Jared Goff is learning, yet still the backup.
Carson Wentz is hurting, and still the backup.
Life as the top two draft picks hasn’t been easy for the rookie quarterbacks eventually expected to work their way into the starting lineups with the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. But, it shouldn’t be easy. Just ask the multitude of former first-round quarterbacks in the last five years that have never fulfilled the billing.
Christian Ponder, a 2011 first-round pick, just joined his third team in two years as his wife, ESPN college football host Sam Ponder, tweeted that a babysitter is needed “stat” after Christian signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Jake Locker, another 2011 first-rounder, is retired. And Blaine Gabbert, picked No. 10 overall in 2011, is battling for a starting spot in San Francisco.
At least Goff, the top pick in this year’s draft, can hope that his career takes a path more like Cam Newton, the first overall pick in 2011, when the other first-rounders in that draft fit somewhere between bust and journeyman.
But it hasn’t been easy for either Goff or Wentz.
Goff is still considered the backup to Case Keenum in L.A., but the Rams are hoping to get him a series or two with the first-team offense on Saturday. His initial preseason outing, against the Dallas Cowboys, wasn’t great. In fact, it was downright bad, although very limited.
Playing in the second quarter, his first pass was incomplete. His second was an interception. Goff completed only 4 of 9 passes for 38 yards, was sacked once and threw that interception. His passer rating was a measly 17.1, while Keenum posted a 101.2 and third-stringer Sean Mannion had a 109.5.
Goff is now dealing with a sore non-throwing shoulder.
Wentz, playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, got much more extensive time before his injury. Like Goff, Wentz didn’t start, with Sam Bradford the expected starter this year. Chase Daniel also saw action ahead of Wentz.
But Wentz’s first pass, in the Eagles’ final drive of the second quarter, also fell incomplete. However, his second one was a 19-yard completion to Zach Ertz.
In all, Wentz played into the fourth quarter and completed 12 of 24 passes for 89 yards and an interception. His first completion was his longest.
The biggest pain for Wentz, however, came on a hit in the game that caused a hairline fracture in his ribs, leaving him out for at least the second preseason game and hoping to reappear at some point this preseason, although likely too late to be a serious threat to Bradford and Daniels for playing time during the regular season.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson is saying Wentz is “day to day,” but his day in the spotlight will have to wait.
Missed throws and missed preseason action isn’t ideal for the top two picks in the 2016 draft, but after lessons from past first-round quarterbacks, the Rams and Eagles appear to be handling their quarterback situation the right way by having a veteran starter allow the rookie to sit and learn before baptism into the regular-season travails of the NFL.