When NFL teams draft a quarterback of the future, the question is when do they let the future begin. Starting an unpolished rookie risks making him spoiled goods. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings as well as the Oakland Raiders all believe they have just found their savior under center. It is an exciting time in these 4 NFL cities. The decision they make could either pay off big time or haunt them for years to come.
It used to be common for teams to give their rookie QB time to develop. Things started to change in 2008, when Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, led their teams to the playoffs in their rookie season.Teams began to start their quarterbacks right away.
In 2009, the New York Jets started Mark Sanchez right away. The Jets went to back to back AFC championships. The Jets were winning but Sanchez was a very flawed passer. The Jets surrounded their quarterback with a pound it out running offense & the comfort of a dominant defense. The Jets kept believing that Sanchez could be a star, ignoring his shortcomings. Sanchez regressed to a butt fumbling level and the Jets replaced him. The Jets came into the 2013 season at square one with Geno Smith. Geno Smith did so poorly in his rookie season that the Jets signed Michael Vick this offseason.
The league did not realize that Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were exceptions to the rule. Teams looked for QB’s to get on the field training; they rationalized it by saying “what’s he going to learn on the bench?” There are some success stories such as Cam Newton, Russell Wilson & Andrew Luck but there are just as many Blaine Gabbert like nightmares.
There are less people qualified to be an NFL quarterback than any other job in the world. The physical and cerebral workload is incredible. The quarterback is the leader of the team and ideally is the most football obsessed amongst the players. They get all the credit in victory and all the blame in defeat. Think about the teams that win; they all have good QB’s. Teams have to be picky about who they put under center. If a rookie quarterback is going to start he has to earn it and be capable. Many teams draft a quarterback with a high ceiling in terms of potential and ruin him on the field too early. Everyone looks at the Flacco’s and Matt Ryan’s of the world. Why does nobody look at Aaron Rodgers. He had to sit behind Brett Favre; that worked out pretty good.
No matter how you slice it a rookie quarterback is a project. This years crop is a great example. Blake Bortles has a prototypical QB body and supreme arm talent. That said his footwork is messy at best, this affects the timing and accuracy of his passes-he struggles to read a defense when he is in the pocket and us only comfortable when rolling out. Johnny Football is not without his flaws. He has a lazy drop back, makes bad reads-uses his legs to get him out of the trouble he got himself in and forces late throws in the red zone. These two quarterbacks can make every throw and have an amazing amount of talent but I don’t think either one is ready. It’s not the ability, its the lack of fundamentals in their game.
The Browns would be best suited to sit their rookie passer on the sideline. They must remember the future is what is important. Manziel needs to develop a disciplined approach to football. If he tries the headless chicken-make magic out of nothing routine in the NFL he may get himself killed. Brian Hoyer deserves a chance to at least prove he can start in the league. The future is important to Cleveland they have been bad for a long time.
The Jaguars don’t expect to start Blake Bortles this year. Sure he could win the job, but they will only play him if he is truly ready. This is an organization that went through growing pains with Blaine Gabbert; they have learned from this experience. Chad Henne showed flashes of decent play last season. The Jaguars don’t need to rush things, they don’t expect to be great over night. They are rebuilding not rehashing their past mistakes.
Teddy Bridgewater however could start on day one. Bridgewater ran a savvy offense at Louisville like a well oiled machine. I had him rated as the best quarterback prospect; he was a total steal as the first rounds last pick. Bridgewater read defenses like a pro in college. Like Bortles and Manziel, Bridgewater has the ability to beat you with his legs. However Teddy uses his legs to extend plays, keeping his eyes downfield remaining a passer. Its funny that Bortles gets compared to Ben Roethlisberger based on size. Teddy Bridgewater plays the game mostly comparable to Roethlisberger; extending plays and connecting on deep bombs. The Vikings got a guy who is ready & they have no time to waste. Adrian Peterson is human so he won’t last forever.
I am not high on Derrick Carr, I never really have been. He has a tremendous arm, the physical tools are there. I can’t help but see Kyle Boller in Derrick Carr. I think it is so easy to fall in love with a cannon arm that we overlook signs of trouble. for Oakland’s sake I am wrong. I think Carr was very sheltered at Fresno State. The QB friendly spread offense and lower level of competition concerns me. His mechanics concern me. Getting blown out by USC in Fresno State’s Bowl game concerns me. Carr has the physical tools but I am not convinced he can do it at the next level. I don’t foresee patience for the Oakland Raiders. Matt Schuab is a shell of hus former self and a mere placeholder at quarterback. I predicted Carr to be a bust- an opinion many people have bashed me for. Now that I know he is a Raider, I am even more convinced.
There is no right or wrong approaches here. Everything depends on the situation. A team should absolutely start a rookie if he has earned it and is ready. Sitting your QB does not insure success. However starting him before he is ready is a good way to make him spoiled goods. Its a slippery slope that the respective NFL head coaches must be aware of.