ben volin | on football

NFL’s quarterback carousel is already spinning wildly

Teddy Bridgewater is now at the helm for the Saints.
Teddy Bridgewater is now at the helm for the Saints. sean m. haffey/Getty/Getty Images

A. Jacoby Brissett, Gardner Minshew, Trevor Siemian, Teddy Bridgewater, Mason Rudolph.

Q. Name five NFL starting quarterbacks who were nowhere near anyone’s fantasy football radar a month ago.

The league’s most important position has been shaken upside-down to start the 2019 season. Andrew Luck kicked it off with his surprise retirement in training camp. Jacksonville’s season went awry in the first quarter of the first game when Nick Foles broke his clavicle. The Jets’ plans took a detour when Sam Darnold came down with mono last week. And now two future Hall of Famers are hitting the bench, with Drew Brees out six weeks following thumb surgery, and Ben Roethlisberger out for the year with an elbow injury.


The NFL’s fast-spinning quarterback carousel is where we begin our Week 2 review:

■   The Steelers delivered the kind of news Monday that could alter the direction of the franchise. Roethlisberger, 37, needs elbow surgery, and is done for the year. Would it be a surprise if the 16-year veteran didn’t return and simply called it a career? If it’s Tommy John surgery, Roethlisberger would likely be facing at least a 12-month rehab.

The Steelers now turn to Rudolph, last year’s third-round pick whose first career NFL pass attempts came in Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks. And they literally don’t have a backup, after trading away Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars last week for a fifth-round pick. Do-over, please?

With the Steelers 0-2 and facing an uncertain future, they enter the “Tank for a Quarterback” competition with Miami and others.

■   Meanwhile, the Saints’ season takes an interesting turn with Brees set to miss six weeks after tearing a ligament in his throwing thumb in Sunday’s 27-9 loss to the Rams. Brees has been one of the NFL’s most durable quarterbacks, missing just one start because of injury in his 14-year career with the Saints. He is tied with Tom Brady with 522 career touchdown passes, 17 behind Peyton Manning for most all-time. Now Brady gets an extra six games on Brees.


There is a positive side to Brees’s injury for the Saints, however. They now get an extended look at Teddy Bridgewater, whom they are considering as Brees’s heir. Bridgewater hasn’t played great in his limited action the last two years since his devastating knee injury, but the Saints like him. They brought him back this offseason on a one-year deal worth $7.25 million plus incentives, the most for any NFL backup.

Bridgewater’s road won’t be easy, with a start at Seattle this week followed by the Cowboys at home.

■   In New York, the inevitable move from Eli Manning to rookie Daniel Jones may happen as soon as this Sunday at Tampa Bay. The Giants have been noncompetitive in losses to the Cowboys and Bills, and Manning has been dreadful, with just 556 passing yards and a 78.7 passer rating.

“We’re going to talk about everything moving forward,” coach Pat Shurmur said Monday. “I think that’s fair at this point.”

The Giants should have just started Jones in Week 1, instead of showing tepid loyalty to Manning.

In New York, they have to choose between Daniel Jones and Eli Manning.
In New York, they have to choose between Daniel Jones and Eli Manning.Michael Hickey/Getty Images/Getty Images

■   The Jaguars are 0-2, but they may have found a diamond in the rough with rookie sixth-round pick Minshew, playing in place of Foles for the foreseeable future. Playing on the road in Houston, Minshew completed 23 of 33 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown in the Jaguars’ 13-12 loss. He would have led the Jaguars to overtime, but Doug Marrone gambled on a 2-point conversion try in the final minute, and Leonard Fournette’s rush attempt got stuffed.


But Minshew showed impressive moxie in leading the Jaguars on a 61-yard field goal drive and a 68-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

“He doesn’t play like a rookie,” Marrone said. “That last drive, you could see the poise that kid has to be able to go down the field and score.”

■   No one is surprised that Patrick Mahomes is still lighting up the scoreboard for the Chiefs. Mahomes threw for 443 yards in a 28-10 win over the Raiders, including 278 in the second quarter alone. It was the second-most passing yards in a quarter over the last 40 seasons (Brees, 294 yards in 2008).

But where did Lamar Jackson come from? The second-year Ravens quarterback has had a blazing start to the season, leading Baltimore to a 2-0 record following Sunday’s 23-17 win over the Cardinals.

Everyone knows Jackson is a threat as a runner, and he gained 120 yards on the ground against Arizona. But Jackson has been proficient as a passer, too. He has a league-high seven touchdown passes, no interceptions, is completing 71.9 percent of his passes, and leads all quarterbacks with a 145.2 rating. Sunday, Jackson became the first player in NFL history to throw for 250 yards and rush for 120 in the same game.


Lamar Jackson has helped the Ravens to a 2-0 start.
Lamar Jackson has helped the Ravens to a 2-0 start.Wildredo Lee/AP/Associated Press

One person who deserves credit is new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who knows how to scheme it up for mobile quarterbacks. Roman was the 49ers’ offensive coordinator when Colin Kaepernick took them to the Super Bowl.

■   Adam Vinatieri made it to his 24th NFL season, but he might not still be kicking by his 47th birthday this December. The Patriots legend and future Hall of Famer missed two more extra points Sunday, making the Colts’ 19-17 win over the Titans closer than necessary. Vinatieri also missed an extra point and field goal attempts from 29 and 46 yards in the Week 1 loss to the Chargers.

Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time leader in points and field goals, was ready to retire after Sunday’s game, but the Colts reportedly are trying to convince him to stay.

■   NFL coaches were successful on just 2 of 10 challenges of pass interference Sunday. Through two weeks, director of officiating Al Riveron has overturned a pass interference call or non-call on only 3 of 14 coaches’ challenges (21.4 percent).

But Riveron did controversially take a touchdown off the board when he gave Vikings running back Dalvin Cook an offensive pass interference penalty upon review.

Former Patriot players

■   49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo — Threw for 297 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception in a 41-17 win at Cincinnati. The 49ers are 2-0, and have scored 30-plus points in their first two games for the first time since 1998.


■   Colts QB Jacoby Brissett — Threw for only 146 yards, but had three touchdowns and an interception in the win over the Titans. Brissett, who completed only 58.8 percent of his passes in 2017, is completing 69.1 percent through two games.

■   Lions DE Trey Flowers — Had just one tackle and one QB hit while playing 39 of 67 snaps in a 13-10 win over the Chargers. Flowers had shoulder surgery in the offseason and perhaps isn’t 100 percent yet.

Former Patriots coaches

■   Matt Patricia, Lions — Followed an ugly tie with an ugly win, but the record says 1-0-1 and that’s all that matters.

■   Bill O’Brien, Texans — Got his team back to 1-1, but almost lost at home to a rookie quarterback.

■   Brian Flores, Dolphins — Miami’s 102 points allowed are tied with the 1973 Saints for most after two games. And the Dolphins’ minus-92 point differential is the second-worst of all-time (1961 Raiders).

■   Mike Vrabel, Titans: Fell to 1-1 with the loss to the Colts. Now 0-3 as a coach against Indianapolis.

Stats of the Week

(with help from NFL Research and ESPN Stats and Info)

■   No. 1 draft pick Kyler Murray of Arizona joined Cam Newton as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards in each of their first two games.

■   The Patriots’ plus-73 point differential through two games is the fourth-best in NFL history.

■   Antonio Brown became the first player in NFL history to catch touchdown passes from both Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.

■   Redskins RB Adrian Peterson rushed for his 107th career touchdown Sunday, surpassing Jim Brown for fifth all-time in rushing TDs. Peterson is three touchdowns from tying Walter Payton for fourth.

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin