Week 4 of the NFL preseason did not feature many of the main attractions from the 2017 rookie quarterback class. The Houston Texans ended up not playing their game due to Hurricane Harvey, leaving us without a Deshaun Watson performance this week. DeShone Kizer of the Cleveland Browns also did not play. Kizer is already listed as the team’s starter and they did not want to risk injury. The Chicago Bears were sparing in their use of Mitchell Trubisky.
Mitchell Trubisky (Chicago Bears)
The management of Mitchell Trubisky this week suggested he will be part of the Bears’ plans this season. Trubisky was given the start and played through the middle of the second quarter, but ended the game with just five passing attempts. The Bears exclusively ran the ball on their first three drives. On the fourth, the offense looked normal and allowed Trubisky to dropback a handful of times. He threw four passes and scrambled a couple times. Trubisky’s final passes came late when he was reinserted into the game after Connor Shaw was forced to the sideline after a brutal hit. Why the Bears didn’t turn to Mark Sanchez for that, I do not know.
Trubisky will start at some point this year. The Bears coaching staff will give Mike Glennon a fair chance to prove himself in regular season play, but they don’t have to commit to him. Glennon’s contract can be voided after this year, so there is no reason to stick with him unless he surprises early. Trubisky had a good-not-great preseason, flashing his accuracy and mobility often—both traits Glennon does not have enough of. Trubisky will get a shot as soon as Glennon falters, which is bound to happen sooner rather than later.
Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
Patrick Mahomes is the only top rookie who played for an extended period of time. In fact, Mahomes was given the start this week as starting quarterback Alex Smith rested in preparation for the regular season. Mahomes had a similar performance to last week. Consistency still evaded him, but Mahomes dazzled with a handful of throws.
Throws like these would give Kansas City a spark that they have never had with Smith behind center. Mahomes’ arm talent is already among the best in the league. Nailing passes 60 yards down the hash in-stride and tossing deep sideline passes on the move should not be ordinary. It is for Mahomes. That said, it remains to be seen whether Mahomes can do enough on routine plays to maximize the value of his deep passing.
Mahomes’ lows were particularly gross this week. He zipped in an interception over the middle to a clearly covered wide receiver, but was fortunate to have the play incomplete. The defender failed to secure what should have been an easy interception. Throughout the game, Mahomes had a handful of other close calls, too. He regularly tested coverage he probably shouldn’t have. It’s a miracle that he ended his performance without an official interception.
Accuracy was also an issue for Mahomes. Throws missed low, high, or wide all game. Mahomes missed one curl route by chucking it at his target’s feet. The issue is still Mahomes failing to keep his mechanics in check. Sheer arm talent reigns supreme every now and then, but Mahomes has to prove he can make the easy throws look easy. He struggled with that this week, as he has all preseason.
Mahomes probably doesn’t start anytime soon. If Smith stumbles into a few losses or goes down with injury, Mahomes may be given a chance, but the Chiefs should be able to chug along like in years past. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill alone make for an explosive supporting cast, and the Chiefs defense will be top notch. In a wide open AFC West, a Smith-led Chiefs team has the potential to win the division. Mahomes can survive if he has to start at some point, but it’s tough to envision a scenario where he has the consistency to carry the Chiefs through the playoffs, if he had to. Head Coach Andy Reid should not feel pressed to start Mahomes.
Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)
The Houston Texans were unable to play their game this week. As a result, Deshaun Watson’s preseason campaign was cut short. Watson desperately needed this week to salvage his image and confidence. There is little promise to draw from Watson’s three preseason games.
Starting snaps seem far off in the distance for Watson. He was a fantastic college player, but he’s struggled to pick up Houston’s offense. The timing of the offense seems beyond his grasp right now and his accuracy has been downright disastrous. Watson looks months away from being functional. Given Head Coach Bill O’Brien’s odd affinity for Tom Savage, it’s unlikely we see Watson unless things go desperately south.
DeShone Kizer (Cleveland Browns)
DeShone Kizer is the only 2017 rookie quarterback who will start Week 1, hence why he was held out from playing this week. While Kizer may not have been challenged much by the other quarterbacks in Cleveland, it is exciting to see him gain Head Coach Hue Jackson’s trust this early. Kizer has the physical tools and confidence for the position. His mental processes are impressive, for the most part, and Cleveland’s offensive line will give the rookie a great ecosystem to work in. Kizer, similar to Mahomes, will need to hone his skill set, but Jackson has been adamant he will stick with Kizer through his rookie struggles.
- Nathan Peterman (Buffalo Bills) might get a chance to start this season. He is not legitimately good, but the Bills seem fed up with Tyrod Taylor, and the new coaching staff will have the freedom to test their new quarterback if they want to. Peterman will need a simple game plan, a strong running game, and clean pockets in order to be decent.
- C.J. Beathard’s (San Francisco 49ers) numbers from this preseason are inflated, but Head Coach Kyle Shanahan must see something in him. Beathard has the arm and the “yes man” mentality to throw Shanahan’s play-action concepts without hesitation or difficulty. The rest of Beathard’s skill set is incomplete, but he can at least execute some of Shanahan’s explosive passing concepts.
- If Ben Roethlisberger goes down with injury this season, don’t expect Josh Dobbs (Pittsburgh Steelers) to replace him. Dobbs had a disappointing preseason and Landry Jones already has starting experience under his belt. As of now, Dobbs would be a last-ditch effort.
- Cooper Rush (Dallas Cowboys) is officially the No. 2 QB in Dallas. Dallas snagged Rush as an undrafted free agent. Rush operated in an under-center, run-heavy offense at Central Michigan, an offense that also included a handful of similar play concepts to Dallas’ offense. Rush was a great fit from the day he was signed, but for him to have ascended this quickly is surprising. He has been accurate, timely, and poised throughout this preseason. The Cowboys found themselves a quality backup quarterback for nickels and dimes.