yd | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Talk about a tale of two halves. Wilson was electric for much of the first two quarters against Washington, firing gorgeous rainbows to Marvin Mims Jr. and patiently finding his intended receivers with on-time, on-target throws to help build a 21-3 lead. Everything was great; superstar Russ was back! Alas, it was only temporary. The Commanders’ defense woke up, forcing Wilson to fumble in the second quarter. Washington turned the takeaway into points and fully unleashed its suffocating defensive front in the second half. Wilson reverted to being a tick slow in making decisions in the pocket, struggled to lift the Broncos out of their newfound rut and failed to score a TD on a crucial red-zone opportunity late in the fourth quarter. It's almost as if the taste of first-half success lured Wilson into looking for the big play too often, and by the time he broke out of that approach, it was too late, even with good luck on a Hail Mary.

Jordan Love
Green Bay Packers · Year 4

2023 stats: 2 games | 55.8 pct | 396 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 6 pass TD | 0 INT | 35 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

Love will look back on the Packers’ Week 2 loss and view it as a lesson in how to protect a lead late in a winnable road game. Green Bay cratered in the fourth quarter against the Falcons, playing too conservatively and hurting themselves in the process, opening the door for Atlanta to barrel through it. Love’s worst mistake of the day came on fourth-and-1, when he committed a false start on what looked to be a QB sneak. Instead of pushing ahead for a fresh set of downs and more time to drain off the clock, the Packers punted, giving Atlanta a chance to take the lead. But it wasn’t a terrible day for Love by any means. He excelled on a drive in which he fed Jayden Reed, connecting with the rookie for a touchdown. He also was nearly intercepted by A.J. Terrell, botched the aforementioned sneak and failed to salt away a game Green Bay likely wishes it had back. In total, Love still threw for three touchdowns, but he just didn’t quite have enough good moments to move up the rankings.

Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers · Year 6

2023 stats: 2 games | 69.1 pct | 490 pass yds | 7.2 ypa | 3 pass TD | 0 INT | 28 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

You have to give Mayfield credit after two weeks, because he’s doing a damn good job of executing the offense. It’s not spectacular, and it won’t produce an award-winning highlight reel, but it’s winning games. Mayfield clearly trusts Mike Evans to go get every ball thrown in his general direction. Take Evans’ touchdown reception last week, a back-foot heave to the 6-foot-5 receiver that Mayfield only threw because he was both desperate and saw how Evans had toasted the opposing defender. Plays like that -- and a number of other how did he complete that moments -- made it a fortunate Sunday for Mayfield and the Buccaneers, who are 2-0 because they aren’t trying to be spectacular when it isn’t necessary, starting with Mayfield.

Mac Jones
New England Patriots · Year 3

2023 stats: 2 games | 68.8 pct | 547 pass yds | 5.7 ypa | 4 pass TD | 2 INT | 40 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

In the first half against the Dolphins, Jones learned he wasn’t going to have a ton of time to throw, so in the second half, he got busy with his legs. His focus on rolling away from pressure finally unlocked New England’s offense, helping jump-start a desperately needed touchdown drive that ended with -- what else -- Jones rolling right and finding Hunter Henry for a score. Jones got the ball out quickly in the second half, with the most impressive pass going to DeVante Parker on third-and-7. But too often, Miami’s defense made the going difficult for Jones, prompting him to try to do a little too much, as he did on a third quarter pass to Parker that never had a chance of being completed. Xavien Howard made Jones pay with an interception, the quarterback’s most notable mistake of the night. In the end, Jones and the Patriots didn’t adjust quickly enough, but they’ve learned a valuable lesson for the months ahead.

Ryan Tannehill
Tennessee Titans · Year 12

2023 stats: 2 games | 62.1 pct | 444 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 1 pass TD | 3 INT | 17 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles

The bar was really low for Tannehill entering Week 2. He played arguably the worst game of his career in Week 1, and it was fair to expect the bare minimum from him against the Chargers. Things changed when Tannehill uncorked a bomb to Treylon Burks in the middle of the second quarter, awakening both Tennessee’s offense and the fans at Nissan Stadium. That was the completion that freed Tannehill from the shackles of mediocrity. He completed 20-of-24 passes while connecting with seven different pass-catchers while leading the Titans to an overtime victory. Tannehill found a wide enough throwing window to complete a go-ahead touchdown pass to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. He even seemed to rediscover his youth, keeping the ball on a triple-option and racing across the goal line for a score. In one afternoon, we all moved beyond Tannehill’s Week 1 clunker.

Daniel Jones
New York Giants · Year 5

2023 stats: 2 games | 63.1 pct | 425 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 3 INT | 102 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 2 fumbles

Sure, six quarters needed to pass before the Giants entered the end zone this season, but boy, did they ever knock down that imaginary barrier. When New York’s offense finally awoke in the second half against the Cardinals, Jones led the charge, racking up 259 passing yards and 58 rushing yards in the final two quarters. Jones scampered for a touchdown, deftly escaped the pocket to drop a perfect pass on Saquon Barkley’s back shoulder for a score and ripped a rocket to Isaiah Hodgins for the game-tying TD, capping off an incredible second-half explosion. Look, Week 1 was a tough night that snowballed into a nightmare for Jones. This time, he ruined Arizona’s dreams.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Jones completed 22 of 32 attempts for 137 yards, no touchdowns and one pick in the Giants' loss to the 49ers on Thursday.

Derek Carr
New Orleans Saints · Year 10

2023 stats: 2 games | 63.8 pct | 533 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 1 pass TD | 2 INT | 0 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Through two games, I have a new moniker for this New Orleans squad: The Second-Half Saints. No one fits the title more than Carr, who has had two rough first halves and rebounded by helping the Saints achieve victory in the final two quarters. Monday night’s win over the Panthers included another sleepy first half (and a really ugly interception), but the tide started to turn with Carr’s third quarter pass to Chris Olave, who made a spectacular grab to invigorate New Orleans’ offense with a gain of 42 yards. Seven plays later, the Saints were in the end zone for the first time. Carr said afterward he wants to play better earlier in games. Here’s hoping he can start fast in Week 3 instead of waiting until after halftime.

Anthony Richardson
Indianapolis Colts · Rookie

2023 stats: 2 games | 63.8 pct | 279 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 1 pass TD | 1 INT | 75 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Richardson exited the Colts’ Week 2 game early in the second quarter with a concussion and he has not been practicing this week while in the concussion protocol. Prior to the injury, head coach Shane Steichen was able to capitalize on Richardson’s athletic abilities, dialing up a QB draw for Indianapolis’ first touchdown of the day, and calling another run that saw Richardson reach the end zone for the second time before we had hit the midway point of the first quarter. Richardson’s passing wasn’t spectacular -- he missed an intermediate attempt because he was late to fire -- but in total, it’s easy to see the potential with the incredibly gifted quarterback. Through two weeks, he’s posted two positive performances.

(UPDATE: Anthony Richardson is not practicing Friday for the third consecutive day due to a concussion. Gardner Minshew is in line to start Sunday for the Colts against the Baltimore Ravens, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported.)

Jimmy Garoppolo
Las Vegas Raiders · Year 10

2023 stats: 2 games | 72 pct | 385 pass yds | 7.7 ypa | 3 pass TD | 3 INT | 12 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 1 fumble

At about the midway point of the third quarter of the Raiders’ loss to the Bills, I took a definitive note regarding Garoppolo's day: This is a lost cause. At that point, the Raiders trailed by 18, and a visibly hesitant Garoppolo threw a pass that was picked off by Matt Milano. Nothing was going right because Garoppolo was asked to do entirely too much. The Raiders had zero help from the run game -- Josh Jacobs finished with -2 yards on nine carries -- and the Raiders' early reliance on Davante Adams couldn't possibly be sustained, especially without another threat in the passing game. Now, this isn't to excuse Garoppolo, because he didn't look comfortable or confident for most of this game. But he was also facing a steep climb.

Justin Fields
Chicago Bears · Year 3

2023 stats: 2 games | 60.6 pct | 427 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 3 INT | 62 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

I feel for Fields. The poor guy just isn’t getting much protection. Chicago’s offensive line has resembled a sieve through two weeks, surrendering six sacks in the loss to Tampa Bay. Bears runners were frequently required to break a tackle just to make it back to the line of scrimmage, and with Chicago’s downfield attack all but eliminated, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was forced to resort to the short game. But Getsy can only call so many screens in a game before they become useless. Case in point: Shaquil Barrett read Chicago’s last screen of the day, retreating just in time to snag Fields’ soft toss with one hand before returning it a short distance for a win-sealing touchdown. When he has time, Fields finds targets downfield. He continued to build a rapport with DJ Moore, who tripled his Week 1 receptions total with six. Fields also fired a rocket into a tight window to Chase Claypool for a late touchdown that made things interesting. It’s just that Fields rarely has ample time to do so. 

Desmond Ridder
Atlanta Falcons · Year 2

2023 stats: 2 games | 68 pct | 352 pass yds | 7.0 ypa | 2 pass TD | 1 INT | 38 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 1 fumble

I’ve been in the wait-and-see crowd on Ridder to this point. Let the record show he made a positive statement to my faction in Week 2. It wasn’t a resounding message -- there were, after all, the typical ups and downs that come with watching an inexperienced passer -- but I was highly impressed by how Ridder delivered with his back against the wall. He did a little bit of everything, running for important gains to set up a Younghoe Koo field goal, taking off on a read option for a rushing touchdown in Atlanta’s frantic comeback, and showing off his ability to throw on the run. He also connected with Drake London on a couple of very important passes, with one going for a touchdown just before halftime and the other moving Atlanta into Green Bay territory on the possession that ended in the game-winning field goal. He missed some throws, sure, and should have been picked off by Jaire Alexander earlier in the game, but the moxie is what grabbed me when watching his performance. It helps to have Bijan Robinson in the backfield, too.

Kenny Pickett
Pittsburgh Steelers · Year 2

2023 stats: 2 games | 60.5 pct | 454 pass yds | 6.0 ypa | 2 pass TD | 3 INT | -2 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Pickett still hasn’t shifted out of first gear. His best completion against the Browns was largely the product of blown coverage, with George Pickens making a catch and running to the end zone on a 71-yard touchdown. Otherwise, he still struggled with pressure and threw a telegraphed interception (recorded by Grant Delpit). Pittsburgh did him zero favors by failing to establish a legitimate run threat, putting Pickett behind the sticks all night. He finished with 222 yards, but he completed just 50 percent of his passes. Pittsburgh’s offense is not in a good place, and it seems Pickett is not close to taking the next step so many Steelers fans hoped they’d see from him in 2023.

Deshaun Watson
Cleveland Browns · Year 7

2023 stats: 2 games | 55.1 pct | 389 pass yds | 5.6 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 67 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Through two weeks, Browns fans have legitimate reason to be worried about their quarterback’s play. Watson fumbled twice (including one that was recovered by T.J. Watt and returned for a touchdown) and struggled to connect with targets downfield against the Steelers. Pressure only made him worse, adding to a league-worst Completion Percentage over Expected under pressure of -26.7 percent through two games, per Next Gen Stats. And when the Browns needed him to carry the team, he flat-out failed to deliver. There are glimpses of good -- like his connection with Amari Cooper down the sideline, and his ability to pick up yards with his legs -- but there is way too much bad with Watson right now. He’s simply not playing like a franchise quarterback.

C.J. Stroud
Houston Texans · Rookie

2023 stats: 2 games | 63.7 pct | 626 pass yds | 6.9 ypa | 2 pass TD | 0 INT | 21 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Stroud is still settling into his role as Houston’s franchise quarterback. It appears the rookie doesn’t quite trust his offensive line yet, and with six sacks on Indianapolis’ ledger Sunday, it’s understandable. His accuracy isn’t as consistent as expected at this point, either, though the potential is still visible, with Stroud rushing a few throws and narrowly missing targets, while also placing a handful of excellent passes on receivers when given time to throw. It doesn’t help that Houston’s run game -- which accounted for a grand total of 52 yards in Week 2 -- is nonexistent. On the bright side, Nico Collins is going to cruise past his previous career-high marks for receptions, yards and touchdowns at this rate; he’s clearly Stroud’s favorite target through two games.

Joshua Dobbs
Arizona Cardinals · Year 6

2023 stats: 2 game | 68.9 pct | 360 pass yds | 5.9 ypa | 1 pass TD | 0 INT | 38 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 3 fumbles

Dobbs’ home debut as Arizona’s starter was electric -- for roughly 36 minutes of game time. He looked completely unfazed by the moment, delivering strikes all over the field and building a connection with tight end Trey McBride. Everything was working nearly perfectly for the Cardinals, who built a 28-7 lead on the backs of Dobbs and running back James Conner. Then, Arizona encountered an unexpected pool of quicksand, slowly sinking into the darkness with just enough time for New York to mount a comeback. Dobbs’ playmaking of the first two quarters disappeared, Arizona went three-and-out on its final three possessions, and when the dust settled, the Cardinals were 0-2. It’s tough to pin much of this on Dobbs, who played heroically. Poor play-calling -- including a failed attempt to drain the clock by sticking to doomed runs -- and horribly timed penalties sunk the Cardinals, not Dobbs.

Bryce Young
Carolina Panthers · Rookie

2023 stats: 2 games | 59.2 pct | 299 pass yds | 4.2 ypa | 2 pass TD | 2 INT | 51 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 2 fumbles

The No. 1 overall pick typically ends up in one of the worst situations for a rookie quarterback, and Carolina has proven no different for Young. It’s been a slow start for the future of Panthers football, who is off to an 0-2 start, completing 59.2 percent of his passes for 299 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He didn’t throw a pick in Monday's loss to the Saints but did lose a fumble in an underwhelming home debut. Young hasn’t yet learned he isn’t the superhero he was at Alabama, taking unnecessary risks under pressure to try to rescue the Panthers from defeat. His performance wasn’t without effort -- Young scrambled twice for 34 yards and attempted to extend plays with his feet -- but right now, it’s just uninspiring. And it’s more about the lack of help around him than it is about Young’s potential. The rookie is expected to miss Sunday's game against the Seahawks with an ankle injury, and veteran Andy Dalton will get the start. Exercise patience, Panthers fans.

Zach Wilson
New York Jets · Year 3

2023 stats: 2 games | 54.2 pct | 310 pass yds | 6.5 ypa | 2 pass TD | 4 INT | 42 rush yds | 0 rush TD | 0 fumbles

Wilson’s best throw of the day went for a 68-yard touchdown. Most of the rest of Sunday was worth forgetting. Wilson showed off his speed with a trio of scrambles that helped the Jets tack on a field goal just before halftime, and he found success on short targets, but the combination of Dallas’ pass rush and New York’s inability to establish a semblance of a rushing attack put Wilson in a tough spot. Seeing as he’s not equipped with a ton of experience, he faltered, throwing three interceptions (two being very ugly). He’s slightly slow when forced to survey the field, but despite the stat line, he’s not as bad as some would have you believe. Wilson is definitely a gamer, even if he’s still very rough around the edges.

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