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Grading NFL Debuts Of Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Anthony Richardson

  • Justin Melo
  • September 11, 2023
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Three rookie quarterbacks made their official NFL debuts in Week 1. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, and Anthony Richardson were all in action for the first time in professional games that counted. As expected, all three inexperienced signal callers enjoyed their ups and downs. Let’s analyze how they fared in their first NFL start.


It was a rough debut for Bryce Young in Carolina. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft completed 20-of-38 passing attempts for 146 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Young was picked off twice by Atlanta Falcons safety Jessie Bates III. Young earned a quarterback rating of just 48.8.

Young was sacked on two occasions and also fumbled, which the Panthers were fortunate enough to recover. Atlanta’s defense held the Panthers to under 300 yards of offense. It qualified as a “welcome to the NFL” contest for Young, who rarely saw such struggles as Alabama’s quarterback. Young attempted only one pass longer than 20 yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, an incompletion thrown in Jonathan Mingo’s direction.

The Panthers were without speedy receiver D.J. Chark due to a hamstring injury and Adam Thielen was limited after popping up on the injury report late in the week. Carolina’s passing game lacked oomph. Tight end Hayden Hurst was their leading receiver with just five receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. 

Young will attempt to bounce back on Monday Night Football against a stout Saints secondary that intercepted Ryan Tannehill three times on Sunday.


C.J. Stroud enjoyed an underrated showing despite the 25-9 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens indicating otherwise. Stroud completed 28-of-44 passes for 242 yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

An offensive line that’s riddled with injury struggled to protect Stroud, who was sacked on five occasions and was hit 10 total times by an overwhelming Ravens defensive line. Stroud showed terrific poise despite being under constant duress. The former Ohio State standout hung tough in the pocket and battled all game long.

Stroud went a perfect 8-of-8 on hitch routes for 80 yards, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik called hitch routes with regularity. It’s easy to see why as Stroud flashed a terrific sense of comfort with the concept.

Stroud was solid and composed despite the multi-score defeat. The Texans brass should feel great about Stroud’s performance as there were NFL franchise quarterback tendencies were on display.


The Indianapolis Colts expect growing pains with Anthony Richardson, the rawest of three rookie quarterbacks who started on Sunday. In honesty, the learning curve for Richardson didn’t appear as steep as first anticipated. The Colts lost 31-21 to their AFC South rival Jacksonville Jaguars, but Richardson was a massive bright spot.

Richardson completed 24-of-37 passing attempts for 223 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Richardson’s lone passing score was a screen pass to Michael Pittman Jr. who took it 40 yards to the end zone. A dual-threat playmaker, Richardson added 40 rushing yards and a touchdown to his offensive totals.

Richardson became the youngest player in NFL history to record passing and rushing touchdowns in the same contest. Indianapolis exits Week 1 with terrific promise under center. Richardson’s development appears on schedule.