NFL rookie quarterbacks were bad. Can that change?


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Rookie quarterbacks tend to be mediocre to awful. Fans remember exceptional cases like Justin Herbert’s offensive rookie of the year winning performance in 2020, while the fights are either forgotten or politely by top prospects like Dwayne Haskins, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Jared Goff and many others reconnected when they succeed later.

It’s rare, however, that so many rookies are so punishingly terrible in so many early appearances. Sam Darnold had a tragically comic rookie season for the Jets 2018 (a fit of mononucleosis, “seeing ghosts” against the Patriots’ defense), but he threw two touchdowns and led the Jets to victory on his very first start. Joe Burrow, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, and many others also enjoyed early successes before waning or injuring themselves, or both. A rookie season is usually a roller coaster ride. Until now, in 2021, they were all haunted houses.

The reasons for the miserable starts vary from team to team. Wilson’s Jets begin their second foundation-to-rafter construction project in the past three years. Your list looks like it was compiled using a kiosk design guide with the first 50 pages torn out. Injuries sidelined a handful of the team’s remaining recognizable veterans, including left tackle Mekhi Becton who was Wilson’s top pass protector and wide receiver Jamison Crowder who was Wilson’s short pass safety valve. Almost every Jets rookie quarterback over the past half century has seen ordeal, but Wilson is facing an especially dire situation.

Lawrence is coached by Urban Meyer, the youngest in a long line of college potentates (including Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, and Chip Kelly) who learned the hard way that they hadn’t in Meyer’s tenure to date acted as deities was overshadowed by the NFL Players Association fines for violating exercise protocols, a boastful attempt at comeback by Tim Tebow, and a public rejection of his interest in the University of Southern California’s coaching position. (Like Julius Caesar, Meyer is obliged to reject the crown three times before grabbing it.) The jaguars play every Sunday as if they were the third or fourth thing on their trainer’s head.

Meyer also forced Lawrence to split first-string training reps with a lame incumbent, Gardner Minshew, for much of the training camp before Minshew was traded to the Eagles, perhaps still believing he could redshire his valued newbies. Lawrence’s relative lack of practice time with the starters could add to his problems.

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