NFL's Week 1 QB disaster: The 8 most worrisome situations going forward
Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer and Kirk Cousins need to turn it around fast
After Week 1 of the NFL season, there are always some teams that just didn't look right. However, 2017 saw several teams in truly horrific quarterback positions. Some were expected, some weren't, but several were on projected playoff teams. If they can't pull it together or make a change soon, then it could be a long season for these teams, as quarterback play has become essential to succeed in today's NFL.
Here are the eight most worrisome QB situations heading into Week 2.
New York Jets
This is hardly surprising, as the Jets clearly had no intention of fixing their quarterback situation heading into the season. Josh McCown went 26-for-39 for only 187 yards and two interceptions. That was just the tip of the iceberg for the Jets' poor play, but against a Bills secondary that is also embracing a rebuild it isn't promising. If fans start speaking too much, then the Jets may turn to... Christian Hackenberg. So their quarterback situation is a bit of a mess from top to bottom.
Obviously the Jets aren't playing for much this year, much has been made of that fact. But the last thing that a team wants to do is anger its fan base, and Jets fans aren't going tolerate watching an entire season of this. They'll either speak with their boos or their wallets, and based on the reports around Hackenberg all offseason, that's when things would really get interesting. The Jets must really hope that Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield is the answer, because they're subjecting themselves to a tough season with the current roster.
Yes a win is a win is a win, but Blake Bortles contributed very little to that win, and the Jaguars are still committed to their 2014 first-round pick. After a brief Chad Henne appearance in the preseason, Bortles was named the starter again, and now the Jaguars are saddled up with Bortles to ride out 2017 against the seemingly weak AFC South. The Jaguars rode their defense to a 29-7 victory, where Bortles completed just over 52 percent of his passes and threw for 125 yards. He finished 11-for-21 in the game, and hardly seemed comfortable being back on the field.
The injury to Allen Robinson will limit Bortles even further. Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory may be able to shoulder a certain amount of work for Bortles, but there will be times that Jaguars will trail in games this year. If Bortles can't move the ball down the field in the air then the Jaguars will be in serious trouble. Coming back in the NFL is hard enough -- coming back without any type of passing game is next to impossible. The Jaguars showed that they have the potential to be competitive with a stifling front four (albeit against a terrible Texans line), but they'll need better play from Bortles if they're going to win close games.
And on the other side of the same game, there are the Texans. Projected to be competitors in the AFC South -- if not the AFC -- in 2017, the Texans after Week 1 are already looking bruised and battered. Bengals, but outside of his one touchdown drive he didn't light up the scoreboard. The Texans' offensive line didn't do any favors, as 10 sacks will attest, but Tom Savage looked generally awful against the Jaguars on Sunday.on Thursday Night Football against the
Houston obviously couldn't just pull a good quarterback out of thin air, andto save them Sunday. Savage went 7-for-13 in the first half for 62 yards, while Watson ended 12-for-23 for 102 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Hype for Watson aside, the Texans are allegedly a playoff team, and if they can't protect Watson then there's no way that he'll do well throughout his rookie season. The Bengals will be a good test for Watson, but the real battle to look for will be in the trenches: Can the line keep the Bengals off of Watson? Because if he ends up getting hurt early in the year and the Texans end up with a full season of Savage, that puts a huge damper on their AFC South hopes. Being forced to start a rookie after one half is hardly promising to begin with.
Chalk this one up to Peyton Manning's horrific 2015 season reminded everyone that every quarterback is human, so every bad performance from quarterbacks over 36 is going to be chalked up to hitting the wall. Palmer went up against a decent Detroit Lions secondary, threw the ball 48 times, and went for only 269 yards., but a completion percentage of 56.25 percent and three interceptions doesn't bode well for a 37-year-old quarterback.
The Cardinals have to be good. They just have to. No one wants to see another Seahawks cakewalk to win the NFC West (sorry Los Angeles, we have to see more than Scott Tolzien). But with David Johnson the running and receiving games may take a huge hit. Larry Fitzgerald hardly looked like himself Sunday, and without those weapons, Palmer will only struggle further. This is the kind of pick that can get laughed at, but the Cardinals' backups are Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton. The defense is still promising, as Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu can carry a unit, but this may mark the second year in a row that the Cardinals underperform since their 2015 NFC Championship Game appearance.
Andy Dalton is the personification of room temperature water. He'll get you where you want to go, nothing more nothing less. At least, he was. The "Andy Dalton Line," a play on baseball's "Mendoza Line," was jokingly referred to as the exact spot of a mediocre quarterback. On Sunday, however, he looked absolutely horrific. Not to take away from Baltimore's defense, which absolutely flew to the ball, but Dalton dipped below the Andy Dalton Line and maybe even the Ryan Lindley playoff line. Dalton went 16-of-31 against the Ravens for 170 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Bengals are playing in the ever-competitive AFC North against some truly great pass rushers. If Dalton continues to take abuse, he'll only continue to trend down. Perhaps once the Bengals have worked out the kinks with the Joe Mixon offense it will benefit Dalton, but as their offense stands they may have a long season. With a vertical threat like John Ross -- who's expected to miss the first two games of the season -- things often take a while to click, and Dalton has the arm to get to him. The question is whether or not he'll have the time, and against a Texans defense that got its feelings hurt in Week 1 Dalton will have to prove himself.
There's a trend here with AFC South teams, and the Colts have clearly already realized they're in deep trouble because they're over Scott Tolzien in Week 2. The Colts traded Philip Dorsett to the Patriots for Brissett 10 days ago, and starting Brissett on that short of notice just looks like a bad idea. Who remembers the infamous Josh Freeman vs. Giants Monday night game? . In the AFC South, however, only one team won in Week 1, so the Colts aren't in a terrible spot, standings-wise.
As for Tolzien, well, it didn't go great. Andrew Luck is stuck in injury limbo where no one knows how long he'll be out. Tolzien threw for a 50 percent completion percentage, 128 yards and a pair of pick-sixes against the Rams. It was a horrible performance, only exacerbated by Ryan Grigson's legacy -- an offensive line that was utterly disregarded throughout his tenure. The Colts need Luck back desperately, but in the meantime they just need someone that can keep them afloat in the AFC South race.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are a lot like the Jets in that this year wasn't their year and they knew it, but boy did Brian Hoyer ever confirm it on Sunday. Days after , the 49ers got routed by the Panthers 23-3, with Hoyer throwing for 193 yards and an interception. They didn't show any semblance of a deep threat throughout the game, and they could hardly move the ball. Pierre Garcon had a decent debut, hauling in six passes for 81 yards, but the 49ers threw the ball 35 times as they were playing behind all game.
Like the Jets, it may not be fair to include the 49ers as they're clearly in the midst of a transition, but something has to give when dealing with the second straight year of quarterback carousels. Kyle Shanahan's backup plan is C.J. Beathard, so the 49ers are going to have to ride Hoyer throughout the season, but that doesn't mean that fans have to like it (and with how Levi's Stadium has priced fans out, it doesn't mean they have to go watch it either).
The Redskins are in the truly bizarre position of having invested so much in a quarterback they can't turn away from him -- and yet having no future whatsoever with him. Kirk Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards last year, but without Pierre Garcon or DeSean he looked like a shell of himself against the Eagles. Cousins went 23-of-40 for 240 yards, a touchdown and an interception to open the Jameson Crowder era. After the saga of his contract throughout the 2017 offseason, that's a worrisome stat line, especially for someone asking for the money that he is.
Cousins has bet on himself numerous years in a row, and there has been an assumption overhanging that he may go join Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco after this season in order to rejoin his old coordinator and receiver (Garcon). However, before any team is going to sign him to any long-term deals, he needs to do well this season. Playing under the franchise tag is almost an extended tryout, and Cousins' first showing did not go well. He will try to rebound against the Rams next week, and that game will be a "show-me" game for the quarterback. He'll have to prove he can win without a veritable arsenal, and in the highly competitive NFC East, he'll need to do so against good competition.
None of these teams are necessarily doomed, mind you. There could be any number of reasons for bad quarterback play early in the season. First-game jitters, general youth, and still building chemistry with the offensive line or receiving corps. However, all of these performances were worrisome in the sense that they were either surprisingly bad or exactly what people expected. Teams like the Colts desperately need a stopgap, the 49ers and Jets desperately need anyone that can throw a football, and the Redskins, Bengals and Cardinals may be in more trouble than they thought.
To compete in the NFL, teams don't need Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. But they do need someone that can move the chains on third down or conduct a drive when down by two scores in the second half. For some of these teams, these situations may be something to monitor throughout the season, whereas for others it may be more efficient to watch football on Saturdays to see who will be playing next year.
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