Do we expect too much as fans, analysts, players, or coaches? All we want to do is win after all. However too many of us expect young quarterbacks to come in to the NFL and play like they’ve already been through a couple Pro Bowls. Alright, I might be exaggerating slightly here but all in all I think we place too much expectation on them while at the same time losing our minds if they show any signs of those natural struggles that come with development. We tend to forget that football is a 22 man game and that the qb doesn’t control every single aspect of the offense. Now I’m not saying that every qb entering the league is going to be the next Johnny Unitas, but some certainly take a lot of unfair heat.
Early in the season, Bills 2nd year signal caller EJ Manuel got benched after a 2-2 start in which he tossed 5TDs to 3ints. Now to be fair Kyle Orton has been playing out of his mind in relief thus far so it seems like a good move. But was it really fair to bench a second year quarterback who missed several games his rookie year to injury after a 2-2 start? In total EJ manuel has started 14 games in which he has 16TDs to 12ints and a rating of 78.5. Now those aren’t numbers that scream “franchise quarterack”. But what numbers could do that after only 14 starts? That’s a rhetorical question.
Let’s consider the great Troy Aikman. In his first season, he threw 9TDs to 18ints and had a passer rating sub 60. Arguably the greatest pigskin tosser ever, at least in the regular season, Peyton Manning launched 28 interceptions when he got thrown into the frying pan. The two of them sure turned out alright afterwards. Now I don’t necessarily think EJ’s that good, but shouldn’t he at least deserve a chance to prove that one way or another? Certainly the NFL game has evolved over the years to a heavily pass driven league, but not so much so that you can tell a quarterbacks worth in less than a season’s worth of starts. There’s also sentiment that injured Nick Foles should be ousted in Philadelphia. In 28 starts he’s got 46TDs to 17ints and his rating is a very solid 94.1. Mind you Peyton threw 28 in his first 16 games and the greatest American, Tom Brady didn’t post a season rating above 90 until his 5th year. Maybe we should cool our judgement just a little.
Another issue is that when we see certain quarterbacks have immediate success like Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, or Seattle’s own Russel Wilson, we tend to expect that from everyone. All of them got drafted into great situations. Do you think any of those guys could have turned the Jets around as rookies? After all, that’s the team where as Drew Bledsoe recently said in an interview with ESPN radio, playing as a young quarterback is like being a virgin sacrifice. Neither does it help that the head coaches have tight leashes in terms of time to succeed because the NFL is a money driven league. That means they may be a little more frantic with their qb decisions so some guys don’t get a fair chance to develop. Personally, I like seeing young quarterbacks turn bad situations around, but that takes time people, time indeed.