Training camps are underway across the NFL and it’s not difficult to find big storylines that will play out over the course of the next 43 days.
Here are four quarterbacks I’ll be following on a regular basis to see how they position themselves going into ‘prove it’ seasons.
1. Tua Tagovailoa
It’s a big month of preparation in Miami. If you know me through previous columns you know I’m intrigued with the Dolphins. No team made more changes to their starting offense, with Miami trading for wide receiver Tyreek Hill, then addressing a bad offensive line with solid additions of Terron Armstead and Connor Williams.
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The backfield was another position needing an overhaul that brings a new look. Chase Edmunds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel are now in South Beach.
Add those veterans with second-year sensation Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki, who hauled in a career-best 73 catches for 780 yards last year, and there are no more excuses for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
It’s a massive training camp in a ‘prove it’ year with new head coach/play caller Mike McDaniel.
They have the defense and the offensive personnel, but will they find consistent play at quarterback? It’s a long season, but I get the feeling the Dolphins need to enter September ready to go. Miami hosts divisional opponents New England and Buffalo to begin the year, with a road trip to Baltimore sandwiched in between.
If they’re still feeling things out to begin the season, the record gets rough before they really even get started. McDaniel stated throughout OTAs and mini camp he liked what the team accomplished throughout the offseason installation process.
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Hill hasn’t stopped talking about Tua’s accuracy. I’m eager to see if that tracks over the next four weeks, and we’ll get a great read on the situation when the team faces Tampa Bay and Philadelphia in the preseason. Not the games, but the joint practices going against the Bucs and Eagles.
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2. Trey Lance
“We have moved on to Trey.”49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan
Odds heavily favored Trey Lance being named the starter this preseason, an easy prediction given the trade the organization made to draft him just over 15 months ago.
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Now it’s Lance’s team, and despite not having much to judge him on, I have a sense of optimism with his success rate solely based on the fact he’s paired with Kyle Shanahan. I would have felt the same way had Mac Jones been the third overall pick.
Lance, Garoppolo and the decision makers within the organization have known this plan for months. Shanahan spoke on it Tuesday, but actions have shown us this course of action even before the start of OTAs.
While Jimmy G rehabbed his shoulder off-site, Lance was the No. 1 QB in meeting rooms and on the practice field. Running the first team offense this week won’t be something he’ll do for the first time this offseason.
Two starts last season is hardly any evidence, but the Niners traded two future first round selections and a third round pick. They’ve told us where the team’s future is invested. Now we find out how quickly Lance takes off within the offensive system he was hand-picked to run.
Now expectations intensify. He’s worked on speeding up his release, among other technical points of emphasis. Pay close attention to the joint practices with the Minnesota Vikings in Eagan, Minnesota.
Lance can certainly show early success this season. Deebo Samuel will have a contract extension, Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings are great outlets, and George Kittle is a great tight end in the prime of his career.
It’s worth mentioning that three of Lance’s first five opponents on the schedule are the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers.
3. Jalen Hurts
One way or another, baring injury, 2022 will be the Jalen Hurts season in Philadelphia.
Hurts’ situation is simple. He’s heading into Year 3 of his rookie contract knowing if he levels up on his overall play he’ll cash in with an extension after this season.
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He has A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith at wide receiver, an extremely consistent and productive rushing attack (one he was heavily involved in), and a defense that should get off the field at a higher rate than it did a year ago.
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He has a ton to prove, and he has his critics both inside and outside of the organization.
Is he their franchise quarterback? Training camp won’t decide that answer, but we should hear and read about clear signs of progress as the Eagles practice against the Browns and Dolphins next month.
The dual threat quarterback now has a dual threat combo at receiver. There should be obvious improvement for a QB who recorded a total of 26 touchdowns, completed 61% of his passes for 3,144 yards and posted nearly 800 yards rushing a year ago.
I like Hurts in this situation more than I do Tua’s in Miami because Hurts is going into the second season with his offensive-minded head coach. It’s a big year for Nick Sirianni, too.
There are plenty of people who will tell you Jalen Hurts sucks, but he’s been positioned with a very good situation to succeed.
4. Daniel Jones
“We’ve done everything possible to screw this kid up”Giants co-owner John Mara discussing QB Daniel Jones
That same ‘good situation’ for Hurts has not been the storyline for Giants starter Daniel Jones, but the good news/bad news is he’s in a prove-it year with a new head coach and offensive system.
Jones wasn’t going to be with the Giants long term with the old regime, and while he may not be the franchise quarterback with the new coaching regime either, at least he gets one more opportunity with a head coach in Brian Daboll, who was hired because of his dynamic scheme in Buffalo.
There’s a lot of work to be done by Daboll and new GM Joe Schoen. They’ve started that process by addressing a bad offensive line, which in turn helps Jones immediately.
The Giants didn’t pick up Jones’ 5th-year option after this season, so a solid year likely means he’s earned a new contract, but not with the team that drafted him.
Jones needs to produce the new pro version of himself in his new offensive system. One that plays smart, not reckless. But he also needs to let it rip.
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Jones has been conditioned in recent years to tamp down the turnovers. He now has Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka demanding that he turn it loose.
His turnover tally through camp and the preseason games will be something to pay attention to, especially considering the committed 51 of them throughout his first two seasons in the NFL.
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One CommentLeave a Reply
LOL.. BAMA wins..
the Tua vs Jalen rivalry (both BAMA products) is as alive today as it was in Jan 2018…
Tua was he more Godly-gifted, but Jalen was trained by the best (including Tua, himself). For the record, my money is on Tua, but I’ll take a Jalen win anyday!