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Armando Salguero: NFL QB Talk: Mac Jones, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy G, Taylor Heinicke, Davis Mills

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This week, the quarterbacks at the podium discuss being the other quarterback in the game, improving without really getting philosophical about that improvement, understanding how to win, embracing the dreaded game manager moniker, and being deceptively fast.

Let’s go:

Mac Jones

In case you just emerged from a 30-year stint in that nuclear bunker buried in your yard, Tom Brady is returning to New England on Sunday to play the team with which he won six Super Bowls.

And just as Brady moved on to Tampa Bay, the Patriots have moved on to Mac Jones.

Except Jones is a rookie and, for our purposes this week, he’s like the average looking spouse and the super model ex-wife is visiting.

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So does Jones feel a little awkward, given Brady’s long, successful career with the Patriots?

“I think it just goes back to really with pressure, you just got to focus on doing what you’re supposed do, and people who have jobs in high pressure situations, that’s what they do,” Jones said. “They do their job really well, and they prepare really hard, so it’s all you can control, and once the hay is in the barn, the hay is in the barn, and you just got to go play.

“And I think everyone will be excited, and we’re just going to be ready to play when it happens.”

Lamar Jackson

His completion percentage and quarterback rating is down after three games this year compared to previous years. But Lamar Jackson is showing signs of growth.

Just don’t ask him to give you details about that growth.

“Man, I haven’t been trying to critique myself at all,” Jacksonn said. “I’ve just been trying to get better each and every day and trying to win these games. That’s all I’ve been focused on, not how I did good or how I did bad. Just trying to win games. That’s all.”

One thing Jackson does believe he’s improved on is reading defenses, particularly zone coverages that in past years have had success against him.

“Yeah, I think I’m doing a pretty good job right there,” Jackson said. “I’m feeling comfortable. Just growing. Year four for me, that’s pretty much what it is.”

Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay got a huge win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, and — here’s the bad news for the rest of the NFL — Rodgers believes his team understands what it feels like to win now.

That’s good for the Packers.

“Every year, you have to re-learn how to win with this group of guys,” he said Wednesday. “The ones of us who’ve been around and know what it feels like and what it should look like, obviously we have the foundation of that. But every team has to learn how to win from No. 1 to 69 [players on the active roster and practice squad].

“We got to feel how special it is. And we didn’t quite feel that after the Detroit game, for whatever reason. Maybe it was we won by three scores, and maybe they didn’t think it was as big a win because it was Detroit or whatever the mindset was. It’s hard to win in this league, and I think that what we were trying to convey that after Week 2. [But] it didn’t feel like the excitement of how special it is to win.

“30 to 28 against San Fran, you could feel the excitement. And obviously the way it finished, Mason [Crosby] making a big kick, us hitting a couple of chunk plays. But every year, you have to re-learn and I think readjust the perspective and savor how special it is to win in this league and never take it for granted. Because we’ve been fortunate, those of us who’ve played a long time to play in Titletown and understand what the expectations are, which it isn’t like that across the league.

“That withstanding, never take winning for granted because it’s tough in this league and it’s special, every single one of them.”

Jimmy Garoppolo

The 49ers lost to the Green Bay Packers Sunday night when Rodgers engineered a 37-second drive for the winning field goal to give his team a 30-28 victory.

That drive and kick eclipsed an outstanding eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive authored by Jimmy Garoppolo that gave the 49ers a 28-27 lead with just those 37 seconds left to play.

But rather than looking critically at the San Francisco defense that allowed Rodgers to respond, or perhaps tipping the proverbial cap to Rodgers for being amazingly good, there are people looking sideways at Garoppolo.

For scoring too soon.

So it’s his fault that on the go-ahead touchdown, Garoppolo snapped the ball with 12 seconds on the play clock? Remember, the San Francisco go-ahead score came on a 12-yard pass from Garoppolo to fullback Kyle Juszczyk on a first-down play with 43 seconds left in the game.

But somebody asked Garoppolo why he didn’t run the clock down some more, even if he was trailing 27-21 at the time and didn’t know he would need three more downs to score.

“Hindsight is 20/20,” Garoppolo responded. “Yeah, would’ve loved to run it down to one second, but you’re toeing that line of you’ve got them on their heels. We were going with some tempo. I know exactly what you’re saying. It’s a tough line to play with, but yeah, I wish I would have let some time run off the clock, wish Juice would have gotten tackled at the one, but it is what it is. That’s why we play the game.”

Taylor Heinicke

The Washington Football Team’s starting quarterback never got the memo that young quarterbacks want to grow up to be franchise quarterbacks.

Not bridge quarterbacks.

And definitely not game managers.

Heinicke, you see, is perfectly comfortable being a game manager. He thinks the label is cool.

“Every time it’s thrown out there, I’m like, ‘So what if you’re called a game manager and you’re winning games. Who cares?'” Heinicke said. “Again, I go back to every quarterback should be a game manager. You’re put in the spot, the ball’s in your hands every play and you’re supposed to make the right decision.

“If you manage the game the right way, you should win the game. So, that doesn’t bother me whatsoever.”

No worries, Taylor. You’ll have what you say you have.

Davis Mills

Houston rookie quarterback Davis Mills attended Stanford, so he gets his fair share of questions about absorbing the playbook quickly, having the game slow down for him because he understands it — you know, questions for a Stanford nerd.

Except Mills is deceptively athletic.

He is convinced he can get to the edge of the defense if he needs to. And why not? During the 2021 NFL combine, he was clocked at 4.58 in the 40-yard dash.

“I time faster than some people might have expected, yeah,” Mills said Wednesday.

Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

FanDuel’s GOAT vs. GOAT deal: New users win $125 (on a max $5 bet) if either the Bucs or Patriots score a touchdown on Sunday night. The odds of this happening are incredibly high as FanDuel Sportsbook is currently expecting over 5 touchdowns to be scored during the entire game. As such, a wager of only $5 is almost guaranteed to win $125. You can click here to sign up with FanDuel Sportsbook and claim this offer.

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

7 Comments

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  1. LJ ain’t that good he seems to be their leading rusher that can’t last running because he can’t throw they always hype the hell out of these running types going back to Vick and they never win anything fun to watch for awhile I guess but that’s about it

    • The Lamar hate is unbelievable. He’s 32-8 as a starter and a unanimous MVP in 2019. Not the prototypical QB for sure. But he Ravens would likely not have been in the playoffs the last 3 years without Lamar. I guess he won’t get any respect until he wins a Super Bowl or two. Is that the standard? If so, then there are a lot of QB’s in the HOF that shouldn’t be there.

  2. No hatin bro just different opinions and yeah winning SB is the measure they will even tell you that I am open if you can name me one Vick or Jackson type QBs that have even gotten close to winning a SB

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