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I’m by no means guaranteeing that Tua Tagovailoa and Daniel Jones will be long-term successful NFL starters at the quarterback position, but there’s also no denying that many wrote off both before even stepping onto the field in 2022.
Still, Tagovailoa, 24, and Jones, 25, are among the top eight rated passers in the league for two weeks.
At least there’s hope — especially for Tagovailoa after the 2020 No. 5 overall lit up the Baltimore Ravens with an incredible Week 2 comeback win. Beginning Week 3, he led the NFL by a wide margin with 739 passing yards, while Jones — sixth overall pick a year before Tua came into the league — completes 70.9 percent of his passing for a New York Giants team who is serious about trying to make a 3-0 start against the limping Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
At the moment, both Jones’ Giants and Tagovailoa’s Miami Dolphins are undefeated.
At the very least, this should serve as a reminder that if teams are looking to invest significant draft capital in a quarterback, they need to be patient.
The problem is that fan bases – and people in general – are less patient than ever. We have countless other entertainment options on demand and three seasons of game of Thrones beats the hell out of three seasons of Daniel Jones’ growing pains.
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Plus, quick starts from recent sensations like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert have shifted the goalposts for guys like Tagovailoa, Jones and 2021 first-round signal callers Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance. Justin Fields and MacJones.
There was a time when the league waited longer for young quarterbacks. And you don’t even have to go back to when Peyton Manning led the NFL with 28 interceptions as a rookie in 1998.
Aaron Rodgers famously started his first three pro seasons with zero games, albeit with Hall of Famer Brett Favre in the driver’s seat. Four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning was a complete mess in limited action as a rookie in 2004, and it wasn’t until his fifth season that he really blossomed. Philip Rivers didn’t see the field much in his first two years and became a Year 5 MVP nominee. Reigning Super Bowl winner Matthew Stafford started just 13 games in his first two pro campaigns, and Alex Smith had an impressive career spanning a few years in San Francisco despite his struggles.
Now there’s a chance that both Tagovailoa and Jones will be forgotten. There is a chance that both will become stars. In all likelihood, based on the crapshoot nature of the first round pick at the sport’s most critical position, one will fold and the other will not.
But even if that middle scenario plays out, it should serve as a lesson for the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and New England Patriots. Executives, coaches and fans associated with these five teams are likely already beginning to fidget over their second-round passer, particularly the top four on the list. But Trevor Lawrence was thrown into a near-impossible situation with the 2021 Jags train wreck, Zach Wilson didn’t have much more support with the 21 Jets, the injured Trey Lance will be down just four starts at the end of his sophomore season, and Justin Fields so judging early is also pretty unfair considering the quality of Chicago’s roster over the past two years.
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What happens if Jimmy Garoppolo shines in Lance’s place for the rest of the season? Is 49ers Brass considering pulling the chute that fast? You’d think, not considering Lance cost San Francisco three first-round picks plus a third-round player. So it’s safe to say that all four boys will get at least three years. It could be argued that they are each owed at least a quarter.
That could depend to some degree on what we see from Jones and Tua for the rest of this season. And from there, the mimic dynamic will eventually trickle down to how the Pittsburgh Steelers deal with first-round rookie Kenny Pickett, who has yet to snap in the regular season but will certainly win some repeats if interim starter Mitch Trubisky does not suddenly turned around.
Regardless, while it’s not trending for 2022, my advice to NFL decision makers is to relax. let’s wait Wait and see how this season unfolds for high-profile young signal callers like Jones and Tagovailoa, and beyond that, how future seasons play out for the likes of Lawrence, Wilson, Lance, Fields and Pickett.