Colleges are not running pro-style offenses, leaving college quarterbacks not ready for the pros, they say.
New rules under the collective bargaining agreement limit practice time, making it harder for rookies to adjust to the NFL, they say.
No one told Jimmy Garoppolo, Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, Trevor Siemian, Jacoby Brissett, or Cody Kessler, I guess. Those are the six quarterbacks this year whose first NFL start came this year. Collectively, that group has started 13 games this season, and have completed 275 of 415 passes (66.3%) for 3,227 yards. Most impressively, they have thrown for 15 TDs (while running for three more) against just 3 INTs, with 21 sacks, and 112 sack yards. That translates to a 7.52 ANY/A.
Meanwhile, among starting QBs in 2016 who started a game before this year, they are 1913 for 2057 (62.6%), for 22,223 yards, with 122 TDs and 79 INTs, 183 sacks, 1171 sack yards lost. That’s a 6.15 ANY/A average.
The main driver in that great ANY/A is a low interception rate: inexperienced quarterbacks have a 0.7% interception rate, while the experienced quarterbacks are at 2.6%. Incredibly, among all players with zero interceptions this year, five of the nine with the most attempts never started a game before this season!
What do we make of this? Calling it a fluke is an easy explanation, given that interception rate is pretty random. And a lot of these players are throwing very short passes: Prescott (18th) and Garoppolo (19th) rank below-average in average depth of pass, while Wentz (30th) and Siemian (32nd) are both in the bottom three (there are 32 qualifying passers so far this year, and neither Kessler nor Brissett meet that threshold). That helps to keep interception rates down, but still: is the story of September how well these inexperienced quarterbacks have played?
And, most importantly, why?