Network Notebook: NFL Dress Rehearsals Expose QB Issues
DRESS REHEARSALS SHOW MANY NFL TEAMS ARE IN TROUBLE AT QUARTERBACK POSITION
It's becoming very clear that successful NFL handicapping during the 2017 season is going to involve fading teams who are in trouble at the quarterback position. There just aren't enough good quarterbacks to go around! Teams experimenting with various options through the Preseason haven't found much to get excited about. In fact, this past weekend's dress rehearsals basically confirmed that serious issues are ahead for many teams...even those expected to contend for at least Wildcard spots.
Among the contenders...
HOUSTON has given the starting job to Tom Savage. But, he mostly just completes short passes that don't threaten the end zone. He wasn't a major star at Rutgers, and is in the NFL because his body fits the prototype scouts look for. Can the Texans win with him? They have to score TD's with him first.
DENVER was hoping Paxton Lynch would take a step forward in the offseason. If anything, he took two steps backward, then hurt his shoulder as a backup vs. Green Bay. Trevor Siemian may be functional like Savage of Houston...but he's not going to scare opponents. When pressured by top opposition, he's likely to become mistake-prone.
BALTIMORE won't know how much Joe Flacco can contribute until he's back on the field. Is he becoming the new Tony Romo? Back problems never really go away at this level. Ryan Mallet is not the answer. Don't forget that Houston gave up on him!
INDIANAPOLIS is a playoff threat with Andrew Luck, and a #1 draft pick threat without him! Nobody knows when he'll be able to come back in regular season form.
ARIZONA was hoping last year was just a blip for Carson Palmer. But he's been inconsistent this summer, at a time when the team was looking for consistency. Even with a head start on the field because of a Hall of Fame game appearance, the offense hasn't been posting good yardage stats. Similar concerns are in play for teams with the same class of quarterback, even healthy...like WASHINGTON with Kirk Cousins, MINNESOTA with Sam Bradford, and maybe even CINCINNATI with Andy Dalton.
Now, that's not all the teams with concerns...those are just the possible CONTENDERS with concerns! All of those teams may be 2-3 points higher than they should be in oddsmaker Power Ratings because of uncertainty at the position. Consider fading them as favorites.
Moving down to teams who may be looking at five wins or less.
NY JETS are obviously already thinking about tanking the season to get a #1 pick next season. It's true that Bryce Petty has been acceptable against opposing backups. But, he tweaked a knee vs. the Giants, is "old" for a "young" quarterback, and isn't likely to be "the guy" looking down the road.
CLEVELAND announced Sunday that Deshone Kizer of Notre Dame is going to be its starter. He's capable of making plays here or there...but wasn't seen as a future pro "star" at Notre Dame. It's a fluke of circumstance that he's going to start for the Browns.
BUFFALO wasn't supposed to be this bad. But, they're not responding well to the new head coach. And, Tyrod Taylor just suffered a concussion this past weekend that exposes how soft the backups are at QB for the Bills. They look like a five-win team (or worse) all of a sudden.
LA RAMS are sticking with Jared Goff. He did look good vs. the Raiders two weeks ago, but slumped back to prior shaky form in LAR's dress rehearsal. This team could "improve" yet still be 4-5 win caliber.
CHICAGO is optimistic about Mitchell Trubisky, though Sean Glennon will be the starter out of the gate. If there's a team showing some promise amongst this group of losers, it's the Bears. Trubisky has shut his skeptics up, and may be ready to contribute sooner than expected.
SAN FRANCISCO is hoping Brian Hoyer can buy them some time to develop a better option. Other teams who thought that gave up on the plan!
Finally, there are two question mark teams from Florida that might be disasters this season...or might be surprise playoff threats. MIAMI made the playoffs last year, though it was largely keyed by close wins over a soft schedule. Jay Cutler knows the offense, but also tends to become mistake-prone when he goes into hero mode. JACKSONVILLE was better than its 3-13 record last year. Blake Bortles won his starting job back in the dress rehearsal. This season, it's the Jaguars who have the kind of soft schedule that could launch them to 8-9 wins even if the team isn't very good.
The most important quarterbacks won't be seeing action this week. So, it's time to turn what you know about the projected starters into opinions and picks for Week One of the regular season that begins a week from Thursday. JIM HURLEY already has some potential MONSTERS circled. He'll be building bankroll this week in the colleges to make sure you have a STUPENDOUS SEPTEMBER.
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