If Thursday night served as the appetizer, Sunday served as the main course in. We can now say without equivocation that NFL football is back. With NFL Week 1 in the books (minus Monday night), we naturally have plenty of bad quarterback performances to pick apart.
So, which quarterbacks didn’t quite come through in their opening games? Who are the signal callers that have their fans secretly — or not so secretly — concerned?
The following quarterbacks produced the worst performances from Week 1 of the 2016 season.
1. Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns
Nothing clicked for the Browns in their season opener, a 29-10 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. But as bad as the loss was, some sort of optimism could have been salvaged if Griffin had done anything to show that he’s a franchise quarterback.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, that did not happen.
In his first game with the team, RG3 did very little to show Browns fans that he’ll be any different than the 24 men who came before him since 1999.
Cleveland has used more starting QBs than any other team since 1999.
Today, the QB carousel lands on No. 25: RG III pic.twitter.com/YD7YUFRo1I
— ESPN (@espn) September 11, 2016
In direct contrast to Philadelphia rookie Carson Wentz, who was sharp, Griffin was flat all day.
The Browns’ quarterback threw for only 190 yards, completing less than half of his passes (12-for-26). On top of that, he failed to account for a single touchdown, threw an interception, and couldn’t get in sync with his offensive line.
Griffin and new coach Hue Jackson were brought in to solidify the Cleveland offense. They may yet do so, but certainly they did not make a good first impression.
2. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Entering Week 1, most of the questions around the Bills were about their defense. The Buffalo defense did have the occasional lapse, but it held the Baltimore Ravens to only 13 points. That should be enough to win most NFL games.
Unfortunately, nobody told Taylor or the rest of the Bills’ offense.
In one respect, Taylor did okay. A quarterback can certainly do a lot worse than completing 15-for-22 passes (68 percent). In reality, most of those passes went nowhere. Taylor threw for 111 yards, averaging only five yards per attempt. With no real vertical passing threat (aka Sammy Watkins, who is still not 100 percent), the Bills offense was neutralized.
On the ground, Taylor (who rushed for 568 yards a season ago) was also shut down. The quarterback rushed for only 11 yards on five carries.
With that kind of inefficiency from the quarterback position, it’s actually surprising that Buffalo managed even one touchdown.
3. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
By pure numbers, Mariota wasn’t bad. He went 25-for-41, threw two touchdowns and one interception. Against a top-notch defense like the Minnesota Vikings, that’s a solid overall numerical performance.
The numbers are a bit deceiving here, though.
The Titans controlled the game for most of the first three quarters. Late in the third, Tennessee led 10-6 deep in Minnesota territory. Then, Mariota threw a pass that changed the entire game.
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2016
It didn’t get much better. Shortly after the pick-six, Mariota and DeMarco Murray failed to connect on a handoff, resulting in another defensive score for the Vikings that effectively put the game away.
So, for those of you scoring at home, in about five minutes of game time, the Titans went from on the brink of a commanding lead to down 12 points with basically no chance of winning. That’s quite a turn, and the blame largely falls on Mariota’s shoulders.
4. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Much like Mariota, Cutler’s overall numbers don’t look terrible. That’s not to say that 16-for-29, 216 yards, one touchdown and one interception is great. But it’s not an awful performance.
In fact, Cutler was brilliant in the first half.
Jay Cutler 10 of 13 in first half for 156 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, 141.8 passer rating. Very sharp so far
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) September 11, 2016
Unfortunately for the Bears, he was dreadful in the second half, which is why Cutler makes this list.
After halftime, Cutler was only 6-for-16 for 60 yards. He threw no touchdowns and tossed one pick. That works out to a 22.9 passer rating. That’s not good enough, especially when your team is in a close game.
In fact, Chicago was beating the Houston Texans 14-10 at halftime. But while the Texans regrouped for a 13-point second half, the Bears got skunked. Granted, Cutler’s line did an abysmal job protecting him, so the poor numbers don’t fall squarely on the quarterback.
But when it’s time to throw the ball, you have to do better than that, especially in crunch time.
5. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Playing the Seattle Seahawks in front of the 12th Man is never easy, but Tannehill’s performance too much to be desired.
The Miami quarterback was 16-for-29 with 186 yards passing and didn’t throw a touchdown.
To be fair, Tannehill did rush for a touchdown that put the Dolphins ahead late. If the Dolphins’ defense had done its job on Seattle’s final drive, Tannehill would have been the winning quarterback.
Unfortunately, that he had a chance at all to be the winning quarterback was more a product of a poor performance from Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ offense than anything else.
Miami probably would have pulled the upset with an average performance from Tannehill.
A franchise quarterback steps up, plays big in tough environments and wins games when the opponent manages only 12 points. Tannehill didn’t do that.
6. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets
Heading into his team’s final drive on Sunday, Fitzpatrick wasn’t having a great day. Still, if he had led his team into position to make a game winning field goal, it could have turned into a good day.
What happened was the exact opposite. After throwing two incomplete passes, Fitzpatrick and the Jets faced a third-and-10. There, Fitzpatrick stepped up and threw a perfect pass to Josh Shaw…who plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Game winning interception by Josh Shaw. https://t.co/o3K9mDWbtC
— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) September 11, 2016
That finished off an uneven day for Fitzpatrick. In total, he was 19-for-35 for 189 yards, two touchdowns and the one costly interception.
He’ll need to be much more consistent for New York to get back to the postseason for the first time since 2010.
7. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Unlike the previous six quarterbacks here, Wilson’s team managed a win. Still, it wasn’t exactly a win to get terribly excited about.
Prior to this game, opponents in Seattle had been held to 10 points or fewer on 11 separate occasions during Wilson’s career. The Seahawks won all of those games. Only one of those 11 wins came by less than 10 points. In fact, Seattle’s average margin of victory in those games came in at just a shade under 22 points.
The Seahawks found a way to beat the Dolphins on Sunday, but the overall dominance was not there. Wilson’s inconsistent performance was a big reason why.
Wilson was 27-for-43 for 258 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His offensive line was also awful. Wilson was sacked three times and hurt on one of them.
If the protection doesn’t get better, Seattle is in some trouble.
But bad play up front doesn’t completely exonerate Wilson. The interception came on a very un-Wilson like moment, when he threw a ball off of his back foot into traffic.
Of course, Wilson did come through in the end on a fourth-quarter comeback touchdown to Doug Baldwin (watch here), and the Seahawks won. But his Week 1 performance didn’t provide an awful lot to build on.