The “Big Four” that consist of Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III remain on our minds from last season. In 2013 each of them had solid debuts and their success continued through the season. But now it's time for three new young talented quarterbacks to capture the spotlight.
Terrelle Pryor, Geno Smith and E.J Manuel only accomplished a combined record of 1-2 in Week 1 of 2013. But in essence the wins and losses are stupid to judge a quarterback on during their debut of the season. Each successfully made a name for himself in the NFL not only by their record, but by talent and potential.
The biggest surprise out of the shoot was Pryor. Not only because in the beginning of the offseason, the Raiders had other ideas for the starter. He’s truly a big surprise since heading into Monday morning he’s the NFL's leading rusher. A very unpredictable phenom.
Another factor came as a twist of fate in the Colts game on Sunday when some of Pryor’s jitters became a factor when he was intercepted on the opening drive leading to an Indianapolis touchdown and the Colts were quickly on top 14-0. The game had the makings of a blowout early. Once Pryor was able to get relaxed and comfortable he was able to do his thing and shine like no other Raiders' quarterback has done since the hey day of Rich Gannon. Pryor was able to carve up the Colts' defense on the ground and played well enough to eventually take the lead.
"It's not fun watching Terrelle Pryor run around and do his thing. I'm sure for everybody else watching, it's pretty electric," Luck said. "Terrelle Pryor is a stud."
Very high praise from Luck, one of the most polished young quarterbacks in the NFL. A superb effort given Pryor skill-set, he’s draws excitement from everyone watching with his athleticism and running ability and is ready to learn from his unforced mistakes.
A prime example of his growing pains came later in the game with the interception that ended the Raiders shocking attempt at a comeback victory. That's a stinger, but Pryor provided enough to salivate Raiders fans for an exciting future.
In Pryor’s words "I could've helped win the game and didn't," Pryor said, via CSN Bay Area. "We had 'em on the ropes and we didn't knock them out. The record is all that matters to me. I don't care what my numbers are. I just want to do well for the team, and I didn't do well enough."
The day for Pryor was full of excitement and anguish. He threw for 212 yards and rushed for 107 more, had two touchdown to go along with two interceptions. But now he will learn to adapt as the season moves into the second week.
The second new man on campus that drew attention to the screen was Geno Smith, the sole winner of the trio on Sunday. He was able to lead the Jets to a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18-17. He did however, get some help from Tampa Bay’s players and miscues. In the game Bucs' linebacker Lavonte David, literally shoved New York into field goal range late in the game.
Smith didn’t blow anyone away, but his willingness to stand tall and keep pushing and making plays was very impressive. The Bucs' defense took note of it as well.
As Gerald McCoy of the Buc’s said "I was for sure when I was hitting him early on he was going to get rattled. But the kid just kept sitting in there,"
Smith's statistics were not bad for his first day on the job as he went 24-for-38 for 256 yards, one touchdown and a pick. He isn't setting the world on fire but the Jets are 1-0.
One must remember the Jets we're the comedic tragedy this past offseason. Instead they were a team with moments of offensive competence.
Smith wasn't Joe Namath by any means for the Jets but he showed his own solid character as a young quarterback with the willingness to succeed, enough to have his coach Rex Ryan realizing the other possibility of starting Mark Sanchez out there under center shouldn't even be a topic of discussion.
Another impressive outing of the three young quarterbacks on the list was from E.J Manuel. He carved up a solid performance against the New England Patriots. Manuel was efficient on Sunday against one the best teams in the league as he went 18-for-27 for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Like Pryor he started off slow, but not because of jitters but because of the lack opportunities that were limited by the Bills defense and he didn’t receive much support from his running game that consisted of mainly Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. His two touchdown throws were that of a solid veteran.
The first was a spectacular, patient advancement through his reads until he found Robert Woods wide open in the back right corner of the end zone. The second touchdown was even more remarkable as Manuel flipped the ball rapidly and hit Stevie Johnson with a perfect touch pass out of an empty backfield set.
Of course it’s a bit too early to award any of these three quarterbacks as the next big prize in the NFL. At some point in the season they are going to have their struggles as well as moments of success. All in all, the Jets, Raiders and Bills will be better off with their young talents under center.
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