Sunday: The Day of Reckoning

Despite the NFL doing its best to make things easier for offenses, playing quarterback in the NFL is still practically impossible.

The calculus involved for the poor souls willing to try is as overbearing as it is dangerous. Gameplans with their Xs and Os take on a whole new meaning when things get real on Sundays. The “Xs” morph into big, fast men who make it their mission to plant every opposing quarterback into the turf. NFL defenses have buried many talented signal callers – yes, even the ones with tremendous upside.

And…the cycle continues…

How are you feeling Chicago Bears fans? You couldn’t wait for Justin Fields to take the field as QB1 – Andy Dalton was standing in the way of greatness. There are different ways to measure greatness, but none of these numbers qualify.

  • Completed 6 passes out of 20 attempts
  • Total yards gained: 68
  • 30% completion percentage

The good news is that Fields didn’t throw an interception. But he was sacked nine times, and Myles Garret set the Browns single-game record with 4.5 sacks. And, the number that matters, the score was 26-6 in favor of the Browns.

There wasn’t a lot of greatness from the Bears offense out on the field this past Sunday. On the other side of the ball, though, the Browns’ Myles Garrett had a fantastic day.

Some organizations don’t even need an opposing defense to destroy their quarterback of the future. Just ask Sam Darnold if he’s happy with the change of scenery this year. Is it any wonder that Zach Wilson, the latest victim of becoming the Jets’ starting QB, is struggling?

Zach Wilson and the Jets haven’t won a game yet. He’s thrown seven interceptions in three games, four in one game. His delivery is all over the place, which leads to inaccurate passes spraying everywhere. But who can blame him?

The Jets offensive line is struggling with pass protection. He’s taken 15 sacks, the most of any quarterback in the league.

Does anyone else worry about Zach Wilson finishing the season? Stay safe, Zach Wilson, take the “easy throw” option because your organization won’t protect you.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Patriots organization provided its rookie quarterback Mac Jones with a nice running game, decent offensive line, and risk-averse play calling. This would seem like the reasonable way to go about bringing a rookie QB up to NFL speed.

That is until the Saints easily controlled the Patriots’ primitive offense by smothering the run and covering the short passing routes.

Mac Jones threw three interceptions. One of them was caused by the pass rush. A defender hit Jones just as he threw it. At least, Jones can say he stood his ground and delivered the ball under pressure. Welcome to the league, Mac Jones.

One can only imagine the disbelief shared by the Saints’ defensive coaches as they prepared for the Patriots. They’d never admit publicly what was said, but it had to go something like, “I can’t believe this team is going to attack us with a rookie quarterback, featuring a running game we can stop, a passing attack centered around tight-ends who can’t catch the ball, and wide receivers who don’t get any separation. Easy money, baby.”

How much does Trevor Lawrence wish he was back in college? Do you think he talks to Urban Meyer about past college days? Does Urban confess that he would have taken the USC job?

These are much more interesting questions than the “chalk talk” football conversations regarding the Jaguars passing attack – that’s easy to summarize:  it’s bad.

Occasionally, Lawrence makes a great throw, reminding everyone of why he was drafted number one. Those throws don’t happen often enough and are easily countered by the ones that result in interceptions. He’s thrown seven interceptions in three games.

The fact that Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, and Trevor Lawrence all struggled shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But as the years have gone by with the QB camps and offensive explosion, people have forgotten that NFL defenses employ people with elite size, strength, and speed on the field calibrated to ruin a quarterback’s day. No sane person would look forward to standing in the pocket and taking a hit from a defensive lineman or linebacker.

Starting over at quarterback sounds good in theory: get a super-skilled quarterback out of college on a rookie deal, build the team around him, and win the Super Bowl a’ la what the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson. But the reality is that most inexperienced quarterbacks struggle to get into the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl.



Categories: NFL

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