Mixed Bag for NFL First Time QB Starters

Handicapping News: Mixed Bag for NFL First Time QB Starters

With Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III being one of the marquee matchups of Saturday's NFL slate, it's worth a moment to check in on what other first time starters have done so far in the dress rehearsal games of the Preseason's third week.

It's been a mixed bag through three high profile starting appearances...with the longest shot of them all having the best performance!

BEST PERFORMANCE: RUSSELL WILSON, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Wilson is basically becoming the story that ESPN was hoping for with Tim Tebow. Wilson was a successful college quarterback who was seen as not having the stuff to make it as a pro. He's undersized. He's more rah-rah type than a proto-typical signal caller. And, he didn't have the college numbers along the lines of a Drew Brees, who's one of the few undersized guys to have success.

Yet, Wilson has played so well this preseason for Seattle that he's probably stolen the job from projected starter Matt Flynn (former backup to Aaron Rodgers at Green Bay) and last year's starter Tarvaris Jackson (rumored to be on the trading block).

Friday's Stats: 13-19-0-185

Double the numbers to represent a full game, and you get 26-38-0-370! Yeah, that'll work. Time will tell whether or not Wilson can do this during the regular season vs. defenses who have had time to read his tendencies and develop a gameplan. Right now, he continues to prove the skeptics wrong in very dramatic fashion. 

PASSING MARKS: JAKE LOCKER, TENNESSEE TITANS
Locker isn't a rookie, but he might as well be treated like one because he's been given the starting QB job for the Titans a bit sooner than was originally expected. In fact, many experts felt that he'd be a career backup because of his accuracy limitations and his tendency to run the ball when in danger rather than pass.

Well, Locker passed inspection Friday Night on ESPN vs. Arizona even if he did have troubles with the ball sailing on him.

Thursday's Stats: 11-20-0-134

Locker did have two touchdown passes. But, Tennessee scored on very short drives off of Arizona miscues. What jumps out to us is that 11 of 20 mark. That's only 55% in a Preseason game, which is poor by "real starter" standards. And, problems on third downs were noticeable, as the Titans were only 3 of 13 on the night.

Locker does deserve credit for cashing in his scoring opportunities. You can see why he's getting a chance. But, you can also see why there's skepticism about his future as a potential star. YOU have to be accurate on third downs...and you can't just hope the other team is going to set you up with great field position all the time.

WORST PERFORMANCE: RYAN TANNEHILL, MIAMI DOLPHINS
Tannehill continues to be more of a guy who "looks" like an NFL quarterback rather than a potential future star. He's got the prototype build, and the leadership skills. The production wasn't there at Texas A&M when you adjust for context within that fast break football conference and the softness of his non-conference opposition. So far, he's been way over his head in Preseason games even though the coaching staff decided to give him the starting job. Tannehill is probably a great practice quarterback given his personal characteristics.

Friday's Stats: 11-27-1-112

Just abysmal numbers for a Preaseason game where defenses aren't yet coming at you with everything they've got. That's 16 incomplete passes, one interception, and very low yardage. If you pro-rate that to 35 attempts to represent a normal game, you get 14-35-1-145. Obviously that's unacceptable. But, it's also obviously a continuation of what we've been seeing all summer with Tannehill. He's just not ready yet.

Miami's in danger of having a disastrous start to their season if this keeps up. That may okay with management if they're thinking more about 2013 right now with a new head coach and a rookie quarterback.

Where will Luck and RGIII rate amidst these performances. Well, anything close to Tanneyhill will be seen as a nightmare for the two most celebrated rookies entering the new season. Wilson has set a standard that's reachable. Be sure you watch the Indy/Washington game on NFL Network this afternoon to get a good read on both of these potential stars as they gear up for the start of the regular season.

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