Who were the passers who flew, and who sank, on the fourth day of the campaign?
Week 4 gave us an apparent awakening of one of the great dominant passers in the current NFL, but also the fewest Total QBR scored in a long, long time; one that didn’t even reach a digit.
As often happens, there were also passers who went from one extreme to the other, and we are not exactly talking about improvement. Likewise, there were surprising names on the positive side of the scale.
As usual, we present – in strict alphabetical order – the five best and five worst quarterbacks of Week 4 in the NFL.
Five quarterbacks on the rise
Taylor Heinicke, Washington Football Team. A name we weren’t expecting to see opens our week roster, with Heinicke completing 23 of 33 passes for 290 yards with three touchdowns without interceptions, and an additional 43 yards on five carries. His 84.4 QBR Total was the third highest of the day and easily his personal best. His 8.79 yards per pass attempt placed him sixth on the day, and he also had the league’s best rate of imprecise passing, at just 9.1 percent. Beyond the obvious improvement reflected in the numbers, it is impossible to calculate his refusal to give up any games, and in a very short time he has made it impossible for Ryan Fitzpatrick to return to the starting position in Washington.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs. He still hasn’t picked up that MVP level of 2018, when even his bad plays ended with spectacularly good results, but Mahomes enjoyed his best game of the season at the time in Week 4, completing 24 of 30 passes for 278 yards with five touchdowns. with an interception. He led the NFL in Total QBR, being the only passer of the day to exceed 90 points, and also ranked first in percentage of completions with 80.0, and tied for first with the best inaccurate pass rate, with just 6.9. Mahomes already leads the season in Total QBR at 82.9, but his four interceptions to date are an unexpected total.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals. No one is more fashionable in the NFL than the Cardinals quarterback, and for good reason. Murray completed 24 of 32 pass attempts for 268 yards with two touchdowns without interceptions, and while it was also his first game of the year in which he failed to score on the ground, his imprecise passing rate of just 6.9 percent placed him as co-leader. on the day, together with Mahomes. His completion percentage of 75 percent tied him for fourth-best of the day and the 80.4 he scored as Total QBR was sixth-best in the NFL. Murray is already the bookmaker favorite to win the MVP award, even though we barely go around the first corner of the circuit in that race.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys. When Prescott is not included in the conversations for the best quarterbacks in the NFL, it is foolish. The Cowboys quarterback completed 14 of his 22 passes with 188 yards, four touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and an additional 35 yards on four carries confirming that he thinks less and less about last year’s ankle injury. He is second so far this season in completion percentage, and one of four passers who already have double digits in touchdowns. This weekend, he faced what came in as the best defense in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers, who sent load 11 times, but Prescott was only contacted in 6.9 percent of the plays, confirming a good performance by the offensive line, but also the quarterback himself to get rid of the pressure. His 88.2 was the second highest QBR Total of the day.
Carson Wentz, Indianapolis Colts. Wentz’s is another one of the names that, honestly, we didn’t expect to see in the upper half of our list. However, there are no arguments against his performance against the Miami Dolphins, when he connected on 24 of his 32 pass attempts for 228 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. His 75 percent completion rate matched him with Murray for the fourth-best rate on the day, and with just 9.4 percent of his passes rated imprecise, he matched for seventh. He finished Week 4 with the fifth best Total QBR of the day, a remarkable 81.4.
Five quarterbacks down
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos. Sure, Bridgewater didn’t get a chance to finish his game due to a concussion that caused him to abandon his Broncos’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but so far, he wasn’t doing great. Until before his last pass attempt, near halftime, he had completed just 7 of 16 pass attempts for 65 yards with a touchdown without interceptions. He did not play in the second half. He was one of two starting quarterbacks, and three overall, to have a non-double-digit Total QBR on the season, including his supply quarterback Drew Lock. With just 43.8 percent of his passes completions, Bridgewater was the worst on the day, and he was also the worst averaging just 4.06 yards per pass attempt. His imprecise pass rate of 3/31 placed him at No. 31 on the date.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings. Life in the NFL for Cousins seems to have to obey some precise law of balance, with each outstanding performance being offset by a way out. This week, he was down, with just 20 of 38 completions for 203 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and a microscopic Total QBR of just 10.0 that left him third-to-last among starters for the week. He managed to connect on just 50.6 percent of his passes, ranking 29th in the league, and his average pass attempt was just 5.34 yards, 31st in Week 4.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers. As with Bridgewater, Garoppolo managed to play a full game through injury, being replaced at halftime by Trey Lance. In his two quarters in which he did play, he did not do well. He connected on 14 of 23 pass attempts for 165 yards with a touchdown and an interception. In Week 4, he was 24th in percentage of completions, at 60.9, which is supposed to be one of the strengths of his game, and he was able to achieve a Total QBR of just 27.1, sixth worst among starters, and for below Lance’s 39.5.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns. The Vikings-Browns duel wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of the game at quarterbacks; quite the opposite. Mayfield didn’t look much better than Cousins. Only 15 of his 33 passing attempts were completed, for 155 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions, and at 45.5 percent, he was the second-worst in percentage of connected passes. No one was worse than Mayfield at the rate of inaccurate passing, at 38.7 percent, and with an average of 4.7 yards per pass attempt, he posted the third-lowest mark in the league. His Total QBR of 15.6 says it all about his performance on the day.
Davis Mills, Houston Texans. I really don’t recall seeing a lower Total QBR than the Houston rookie on this date. It was a 0.8 that included 11 of 21 completions for 87 yards with no touchdowns and four interceptions, plus one fumble. This is not about sentencing Mills for the rest of his career, but if one thing has become clear this start of the 2021 regular season, it is that it has been especially difficult for rookie quarterbacks. The lowest four Total QBRs for the four dates combined are Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mills and Justin Fields.
Data from ESPN Stats & Information and TruMedia were used in the writing of this note.