Welcome to ‘Two QBs For Me and You’, a new feature where I’ll focus on and breakdown two notable quarterback performances from the week. … And then I will go over what they mean moving forward.
The 2016 season kicked off on Thursday with a game featuring perhaps the most intriguing and certainly the most unknown starting quarterback in the NFL. What were we supposed to expect from Trevor Siemian? Personally, I was completely open to any outcome, but expectations weren’t very high. However, I came away impressed with the 2015 seventh-round pick out of Northwestern.
18-of-26, 178 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
There was no point in the preseason where the second year man looked like he’d solidified himself as the clear best player to lead the Broncos, so when presumed starter Mark Sanchez was released and it was announced Siemian had beaten out first round pick Paxton Lynch, it surprised many. But this game evidenced why he was given the go-ahead.
In the fourth quarter, on a third-and-one at the Panthers’ 14 yard-line, as Trevor Siemian pulled the ball down and decided against forcing a throw on a screen to Demaryius Thomas, he oozed composure. He calmly assessed the pass, decided against it and took his eyes all the way to the opposite sideline, jogging for a first down. As he returned to the huddle, it looked like a smirk had formed across his face. Shortly after, the Broncos took the lead on a CJ Anderson touchdown.
It was a day of firsts for Siemian – first attempt, completion, touchdown pass, and interception. But importantly, it was Siemian’s first NFL win. And he performed extremely well.
- He was praised before the game for his poise and ability to stay calm, and it was evidenced on the very first play from scrimmage. Siemian looked to throw a screen to Thomas but his path was blocked by the imposing figure of Kony Ealy. Rather than panicking or throwing the ball away, Siemian faked Ealy out and side-armed the ball to Thomas, who carried it for a first down
- The weapons on that offense can do the work, as long as the quarterback can feed them. This was evidenced last year, when Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders racked up 1,304 and 1,135 yards respectively playing with Peyton Manning, who was past his best, and a struggling Brock Osweiler. Siemian doesn’t need to do to much
- In the first quarter, he again held his nerve when Star Lotulelei came rushing towards him unblocked, and dished to his check down option, CJ Anderson. Rather than playing it safe, he kept his eyes downfield and delivered the ball as he was being hit
- Siemian’s first real negative of the game was his interception, which came on a tipped ball as he looked to throw a quick pass to Sanders on the outside. This could have been a lot worse, as there were two Panthers in the vicinity of the ball as it popped up into the air. Before that he’d completed 7 of his 9 passes
- On his very next play, he zipped in a 15-yard strike to Sanders again, and didn”t seem to have lost any confidence. The Broncos scored later on in that drive
- The running game will be the lifeblood of the offense, and Anderson did not fail to impress in the first game of the year. As well as on the ground, it seems the screen game will be used often as an extension of the run. Both Siemian and Anderson will benefit from this
- In the third quarter, for his second interception, Siemian made the kind of error that perhaps explains why he’s been somewhat of an unknown up until now. He threw off his back foot, and wasn’t able to get the ball over the cornerback covering Sanders who plucked the floated pass out of the air
- When he threw strikes and passes on a line, Siemian looked as good as anyone. When attempting to show touch, he didn’t look as impressive
- After the second interception, down 17-7 in the third quarter, he had two chances to throw in the succeeding drive. Importantly, he didn’t try to force anything. He took two checkdowns and lived to play another drive
- Siemian looked very comfortable maneuvering in the pocket and using his legs. He ran five times for 20 yards in the game, and definitely has some potential to do more – a stark contrast from Manning and Osweiler
- His only touchdown pass came on a screen pass to Anderson in the fourth quarter, but that is not a knock on him – he executed the play well and I wouldn’t be too surprised if more of his touchdowns come on plays like this
What does this mean moving forward? Can you play him? Is he startable? For how long will he hold off Paxton Lynch? What you really want from your low-end QB2/QB3 type quarterbacks is a guaranteed start and a decent floor – and at this point, with the quality of the team and weapons around him, that’s exactly what Siemian provides. If you’re an owner, he’s playable and I’d be very encouraged by the early signs. Next week, the Bengals provide another stiff test for the young quarterback, but he doesn’t face a slew of imposing defenses. If he’s on a waiver wire in your 2QB league, run to get him. As a dynasty asset, he holds value (every starter does), but I wouldn’t encourage moving anyone with future value for him. If he can turn in a good performance next week, he’ll look like a real late round bargain.
One of the reasons I was playing such close attention to Siemian was that I ended up with him in a fantasy league this year (only in a 2QB league would this happen). That league was the TwoQBs Staff 14-team Superflex league. After drafting him as my QB3, I feel it’s very important to understand how best to use him moving forward – and he looks like an ideal QB3. As my QB2 in that same league, I drafted another extremely intriguing young signal caller – one who has a place close to my heart.
This off-season has been a dream come true for Eagles fans. I really wanted things to work out with Chip Kelly, but they didn’t, and the decision to move on from him was the right one. Since that moment, every move the team has made has put them in a better position for success now and in the future. Remember, this was a 7-9 team with a strong young defensive front but major issues on offense. The team has improved, and the moves made to acquire the number two overall pick look like they were worth it. Let’s take a look at the debut of Wentz in Philadelphia.
22-37, 278 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
It didn’t take long for Wentz to make an impression, as he turned in an extremely impressive debut. Just going on the excitement from coaches and players in the build up to the game, it sounded as though he was ready to go. He lead the team to a week one win, and did not look like a rookie.
- Wentz’s first pass fell incomplete and was dropped by Jordan Matthews. This could have been a time to panic from Matthews as he has struggled with drops early in his career, but he did the opposite and went on to have a great game (7 catches, 114 yards and a touchdown) and establish himself as Wentz’s favorite target
- The rookie’s first completion was a thing of beauty – a lob to Zach Ertz, who hauled it in over his outside shoulder. It was a sign of things to come
- The first touchdown of the game – a 19-yard strike to Matthews – showed off the arm talent many were raving about for Wentz
- At times, he held on to the ball for too long – unsurprising for someone who played in the FCS throughout his college career, but perhaps more concerning was his tendency to be a little flat-footed and static at times. It’s definitely correctable, and when Wentz kept the feet moving he made his best throws, but this could hit him hard against a stronger defense
- Wentz also had too many passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. He got away with it, but we saw with Siemian how problematic it can be. It’s something to keep an eye on
- The Eagles said before the game that they weren’t going to hold back anything from the playbook, and it looked to be the case on Sunday. There was variety in formations, play-calling and what they asked him to do. It was also very noticeable that he wasn’t asked to drive the ball down the field until the second half. Whether he asked for it or not, the offense looked a whole lot more dynamic when they stretched the field
- He showed a range of outstanding throws, including a perfect 35-yard touchdown pass to the revitalized Nelson Agholor. The arm talent was on display all day
- One surprise was the lack of running from Wentz, but it may have been related to his preseason rib injury. This is something I’d expect the team to incorporate as he gets more comfortable, as he scored 12 rushing touchdowns in his final two years in college.
How do we react to this? On one hand, it was one of the more impressive debuts we’ve seen from a rookie in recent years. On the other, it was against the Cleveland Browns. As with anyone with a small sample size, we will have to wait and see how this pans out. But as an owner, you have to be extremely happy. In his next three games, he faces the Bears, Steelers and Lions – all teams without dominating defenses. There’s definitely reason to believe he can keep up these performances.
Although Wentz is a rookie, his talent level is high and there is the potential for him to be a very valuable fantasy asset. I would look to acquire him now if there is a chance any owner believes a performance against the Browns isn’t worth getting excited about. We should expect rookie struggles, but there is no reason to think he won’t start all year, and the upside is there.
Other Week 1 quarterback performances of note:
Derek Carr didn’t get the touchdowns (only one), but he still showed the Saints defense hasn’t taken much of a step forward. I’m very excited about Carr as we move ahead, but will need to see him do it against a non-New Orleans defense first. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are in for big years.
Marcus Mariota did not have a good day, but will attempt to make up for it against the Lions and Raiders coming up. Can that Minnesota defense be as instrumental as the Denver D from last year? Shaun Hill is serviceable, but Sam Bradford will provide a spark. Brock Osweiler has the formula to be an improved fantasy quarterback, and his wideouts showed out for him against the Bears.
Against the Falcons, Jameis Winston showed his true talent, tossing four touchdowns and taking control. He had a dream start, but faces the Cardinals, Rams, Broncos and Panthers in his next four games. His performances against these defenses will tell us how far he has truly come. Russell Wilson’s slow start was concerning (although he’s had those before), but his ankle injury is even more worrying. I’ve spoken before about about Wilson being valued too highly heading into this year, but if there are any panicky owners looking to sell early, I would use this as an opportunity to take advantage.
Unsurprisingly, Dak Prescott didn’t dominate like he did in the preseason (25-45, 227 yards), but he looked good in a tough divisional game. The usually strong Dallas running game was stifled (Ezekiel Elliot had 20 carries for 51 yards), which would have helped Prescott out. I wouldn’t worry too much if I owned him – the weapons around him and his calm performance on Sunday should mean he will be just fine.
Finally, how about Jimmy Garoppolo rolling into Arizona and securing the win? He looked in control, and although Tom Brady will step straight back in, he’s worth starting in all 2QB leagues and worth holding on to tightly in dynasty leagues. He will be tested even more, with matchups coming against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills. But by then, he might even have the team’s best offensive weapon back in Rob Gronkowski.
Who stood out to you in week one? What did you think of the quarterback debutantes?