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Teddy's Vegas Wiseguy Report: Rookie QB's

By Teddy_Covers | View all Posts
Posted Tuesday, September 11, 2012 01:28 PM   0 comments
With an NFL record five rookie starting QB's behind center on opening day, I spent the first Sunday of the regular season watching these youngsters very carefully. I tried to evaluate each QB within the context of his team -- no QB can be successful without the complimentary pieces of the equation surrounding him, both on offense and on defense.  Here are my thoughts:


Cleveland’s defense held Michael Vick to a QB rating of 25.4.  They forced five turnovers, returning one for a score and setting up all three Browns offensive scores.  Their defensive playmakers made huge plays, most notably CB Joe Haden and LB D’Qwell Jackson, and Michael Vick was positively pummeled by the Browns pass rush. 

And yet the Browns still found a way to lose.  With the game on the line late in the fourth quarter – boom, a dropped INT in the end zone that would have clinched the game.  And there’s no sugarcoating this performance from Brandon Weeden, the worst looking of all the rookie QB’s in the preseason and the worst looking of all the QB’s in his first ‘real’ start.

On Weeden's first drive, he missed a wide open receiver in the end zone; the Browns had to settle for three following an Eagles turnover in Cleveland territory.  On his third drive he took a hit and fumbled, but it was called back by a Philly penalty (one of many).  Then the turnover barrage started; one bad decision after the next.  Weeden was clearly frustrated by midway through the game, and Brad Childress’ play calling didn’t do him any favors.

With the game on the line following a Philly turnover returned all the way near the red zone, Weeden overthrew an open receiver in the end zone, poor throw.  His next two passes both bounced off Eagle defenders hands; not capable of making good decisions and tight throws in the red zone.  And it was very clear as the game progressed that this coaching staff did not trust Weeden one iota, opting exclusively for short safe passes and runs.


Luck got lucky, with his defense snaring an early pick six, allowing him to play with the lead in his NFL debut. Unfortunately for Indy, it didn’t last very long or matter very much.  This was a true ‘up-and-down’ performance.  Luck's got a good internal clock -- after three seconds, he's either getting rid of the football or taking off on a scramble, not one of those young QB's who holds the ball too long.  He showed an excellent pocket presence, keeping his eyes focused downfield while demonstrating some elusiveness.  Good footwork!  This OL was better than I thought it would be; a decent looking unit,
although tackle Winston Justice limped off (check status). 
But Luck got rattled a bit, overthrowing a couple of open receivers on key third down plays. His first pick was an underthrown ball, should have been a TD to an open receiver. His late fumble (fourth turnover of the game) was also a poor play.  The Colts defense got gashed by the run -- lots of missed tackles. These linebackers are awful and the secondary got picked apart!  Dwight Freeney got hurt (ankle, scheduled for an MRI this week).  Looks like Indy is going to be playing from behind on a consistent basis this year.


On Ryan Tannehill's first series, he was concentrating on the defense, not the snap, leading to a fumble that Miami was lucky to recover.  Reggie Bush coughed it up on their second drive; again the Dolphins were lucky to recover.  It went downhill from there, even though Miami remained in the game until they committed three turnovers on three consecutive offensive plays in the final five minutes before halftime. 

Tannehill’s numbers look decent: 20-36 for 219 yards.  But make no mistake about it – he was far worse than those numbers would indicate, getting several ‘tipped pass’ or ‘sidearm throw on the run’ receptions.  Just about all of his yardage was YAC, looking for catch and run opportunities that aren't likely to work well against good zone coverage. Houston's cornerbacks were jumping sideline routes because Tannehill was staring down his receivers, and his 0 TD, 4 INT performance was not misleading in the slightest.

Miami’s defense was pretty lousy as well, although they did stiffen in the red zone. But Matt Schaub had open receivers downfield all afternoon long.  At least Miami had a punt return touchdown, a nice spark on an otherwise dismal afternoon.  This team feels like a train wreck.


RG3 was different from every other rookie QB on the field this past Sunday, and not just because of the scoreboard result.  Griffin looked very comfortable early, leading a field goal drive on his first series.  Lots of dink and dunk, but his throws were on the money and the strategy worked.  His first career TD pass came on a short route over the middle, but he hit Pierre Garcon in stride, allowing him a clear path down the field to the end zone, perfect execution. Garcon limped off the field, but RG3 had no issues without his go-to receiver – seven different Redskins had a catch of 20 yards or longer.

Washington used a slow, steady ball control philosophy on offense, looking to dominate the time of possession.  But Kyle
Shanahan’s play calling wasn’t too conservative. Washington went for it on 4th down from midfield, albeit a fourth an inches FB dive.  Then they did it again on the opening drive of the second half, eschewing the long field goal in a dome; opting for a throw to the end zone on a bootleg from Griffin. And with the offense needing a single first down to clinch the game late in the fourth quarter, Shanahan trusted his rookie enough to let him thrown the game clinching dart downfield.

The scary thing for the rest of the NFC East was how good Washington’s defense looked…..


There were no kid gloves here!  Pete Carroll and his staff allowed Russell Wilson to take shots downfield throughout the game.  Wilson was really elusive, repeatedly escaping from an ugly looking pocket -- not good protection up front at all.  
Wilson's lone TD pass was a microcosm of why he won the job.  He escaped pressure, made the correct read and threw a strike to underrated playmaker Sidney Rice. And Wilson's lone interception was a 'chuck it up for grabs throw' on the last
play of the first half, nothing to be concerned about.  

But there was plenty of bad to go along with the good.  Wilson got called for a couple of key delay of game penalties, all on the QB.  This offense never found any sort of rhythm or flow – their three scores came on drives that combined to gain 52 net
yards; all on short fields.  And with the game on the line with the clock winding down in the fourth, Wilson had zero chemistry with his receivers, throwing eight consecutive excruciating incomplete passes, despite being aided by a pair of pass interference penalties.
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