The Overwhelming Pressure on Young NFL QBs
Trade rumors are surfacing around Miami Dolphins’ 2nd-year Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. A prime example of the impatience NFL franchises have with their inexperienced Quarterbacks. A common occurrence in recent years like the following Quarterbacks.
New York Jets - Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold was drafted 3rd by the New York Jets in 2018. Spending two of his first three seasons under an awful, drama-filled coach in Adam Gase. Amidst, the dumpster fire of the Jets’ locker room situation and poor play. New York failed to bring in legitimate talent. Leaving Darnold with lackluster offensive talent. In three years, the Jets fell to 13-25 with Darnold starting. After the 2020 season, Darnold was flipped to the Carolina Panthers. Where Darnold has excelled, unexpectedly emerging as a dual-threat Quarterback. Reuniting with former Jet Robby Anderson, in addition to having D. J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey. When Carolina has been healthy they have been strong so far this season. Darnold has had the opportunity to turn his career around and has improved greatly. A sign of the poor system Darnold was given in New York. Giving a Quarterback talented players opens the door to greater confidence in themselves. Allowing Darnold to play the best year of his professional career. Carolina has proven that they have provided Darnold with a much better system suited around him in Charlotte.
Arizona Cardinals - Josh Rosen
Also, in the 2018 draft class, Josh Rosen was picked 10th by the Arizona Cardinals. Sam Bradford would be replaced by a rookie Rosen after two games. Rosen struggled with glimpses of potential in his rookie season. As Arizona would go 3-10 when led by Rosen. Much like Darnold, Arizona had one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Outside of David Johnson, Rosen had an aging Larry Fitzgerald, rookie Christian Kirk, and several no-name Tight Ends. Yet after only one season, Rosen was dealt to Miami on draft night in 2019 after Arizona picked Oklahoma Quarterback Kyler Murray. Since then Rosen has not shown much success but Rosen was never truly given a chance. Even though Murray turned out to be the right choice for Arizona, Rosen was never taken seriously as an investment. Unfortunately, Rosen will likely play out the rest of his career as a backup journeyman.
Washington Football Team - Dwayne Haskins
In 2019, the then Washington Redskins chose standout Ohio State Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, 15th in the draft. After being drafted, Haskins ironically said “the league done messed up.” as a reaction to being the 3rd Quarterback chosen. After many seasons with Kirk Cousins, Washington needed a replacement. Unfortunately, Haskins’ first two seasons were blurred with sharing the starting role with Alex Smith and injury. In his rookie season, Haskins suffered a high ankle sprain in late December of 2019. In Haskins’ first two seasons, Washington went 3-10, throwing 12 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Nearing the end of the 2020 season, Washington cut Haskins. Due to violations of COVID-19 rules, Haskins was spotted without a mask at a strip club and a terrible performance resulted in Haskins being benched in a loss to Carolina. Was enough for coach Ron Rivera to believe they should part ways. Many within the Washington organization questioned Haskins’ work ethic, discipline, and focus. Rightfully so, Haskins struggled on and off the field. Currently, Haskins is backing up Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. As his future of starting in the NFL remains unknown.
There is a lack of genuine investment in young Quarterbacks. The NFL has become more and more impatient over the years in developing franchise Quarterbacks. Aside from the Green Bay Packers, teams no longer nurture their young Quarterbacks. So far this season, rookie Quarterbacks have struggled all across the board. As of Week 6 rookie Quarterbacks have gone 6-13 as the starter.
Look at great Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, they sat behind the starter for a while before they got called to start. They gave time for their young talent to develop, understand the playbook, and not feel pressured to play well before they are ready. Fan bases are very pushy on getting their draft picks playtime especially when a team is underperforming. But throwing in a Quarterback early in the season is not always the right way to prepare them for success.
There is a lot of pressure and expectation on these rookie Quarterbacks. Many Quarterbacks are struggling, I believe that NFL front offices have seen the jump Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have made in their second year. Because of them, other front offices expect to have their Quarterback turn around a franchise in about two years. The problem lies in teams not being established like Kansas City and Baltimore. Yet they are expected to revive struggling franchises like Chicago, Washington, or New York. There is a big difference between a whole team rebuilding and being one piece away from serious playoff contention.
Miami began exploring trade offers for Tua this past offseason. In hope of landing Houston’s star Quarterback DeShaun Watson. Without a clear legal answer for Watson, the trade fell through. Despite Tua throwing for 2,358 yards, 14 touchdowns, and an 87.0 rating in his first two seasons, Miami has him on the trade block. It is not fair to Tua for him to be shopped around like he is a bad Quarterback. He is clearly talented and has shown he can win with an 8-5 record as a starter. This is a good start especially considering they are in the same division as the Buffalo Bills.
It looks like NFL teams will continue this direction until they find the answer. It will come with a lot of trial and error. I do not expect it to become easier for young Quarterbacks. The pressure to win is on and teams want to contend. There is nothing wrong with that but if a franchise is running through a new coach and new Quarterback every year it will be extremely difficult for a rookie Quarterback to succeed. The New York Jets are the embodiment of this cycle of failure. The inability to produce true talent and surround young players with legit talent is a real struggle. A lot of the responsibility falls on the front office, coaching staff, and work ethic of the Quarterback. Some systems do not work for certain players. But I believe that time will tell if teams can truly make it work or not.
Home of the Braves: Part One
A series on how "America's Team" became the team to forget.