The overwhelming pressure on young NFL QBs

Trade rumors are swirling around Miami Dolphins 2nd year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. A prime example of NFL franchise impatience with their inexperienced quarterbacks. In recent years, it is a common phenomenon such as the following quarters.

New York Jets – Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold was drafted 3rd overall by the New York Jets in 2018. Spent two of his first three seasons under terrible, drama-filled coach Adam Gase. Amidst the Jets locker room situation and the dumpster fire of poor play. New York failed to land legitimate talent. Leaving Darnold with offensive talent. The Jets fell to 13-25 in three years with Darnold starting. After the 2020 season, Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers. Where Darnold has excelled is suddenly emerging as a dual-threat quarterback. Reuniting with former Jet Robbie Anderson in addition to DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey. When Carolina has been healthy, they have been strong this season. Darnold has had a chance to turn his career around and has improved significantly. A sign of the poor system Darnold was given in New York. Giving the quarterback talented players opens the door for more confidence in themselves. Allowing Darnold to play the best year of his professional career. Carolina has proven that they have given Darnold a much better system to fit around him in Charlotte.

Arizona Cardinals – Josh Rosen

Additionally, Josh Rosen was selected 10th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2018 draft class. After two games, Sam Bradford will be replaced by rookie Rosen. Rosen struggled with hints of potential in his rookie season. As Arizona would go 3-10 with Rosen at the helm. Like Darnold, Arizona had one of the worst rosters in the NFL. Outside of David Johnson, Rosen had an aging Larry Fitzgerald, rookie Christian Kirk and a couple of no-name Tight Ends. However, after just one season, Rosen was transferred to Miami in 2019 when Arizona drafted Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray. Since then, Rosen hasn’t had much success, but Rosen has never really been given a chance. While Murray turned out to be the right fit for Arizona, Rosen was never taken seriously as an investment. Unfortunately, Rosen will likely spend the rest of his career as a backup.

Washington Football Team – Dwayne Haskins

In 2019, the then-Washington Redskins selected Ohio State standout linebacker Dwayne Haskins with the 15th pick in the draft. After being drafted, Haskins quipped that “the league messed up.” reaction to being selected as the 3rd quarterback. After multiple seasons with Kirk Cousins, Washington needed a replacement. Unfortunately, Haskins’ first two seasons were a blur, sharing the starting role with Alex Smith and injury. In his rookie season, Haskins suffered a high ankle sprain in late December 2019. Washington cut Haskins near the end of the 2020 season. Due to a violation of COVID-19 rules, Haskins was spotted without a mask at a strip club, and the terrible performance led to Haskins being benched in the loss to Carolina. It was enough for coach Ron Rivera to believe they should split. Many in the Washington organization questioned Haskins’ work ethic, discipline and focus. Granted, Haskins struggled on and off the field. Haskins currently backs up Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. Because his future as a starter in the NFL remains unknown.


There is a lack of real investment in the younger quarters. The NFL has become increasingly reluctant to develop franchise quarterbacks over the years. Other than the Green Bay Packers, teams no longer coach their young quarterbacks. Rookie quarterbacks have struggled across the board so far this season. As of Week 6, the rookie quarterbacks are 6-13 in the starting lineup.

Look at great quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, they sat behind the starting lineup for a while before being called upon to start. They gave their young talent time to develop, understand the board and not feel pressured to play well before they were ready. Fans are very eager to get their playing time, especially when the team is underperforming. But throwing a quarterback early in the season isn’t always the right way to set them up for success.

There is a lot of pressure and expectation on these rookie quarterbacks. A lot of quarterbacks struggle, I think NFL front offices have seen Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson take off in year two. Because of this, other front offices expect their quarterback to become a franchise in about two years. The problem is that teams like Kansas City and Baltimore don’t get built. However, they are expected to revive struggling franchises like Chicago, Washington or New York. There’s a big difference between rebuilding an entire team and being one piece away from serious playoff contention.

Miami began exploring trade offers for Tua this past offseason. Hoping to land Houston star quarterback DeShaun Watson. Without a clear legal answer for Watson, the trade fell through. Despite Tua throwing for 2,358 yards, 14 touchdowns and an 87.0 rating in his first two seasons, Miami has him on the trade block. It’s not fair to Tua to be spun like he’s a bad quarterback. He’s clearly talented and has shown he can win the starting lineup at 8-5. This is a good start especially considering they are in the same division as the Buffalo Bills.

It looks like NFL teams will continue down this path until they find the answer. It will come with a lot of trial and error. I don’t expect it to be any easier for the young quarterbacks. The pressure to win is on and teams want to fight. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if a franchise goes through a new coach and a new quarterback every year, it’s going to be extremely difficult for a rookie to succeed. The New York Jets are the epitome of this cycle of failure. The inability to develop real talent and surround young players with legitimate talent is a real struggle. Much of the responsibility falls on the front office, the coaching staff and the work ethic of the quarterback. Some systems don’t work for some players. But I believe time will tell if teams can really do it or not.

Isaiah Pinto

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