Last season, we waited until Week 7 to assess quarterback situations -- or controversies, if you will. That will not be the case in 2020. Though we have just three weeks in the books, several head coaches have already had to address the game's most important position, whether by making a switch due to injury or poor play or by shushing reporters' questions about installing a new starter.
Today, I'm taking a look at six teams' quarterback situations and assessing whether each team is making (or has already made) the right decision when it comes to their QB1. Here we go:
Current QB: Nick Foles. Backup: Mitchell Trubisky.
Y'all already know how I feel about Nick Foles in Matt Nagy's offense. It's a marriage that should've taken place before Week 3 -- and it probably would have, had we had a preseason -- but I feel good about the Bears rolling with Foles moving forward. Looking at Sunday's comeback victory over Atlanta, Foles performed like I thought he would in that system as a QB who is above average at reading defenses, going through reads and executing his throws. Foles completed 16 of 29 pass attempts for 188 yards, three TDs, one INT and a passer rating of 95.2 after he replaced Mitchell Trubisky, who has failed to have any sort of consistency this season, with 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Is Chicago making the right decision by starting Foles? Absolutely.
Current QB: Carson Wentz. Backups: Jalen Hurts, Nate Sudfeld.
Doug Pederson was insistent Carson Wentz will remain the team's QB1 on Monday morning after tying the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. I have to agree with Pederson here. Wentz shouldn't be benched. I'm not in the meeting room, so I don't know what's going on between play-caller and quarterback, and it's clear they are working through some things right now. After watching the All-22 Coaches Film, I can tell you that Wentz is struggling to find rhythm with his receivers, many of whom are failing to get separation. It's not all on his targets, though. Wentz's reads aren't sharp, he's missing throws and he's missing open targets by looking to the wrong side of the field a bit too often. There were a few times Sunday when he got the ball to the right guy, but he was three progressions behind.
Some of this is on the play-caller, but some of it is because Wentz is simply getting to his second, third and fourth progressions late as a result of being too focused on his No. 1 target, tight end Zach Ertz. Whether Wentz isn't trusting his pass-catchers or pressing, I've still seen flashes of great quarterback play. Yes, it's true that Wentz must improve -- like, NOW -- if the Eagles intend to turn the season around, but trotting rookie Jalen Hurts out there isn't the answer.
Current QB: Dwayne Haskins. Backups: Kyle Allen, Alex Smith.
Dwayne Haskins is coming off his worst game this season (56.8 completion percentage, two TDs, three INTs, 58.8 passer rating), and his first two outings weren't anything special, either: He compiled a 56.3 percent completion rate, two TDs, zero INTs and an 85.5 passer rating. Nonetheless, head coach Ron Rivera is committed to Haskins as the team's starter.
I'm not quite as high on this decision as I am on what the Bears and Eagles are doing with Foles and Wentz. I've seen Haskins miss a lot of throws. Though he started seven games as a first-year pro in 2019, he still looks like a rookie working through a preseason. Haskins presents a lot of upside as a former first-round pick, but at some point, Washington must decide whether to wait it out or attempt to salvage the season by playing Kyle Allen. (Or Alex Smith?) To me, Allen gives this team the best chance to win at this point in time. My worry is, if Haskins doesn't visibly improve over the next few weeks, the staff will lose the rest of the team. That said, if Haskins is benched -- Rivera did say "there is a cut-off point for me" in terms of his young QB -- I'm afraid he won't regain the confidence he'll need to get back out there, this season or beyond. We can make excuses about the supporting cast, but I believe Washington is the worst team in the league when it comes to offensive personnel.
Current QB: Justin Herbert. Backup: Easton Stick. Injured: Tyrod Taylor.
The Chargers didn't plan on first-round pick Justin Herbert playing this soon -- I really feel for Tyrod Taylor! -- but he is. And now that the rookie is out there, they shouldn't look back. In two career games, Herbert has shown good field awareness and that he understands space (when to throw the fastball versus taking some zip off it and leading a receiver into an area). He's made some big-time throws already and racked up 300-plus passing yards in each of his first two starts (he's only the third player in NFL history to do so). It hasn't all been perfect, with Herbert making some silly errors and negative plays, but he'll give Los Angeles the most upside this year -- and in years to come.
Current QB: Nick Mullens. Backup: C.J. Beathard. Injured: Jimmy Garoppolo.
The QB controversy whispers are circling after Nick Mullens led the 49ers to a 36-9 win over the New York Giants in Week 3. My initial thought when watching Mullens in his first start this year was: Man, he looks good out there. Comparing Mullens' cap figure this year ($750,000, per Over The Cap) to Garoppolo's ($26.6 million), I understand the impulse among outside observers to wonder if the Niners could save a little -- OK, a lot -- of money by finding a way to succeed without Garoppolo. But after watching more tape, I realize Mullens is what he is -- a good backup quarterback who will play well when you need him (and who, for what it's worth, is not signed beyond 2020). Garoppolo, who was out in Week 3 with an ankle injury, has the experience; he's proven he can lead the offense and that the moment isn't too big. When Jimmy G is healthy, he's the guy. No questions asked.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, coach Kyle Shanahan ended any conversation of Mullens taking over as the team's starter if/when Garoppolo returns from injury, saying, "That scenario does not exist."
Current QB: Jeff Driskel or Brett Rypien. Backup: Blake Bortles. Injured: Drew Lock.
Drew Lock was hyped up all offseason, and the second-year pro showed some promise before suffering a shoulder injury in Week 2 that will sideline him for three to five weeks. Now, it feels like a lose-lose situation for the Broncos as they weigh their options with Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien. Vic Fangio will name one of these QBs the starter for Thursday's tilt vs. the New York Jets. Neither one of these guys inspires confidence in terms of making this offense go. Flip a coin, maybe?!
It won't be this week, but I'm going to bet that new signee Blake Bortles will be the best option until Lock returns. Having been in Bortles' situation, I'm sure the former first-round pick would love another crack at starting in the NFL.
UPDATE: NFL Network's James Palmer reported Tuesday that Rypien is expected to be Denver's starter in Thursday's game against the Jets.
Top 15 Offensive Players
Former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr takes a look at all offensive players and ranks his top 15. For the first quarter of the season, the rankings are based on a combination of:
1) Player accomplishments from the 2019 season.
2) Weekly performances, factoring in strength of opponent.
Rankings will be solely judged on this season's efforts following Week 4. Arrows reflect changes from Week 3. Heading into Week 4, here is Carr's list:
The MVP campaign picked up steam Sunday with Wilson throwing five more touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys. The fact that Wilson has thrown 14 TDs over the first three games -- the most by any player in NFL history in his team's first three games -- should make any defense cringe, notably those next on the docket (Miami, Minnesota and Arizona).
A lot of people already crowned Baltimore as the AFC's top team heading into Monday night's showdown between the Chiefs and Ravens. Mahomes had something to say about that, moving the ball at will all game long. With a four-touchdown performance from Mahomes, the Chiefs dominated from start to finish. Not to mention, the young passer passed Kurt Warner as the fastest player to 10,000 career passing yards in NFL history.
Jackson struggled to get anything going for a majority of Monday night's game, recording fewer than 100 passing yards for the first time in 25 career starts. The Ravens' young passer didn't get much help from his pass-catchers, as there were several drops in critical situations. This loss certainly humbled Jackson and the Ravens -- better now than in January. But don't expect this to be the norm.
Russell Wilson isn't the only quarterback etching his name into the record books. In another MVP-resume-building outing for Rodgers on Sunday night, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have at least nine pass touchdowns with zero interceptions and two or fewer sacks in his team's first three games of a season. It's great to see Rodgers taking ownership of this Packers offense again.
Kamara has emerged as THE guy in the Saints' offense with Michael Thomas inactive with an ankle injury and Drew Brees struggling against Father Time. Let's not beat around the bush and get right to his phenomenal 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown to tie Sunday's game against the Packers in the third quarter. There are few players capable of making a play like that. Kamara, who has now scored at least two TDs in each of his last five regular-season games, is the reason the Saints' offense has been able to go toe-to-toe with the Raiders and Packers in back-to-back weeks.
The 2020 Bills offense is the best product in franchise history. Allen has been really impressive in the team's 3-0 start with 1,038 passing yards and 10 passing TDs, and the late comeback victory against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday should give Allen and Co. a major confidence boost. Allen's development will surely be tested in the weeks to come, as Buffalo's next three opponents (Raiders, Titans, Chiefs) have a combined record of 8-1.
Aaron Rodgers got everyone and the dog involved in Sunday's offensive game plan, but Jones showed why he's a mainstay from week to week against even the toughest of opponents. The running back showed some sizzle against the Saints with explosive runs, including a 1-yard TD plunge on fourth-and-1 in the third to help Green Bay retake the lead in a game full of lead changes. As good as Rodgers has been for the Packers, they wouldn't be 3-0 without Jones.
Hopkins continues to be a major contributor for the Cardinals' offense, with 12 targets, 10 receptions and 137 receiving yards in Sunday's loss to Detroit. He's the leader in the NFL clubhouse in receiving yards (356) through three weeks.
Zeke did log another TD run Sunday, but I have to give the Seahawks' defense some credit for limiting him to 34 yards on 14 carries (2.4 ypc). His 34 rush yards were the second-fewest in a game in his career in which he got at least 10 carries. It's not often that Zeke feels like a non-factor, but he was in Week 3.
The Browns' offense is beginning to click, and Chubb deserves a lot of credit for jump-starting this unit. Coming off a 108-yard, two-TD rushing performance against Washington, Chubb is a big reason the Browns sit at 2-1 heading into a showdown with the Dallas Cowboys.
Though the Patriots' run game dominated the Raiders' defense for 250 yards, Newton struggled mightily throwing the ball in New England's first five drives, going 5-of-13 for 35 pass yards, one INT and a 14.6 passer rating. Then, in his final four drives, he showed why he once claimed the league MVP award by keeping his composure and getting the passing attack back on track (12-of-15, 127 pass yards, one TD and a 124.2 passer rating). He may have given himself a C grade for his performance, but his ability to flip the switch mid-game tells me more than flawless play would have. That quality will be important down the line.
Patrick Mahomes got literally everyone involved Monday night with tackle Eric Fisher and fullback Anthony Sherman hitting pay dirt, which was fun to see. However, Kelce's production didn't dip as he recorded a team-high 87 receiving yards in the win, marking his 31st game with at least 50 receiving yards since 2018 (most in the NFL).
Murray has been electric as a runner all season long (four rushing TDs), but he showed regression in the passing game against the Detroit Lions. The second-year quarterback couldn't find his targets regularly on Sunday and threw three picks, which resulted in 10 points for the Lions. Those are big mistakes that the Cardinals can't afford in close games, and they paid the price Sunday as they fell to 2-1.
Green Bay was without Adams against the Saints on Sunday as the WR1 was sidelined with a hamstring injury. The hope is that Adams won't be out long, which is why he's still hanging around in the rankings.
A week after a career performance, Waller was held in check by the Patriots' stingy defense all game long. The versatile tight end had two receptions for 9 receiving yards on four targets, with his first catch of the game coming with four minutes remaining in the fourth. Even when the defense is limiting the TE, Jon Gruden and Derek Carr must find a way to get Waller involved.
DROPPED OUT: Josh Jacobs, RB, Panthers (previously No. 12).