Grading NFL’s next generation of quarterbacks in Week 3: Mac Jones flashes vs. Ravens despite interceptions

Trevor Lawrence’s Jaguars and Justin Fields’ Bears enter October with identical 2-1 records. Just like we all expected. Despite their winning records, Lawrence and Fields have performed very differently through three weeks, and we got a fascinating game from Mac Jones in the Patriots’ home loss to the Ravens.

A total of four quarterbacks selected in the past two NFL draft classes — all from 2021 — saw considerable playing time during Week 3’s action.

Let’s dive deep into the individual efforts of each quarterback and assign a grade on a per-snap basis, taking every individual aspect of their performance into account. At least 10 attempts are needed to qualify for this piece, which is published every Tuesday during the NFL season.

Trevor Lawrence

High-Caliber Throws:

  • His touchdown to Zay Jones displayed his improvisation ability and his throw-on-the-run talent.
  • Later in the second, Lawrence ripped a fastball over the middle to Jones for a 14-yard gain that was just past the underneath linebacker.
  • After checking his options, Lawrence vacated the pocket to his left and found Evan Engram near the sideline in the end zone for a score against decently tight coverage.
  • In the fourth, Lawrence waited very patiently inside the pocket, got through his reads, and found Marvin Jones over the middle for a positive gain.
  • His final throw of the day was an absolutely gorgeous touchdown to Jones on a corner route in the end zone through a tiny window.

Low-Caliber Throws:

  • Early in the game, Lawrence overthrew Jones on a long route towards the sideline.
  • Late in the first he airmailed a throw into the end zone that fell incomplete.
  • In the second quarter, Lawrence was late on a short out-breaking route that was nearly intercepted.

Summary: Lawrence was workmanlike again in a convincing victory. The big-time throws were sprinkled throughout, but I was more impressed with his grasp of Doug Pedersen’s scheme, how often he got it out of his hands on-time and on-target. On the road, against a quality defense, Lawrence was very good — not amazing — in the victory.

Grade: B-
Season Grade: C

Mac Jones


High-Caliber Throws:

  • On his first throw of the game, Jones looked right then came back to the middle of the field and ripped a strike to DeVante Parker.
  • A few throws later, Jones dropped it in the bucket on a deep run by Parker for a big gain.
  • His touchdown scramble in the second quarter was some of the most sudden footwork he’s shown in the NFL.
  • Later, Jones again threw with perfect accuracy and trajectory on a long ball to Parker down the sideline.
  • His next throw was a gorgeous back-shoulder to Parker near the end zone.
  • Jones zinged a fastball over the middle — and just beyond the reach of an underneath defender — at the intermediate level to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter.
  • In the fourth quarter, on a 3rd and 17, Jones bounced around in the pocket before somehow finding Kendrick Bourne open deep down the seam. Jones put it on him to miraculously move the chains.

Low-Caliber Throws:

  • Midway through the second quarter, he had Parker open in the end zone but under threw the longer pass which allowed him to be knocked away.
  • After the back-shoulder strike to Parker, Jones should have been intercepted on a short throw near the goal line, but the ball was dropped.
  • His interception over the middle in the second half was late and simply wasn’t there. The pass shouldn’t have been thrown.
  • Jones’ first pick of the fourth quarter was ghastly, he was forced to fade away from the throw due to pressure and threw it well beyond the intended target into the hands of a Ravens defender.
  • He skipped a throw into the flat in the fourth quarter as pressure mounted.
  • Jones’ final interception came on a deep dig to Bourne that sailed over the receiver’s head.

Summary: Believe it or not, I did not hate this game from Jones. I’ve seen much, much worse from him early in his career. It almost felt like Jones assumed a different style for this game. Many more downfield shots — with good results — than normal, more athletic movements in, around, and out of the pocket. It wasn’t a game plan totally relegated to screens, check downs, and conservative throws into the flat. The interceptions brought down Jones’ grade, but I was impressed by the aggression and effectiveness while pushing the ball further down the field than he’s ever shown in the NFL. Unfortunately, Jones hopped off the field after suffering a severe high ankle sprain at the end of the game, and reportedly could miss some games.

Grade: C+
Season Grade: C-


High-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • After not pulling the trigger while looking right, Fields made a defender miss and scampered up the middle for 29 yards.
  • In the fourth, Fields waited for a throwing lane for Cole Kmet to clear, then threw with perfect ball placement with a sidearm delivery.
  • His best throw of the day came in the fourth quarter on a long toss to Darnell Mooney deep down the field. The ball arrived just before a diving defender could get his hands on it.

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • Fields’ first interception was all about inaccuracy. He had a wide-open Cole Kmet running a skinny post down the seam, but the pass was too far out in front and was snagged by the safety.
  • In the second, after a play action fake, he overthrew Darnell Mooney on an over route.
  • Near the end of the third, Fields threw errantly on a rollout to his right. He had a tight end open at the second level but flat-out missed him.
  • Fields’ second interception was seemingly predetermined before the snap, thrown into triple coverage, and inaccurate.

Summary: The Bears won in Week 3 despite Fields’ throwing efforts. It was pretty ugly. As usual, he made magic with his legs, but he’s still not making quick decisions and his accuracy is not improving.

Grade: D+
Season Grade: D+


High-Caliber Throws:

  • Mills’ touchdown to Jordan Akins from in close was made across the field and had to have perfect ball placement with a defender tight in coverage.
  • In the third quarter, Mills threw with great velocity and placement on a post to Nico Collins that went for a 22-yard gain.
  • After pumping in the pocket a few times, Mills put a lot of gas behind a long throw to Phillip Dorsett open downfield by the sideline. The ball arrived a split second before the safety could make a play on the target.

Low-Caliber Throws/Plays:

  • His interception near the end of the first quarter came off a deflection, but the throw into the end zone was late and slightly behind the intended target.
  • In the third, Mills threw off balance and well behind a back-shoulder attempt to Collins.

Summary: A strong opening drive gave way to a mostly pedestrian effort from Mills. Not brutal, not bad. Some displays of his clearly strong arms, some instances when it was evident he wasn’t fully comfortable against the Chicago defense. Decent rebound after his ghastly effort in Week 2.

Grade: C-
Season Grade: D+

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