In the words of the Beatles: Help.
Zach Wilson’s international debut for the Jets was … not the finest day of quarterbacking to be played in London as part of the NFL’s UK forays. The Jets got shellacked by the Falcons 27-20, a score that wasn’t quite as indicative as
Wilson completed 19 of 32 passes for 197 yards in the Jets’ loss to the Falcons in London, washing away any goodwill fostered with New York’s win last week over Tennessee.
At the other end of the spectrum of our rookie quarterback grades for Week 5, Davis Mills — yes, Davis Mills — made a lot of noise on Sunday, doing something to Bill Belichick and the Patriots that only four quarterbacks have done during the Belichick era.
It was something of a mixed bag for QBs this weekend. Here’s how they played out:
Davis Mills: A-
Stats: 21/29, 312 yards, three touchdowns
Bill Belichick eats rookie QBs alive. Except if your name is Davis Mills, apparently.
After having one of the the worst QB performances in recent years in a loss to the Bills, Bill was no match for Mills, who fit the bill as franchise QB on Sunday afternoon with a big-time performance vs. the Patriots.
Only 4 rookie QBs have thrown for 200+ yards, 2+ TDs in a game against Belichick since 2000
Davis Mills has done it at the 2:00 warning before halftime
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) October 10, 2021
Mills shockingly showed out for 307 yards, three touchdowns vs. the Pats, whose defense is notoriously difficult for young QBs to play against. Mills lived in the short game for most of the day, and to great effect, eventually opening up more in the second half, with a few deep shot TDs to push the lead to 22-9 entering the fourth quarter.
While Mac Jones and the Pats snuck out a 25-22 win, Mills’ performance was a step in the right direction for the rookie looking to grab the Texans’ QB job by the throat.
Trevor Lawrence: B
Stats: 23/33, 273 yards, one touchdown, one interception; Seven rushes, 28 yards, one touchdown
The Titans’ bad defense may have been just what the doctor ordered for Trevor Lawrence and the Jags. It didn’t result in a win, but Lawrence continues to grow and learn the NFL.
While the Jags remain winless on the season, Lawrence had another step forward in a game behind an offensive line that isn’t doing him many favors. Lawrence has also begun to use his legs more — aside from a questionable fourth-and-goal play when the team wouldn’t opt for a QB sneak that would have put points on the board.
That cause some questions following the game to Urban Meyer and Lawrence, who seem a bit on opposite ends of the spectrum. Lawrence’s lone interception on the day came with time running out when the game was already out of hand.
With the organizational tumult surrounding Lawrence, it’s pretty impressive he’s played as well as he has this season — and it looks like he’s improving, too.
Mac Jones: B
Stats: 23/30, 231 yards, one touchdown, one interception
Jones was outplayed by fellow rookie Davis Mills on Sunday, until he wasn’t.
Jones led the Patriots down the field and hit Hunter Henry for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, good for his lone TD on the day. That’s important because the Pats entered the fourth quarter down 22-9, and they took home a 25-22 win over the Texans.
Jones still isn’t being asked to do too much offensively, as the Patriots’ offense is still predicated on the run-and-dunk philosophy, with short and intermediate throws keeping the chains moving. That’s not a bad thing when it works, after all, and Jones is earning the praise of his head coaching for his decision making early on.
There may come a time when Jones will be asked to take more shots downfield, but for now, the Patriots are sticking with what’s working.
Justin Fields: B
Stats: 12/20, 111 yards, one touchdown
Fields offers a much different dimension to the Bears offense than what Andy Dalton did, but we still haven’t seen too much of it through a few starts of his down.
Fields and the Bears downed the Raiders on Sunday, and Fields played a solid, mistake-free game. The offense still looks largely the same as it did with Dalton, but Fields looks like he’s growing more confident and comfortable with every snap.
While he hasn’t been perfect — and the Bears largely controlled the game on the ground — Fields’ stock is only pointing up as he adds a second win under his belt as Chicago’s starter.
Trey Lance: B-
Stats: 15/29, 192 yards, no touchdowns, one interception; 16 carries, 89 yards, no touchdowns
Lance still isn’t quite ready, but he’s going to get his opportunities
Whether it’s his dynamic arm or mobility, the traits are certainly there for Lance. While the gameplan currently revolves more around his legs than it does his arm, with more reps, Kyle Shanahan will likely continue opening up the playbook for him.
Sunday’s game showed a bit more of what we saw in Lance’s first taste of extended NFL action last week: Some decent pocket mobility, some inaccuracy and a fair amount of drops.
Shanahan really trusts Lance to run with the ball, but a goal-line fumble on a nasty hit might want to have the 49ers reevaluate how and when they deploy those plays in the future.
Zach Wilson: F
Stats: 19/32, 197 yards, no touchdowns, one interception
It was once again a tale of two halves for Wilson and the Jets.
The No. 2 overall pick had another forgettable day on Sunday, following up his best performance of the season with another stinker. Not all that encouraging.
While the garbage-time yards are more forgiving of Wilson’s total statline, he threw another rookie-mistake interception on Sunday for his ninth on the season. Inaccuracy issues on short routes and Wilson’s seeming regression to force the ball downfield and not take the easy plays to get the yardage.
Through it all, though, the Jets, who looked totally out of the game, were actually in the game until the Falcons scored a touchdown with just over two minutes left. There’s more than enough blame for the Jets’ poor offensive showings early on this year, Wilson, as a rookie, has to bear his fair share of it early on.
The Bye week comes at a very good time for the Jets, who are going to have to reevaluate some things entering the rest of their season.