Sports Info Solutions: Which QBs Were the Most Accurate in Week 1?

Josh Allen stiff arm

Even in this version of the NFL where quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts and Trey Lance are giving defensive staffs nightmares with their rushing ability, being an accurate passer is still the most crucial skill for a successful NFL QB.

Take Josh Allen, for example. He was a raw prospect coming out of college, and while he showed off a strong arm in his first two years, he was inconsistent in getting the ball where he wanted it. He showed dramatic improvement in a near-MVP 2020 campaign but had a slightly down year in 2021.

But through one game of 2022, he’s leading the league with a (totally unsustainable) 94% on-target throw rate.

Josh Allen On-Target% by Season

Season On-Target% Rank
2018 71% 38th
2019 72% 39th
2020 81% 6th
2021 76% 21st
2022 94% 1st

When we say “on target” here, we mean SIS video scouts determined the throw was either within the player’s frame or hit him in stride on the move. No adjustments or reaches are necessary. There are also some other small adjustments to isolate throws we can usefully evaluate, like removing spikes and throwaways. You can find accuracy numbers broken down by throw depth on The Edge under the Air Yards tab of the Passing leaderboard.

As you might guess, not only was Allen the most accurate quarterback in Week 1, but he showed the greatest improvement from last year’s rate. That comes in part from being more conservative in the Thursday matchup against the Rams, although he was successful in doing so. Only five of his throws went more than 10 yards downfield, but three of those were completed for 126 yards and two touchdowns.



Daniel Jones gets the Daboll bump

Jones had a similarly encouraging start but with an even more conservative set of throws than he was attempting last year. His average attempt went 6.9 yards downfield last season, which ranked 38th among 42 players with at least 100 attempts. But even then, he ranked 30th in On-Target%.

In Week 1 against the Titans, Jones was on-target with 90% of his throws, which is a step in the right direction. Don’t think we haven’t noticed who the new head coach is in New York.

Patrick Mahomes is still a bad man

Bad news for the AFC comes in the form of Patrick Mahomes’ performance against the Cardinals. Last year, he ranked 18th with 77% of throws on target, and in Week 1 he was on target with 85% of his throws. But unlike Allen and Jones, his throws were further downfield than last year’s. He posted 360 yards, 5 touchdowns, and no picks without Tyreek Hill in the fold, so there was a lot going right for the Chiefs on Sunday.

On the other hand

We’ve covered the good, so let’s take a look at the other end of the ledger.

An imprecise DET-PHI matchup

Those who watched the Eagles edge out the Lions were “treated” to two of the three biggest fallers in On-Target%, Jared Goff and Jalen Hurts.

Of the two, Hurts’ showing was more concerning. Considering his throws were as short as anyone on average, he was accurate only 54% of the time on short throws. A.J. Brown was the apple of Hurts’ eye in the win, and in corralling those throws he got a good stretch out of it as well.

Goff’s numbers were mostly a factor of increased difficulty, although there was still a lack of touch that’s necessary to elevate the offense. He threw nearly 2 yards further downfield than he averaged last season. While the on-point accuracy wasn’t there, he threw a catchable ball 86% of the time, which actually beat out Mahomes.

Kyler Murray starting slow?

Last but certainly not least, we have an MVP hopeful who usually starts fast getting out of the gates on the wrong foot. Kyler Murray showed a decline in accuracy through one week—82% accurate in 2021 and 71% in Week 1—and he was throwing his passes at about the same depth on average.

These sorts of things can be blips on the radar, especially for players with his talent. But, it’s something to keep an eye on if these results persist over the next week or two.

Alex Vigderman contributed to this report. 

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