NFL pundits weren’t kind to Carson Wentz for his performance in Sunday’s 24-8 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Washington Commanders quarterback was sacked a career-high nine times against his former team, which prompted a string of tweets and comments pinning the blame on the 29-year-old.
Former NFL lineman Ross Tucker tweeted: “I’d conservatively say at least 4 of these sacks are 100% on Wentz.” Offensive line guru Duke Manyweather responded “More like 5!” and added he felt sorry for Washington’s linemen. And while former Eagles executive Joe Banner said the sacks weren’t just on “one person,” he added they were an “extreme” example of Wentz’s worst tendencies from the past few seasons.
“He’s been doing this now for four years,” Banner said in a video. “So at some point, it just becomes who you are, not who we’re speculating you are.”
In his first year with the Commanders, Wentz has had an uneven start to the season. But he’s not the only signal-caller in a new environment who has been up and down so far.
This offseason, nine teams changed starting quarterbacks — with seven of those players in brand new situations. Arguably none of them have come out rolling.
The struggles may reflect how it can take time for a quarterback to find their rhythm in an unfamiliar place. Here’s a closer look at how the others outside of Wentz have done:
Russell Wilson (from Seattle to Denver): Wilson went viral on social media earlier this year when a clip of him surfaced repeatedly saying, “Broncos Country, let’s ride” with different inflections. That ride, however, has been anything but smooth. Denver is 2-1 through three games, but Wilson has looked disjointed in the Broncos’ offense. Only three teams have punted more than the Broncos (16) in 2022, and Wilson is completing only 59.4% of his passes.
Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett has drawn most of the criticism for his befuddling in-game management, though Wilson hasn’t performed to the level fans expected after the Broncos gave up two first-round draft picks for him and later signed the former Super Bowl champion to a $245 million extension.
Matt Ryan (from Atlanta to Indianapolis): After the Colts traded Wentz to Washington, Indianapolis was thrilled to land Ryan — who unexpectedly became available upon Atlanta’s failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson. Ryan’s arrival reportedly brought a sense of urgency to Indianapolis, with coach Frank Reich marveling over how the quarterback’s fast-paced tempo kept causing practices to wrap up earlier than expected.
But through three games, Ryan has looked every bit of 37 years old. He’s thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (3), and the Colts badly struggled in the first two weeks before pulling an impressive upset over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. Indianapolis’ supporting cast, to be fair, hasn’t done Ryan any favors as Indianapolis’ offensive line and wide receivers have underwhelmed.
Baker Mayfield (from Cleveland to Carolina): The Panthers have had a rotating door at quarterback, and Mayfield represents the franchise’s latest attempt at solving the position. The former No. 1 overall quarterback’s start doesn’t suggest he’s going to be the solution. Over the last two weeks, Mayfield hasn’t even completed 50% of his passes. Mayfield went just 12 of 25 for 170 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints.
Coach Matt Rhule, considered to be on the hot seat in his third season, will need Mayfield to play better.
Mitch Trubisky (from Buffalo to Pittsburgh): Steelers fans are already calling for coach Mike Tomlin to hand the keys over to rookie Kenny Pickett. That’s how poorly Trubisky and the Steelers’ offense has played through three games. The Steelers’ offense ranks 31st in yards and Pittsburgh is 1-2 to start the year.
Trubisky was always likely going to be a stopgap for the Steelers. The former Bears bust signed a two-year, $14.3 million contract in March — a month before the Steelers drafted Pickett 20th overall. The pressure for Trubisky to play well enough to keep his starting job has arrived.
Marcus Mariota (from Las Vegas to Atlanta): As in Pittsburgh, the Falcons signed a veteran quarterback and then drafted a rookie to potentially replace him. But so far, Mariota is in no danger of losing his job. While Mariota’s three interceptions aren’t great, he’s served as a respectable game-manager who has performed well enough to keep the Falcons in contests.
All three of Atlanta’s games have been decided by one score, and Mariota helped the Falcons pull out a 27-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Jacoby Brissett (from Miami to Cleveland): Brissett wouldn’t even be starting if not for Watson’s 11-game suspension. The Browns signed the journeyman knowing that Watson, who was suspended after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions, would miss time.
Brissett, though, has exceeded expectations. He might be the lone quarterback who actually hasn’t struggled that much in his new environment, even if his stats don’t jump off the page. The Browns are off to a 2-1 start and the 29-year-old has thrown for 596 yards and four touchdowns to just one interception. His quarterback rating of 94.3 is a career-high.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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