We saw some great NFL quarterback performances during the first Sunday of regular season action. Tua Tagovailoa put up an historic outing in a Miami Dolphins win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Unfortunately, those included below are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Several quarterbacks struggled with turnovers. Others just couldn’t get out of the way of fierce pass rushes. Below, we look at the five worst NFL quarterback performances from Week 1.
Daniel Jones, New York Giants
- Daniel Jones stats (Week 1): 15-of-28 passing, 104 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Let’s pull the scab off right away, Giants fans. The newly minted $160 million quarterback was a product of the Giants’ offensive line, weather conditions in Jersey, the Cowboys’ defense and his own ineptitude. We could not have envisioned a worst performance for Jones to open up the 2023 campaign after leading New York to a surprising playoff appearance a season ago.
How bad was it for Jones in the Giants’ 40-0 loss to Dallas in Week 1? He put up 35 net passing yards on 28 attempts. The quarterback was hit 12 times and sacked a total of seven times. He connected with his wide receivers to the tune of 4-of-14 passing for 26 yards. That was good enough for a 9.8 passer rating. Jones would have been better off spiking it every time rather than attempting actual passes. We’re not sure where the much-maligned quarterback and his team go from here. The drawing board would be a good start.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
- Ryan Tannehill stats (Week 1): 16-of-34 passing, 198 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
Let’s be clear here. Ryan Tannehill has not been a starter-caliber NFL quarterback over the past couple seasons. Back in 2022, the former Pro Bowler threw 13 touchdowns with nine giveaways in 12 starts. Despite this, Tennessee opted to retain him for another season as a stopgap starter.
About that? Tannehill put up one of the most miserable performances of his lengthy career in a 16-15 loss to the New Orleans Saints. He threw three interceptions during a five-drive span, resulting in 10 Saints points. With the Titans needing a touchdown to overcome New Orleans, they also saw two drives stall en route to kicking mere field goals. Simply put, Tannehill did not put his team in position to win a game that could have turned out in the Titans’ favor with better play under center.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Kenny Pickett stats (Week 1): 31-of-46 passing, 232 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
Expectations were high for this sophomore quarterback and his team heading into Week 1. Pickett had led the Steelers to touchdowns on all five of his preseason drives. He was seemingly set to take off with the likes of running back Najee Harris and wide receiver George Pickens doing their thing. About that?
Pickett found himself under pressure throughout the game (five sacks, nine QB hits). When the youngster had a clean pocket and windows to throw through, he simply missed the passes. Accuracy and communication were a major issue on the part of the former first-round pick and his Steelers offense.
“We’re gonna put this behind us. We gotta learn from the miscues, put our best foot forward next week,” Pickett said after the game, via the Steelers’ official website.
Timing issues are prevalent during the early part of the season. However, it’s the pressure Pickett saw and his uneasiness in the backfield that surprised many. The good news for Pickett is that he was going up against the NFL’s best defense in Week 1.
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
- Justin Fields stats (Week 1): 24-of-37 passing, 216 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Like Pickett, this young quarterback entered the 2023 season with high expectations. General manager Ryan Poles had acquired a few nice weapons to help the former first-round pick. It was now up to Fields to do his part.
In no way did that come to fruition at home Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. Fields was outplayed by fellow young quarterback Jordan Love in every imaginable way. The ugliest part of the evening was when Fields threw a pick-six into the hands of Packers linebacker Quay Walker to pretty much put the game away.
We’re not even sure what Fields was looking at there. He has to see the linebacker drop back into coverage. At the very least, Fields must acknowledge the multiple Packers defenders in coverage. It was just the continuation of a disastrous season-opening performance from the quarterback. To make matters worse, Fields completed just 2-of-4 passes to wide receivers D.J. Moore and Chase Claypool. Ouch!
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
- Joe Burrow stats: 14-of-31 passing, 82 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Fancy meeting you here, Joe. The newly minted highest-paid player in NFL history put up the single worst performance of Sunday’s action. It’s honestly astonishing to see him on a list like this, but the numbers and tape tell us a major story.
Burrow averaged all of 2.2 yards net yards per pass. Ja’Marr Chase had 39 yards on nine targets. Fellow star receiver Tee Higgins caught 0-of-8 targets. You read that right, he did not haul in a single pass on eight targets. Sure, Burrow was under pressure a ton. He also missed all of training camp with a calf injury. Even then, his performance in an ugly 24-3 loss to Cleveland was downright terrible.
“Week 1 doesn’t define anyone’s season,” Burrow said after Sunday’s loss. We sure the heck hope so, Joe.