With just over a week to go before the regular season, the question remains: Will any of the five first-round quarterbacks in the class of 2018 be starting in Week 1? Will any of them have a true redshirt year? Here are our best guesses and potential scenarios for the rookie QBs to take the field:
Probably Starting Week 1: Sam Darnold
Jets coach Todd Bowles won’t officially name a starter until next week, but he told reporters on Sunday that he has a “good idea” who it’ll be. Darnold has started the last two preseason games, and though his 83.9 preseason passer rating isn’t Aaron Rodgers territory, the No. 3 overall pick has won over the organization with his accuracy (64 percent completion rate) and mobility.
Probably not starting Week 1: Josh Allen
A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman and Allen, the trio competing for the job in Buffalo, have each started a game this preseason. Allen got the start against the Bengals in the third preseason game, with and opportunity to prove himself, but he struggled with decision-making behind a weak offensive line and finished with one more completion (six) than he did sacks (five). Allen left the game late in the second quarter after Carlos Dunlap slammed his head into the turf. The rookie was cleared to return without a concussion, but the Bills turned to second-year Nathan Peterman, who went 16 of 21 for 200 yards and a touchdown while taking one sack during the rest of the game. Coach Sean McDermott told reporters on Monday that he has yet to make a decision. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported after he spoke with several members of the Bills brass that, “this was not a job that was going to be handed to Josh Allen.”
Peterman has put up the best preseason numbers of Buffalo’s quarterbacks (23-of-26 for 310 yards, three touchdowns and one interception), while McCarron has been limited in practice due to a hairline fracture of his collarbone suffered in the preseason Week 2 game.
Scenario: Allen sees action late in the season, after the Bills fall out of playoff contention and it’s safe to give the rookie a shot.
Definitely not starting Week 1: Baker Mayfield
Hue Jackson has repeated all preseason that Tyrod Taylor is the Browns starter, despite Mayfield’s impressive training camp and solid preseason performances. Cleveland is taking a slow and steady approach with the No. 1 overall pick, at least to start the season. After Taylor left the third preseason game with a hand injury, Jackson sent in Mayfield to take over. After the game, he unofficially admitted that Mayfield has locked up Cleveland’s backup quarterback job.
Scenario: The Taylor-led Browns stumble out of the gate, and the rookie takes over in October.
Definitely not starting Week 1: Josh Rosen
Sam Bradford is the clear starter in Arizona, but Rosen has shown promise. In Arizona’s second preseason game, Rosen improved off a disappointing showing in his preseason debut, completing 10 of 16 passes for 107 yards and a 102.9 passer rating. Rosen is dealing with a thumb injury that sidelined him for the third preseason game, and it will be a last-minute decision whether he plays this Thursday. Cards coach Steve Wilks has not said who the backup quarterback will be, and Rosen could still earn that role over Mike Glennon.
Scenario: If the injury bug bites Bradford again—he’s played two games in the last two seasons—it would open the door for the UCLA rookie.
Definitely not starting Week 1: Lamar Jackson
Joe Flacco is firmly Baltimore’s starter this season. Jackson has shown flashes of his playmaking and athleticism but has also struggled in the passing game and at times has looked lost on the field. He had his best preseason performance on Saturday against Miami, completing seven of 10 passes for 98 yards and one touchdown and running for 39 yards and a TD.
Scenario: Jackson won’t start this season, but don’t be surprised to see him take the field in plays designed specifically for his abilities.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Albert Breer's MMQB leads with how Doug Pederson is fighting the Super Bowl hangover ... Conor Orr on Odell Beckham Jr.'s new contract and why the Giants need to embrace his free-wheeling spirit ... Andy Benoit previews the Panthers.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: Benoit asked quarterbacks, offensive linemen and coaches around the league for their advice on keeping QBS safe ... The ten people, places and things that will define the 2018 NFL season.
1. Free agent wide receiver Julius Thomas announced his retirement and plans to pursue a doctorate in psychology and study CTE.
2. As a prisoner of war in Hanoi during the Vietnam War, John McCain was interrogated many times. He gave his captors the names of the Green Bay Packers offensive line and said they were the names of the men in his squadron.
3. Larry Fitzgerald will speak at John McCain's funeral.
4. Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams says rookie cornerback Denzel Ward's 'stupid' tackling led to back spasms.
5. Browns coach Hue Jackson told reporters Williams needs to watch the way he talks about Browns’ private business in public.
6. Still no solution on the anthem front.
7. For the second time this preseason, Tom Brady cut short an interview after being asked about his trainer and business partner Alex Guerrero.
Blake Bortles and his foundation provided meals to first responders on the scene at the Jacksonville shooting. Two victims were killed and ten others wounded during a Madden NFL 19 tournament at a Jacksonville shopping area on Sunday.
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