Rookie NFL quarterbacks struggling through 1st 2 weeks

NFL

The rookie class of quarterbacks that entered the season full of fanfare is finding the adjustment to the NFL is not very easy.

Top two picks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson lead the league with five interceptions after opening the season with back-to-back losses, Trey Lance has barely seen the field and Mac Jones is the only QB to get a win, and that came against Wilson.

That performance by Wilson last week was the worst yet for a rookie as the No. 2 pick threw four interceptions and no TDs in the New York Jets’ 25-6 loss to New England. Wilson joined former Jets draft picks Sam Darnold and Mark Sanchez as the only top 10 rookies to throw at least four interceptions and no TDs in the past 15 seasons.

Jacksonville’s Lawrence threw three interceptions in the opener against Houston and two more last week against Denver, joining Peyton Manning (six in 1998) and Matthew Stafford (five in 2009) as the only top picks to throw at least five interceptions in the first two weeks of their rookie seasons.

Lance, the third overall pick, threw a TD pass on his first attempt for San Francisco, but didn’t even get on the field last week as the Niners stuck with Jimmy Garoppolo the entire way.

Justin Fields, the 11th pick, got some extensive action for Chicago last week after Andy Dalton got hurt, and he went 6 for 13 for 60 yards and an interception against Cincinnati.

Jones, the 15th pick, has been the most productive so far, completing 73.9% of his passes for 467 yards and an TD.

The rookie class overall has thrown 12 interceptions and nine TDs and posted a 67.9 rating while losing five of six starts.

In all, six rookie quarterbacks have seen action, with third-rounder Davis Mills also getting into the action for Houston. Mills is slated to start Thursday night for the Texans against Carolina in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor.

This is just the second time since the merger that six QBs have thrown passes in the first two weeks of the season, with the other coming in 1971.

Five rookies are set to start this week with Fields taking over for the injured Dalton.

The only other time in the Super Bowl era that five rookies QBs started in a week this early in the season – with the exception of the 1987 replacement players – came in 2012 when Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson all opened the season as a starter.

SEPTEMBER STREAKS

One impressive September streak was snapped last week while another ignominious one was extended.

Patrick Mahomes threw his first career interception in September after 38 career TD passes in the opening month. The Chiefs had thrown 44 TD passes without an interception in September since Alex Smith was picked in the 2016 opener against the Chargers.

The Jets lost their 11th straight September game, becoming the seventh team to do that. The only teams with longer September skids are the Rams with 13 in a row from 2007-10 and the Saints with 12 from 1994-97.

WORKHORSE BACK

Tennessee’s Derrick Henry is a dying breed as a workhorse back who doesn’t need to share the load with anyone.

Henry had 35 carries and six receptions in last week’s win at Seattlefor the most scrimmage touches in a game since Le’Veon Bell had 42 against the Bills on Dec. 11, 2016.

The only other player in Titans franchise history – which dates to their time in Houston – with at least 40 was Earl Campbell, who had 42 touches against Seattle on Oct. 11, 1981.

Henry ran for 182 yards and three TDs in the game, marking the fourth time in his career he has had at least 150 yards rushing and three TDs in a game. The only other players to do that are Hall of Famers Barry Sanders (six), Jim Brown (six), LaDainian Tomlinson (five) and Eric Dickerson (four).

DUAL THREAT

Arizona’s Kyler Murray is off to a impressive start to the season after throwing for 400 yards and three TDs and running for a score in Sunday’s 34-33 win over Minnesota.

Murray also threw four TD passes and ran for a score in the opener at Tennessee, becoming the first player with at least three TD passes and a TD run in his team’s first two games of a season.

Murray now has 12 career games with both a passing and rushing touchdown, the fourth most for a QB in his first three seasons. Only Cam Newton (20 games), Josh Allen (16) and Dak Prescott (13) have more.

OPENING DRIVE WOES

The Cowboys finally ended their opening drive TD drought when Tony Pollard scored on a 4-yard run on the first possession against the Chargers. Dallas had gone 20 straight games without scoring a TD on its first possession.

The Cowboys had been tied for the longest active streak with the Broncos, who have now gone 21 straight games without an opening drive TD since Drew Lock threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant against Houston on Dec. 8, 2019.

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