NFL Quarterback Rundown: Week 8
Do Not Forget How Good Drew Brees Is
At 38-years-old, Drew Brees appears to be a rare ageless wonder in the NFL. Brees is doing what Tom Brady is doing. Despite there always being speculation of Brees’ impending decline, he continues to shine and put up gaudy numbers. This season is particularly absurd. Through seven games, Brees is on pace for the fourth-highest ANY/A rating (7.62) of his 17-year career, not including his rookie season in which he played a single game.
Brees is as efficient as ever. With nearly two decades of experience, he has come to understand all of the minutia that comes with playing quarterback. When to slide in the pocket, how to find throwing windows, where to place the ball in specific situations — Brees has it all down to a science.
This adjustment seems minor on the surface, but accomplishes so much. Brees is able to pull back his throwing motion, reset his feet away from pressure, and quickly prepare to throw again in one swift motion. The maneuver keeps Brees out of harm’s way while working his throwing lane away from the defensive tackle. The throw itself is spectacular, too. Brees keeps the ball toward the sideline and fits it in there with plenty of time to spare.
Again, Brees shows off his savvy here. Rather than throw this “Wheel” route directly down the sideline, Brees throws it to the receiver’s back shoulder. Brees wanted to keep the ball to the boundary to avoid the defender peeling off of the “Post” route closer to the hash. The ball lands right in a spot where Alvin Kamara can turn around to find it and still have room to get two feet down. Few quarterbacks flash this type of know-how and accuracy as consistently as Brees.
There is no reason to expect Brees to slow down as the season goes on. With the shipping off of Adrian Peterson, the team has committed more to Alvin Kamara. Kamara better fits as a receiver, which should help Brees. New Orleans also has a dramatically underrated offensive line, as well as a receiving corps that boasts many different skill sets. This offense is primed to stay on top.
Wild Wild (North)West
The Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks played a style of football that felt foreign. Both teams heaved the ball to every area of the field. There was no fear of interceptions or incompletions. There was very little success in the running game. It was what you might expect of a BIG 12 game in college football.
In all honesty, it was not a sustainable style of football. Both teams had their fair share of luck, and being so one-sided on offense is hardly a recipe for success. The game was unbelievably fun, though. For at least a few hours, football felt like something else.
This summarizes the predicament Russell Wilson found himself in all game. Wilson was constantly having to bail out of the pocket to make plays. And yet, for as little comfort Wilson was allowed, he continued to make heroic plays like this one. To find a receiver in the back of the end zone after having completely turned his back to the defense is just dazzling.
Deshaun Watson, on the other hand, had a little more luxury to work with. Wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller had fantastic games. That is not to take away from what the rookie accomplished, though. Watson displayed great arm strength and confidence on a number of plays, including the one above. Many speculated the quality of Watson’s arm during his pre-draft cycle, but he continues to silence the doubters. Likewise, there was concern about whether the loose, wild side of his game could translate. It has thus far, and was instrumental in taking down a Seahawks defense that does not crumble easily.
The NFL needs more shootouts like this one. Of course, not every team has a Watson or a Wilson, but that does not mean they can not air it out more. Offenses should be less afraid to let it fly. The NFL needs chaos and confidence on offense.
The End of the Trevor Siemian Experiment
Trevor Siemian is an awesome story. At the University of Northwestern, Siemian struggled to truly showcase his talents in a downtrodden offense. Nevertheless, John Elway and the Denver Broncos saw something in him and selected him in the round seven of the 2015 NFL Draft. After a year on the bench, Siemian was given the reins in 2016, as first-round pick Paxton Lynch was not ready to play. Siemian was not great, but he exceeded expectations.
Draft status does not matter anymore. The underdog euphoria is no longer there for Siemian. He is now viewed as any other starting quarterback in the NFL, and he does not meet the standard. That is not to say he does not have a place in this league, but the Broncos know they can not move forward with him. Siemian was always a backup quarterback playing on borrowed time. Time finally won.
This week on Monday Night Football, Siemian imploded. He threw three interceptions and just 5.5 yards per attempt. Siemian’s lone touchdown pass was a garbage-time toss when the Kansas City Chiefs defense was clearly playing like they just wanted to go home and slip into their pajamas. This is not the first time Siemian has ever played poorly in Kansas City, but he was not this reckless the last time around. Siemian regularly threw the ball around without caution and it cost his team.
Where the Broncos go from here is uncertain. It is no secret that the team, particularly the defense, is clamoring for change. Right now, the only other options are Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, who is battling injury right now. In fairness to Siemian, he may not be worse than either of those options. He is not any better, though, and you can often sell people on the next thing being the better thing.
Siemian will stick around in this league for a while. He clearly works hard to have exceeded his draft slot the way he did. In the year-plus he has started, Siemian has flashed enough arm talent and confidence to remain employed. For now, though, it is probably best to put Siemian on the backburner.