The Sideline Observer

Sports and Culture Commentary

The Fresh Faces of the NFL: Young Quarterbacks Are Running This League

After three action-packed weeks of the NFL season, fans are being treated to incredible quarterback play. During week three, Patrick Mahomes set the record for most touchdowns in the first three weeks of the NFL, and Baker Mayfield led the Browns to their first win in 635 days after entering the game to a 14-0 deficit. Mayfield and Mahomes are not alone in their great play; numerous quarterbacks are taking the league by storm this year. Let’s dive into the young difference-makers.

The 2018 class of quarterbacks has already shown flashes of greatness, but Baker stands above all. His comeback victory against the Jets on primetime Thursday Night Football will be remembered as one of the most fun games of the season. Mayfield was inserted into the game after Tyrod Taylor entered concussion protocol in the second quarter, finally bringing about his long-awaited debut. Once he entered the game, the energy surrounding the Browns offense was completely changed. Baker operated the offense with confidence, and the Browns fulfilled one of the most exciting comebacks in several seasons. His performance will be remembered forever in Cleveland, and he’s already been named the starter going ahead. It’s not looking like the train will be ending so soon; he’ll be able to keep the mojo going next week against the lowly Raiders.

On Sunday, Josh Allen completed one of the bigger regular-season upsets in recent history with a 27-6 victory over the Vikings, a matchup where the hometown Vikings were favored by 16.5 points. Allen ran for two touchdowns, added another with a dime to tight end Jason Croom, and topped it all off with a highlight-reel hurdle. Although he started the season as a backup to Nathan Peterman, he didn’t have any trouble becoming the starter, and this victory over a strong defense in only his second career start shows he could have what it takes to be a star.

Josh Rosen was thrown into the fire for his NFL debut on Sunday. He was brought into the game in a game-winning drive situation, and although he threw a game-sealing interception, he looked like a confident player, directing the offense efficiently and he showed some great decision-making ability.

Sam Darnold hasn’t been very newsworthy for the Jets thus far- his loss against the Browns is definitely the biggest thing he’s done- but he led the team to a huge win over the Lions week one and threw for 331 yards week two. It’s clear he has the trust of the Jets organization after looking like he’s going to be a solid starter for at least this season.

In the 2017 draft that featured world-beaters CJ Beathard, DeShone Kizer, and Chad Kelly, it has turned out to be, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, and Mitchell Trubisky that have been handed the keys to their respective teams’ offenses.

Patrick Mahomes spent the 2017 season on the bench learning from veteran Alex Smith, and it has already paid off. His ability to stretch the field with game-breaking deep throws, combined with his athletic ability to dip and duck out of pressure and find the open man has proven to be invaluable, as he’s led the Chiefs to a 3-0 start. Hard to lose when you’re averaging over four touchdowns per game. All eyes will be on Pat going forward.

Deshaun Watson had a ridiculous five-week stretch last year where he looked like the best QB in the league before his knee injury cost him the season. During that stretch, Watson averaged almost 300 yards per game and totaled 18 touchdowns. This season has been a different story, as his Texans are 0-3, but if last season holds any indication, he’ll be breaking out any game now.

Mitch Trubisky had a 2017 season that was mostly based in learning, not results. He had seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in 12 games, and only won four of those games. The Bears’ offense was supposed to have been revamped over the offseason, with new coach Matt Nagy promising change across the board to try and insert some juice into the largely lifeless offense the Bears presented in 2017, but after three games, it’s not looking that way. By no means is Trubisky a lost cause, but he will have to show improvement as the season goes on.

The 2016 draft offered two more incredible QB prospects. First overall pick Jared Goff and number two Carson Wentz entered their rookie seasons in 2016 with the entire league watching to see if each would be worth their draft position, and basically, everyone involved has been satisfied so far. Each has had great starts to their career. It took Goff until November of his rookie season to start a game, but he hasn’t looked back since, as he’s developed well into the 3-0 quarterback he is today. Wentz led the Eagles to a 13-2 record in 2017 before tearing his ACL, and despite a scare from Andrew Luck and the Colts, he’s looking like he’ll be back to his 2017 form in no time. Both teams are in great positions to make the playoffs and more this season, and it’ll be much to the credit of their quarterbacks.

Although it’s a certainty that at least a few of these quarterbacks won’t end up panning out, it’s looking like the future of the NFL quarterback is in good hands. Each of these players has shown their elite talent at the professional level, and it’ll only be a few more seasons before they’re facing each other in the playoffs.

– Michael

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