Four NFL teams have already handed over the starting QB role to rookies, and so far it has not panned out well. None of those teams (Jets, Bills, Browns, and Cardinals) are currently above .500.
There doesn’t seem to be hope for any of these QBs to lead a serious contender this year. Instead, this season has become a workshop for the rookies to finetune their skills in front of an audience.
Darnold burst onto the scene with an interception in his first throw in the league against the Lions. He began to look like another failed project for the Jets. However, Darnold put the pick behind him and delivered an inspired performance to win his first ever NFL game. Suddenly, it looked like there could be hope for New York after all. Even Fireman Ed was fired up:
Fireman Ed’s Super Bowl pic.twitter.com/grGeB9vD1K
— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) September 11, 2018
Unfortunately, he followed this game up with three consecutive losses. In his last two games, he has more combined incompletions than completions. Jets head coach Todd Bowles has Josh McCown on the sidelines if it starts to get too bad. He continues to claim that Darnold has earned the starting role and that this year is more about winning games than it is about developing Darnold.
The bar for the Cleveland Browns this year was embarrassingly low: win a single game. So when Baker Mayfield emerged in the second quarter versus the Jets and mounted a comeback from down 14 points including a catch on a 2-point conversion, he cemented himself as a fan favorite.
Even better, he almost won another game the next week against the Raiders, but it just barely slipped through his fingers, and they lost in overtime. This was Baker’s first full game, and he threw 2 TDs and two interceptions, as well as 295 yards.
The jury’s still out on Baker, but he has some quality players surrounding him so he may be in the best position of any rookie QB.
After an abysmal first half by Nathan Peterman against the Ravens, Allen got his number called week 1. It was too late to make a difference in the game anyways, but McDermott has stuck with him ever since. This season is a throwaway for Buffalo, so the focus will be on elevating Allen’s skill through experience. He did lead the Bills to a surprising victory over the Vikings in which he ran for two touchdowns and threw for one more.
He does tend to run out of the pocket when it isn’t necessary, but that is a problem that can be fixed in due time.
Rosen was supposed to be a project for the Cardinals when they drafted him. He was expected to play second string behind Bradford and learn from the sidelines. Coach Steve Wilks threw a wrench in this plan quickly, as he named Rosen the starter and benched Bradford. Wilks was quick to praise Rosen’s effort in his first career start:
Rosen threw 15-27 and a touchdown against the Seahawks, not bad for his first start. Regardless, the Cardinals are yet another case of phoning it in early and using the season to develop a young prospect. Rosen is that prospect for Arizona, who faces the 49ers this weekend.
Honorable Mention: Lamar Jackson
There haven’t been too many sightings of the Heisman winner since the Ravens drafted him. He is in the shadow of Joe Flacco and comes out for some specialty plays. Mostly, he is brought out to introduce the threat of a run to defenses, even if the call isn’t designed for him:
Baltimore bringing Lamar Jackson onto the field as a non-quarterback is met with a bit of derision #onhere, but even the threat of him of the field can cause confusion and open up things for the Ravens running game. pic.twitter.com/b2Y08nv89o
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) September 26, 2018
Ravens are doing well this year, so it’s unlikely that they will make a wild change and put Jackson under center.