NFL

25 Signs Of Disaster From 2021’s NFL Rookie QB Class

Darren - October 4, 2021
NFL

25 Signs Of Disaster From 2021’s NFL Rookie QB Class

Darren - October 4, 2021
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Where Is The Help?

Top 10 picks usually burn a hole in franchise front offices. They get excited about drafting a quarterback without thinking about the consequences. What if there isn’t a strong offensive line in place before they bring a young QB in? We saw what happened to Joe Burrow in 2020 and it was pure stupidity. Another issue is that every signal-caller needs weapons (via Fansided).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t matter if they’re a rookie or an MVP like Aaron Rodgers. Quarterbacks need effective targets or they’re just throwing with blind faith. Wilson and Lawrence’s receivers need to step up or they’re going to throw their QBs under the bus. They’re the top two in their class but have some of the worst wideouts in the league at their disposal. In the end, they’ll pay the price.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Jimmy G.

Trey Lance is in a unique position because he actually has competition for his place. Kyle Shanahan is using Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter and Lance in a gadget role. Many fans wrote Jimmy G. off before the season but he remains a perplexing presence. It’s likely that Lance will eventually oust the former Patriot but Garoppolo retained the team’s trust (via Sports Illustrated) before suffering yet another injury in Week Four.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

While he’s frustratingly inconsistent, Jimmy G. provides some great moments. He helped the Niners back into the game against the Packers in Week Three before his team threw it away, but that wasn’t his fault. There was something poetic about that game and it made it tougher for Lance to stake his claim. He’s arguably the best-placed rookie in his class but that comes with its own unique challenge, and now that role is his before the team wanted him to have it.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. Media Agenda

The NFL quarterbacks’ class received a lot of attention from the media over the summer. Now that they’re struggling there’s a general feeling of schadenfreude going around the league. Some of this is unreasonable because these are young players and it’s not their fault their teams expect so much from them. But they haven’t escaped harsh criticism from former players.

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Joe Rivera from Sporting News was scathing about Lawrence’s display against Arizona. He acknowledged one good highlight-reel pass to DJ Chark but was otherwise highly critical. “These highlights will come more consistently with time, but there’s no reason to sugarcoat that Lawrence has been not very good early on,” he said. Some commentators have been even more unkind.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Excessive Expectations

The trouble with the 2021 class of quarterbacks is that they received so much hype. There was more talk about Trevor Lawrence than any other player in the league. Meanwhile, some fans were talking about Mac Jones as though he were Tom Brady’s clone. Clearly, the Jets were high on Wilson while a lot of critics believed the Bears got the best of the bunch in Fields (via Washington Post).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But it’s too much to expect an entire class to succeed. It’s rare for so many rookies to start in the same season. When you add in Trey Lance, there’s an excessive number of first-year quarterbacks. Rookie QBs typically struggle as we saw with all-time-greats like Peyton Manning in the past. However, there are so many playing at once this season so there is more emphasis on their struggles.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Disorganized Defense

The Detroit Lions had the worst defense in the NFL in 2020. They completely undermined Matthew Stafford’s efforts to win. They had one of the most underrated and consistent quarterbacks in the NFL but their defense let them down time and time again. A good defense can win Super Bowls. Look at the Baltimore Ravens in 2001 when they won with Trent Dilfer.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, a weak defense only adds pressure on the team’s quarterback. That’s because there is more riding on their output. The Jets brought in Carl Lawson to help fix this problem but he tore his ACL in August (via Denver Post). Khalil Mack is one of the best players in the NFL but the Bears must figure out how to get the best out of him. This class of quarterbacks can’t succeed without their teams’ help.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Trying Too Hard

Another issue is that these players are trying too hard. That’s particularly true in the case of Wilson. He threw four interceptions against the Patriots but took too many risks. Wilson showed that he’s one of the most confident QBs in his class because he remained bullish despite his mistake. However, an NFL starter must settle down and show more composure with the ball.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

New York head coach Robert Saleh agreed. As a former defensive coordinator, it’s easy to imagine his stomach curdling every time Wilson threw the ball away. “It’s OK to play a boring game of football, that’s really it,” Saleh said. “And he is an electric dude. He’s competitive as crap and he wants to win so bad. But sometimes it’s OK to be boring. And that’s probably the biggest lesson that we can take out of this one” (via ESPN).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Too Many Hits

Joe Burrow had a decent start to his Bengals career in 2020. He came off one of the most exceptional college seasons ever and looked solid as an NFL rookie. But there was one major problem. Their offensive line was nonexistent and Burrow paid the price. The Eagles sacked him eight times in Week Three as he absorbed a crazy amount of punishment. In the end, he unfortunately suffered a long-term knee injury (via SBNation).

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck retired early after receiving similar treatment. David Carr’s career went downhill after a brutal baptism in Houston. The likes of Justin Fields and Wilson could face the same future. Cleveland sacked the Chicago quarterback eight times on his debut in a brutal baptism of fire. That is simply unsustainable. These players won’t blossom if they have no brain cells, which brings us to our next point.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Lack Of Protection

As well as protecting their quarterbacks, offensive lines also enable their playmakers to get their passes away. If signal-callers don’t have the freedom of the field, they’re more likely to make poor decisions. Most of 2021’s class of rookie stars don’t have the luxury of a strong offensive line. That’s why their only choice at times is to pass and pray that it finds it reaches its mark.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks like Lawrence or Wilson can only do so much with a weak offensive line. Remember how Peyton Manning went 3-13 in his rookie season? (via USA Today). His career turned out to be quite decent but he also struggled in the beginning. Without a decent offensive line, fans will only see flashes of these QBs’ abilities. Their franchises have to fix them or they’ll never produce consistently.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Too Much Too Soon

The reality is that it is too much too soon for most of these young quarterbacks. These days a lot of coaches agree that it’s a good idea to redshirt their starlets before throwing them into the deep end. Even Patrick Mahomes sat behind Alex Smith for a season (via The Ringer). As the NFL continues to evolve, perhaps teams should consider following this model. To be fair, the Niners and the Bears are trying to do this.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Chicago resisted their fans’ demands to start Fields. However, Andy Dalton’s injury took that choice away. Finally, the Jets, the Jags, and the Patriots dropped their rookies in the middle of a battlefield. Mac Jones has some chance because Bill Belichick has a plan. But it’s difficult not to pity Wilson and Lawrence. Lance is the only one from his class without this weight on his shoulders – and he too now has it all of the sudden.

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