The Rookie Quarterback Conundrum
As opening night draws closer for the NFL season, so does the start of a new generation of quarterbacks. Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch and Dak Prescott. What do these four quarterbacks have in common besides having a better name then me? They were drafted with the expectation that one day, whether it’s week 1 of this season or week 1 of next season, to start under center.
The first two picks of the 2016 draft belonged to the
St. Louis Los Angeles Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles. Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, in that same order, were the first two names to be called on draft night. For Goff and the Rams it was a very special night, not only was Goff the first pick of the NFL draft, but it was the Rams first draft since the move to L.A.
The Rams haven't had a winning season since 2002, when Kurt Warner won the league’s MVP and led St. Louis to a 14-2 record. In the following season, the Rams went 8-8 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs. Since then the team has failed to make the playoffs and hasn't had much hope until the addition of Running Back Todd Gurley last year, who rushed for 1100 yards and won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Yet the QB position was not solidified despite trading for Nick Foles earlier in the year. Foles started the first 10 games of the season before being benched in favor of Case Keenum, yet neither QB could maintain the starting spot.
Enter Jared Goff and he wasn't cheap. The Rams traded six draft picks to the Titans to receive the number one pick, giving up their '16 first rounder, two second-round picks, and two other third-round picks in addition to their '17 first and third round picks. So when week 1 rolled around of the preseason, it was Keenum who got the nod. Keenum and third-stringer Sean Mannion played the majority of the game, while Goff played only two drives in the second quarter. He threw a pick on the first drive (not entirely his fault) and was leading a nice second drive before being sacked out of field goal range (once again, not entirely his fault).
Week 2 started off rough, as his second play from scrimmage resulted in him fumbling and losing the ball deep in Rams territory. Goff seemed to calm down as the game went on, leading to his first touchdown pass of the preseason. While he has a long way to go, he has shown the ability to make precision throws but has been let down by his receivers hands multiple times, something that wipes away a quarterbacks confidence quickly, especially for a rookie.
Neither Goff nor Keenum has outplayed each other yet, and with two weeks left in the preseason it should be interesting to see who steps up. Although Goff is obviously more talented then Keenum, there is always the risk of rushing a rookie quarterback in to soon. The Rams have already seen this movie once, after selecting Sam Bradford with the first pick in 2010 and starting him in Week 1 of the regular season after starting the preseason as backup to A.J. Feely. Bradford had a promising rookie year before his career demised to injuries and inconsistency (more on him later).
HC Jeff Fisher would be wise to let Keenum start the season and name Goff the starter somewhere around week 5, when the Rams schedule eases up a bit. A lot is on the line for the Rams, and Goff could be difference maker on whether or not the Rams move to Los Angeles is deemed a success, or a failure.
Now you may be thinking "doesn't Philadelphia already have 300 quarterbacks on their roster?" Yes. "So why draft another one?" Because they all suck. So now entering week 3 of the NFL preseason, Wentz is still the third-string behind Bradford and Chase Daniel, who is the highest paid backup QB in the NFL. Fun fact: Chase Daniel has started two games in his six-year NFL career. How does that get someone a three-year, $21 million deal? Even better, why give an unproven backup a great contract when you just drafted your future starter?
Because it doesn't put Wentz in a situation where if something happened to Bradford, he wouldn't be rushed onto the field unprepared (cough *like the Dallas Cowboys* cough). As expected, Pederson will take his time with Wentz who already has missed one preseason game for a hairline fracture suffered in Week 1 against the Buccaneers. Wentz resumed throwing earlier this week and can possibly return to play in the preseason. Pederson said in July that Wentz would most likely start the season on the inactive list. Whether or not that is still the plan remains to be seen as kickoff is only a few short weeks away. There is a good chance Wentz will not play a game for the Eagles this year, all depending on how short of a leash Bradford is on.
Wentz threw for 89 yards on 12-24 passing with one interception in his first game for Philly.
It's hard to believe that Peyton Manning has retired, and who better to replace him in Week 1 then Mark Sanchez. Yes, the Sanchise is back. Well for the time being until the 26th selection of the draft, Paxton Lynch, takes over. HC Gary Kubiak has yet to name a starter for the regular season, with a quarterback battle ongoing between the Sanchise and second-year QB Trevor Siemian. Kubiak has decided to let Lynch start the season at third-string, patiently waiting until Sanchez has his yearly four interception game or until he sees fit for the Memphis Tiger product to take over.
All three players have gotten pretty equal time so far in the preseason, and neither outplaying the other. But Siemian is the only one that has been in this system for more than a year, making him the probable starter for Week 1. No one knows when Lynch will see the field during the regular season, but Broncos GM John Elway has repeatedly stated that Lynch is the future. Until then, we have Mark Sanchez to enjoy.
In shocking news, Tony Romo got injured. Again! For the millionth time. This time, suffering a compression fracture of his vertebrae and sidelining him for 6-10 weeks. The Cowboys are 1-13 in games where Tony Romo does not start in the past four years. Now with the addition of Dak Prescott, Cowboy fans are hoping this season isn't a repeat of last year.
In case you haven't seen the rookie from Mississippi State, he's seemingly already levels ahead of Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore. Entering the preseason, Moore was the designated backup for Romo but suffered a season ending injury throwing Prescott into the role. And boy this kid has yet to disappoint. Through three games, Prescott has thrown for 454 yards on 39-50 passing with five touchdowns and ZERO turnovers.
Okay so it’s just preseason it won't translate to the regular season right? Prescott played his third game in a Cowboy uniform at Seattle AND against their first-team defense for much of the first half. He didn't show a single sign of wilting, instead taking on the challenge of the Seahawks strong secondary. But it's preseason so no one tries right? Look at the hit Romo took that pushed Prescott in the starting role much earlier than Cowboys fan want and tell me if you think Cliff Avril wasn't trying.
While Paxton Lynch has the NFL's best defense to back him up, Prescott has the NFL's best offensive line and two quality running backs to hand the ball off to if things get rough. With the young talent the Cowboys have on offensive, the future looks the bright.
Follow me on Twitter @camerondparker