By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
I’m going to be straight with you. The subject of this article is quarterbacks and that isn’t usually my favorite subject to write about. I am a defense lover and don’t try to hide it.
However, when looking at the NFC West, one can’t ignore how the division is being dictated by the success, and lack thereof, of the quarterbacks. Because 3 of the 4 teams have fantastic defenses, its the consistency of the QBs that is really what the season will come down to. Lets take a look at these QBs and what they are bringing to the table.
There is a reason Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is constantly in the conversation for MVP this season. He is playing the best football of his career, and Seattle is benefiting greatly from it.
This season he has 12 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, and 1,409 yards. He has lead the Seahawks to a 4-1 start. But the biggest difference this season compared to others seems to be the coaches. They are allowing Wilson to control his game. They are still a balanced run/pass team, in almost a 50/50 split. However, the difference seems to be when they do pass, its Wilson deciding those plays, or changing them at the line.
Simply put, Wilson is in charge of the offense and it’s paying off in spades.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco got a raw deal last year. Their franchise QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, went down with a season-ending knee injury. That, along with many a multitude of other injuries, really derailed their 2018 season. All of that is in the rearview mirror as the 49ers are off to an amazing start, 4-0, and so is their signal-caller.
Garoppolo currently has a passer rating of 99.4, with a completion percentage of 69%. He has thrown for 920 yards, with 7 touchdowns. The only knock one could give him is his 4 interceptions, which really, is not a horrible stat. However, in the last few games, San Francisco has been focusing on the run game instead of having Garoppolo throw. But if you look at the teams they’ve been playing, it makes sense and doesn’t seem to be a reflection on the QB.
With the newest injury to the offensive line is tackle Mike McGlinchey who will miss 4-6 weeks. Couple that with the loss of fullback Kyle Juszczyk for the same timeframe, it may be harder for Garoppolo to get those passing plays. The team will have to be able to rely on him when its crunch time, and so far, they’ve been able to do that.
Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff. The $134 million man.
While Goff has thrown for an insane number of yards this season, 1,649 to be exact, he is struggling. Like Garoppolo, Goff has thrown 7 touchdowns. The difference is the 7 interceptions that he has also thrown. The national media has been saying the Rams are struggling on offense, but if you look at the numbers you’d never know it. Yet, the media isn’t wrong. Something just seems off, and unfortunately for Goff, due to the contract extension he got, people are looking at him with a microscope.
However, I’d like to remind people that Jared Goff has proven to be a good quarterback who can win big games. If he can withstand the bright lights and pressure that coming off a Super Bowl (and getting a new, HUGE contract) can bring, and return to the player he was over the last few seasons, it should be enough to keep the Rams in the thick of the fight.
The NFC West isn’t something the Cardinals can win. However, that doesn’t mean the development of their QB isn’t supremely important. The head coach and team need to focus on bringing him along, so that next year, he can be “the guy” for the Cardinals.
QB Kyler Murray does seem to be going in the right direction. He has only thrown 4 touchdowns but has thrown for over 1,300 yards. Watching him play, he is starting to look more comfortable with the game plan, and in the pocket. His struggles at the beginning of the season were definitely his, but as the season has gone on, people are starting to wonder if more of the blame should be laid at the feet of the coaches.
Overall Murray looks like he could be an NFL caliber quarterback. Only time will tell if the current team of coaches can mold him into what he needs to become. This team will only go as far as Murray can take them over the next few years.
At OurTurf, we always say you don’t know who a team is until week 6. If the first 5 weeks of the season are any indicator, the NFC West is going to be a lot of fun this season. If all the quarterbacks stay healthy, it will be a crazy competition to the end.