Welcome to “Two QBs For Me and You,” a feature where I focus on and breakdown two notable quarterback performances from the week before. … I then go over what they mean moving forward.
Having covered almost all of the quarterbacks I’d consider fun (or at least bearable) to watch, this week I bit the bullet and decided to subject myself to two of the least appealing quarterbacks in the league right now.
Houston’s Brock Osweiler is undoubtedly the worst signal caller in the NFL on a per-dollar basis (59.5% completion percentage, 12 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a whopping $72-million contract), and he was one of the subjects today after a tough home loss to the surging San Diego Chargers. The other quarterback today, number one overall pick Jared Goff, took a beat down from the New Orleans Saints.
How did they both perform?
20-of-32, 214 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception
- Despite all of the criticism for not seeing the field earlier, there is a reason Goff was taken first overall to be the Golden Boy in Los Angeles. In fact, there are many reasons, and a few of them were on show on an impressive first drive on Sunday. Todd Gurley stayed alive out of the backfield on the first play from scrimmage, and Goff dumped the ball to him for a 31-yard gain to kick things off. Just two plays later, Goff went to his top outside target, Kenny Britt, for another first down gain. Shortly after, on 3rd-and-7, Goff threw his first NFL touchdown pass to Tavon Austin, from 24 yards out, and it was a thing of beauty. Austin started in the slot, headed to the corner of the end zone, and Goff dropped the ball in perfectly over the defender’s head into his receiver’s outstretched arms. Time to get excited, Rams fans!
- The team’s second drive resulted in a punt, with an inaccurate Goff throw over the head of tight end Lance Kendricks. There were a number of defenders in the area, but fortunately for LA it fell incomplete.
- The next drive was again unsuccessful, and Goff this time threw behind Britt on a third down to end it. The throw was placed where only Britt could grab it, but it’s a difficult skill to pluck a ball from the air when it’s heading the opposite way to where you are running. Throwing balls that lead receivers better, or at least don’t force them to make awkward catches, is something all young quarterbacks can work on – so it isn’t a major concern.
- After the Saints had tied the game up, the Rams forced a turnover deep in New Orleans’ territory. On the first play from the 6-yard-line, Goff zipped a shallow cross to Kenny Britt for an easy walk-in touchdown. 14-7. While the play design left Britt wide open, I was still impressed by the speed and decisiveness with which the ball was put in his hands. At this point, it was looking like a back-and-forth shootout.
- New Orleans tied things up at 14-14, and Goff committed his first error of the day by coughing up the ball deep inside his own territory. He was under intense pressure, but instead of protecting himself he tried to escape the pocket, and the ball was knocked loose. Drew Brees wasted no time in making it 21-14. Rookies will be rookies, and ball security is simply going to be a work in progress for Goff.
- Now down 28-14 with just over two minutes to go in the first half, it was probably starting to feel like the game was getting away from Los Angeles, but Goff led his best drive of the day to pull them back within seven. He kicked things off with an inside pass to Bradley Marquez for 12 yards. A screen to Austin picked up eight, and Goff dropped another perfect throw to Kendricks as the broke to the corner of the field for 24 yards. Kenny Britt beat one-on-one coverage for a 17-yard gain, and Goff finished the drive with another laser to Kendricks for the 15-yard score. He showed flashes of what the Rams’ offense could look like when he becomes consistent and comfortable as a pro.
- Down 35-21 after the Saints struck first in the third quarter, Goff was perhaps forcing a throw when he was picked off by Kenny Vaccaro. This was the situation as the ball was caught:
- It wasn’t pretty, but it was another learning opportunity – those “tight windows” in college are no longer tight – they are impossible to beat. To improve, he’ll have to know this was a time to pull the ball down.
- As the Saints continued to pour on the points (49-21), the Rams had multiple chances to put together a drive, but they couldn’t muster anything. The offensive line looked weak, the playmakers couldn’t make plays, and the offense as a whole lacked any urgency and excitement. It is understandable given the score, the team’s record, and the coaching; but we shouldn’t take anything away from New Orleans, who dominated on the day.
- Obviously it would have no effect on the final result, but I was disappointed to see the Rams throw in the towel with two minutes to go – deciding to run out the clock instead of giving Goff one final chance to get some snaps. While I understand not wanting to put players at risk of injury (and perhaps Goff had been a little banged up), I think there’s always a chance to gain one more positive with a touchdown, field goal, or simply one more first down.
Did you watch Hard Knocks? I did and, like many others, came away unimpressed with Goff. Obviously, I understand the insanity of judging a player based on a TV show, but the conclusion was more that he’s not ready and seems a little immature (“Jared Goof”). It’s the same conclusion I’m sure many came to, especially while Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz were regarded as “veteran-type” personalities. After seeing these first two games, I understand why the Rams delayed Goff’s start in the NFL.
On the flip side, they might as well have just let him take his licks and get more game practice, because he’s going to get a couple of real “welcome to the NFL” moments against the Seahawks and Patriots in two of the next three weeks. The Rams also face Atlanta, San Francisco, and Arizona, and I wouldn’t be very optimistic playing him this year. Start him if you must, cross your fingers, and hope he can surprise some people. As for the future – I’ll be snagging some shares late next year, as I believe Goff and Wentz will be cheap QB2s with upside.
22-of-37, 246 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions (plus three rushes for 23 yards and a touchdown)
- If it wasn’t for DeAndre Hopkins and his spectacular ability to steal the ball away from defenders and come down with passes that clearly shouldn’t be caught, Brock Osweiler would probably look even worse than he has so far this season. On the first drive, Hopkins came down with a pass for a first down that ricocheted into the air and in no way should have been completed, but ultimately the Texans were forced to punt.
- Osweiler was almost picked off targeting Hopkins on the second drive, but on their third, he led the team all the way down the field, resulting in a quarterback “sneak” to take a 7-0 lead (more of a “QB lunge”). Akeem Hunt looked spritely (more so than Lamar Miller), Osweiler converted on two third downs to Stephen Anderson and rookie speedster Will Fuller, and the way he used his huge frame to leap into the end zone is almost impossible to defend. The issue is – how often can he lead his team to the one-yard-line?
- After a San Diego touchdown reply, the Texans started to move the ball, but Osweiler threw an interception that typified his subpar level of play this year. He felt pressure, rolled to his right, and forced a throw to Hopkins (this happens all too often). When on the move, it’s crucial to step into throws and set your feet, whereas Osweiler simply tossed a lazy wobbler, allowing defensive back Casey Hayward to step in front and snag the ball.
- To begin the second half (down 14-7), Houston wisely (and so obviously) went to Hopkins, as he picked up two first downs a row in the middle of the field. However, Osweiler tried to force it to him (a pattern seems to be emerging) for a third time, and Hayward was again there to break it up and almost take it away. Ryan Griffin couldn’t take a short pass on third down past the sticks, and another stale drive came to an end.
- It’s not only Osweiler who’s struggling this year. Big free agent signing Miller has only three touchdowns and a 4.2 yards-per-carry average on the year, adding to the Texans’ woes. He couldn’t hold on to the ball after his longest run of the day, and the Chargers took over. However, they gave it straight back to Houston and Osweiler had the ball at the San Diego 38-yard-line. Although Osweiler converted a third down to Hopkins, Miller had two negative runs on the drive, and they couldn’t punch it in, settling for a field goal to make it 14-10 San Diego.
- Philip Rivers took advantage, and down 21-10, Osweiler looked to C.J. Fiedorowicz. The result was a wild interception thrown way over the tight end’s head. With a completely clean pocket, this was as bad as it looked:
- With seven minutes to go, Houston had plenty of time to mount a couple of scoring drives, and it looked like they were going to when Osweiler completed three first-down passes to move the ball to the San Diego 39. The next four plays summarized the state of the offense. Osweiler overthrew Hopkins on first down, missed Ryan Griffin on second, was tackled after a one-yard gain by the outstanding Joey Bosa on third, and couldn’t connect with Braxton Miller on fourth. This time, the receiver should have held on to the ball, but the drive came to an ugly end.
- After winning the ball back, Osweiler should have again been picked off as he missed Fuller on a deep shot, but instead took advantage of a soft defense to lead the team to a quick field goal with 18 seconds left. 21-13.
- Amazingly, the Texans recovered the onside kick, giving the offense one last chance to tie the game. The first hail mary attempt failed, and the second was caught by San Diego defensive back Dexter McCoil.
The Texans came into this game leading the division, knowing Indianapolis had lost their Thanksgiving tie, having the chance (at home) to put themselves ahead even further in the the AFC South race. They fell way short. Now at 6-5, they will have a tough task holding off the surging Titans and the Colts with a returning Andrew Luck.
Houston now faces two huge road games, against Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay then Luck in Indianapolis. Their last two home games are against Jacksonville and Cincinnati, and they close out the season by traveling to Tennessee. If you have been starting Brock Osweiler, I’m sorry. If you have to play him for the rest of the year, good luck. If he’s on your dynasty teams, I don’t know what to say.
Other Week 12 Quarterback Performances of Note
I almost feel bad for Vikings fans. Any Ram or Eagle knows too well Sam Bradford isn’t cut out to succeed to his drastically high level of expectations. He’s simply “okay” and can’t carry a team. Unless the defense and special teams over there take over, he can’t win. Dak Prescott, on the other hand, can win games. There will be times when the run game struggles, and I expect Prescott to take his game to the next level. He might be able to do what Tony Romo couldn’t.
When the Steelers surge, they really look ominous, don’t they? How do you defend the Big Ben-Antonio Brown connection? In a fairly wide open AFC, now is a good time to get hot, and both the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger fantasy owners could benefit. Indianapolis once again showed Andrew Luck should be an MVP candidate every time he plays, as he seems to be the only player who can lift this team. They are awful without him, and playoff hopefuls with.
Carson Palmer is done. I can’t imagine Bruce Arians being patient or standing for his performances this year. Whether it’s a draftee or free agent, expect BA to add a QB. Cincinnati will also have some decisions to make after the season. No, I don’t think Andy Dalton is benchable, but maybe bring in some competition? Will Marvin Lewis be back? I can’t imagine the Bengals not allowing him one more shot.
Tyrod Taylor plus Sammy Watkins could be fantasy gold heading into your playoffs. While they already have one of the strongest running games (and the most fun RB to watch), this element will work wonders. Matt Barkley worked wonders against an underwhelming Tennessee team, and if it wasn’t for a drop on a ball that even I could have caught (and I have the worst butterfingers), he would have thrown for four touchdowns. When it comes to the quarterback stream, Barkley must have been a dream.
If there’s one team I am rooting for now, it’s the Chargers and Philip Rivers. He is a hero, and as I’ve mentioned before it would sadden me if he can’t secure a Championship in his career. The win in Houston was a start, and now the team has five tough but winnable games (Tampa Bay, Carolina, Oakland, Cleveland and Kansas City). Miami, another playoff hopeful, will also need to stay hot, but Adam Gase really has Ryan Tannehill looking fantastic.
Drew Brees is the greatest fantasy quarterback of our era. Or is it Aaron Rodgers? Also, is this another chance to buy Russell Wilson? Perhaps your trade deadline has passed, but if he ends with another couple of bad games before the season’s end, he’ll be a bargain heading into next year.
Quarterbacks covered so far:
- Week 1 – Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz
- Week 2 – Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford
- Week 3 – Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer
- Week 4 – Blake Bortles and Andrew Luck
- Week 5 – Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill
- Week 6 – Tom Brady and Case Keenum
- Week 7 – Alex Smith and Drew Brees
- Week 8 – Derek Carr and Jameis Winston
- Week 9 – Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott
- Week 10 – Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger
- Week 11 – Tyrod Taylor and Andy Dalton