There isn’t a lot of patience from NFL teams towards young quarterbacks these days, which puts a ton of pressure on them to succeed early in their careers.
It’s somewhat of a break from the way things used to be. For instance, Peyton Manning was a veritable turnover machine his first five years in the league — throwing 100 interceptions during that initial stretch of his career. Obviously he turned out okay.
Things are different now. A guy like Jameis Winston is seen as entering a do-or-die campaign after throwing 58 interceptions in his first four seasons. But that’s the way it’s going these days, and players have to step up or stand aside.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some young NFL quarterbacks under intense pressure to succeed in 2019.
Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals
Rosen is the first of three second-year quarterbacks included on this list. He’s on here for one reason only, and that reason is that general manager Steve Keim indicated at the combine that Rosen is in no way locked in as the team’s long-term answer at quarterback.
Coming off a brutal rookie season, Rosen’s 2019 campaign will play out one of three ways. Either he’ll be the starter in Arizona, the backup to Kyler Murray in Arizona, or be shipped off to another team if the Cardinals select Murray with the No. 1 overall pick. Regardless of which scenario he finds himself in, Rosen is facing a mountain of pressure this year.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens made a 180-degree turn midway through last season. Longtime starter Joe Flacco got injured, allowing Jackson the chance to shine. Once Flacco was healthy enough to start again, he never got the chance. Then, this offseason, Baltimore shipped Flacco off to Denver, fully throwing its support behind the second-year former Heisman winner.
On top of that, the Ravens are completely revamping the entire offense this spring to best suit Jackson’s dynamic skill set. This bold move to go young will either backfire spectacularly for the Ravens, or it’s going to be a huge success. And it all hinges on whether Jackson can live up to the incredible hype that’s surrounded him since 2016.
Mitch Trubisky, Chicago Bears
The Bears as an organization are facing intense pressure to take the next step in 2019 after surprising many with an outstanding campaign last year. If the Bears are going to take that next step, then it’s absolutely critical that Trubisky evolve as an NFL quarterback and takes a big step of his own.
This isn’t to say Trubisky didn’t take positive strides in his sophomore season. He did. In every statistical category, he showed improvement under first-year head coach Matt Nagy. But it’s Year 3 for the young passer in 2019, and he needs to step up big time to help the Bears reach their full potential.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield is coming off one of the most impressive rookie seasons any quarterback has ever put together in NFL history. He more than lived up to the hype of being the No. 1 overall pick last season and turned the Browns into a team capable of winning just about every game they played.
Basically, Mayfield has made the Browns respectable again for the first time in decades. Now the team is moving forward with a rookie head coach and some extremely high expectations. That comes with some big-time pressure. Thankfully for Mayfield and the Browns, pressure is something he’s thrived on throughout his young career.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are preparing to give Prescott a huge contract extension. The team is convinced he’s worthy of being called a franchise passer. Many analysts don’t see him as that guy. If Dallas is going to emerge from the mire of mediocrity, Prescott has to become that guy.
He’s coming off a statistically beautiful season in which he completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 3,885 yards with 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
Yet it’s no secret that the Cowboys offense revolves around Ezekiel Elliott. When he’s not running well, the entire thing falls apart. If Prescott really is going to be the man that turns the Cowboys into a championship contender again, that has to change.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
It seems a bit unfair to include the quarterback that just took his team to a Super Bowl. Yet after Goff’s horrible game against the New England Patriots there’s no doubt the young former Cal Berkeley star still has plenty of doubters. After all, national reporters like Mike Florio are openly wondering if Sean McVay would rather have Kirk Cousins long term than Goff.
For what it’s worth, I think that’s asinine, and that Goff will rebound with another improved showing in 2019. Remember, this young man has improved in each of his first three seasons as a pro and was the fourth-leading passer in the league last year. However, there is no doubt Goff is facing a huge amount of pressure after almost reaching the top of the mountain in 2018.
Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
There are a few reasons Wentz is under pressure next season, and all of them are pretty big. First off, he reportedly has rubbed some teammates the wrong way and has to find a way to become more of a successful leader in the locker room.
There is also a perception that the Eagles might have been better off with Nick Foles than with Wentz. The offense absolutely seemed to flow better with Foles under center last year, and of course he won a Super Bowl the year before. Finally, this is a young quarterback that has some questionable durability and has missed significant time the past two years due to injury. Needless to say, there are plenty of questions Wentz has to answer this coming year, and beyond.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
Is Garoppolo truly a quarterback the 49ers can build around long term? After more than a year, we still don’t have the answer to that question.
Garoppolo has certainly shown some promise guiding the 49ers in his nine games since being traded from New England. Yet his torn ACL last year, just three games into the season, really put a damper on everything the 49ers were trying to do.
It’s going to be interesting to see how he and tight end Greg Kittle develop together, because Kittle took off in a major way when Nick Mullens took over midway through the season. The 49ers will also look to add talent at receiver to give Garoppolo the best chance to succeed.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last season was a low point in Winston’s young career. Twice, he was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick after committing far too many turnovers, and he finished the season with 14 interceptions and seven fumbles in just 11 games. In 56 games as a pro, the former No. 1 overall pick has thrown 58 interceptions and fumbled 38 times.
The Bucs are rolling with Winston again in 2019 — the final year of his rookie deal. New head coach Bruce Arians has a long history of being able to help quarterbacks with big arms cut down on turnovers, and thrive with an attacking downfield approach. But if Winston cannot cut down on his mistakes, Arians will be forced to look elsewhere in 2020 and beyond.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Like Winston, Mariota is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Both fifth-year quarterbacks are set to make just under $21 million. And it’s highly debatable if Mariota is worth that kind of cash.
The former Oregon star has been injury prone in his first four years as a professional. He has yet to play all 16 games in any of his seasons with the Titans. Even more troublesome, Mariota has taken a step backward in his development the past couple of years. After throwing 45 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in his first two campaigns, he threw just 24 touchdowns and 23 interceptions from 2017-18.