Which were the passers that tended to the upside, and which to the downward, on the first day of the campaign?
Week 1 of the 2021 regular season got off to a great start, and of course, the quarterbacks got a good chunk of the spotlight, unsurprisingly.
Throughout the 16 games on Opening Day, there were memorable comebacks, NFL records, personal records, and aberrant outings by NFL passers.
Here we review the five best and five worst of Week 1, following – as is customary in this weekly piece -, a strict alphabetical order:
Five quarterbacks on the rise
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos. It’s okay; Perhaps the opponent was not the highest-ranked, but it is remarkable how efficient Bridgewater’s performance was in his debut as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. He completed 28 of 36 pass attempts for 264 yards with two touchdowns with no interceptions. He led the NFL with a Total QBR of 95.7, and only 5.7 percent of his passes were imprecise. His completion percentage of 77.8 percent was the second highest on the day. Bridgewater didn’t risk the ball too much, averaging just 7.33 yards per pass attempt – No. 17 in the NFL – but against the New York Giants, it wasn’t necessary. After the first inning, Bridgewater confirmed his starting pick as a good decision in Denver.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs started their first game of the season a bit sleepy, but it didn’t take long for Mahomes to warm up. The MVP of the 2018 season completed 27 of 36 passes for 337 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions, plus he added a touchdown on the ground. He was fifth in Week 1 with a 75 percent completion percentage, and sixth in average yards per pass attempt, at 9.36. the Cleveland Browns left the door open for the Chiefs’ comeback, and Mahomes did not waste it.
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams. A couple of personal records in your first game with a new team should always be considered a positive debut. That was the case for Stafford, who had never posted a 156.1 passer rating or an average of 12.3 yards per attempt in any of his 165 previous starts with the Detroit Lions. The first of those numbers led the league for the day, and the other was the second best total. Stafford completed 20 of 26 pass attempts for three touchdowns with no interceptions, and posted a QBR Total of 89.9 that placed him third for the day. In just one game, any questions about how much head coach Sean McVay’s offense could grow with a more determined quarterback was dispelled in just one game.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks. The cutest touchdown pass of Week 1 was a connection from Wilson to 69-yard Tyler Lockett that was just one of his four scoring passes of the day. But, Wilson’s performance went way beyond that tremendous rainbow. He scored the fifth best Total QBR of the day, an 84.6, and the fourth best average of yards per pass attempt, with 11.04. To make matters worse, the Seahawks quarterback became the first quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in the season opener for two consecutive years.
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints. While Winston seems to be one of those quarterbacks that, for whatever reason, a good portion of the NFL fans want to see fail, it will take a little longer. Not only did he lead the league with five touchdown passes, but he became the quarterback with five touchdown passes in the game with the fewest passing yards in the game, with just 148. Winston completed 14 of 20 passes, no he threw an interception, and got the second best Total QBR of the date, 92.5, which together with Bridgewater were the only two to exceed 90 points in this area. Further enhancing Winston’s performance was the stark contrast to the performance of the front passer in the game.
Five quarterbacks down
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions. The other side of the coin to the Rams-Lions passer-trade was Goff, who in a kind of karmic balance, ranked among the worst five quarterbacks of the day, ranking Stafford. Goff completed 38 of 57 pass attempts for 338 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, 17.9 percent of his passes were imprecise, and he averaged just 5.93 yards per pass attempt, ranking 27th in that category in the league. position where his Total QBR of just 24.8 placed him.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars. All three rookie quarterbacks who started games in Week 1 for their respective teams came out with a loss on their hands, but none had it worse than Lawrence. The Jags rookie posted a QBR Total of 14.2, the second-lowest in Week 1 and one of four that didn’t even reach 20 points. Lawrence completed 28 of 51 pass attempts, with a third-lowest completion percentage of 54.9 to date, and his shipments averaged only 6.51 yards in the air per attempt. His 30.6 percent inaccurate passing percentage was the second-worst in the league, and it’s curious that the rookie’s lousy afternoon came without the Houston Texans having to send charges to push; Lawrence faced five or more defenders pressing on four of his 52 pass kicks. Equally, the result is unsurprising, statistically speaking: The last 14 quarterbacks chosen first overall in the draft have lost in their NFL debuts.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. How many times has it happened that the reigning MVP of the NFL starts the following season as the worst passer in the league? That’s exactly what happened to Rodgers, who posted a Total QBR of 10.7, an inaccurate pass rate of 33.3 percent, and a completion percentage of just 53.6, all of them the worst numbers in the NFL in each respective line. . As if that weren’t enough, his 4.75 yards per pass attempt was the second worst of the day, and he faced just two charges all afternoon from the Saints. Really, it is difficult to explain such a deplorable performance of Rodgers. It was just 15 completions of 28 attempts with two interceptions, no touchdown, and 133 yards through the air for the No. 12 Green Bay.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta against the Philadelphia Eagles was – also – to forget. Ryan completed 21 of 35 passes for 164 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, with a completion rate of just 60 percent, and 21.2 percent of his passes being imprecise. The Falcons only walked 164 yards down Ryan’s arm lane, making it clear that new head coach Arthur Smith has a lot of work ahead of him to make this attack competitive.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans. The number that stands out most from the Titans ‘loss to the Arizona Cardinals was Chandler Jones’ five sacks of Ryan Tannehill, who was stopped behind the line of scrimmage on a pass attempt six times in total. Tannehill posted a 17.5 QBR Total – the third lowest in the entire NFL – product of 21 of 35 completions for 212 yards with a touchdown and an interception. In addition, he lost the ball twice. The Cards quickly found the formula against Tannehill, and they did not detach from it, sending a charge against the quarterback 17 times. Without a ground game to lean on, Tennessee’s air attack never took off.
Data from ESPN Stats & Information and TruMedia were used in the writing of this note.