Highlighting the Most and Least Impressive Quarterbacks from the Preseason
Two weeks into the NFL preseason and we have some meat to chew on.
Here are some of the preseason's most and least impressive quarterbacks thus far. The list doesn't include those we expect to impress—the elite guys such as Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
It also doesn't include the dregs of the league at the position—what would be the point of elucidating the disappointing nature of third-string quarterbacks?
Of course, this is just the preseason, so all the good and the bad must be taken with a big grain of salt. Nonetheless, some of these guys are showing early promise, while others are throwing up warning flags.
Impressive: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars may have a good problem on their hands.
They wasted little time announcing rookie Blake Bortles—the quarterback they took No. 3 overall in the 2014 draft—would be sitting out his first season, learning behind Chad Henne. His preseason might have them rethinking that plan.
Bortles has been great in two games thus far this preseason, albeit against second-team defenses. He has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 277 yards. He has a passer rating of 96.9, despite not throwing for a touchdown yet.
He has performed so well that the Jaguars have schemed to get him time with the starters, as tweeted by NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Disappointing: Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
When the Cleveland Browns moved up a few spots to select quarterback Johnny Manziel with the No. 22 pick in the 2014 draft, who were they expecting would show up to camp?
Manziel and his larger-than-life persona seemingly caught Browns brass off guard, and it may have helped sink Manziel's chances to start this season.
His preseason performances did little to convince the Browns otherwise.
Johnny Football looked more like Johnny Overmatched against second-teamers on opposing defenses this preseason. He couldn't outrun them like he did in college, and Manziel was utterly underwhelming all around.
Then there was the whole one-fingered salute fiasco that was the final nail in Manziel's coffin as a starter. Brian Hoyer was named the Week 1 starter, per Northeast Ohio Media Group's Mary Kay Cabot, just a few days after Manziel's most recent show.
Impressive: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
He isn't throwing lights-out, but Ryan Tannehill has seen marked improvement early on in offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's new offense.
Tannehill has been far more efficient this preseason than he has been in his first two, amassing a passer rating of 117.1 in the process. That is up from 98.9 last preseason and 66.9 as a rookie. Despite negative reports from practice, Tannehill seems to have taken to Lazor's fast-paced offense.
There are still chemistry issues to work out with Tannehill and his top receiver, Mike Wallace, who seems to be surprised half the time he is targeted.
Disappointing: EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills
The 2013 quarterback draft class was uninspiring last season, to say the least. The man headlining that class hasn't made much progress if this preseason is any indication.
EJ Manuel hasn't looked terribly good for the Buffalo Bills during this exhibition season.
He has had some success moving the ball, but the Bills haven't been able to punch it into the end zone. He hasn't been able to strike up chemistry with his new weapon, receiver Sammy Watkins, who has caught just three passes for 21 yards.
Manuel has completed 55.7 percent of passes en route to a 71.9 passer rating through three preseason appearances. Those aren't exactly confidence-inducing numbers for the second-year quarterback. The offensive struggles have frustrated Manuel, per Tim Graham of The Buffalo News.
Impressive: Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Quarterback Jake Locker seemed like he was putting it all together last season before an injury ended his 2013 campaign early.
He looks to have picked up where he left off here in the 2014 preseason.
Locker played particularly well against the New Orleans Saints. In that game, he completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 75 yards and a touchdown to Justin Hunter. If Locker can stay healthy and keep up this display, the Tennessee Titans offense is in great, underrated hands.
Disappointing: Eli Manning, New York Giants
The New York Giants offense is supposed to bounce back in 2014 under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. If the preseason is any indication, the bounce will be off a cliff.
The biggest problem might be quarterback Eli Manning, who has been unable to parlay his new offensive scheme into anything coherent during preseason games.
Manning has completed an atrocious 43.8 percent of his passing attempts thus far this preseason, a horrendous statistic exacerbated by the fact McAdoo has installed an offense predicated on short passes that should theoretically boost completion percentage.
Impressive: Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
True, there is little chance Jimmy Garoppolo steps in at quarterback for the New England Patriots this season. Head coach Bill Belichick may have finally found a true heir for Tom Brady's throne, however.
New England's second-round selection of Garoppolo was widely panned. Garoppolo got some predraft buzz, but he was considered a bit too raw for a second-round pick. There is also the fact the Patriots already have Brady and Ryan Mallett.
After a rough start to his pro career, he is beginning to prove his doubters wrong. As it turns out, it was a confidence problem early on, something he has overcome in recent weeks, per NESN.com's Doug Kyed:
“It’s one of those things — each opportunity you get, you gotta learn from it, get better each time, and if you do that, you just naturally gain more confidence,” Garoppolo said Wednesday at Gillette Stadium after practice.
Garoppolo can effortlessly flick a ball down the field 40 yards, and he displayed impressive accuracy along with underrated athleticism while playing at the FCS level in college, but the rookie said confidence is key for a quarterback.
“If you don’t have confidence, you go out there and you’re just not yourself,” Garoppolo said. “If you have confidence, you can be a good quarterback.”
If he keeps it up, the Patriots won't see much use for Mallett.
Disappointing: Robert Griffin III, Washington
Gone is Mike Shanahan, exorcised from a decrepit Washington football team. But the funk affecting Robert Griffin III and the rest of the offense still lingers.
OK, that may be a bit melodramatic, but Washington has not been terribly good on offense this preseason, at least not the first team. Griffin hasn't helped much, amassing a paltry passer rating of 64.9 through two games thus far.
He started off strong against the Cleveland Browns, but an interception on his second drive soured the evening. Griffin also continued to show a propensity to take unnecessary hits, running into some danger despite the meaningless nature of the contest.
Worse than all that, Griffin may be "alienating" his teammates, in part because of his struggles learning the new playbook, as first reported by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.
All this is exacerbated by the quality play of his backup, Kirk Cousins, who has a 91.3 passer rating and generally looked better throughout the preseason.
There has been a small but growing contingent of Cousins backers among the Washington faithful.
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