An exciting week one in the NFL served as the first chance for several interesting starters at quarterback to try and overcome the doubts looming over them.
The unpredictability of the 2016 off-season saw two rookies and an unproven quarterback in Denver take the reins this opening weekend.
Nothing to worry about for the Super Bowl 50 champions…
Trevor Siemian featured as the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos in their 21-20 opening day win against the Carolina Panthers- a game that saw him make his first pass of his NFL career.
The product out of Northwestern succeeded in showcasing the composure and calmness that had been highlighted during the buildup to Thursday night’s game.
Siemian’s 18/26 for 178 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown fails to pose as an eye-opener but it didn’t need to be when running back CJ Anderson and the rest of the Broncos offense played as well as they did.
The accuracy of his short range passing became clear early on, assisting a strong running game and setting the tone for a relatively safe and steady performance on his part.
Safe and steady won’t see him become a prominent NFL quarterback though, as evidenced by the slight criticism on the day towards his lack of aggression. Start making some red zone passes and the Broncos could be onto something though.
Having said that, the cautious approach he took was perhaps the correct way to go in his first game and the confidence to find a man in tight coverage more often will come with time.
His slow progression in the pocket and the speed of his decision making can be coached and it can be said that he showed enough to prove he is capable of doing a good job for the Broncos this season if the rest of the roster continues to perform in the way it did against the Panthers.
A downfield pass caught impressively on the sideline by Emmanuel Sanders stood as one of a few signs to suggest he has a big play in him. He was the unspectacular yet the non-disastrous quarterback head coach Gary Kubiak would have been satisfied with.
A good start in Philadelphia…
Carson Wentz lined up for his first regular season game at quarterback since the Eagles took him with the second overall pick in the 2016 draft.
The rookie’s surprise start came after the previous number one quarterback Sam Bradford was traded by the Minnesota Vikings as a replacement for the injured Teddy Bridgewater.
His figures of 22/37 for 278 yards and two touchdown passes helped the Eagles towards a 29-10 win against the Cleveland Browns.
Before jumping to conclusions on Wentz, it is worth remembering that a strong showing on his debut came against the very weak Browns- who will have given fans even greater reason to worry after seeing their team well beaten by a rookie-led side.
Regardless of the opponent though, the 23-year-old made a statement with his two faultless touchdown passes, one to Jordan Matthews out of the slot and one to feed Nelson Agholor’s route on the outside.
Coming up against a stronger defense than that of the Browns is a certainty as the season progresses but, with the right coaching, the aggression and accuracy in the passing of Wentz and his ability in run-pass options will be demonstrated for longer periods in games.
Out with the old, in with the new in Dallas…
Another much talked about rookie to start in week one was the Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
The fourth round pick out of Mississippi made a statement in pre-season as he filled in for the injured Tony Romo, catching many by surprise with some seriously strong performances.
Prescott’s position has very quickly progressed from being a young man who can sit comfortably and learn from Romo for a couple of years without having to play much, to someone who will be expected to call the shots on the Cowboys offense this season.
Similarly to Trevor Siemian, unspectacular is a word that comes to mind when assessing Prescott’s overall display in his side’s 20-19 loss to the New York Giants.
Who was to blame for the confusion at the end of the game? Despite the fact Terrence Williams should have known to take the ball out of bounds on what became the last play of the game, the onus should perhaps have been on Prescott to make sure those around him knew what had to be done at that time. Inexperience but something that will have already improved him as a player.
Even if the ball had been taken out of bounds though, there might not have been time for another Prescott throw anyway and it might have even been too far out for Dan Bailey to kick a field goal. Fine margins.
He finished the game with 25/45 for 227 yards which translates back into a poor red zone efficiency. The Giants going for zone coverage early on meant he refrained from risky but potentially important throws and that his day largely consisted of initially unchallenged throws to Cole Beasley and Jason Witten who were often quickly stopped.
The young quarterback was also limited due to how well the Giants defense took out his star receiver Dez Bryant- who could have given Prescott his first touchdown pass had he been able to keep control of a throw in the end zone.
On the day, he looked composed when moving around in the pocket and didn’t throw an interception but Cowboys fans will be keen to see him run the ball more and put his precision and aggression to the test in a tighter field.
Questions will be answered by all three men over the next few weeks as fans get to see how quickly each of their starting quarterbacks are able to settle down and learn their offense inside out in order to make big plays and start winning games.