Week 2 of the NFL season is an opportunity for teams to continue building chemistry.
That is especially the case for rookie quarterbacks continuing to adjust to the speed of the professional level. Transitioning to the NFL can offer an array of new firsts (good and bad) for athletes well-accustomed to dominating their opponents.
Losing streaks and multi-interception performances can be tough for anyone to shake, so it’s only normal for this year’s class of rookie signal-callers to experience new challenges while growing into franchise centerpieces.
With the Week 1 jitters behind them, let’s examine how this year’s rookie quarterbacks fared in their second appearances as pros.
2021 overall pick: First
Game result: 23-13 loss to Denver Broncos
Stat line: 14-for-33, 118 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 2 INTs, 30.7 QBR
Lawrence completed less than half his passes en route to Jacksonville’s franchise-record 17th consecutive loss dating back to last season. His head coach, Urban Meyer, who is also experiencing Year 1 at the NFL level, has now lost consecutive games for the first time in over a decade.
Though his numbers regressed a great deal from his debut last week, Lawrence has done his best to take Jacksonville’s losses in stride.
“I think I’m processing it as good as you can,” he said Sunday.
“Obviously you want to win. Like I said, you work all week to win, and when you don’t, it’s disappointing. I feel like I’m in a good spot. I’m the same person, same mindset. Nothing has changed. Making sure I keep my confidence every week is big, and I think I have that. We’re going to get better. We’re close.”
Despite the loss, Lawrence looked comfortable linking up with Marvin Jones Jr. to put the Jaguars on the scoreboard first. This year’s top overall pick will certainly push Jacksonville closer to the win column with more connections like this.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 21, 2021
2021 overall pick: Second
Game result: 25-6 loss to New England Patriots
Stat line: 19-for-33, 210 passing yards, 0 passing TDs, 4 INTs, 8.8 QBR
Game No. 2 proved quite tough for Wilson. The BYU product threw three interceptions throughout the entire 2020 season, but he outpaced that figure in his first career start against a Bill Belichick defense.
Wilson’s four interceptions Sunday were one shy of Mark Sanchez’s team record set in 2009.
Two of those picks came on his first two pass attempts of the game. Wilson became the first NFL player to do that since Tarvaris Jackson in 2011 with the Seattle Seahawks. By his fourth interception Sunday, Wilson reached even rarer air. Fortunately for Wilson, he isn’t the first rookie signal-caller to struggle against Belichick.
At time of his fourth interception of the day, Zach Wilson had the same number of completions. pic.twitter.com/6PCPLUf8yR
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 19, 2021
2021 overall pick: Third
Game result: 17-11 win at Philadelphia Eagles
Stat line: Did not play
Jimmy Garoppolo went 22-for-30 with a touchdown pass as the 49ers started 2-0. Lance, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, didn’t take a snap after throwing a touchdown during his NFL debut last week.
Despite Lance’s long-term promise, head coach Kyle Shanahan remains fluid on whether he has a plan for how often 49ers fans can expect to see their prized rookie.
“No. I never have a plan for that, ‘Hey, I’m going to use him or I’m not going to use him.’ It’s always an option throughout the game,” Shanahan explained. “It’s been two games and I’ve never had him in the openers and I’ve never had him at a designated time. I plan on doing that week-to-week and whenever I feel like putting him in. You saw when I did in Week 1, and I never got that urge in Week 2.”
2021 overall pick: 11th
Game result: 20-17 win against Cincinnati Bengals
Stat line: 6-for-13, 60 passing yards, 4.4 QBR (31 rushing yards on 10 attempts)
Current Chicago Bears starter Andy Dalton suffered a bone bruise on Sunday, pushing Fields into the lineup for a second straight week.
As a team, the Bears averaged under 5 yards per pass attempt Sunday, but Fields was able to make plays with his legs when opportunities came about.
Head coach Matt Nagy considers Dalton the team’s starting quarterback once he’s healthy, but it’s just as promising to see the Bears’ veteran voice supporting the franchise’s future star as he gets his NFL legs under him.
— NFL (@NFL) September 21, 2021
Mac Jones, New England Patriots
2021 overall pick: 15th
Game result: 25-6 win at Jets
Stat line: 22-for-30, 186 passing yards, 0 passing TD, 0 INT 28.8 QBR
Though he was the last quarterback taken in the first round, Jones was the first to notch a victory as an NFL starter. His contributions helped the Patriots win their 11th straight over the New York Jets, tied for the NFL’s longest win streak by one team over any opponent (Chiefs over Broncos, Eagles over Jets). His passes traveled only 4.3 yards downfield on average, but the Patriots’ rookie is already learning the art of picking his spots against quicker NFL defenses.
“It’s about moving the ball and taking what the defense gives you,” Jones said on WEEI’s “Merloni and Fauria.” “If they give you the deep shot, then take it. But if they give you the short, then take the short. It’s kind of what the defense is doing, really.”
It appears Jones and the Patriots are having some early-season fun with this philosophy.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 19, 2021
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story.