10 things you need to know about NFL Week 3
Rookies grabbed the spotlight in Week 3 of the NFL season, with Eagles QB Carson Wentz, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, and Jaguars DB Jalen Ramsey all putting their talent on display. Here we touch on those performances, as well as the top PFF storylines from around the league.
1. Carson Wentz is now the highest-graded rookie of the PFF era…
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, continued his incredible start to the season with another strong showing on Sunday, earning an 81.0 grade against the Steelers. That mark moves Wentz’s overall grade for the season to 90.5—the highest among all NFL QBs, and the best for any rookie in the PFF era (2006–2016) through three games. The former North Dakota State Bison’s accuracy was on display, as he recorded the highest adjusted completion percentage among Week 3 quarterbacks, at 86.7. Wentz completed three of six deep targets (20+ yards in air downfield), with one such throw a touchdown to cap off another stellar outing.
2. …And Cowboys QB Dak Prescott isn’t far behind.
Like all sports, football is a game of ifs. If Teddy Bridgewater hadn’t suffered an injury in practice, Sam Bradford likely would have never landed in Minnesota. If the veteran QB was still in Philadelphia, he’d likely own the starting job over Wentz. And if that were the case, the national media hype right now would be squarely on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who through three weeks, owns an 85.4 overall grade—fifth-best in the league among QBs right now. In Week 3, Prescott recorded the second-highest adjusted completion percentage at the position—just behind Wentz—at 82.6. The former Mississippi State Bulldog recorded 36 rushing yards and a TD on the ground against the Bears to pair with 248 passing yards and a touchdown throw to Dez Bryant.
3. Odell Beckham Jr. “won” the meeting with Josh Norman.
In a meeting that was far more civilized than last year’s encounter, Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. can safely say he outplayed Redskins CB Josh Norman in Week 3.
Beckham earned an 87.3 overall grade—fifth highest among NFL WRs in Week 3—in New York’s loss, recording seven receptions and 121 receiving yards on 10 targets. Against Norman specifically, Beckham caught five of seven targets for 88 yards. The Redskins’ top CB did break up two passes targeted at Beckham, but earned just a 52.9 grade for the game. The two will meet again on New Year’s Day, as the Giants travel to FedExField in Week 17.
4. Raiders CB David Amerson earned the highest grade of the season so far…
With a 96.8 overall grade against the Titans on Sunday, Raiders cornerback David Amerson moved ahead of Andrew Luck (95.2 grade in Week 1) for the top single-game grade of the season through Week 3. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota threw into Amerson’s coverage on 11 occasions, completing just four passes for 38 total yards (just eight yards surrendered after the catch). More impressive even were the Oakland CB’s five pass breakups. Amerson, who won PFF’s Most-Improved Player Award last season, was not alone in the Raiders’ secondary, with fellow cornerback Sean Smith earning the second-highest grade (90.5) among CBs in Week 3, and Reggie Nelson the seventh-highest mark among safeties (85.1).
5. …While Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick earned the worst QB game grade ever.
This may not come as a surprise to anyone that watched Ryan Fitzpatrick’s six-interception outing at Arrowhead Stadium, but the Jets’ QB is now in sole possession of the worst game grade ever earned by a quarterback over the PFF era (2006–2016), a 21.4 mark. Senior Analyst Sam Monson detailed Fitzpatrick’s outing here, which passed Peyton Manning’s 2015 Week 10 performance (also against Kansas City) for the lowest single-game mark. What’s more, Fitzpatrick is coming off a Week 2 performance that saw him earn the highest grade among QBs for the week (93.2 versus the Bills).
6. RB DeMarco Murray looked like his old Dallas self in Titans’ win.
Despite a home loss to the Raiders, one bright spot for the Titans in Week 3 was the impressive play of offseason addition DeMarco Murray. In Philadelphia last season, Murray earned a 51.9 overall grade—a far cry from his 87.5 mark in Dallas a year earlier. Through three games, however, his 78.5 grade currently ranks fifth among RBs, while an 87.9 mark in Week 3 was the highest at the position. On 16 attempts, Murray forced seven missed tackles en route to 114 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also caught all five of his targets from Mariota for an additional 41 receiving yards. It’s worth watching whether Murray can maintain his current production thus far in Tennessee—or possibly near his 2014 grades once again.
7. Aaron Rodgers bounced back from the worst grade of his career.
In Week 2, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers earned the lowest grade among all NFL QBs, at 34.1. In an impressive turnaround—essentially flipping positions with the aforementioned Ryan Fitzpatrick—Rodgers earned the highest grade among QBs in Week 3, at 86.0. Versus the Lions, the Packers’ QB threw for 205 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. He was among the least-accurate quarterbacks when facing pressure, however, completing just one of six attempts when the heat was on (he also had one throwaway when pressured). While Rodgers’ drastic turnaround is certainly encouraging, keep an eye on his performance versus a talented New York D-line in Week 5.
8. No. 5 overall pick Jalen Ramsey impressed against the Ravens.
Despite falling to Baltimore, the Jacksonville coaching staff has to be happy with the performance of the team’s first-round pick, CB Jalen Ramsey. Through Week 3, Ramsey owns the 17th-highest grade among NFL CBs, capped by his 84.9 mark versus the Ravens. Joe Flacco threw into Ramsey’s coverage on six occasions; the former Florida State DB surrendered four receptions, but for a total of just 15 yards. For the season, Ramsey has surrendered the fewest yards (63) of any rookie CB with six or more targets, as well as the fewest yards per completion (6.3).
9. Colts WR T.Y. Hilton earned the top grade among NFL receivers in Week 3.
At Wembley Stadium in Week 4, Ramsey may be tasked with containing the Colts’ top target, T.Y. Hilton, who earned the highest grade of any NFL WR in Week 3. Hilton hauled in 174 yards on just eight receptions against the Chargers, forcing two missed tackles and notching a key touchdown. When targeting Hilton, Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck posted a 152.1 NFL passer rating, tying the Russell Wilson-Doug Baldwin connection for the best Week 3 mark.
10. Falcons DE Dwight Freeney still getting the job done at age 36.
While much will be made of the performance of Atlanta’s running backs in Monday night’s win over the Saints, the Falcons’ highest-graded defender is also worthy of mention. Over 31 snaps, the 2016 free-agent acquisition recorded five pressures against Drew Brees (one sack, one QB hit, three QB hurries, as well as one defensive stop) en route to an 83.0 grade—just ahead of rookies Deion Jones (81.1) and Keanu Neal (76.1). The question for Atlanta is whether Freeney’s presence is enough on an otherwise underwhelming pass rush.