Monos Report: Why the rookie quarterbacks are struggling in 2021

Jim Monos has been there, done that and explains why he believes the rookie quarterbacks are off to such a rough start across the NFL. (With a behind-the-scenes story on EJ Manuel, of course.)

Each week, longtime NFL personnel man Jim Monos shares his thoughts, insight and running QB Rankings with Go Long right here in The Monos Report. Monos worked as a scout with the Eagles and Saints, and then as the Bills’ director of personnel.

There is not a textbook for developing a rookie quarterback. Talent, culture and coaching go a long way in providing a chance for a rookie to succeed.

The rookies quarterbacks this season are struggling right now, too.

The lack of reps for these players in the preseason is showing up more than ever. It is hard to play fast if you are not fully understanding every single detail of what is being asked of you in the offense. The one common flaw I see in all of them is the game seems too fast. When a quarterback can run an install meeting for the entire offense? That’s when you know he is the right guy and I saw that with Drew Brees in New Orleans.

In 2013, the Bills drafted EJ Manuel in the first round of the draft in April. I was hired by Buffalo in May ’13 coming from New Orleans where we felt like Manuel was more of a third- or fourth-round type of quarterback that could eventually develop into a starter. Kevin Kolb was supposed to be the starter in ’13 to give Manuel time to develop, but an injury early in training camp thrust Manuel into the starting role.

Bills fans may even remember his game-winning drive to beat the Carolina Panthers at home.

To Manuel’s credit, he was playing well for a first-year starter until he suffered a knee injury in Week 5 against Cleveland and again in Week 15 vs. Jacksonville.

After four games in 2014, it was decided to bench EJ Manuel for veteran Kyle Orton. Orton was viewed as a player who could operate the offense better while Manuel could continue to learn the offense. I remember sitting in the room with former head coach Doug Marrone, former GM Doug Whaley, EJ and his father as we broke the news to Manuel that he was being benched. It felt wrong and did not come across to anyone that we really had a plan that was in the best interest for Manuel regardless of if he was talented enough or not.

I could see it in the eyes of EJ and his father as we told them.

Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Davis Mills are dealing with first-year head coaches just like Doug Marrone was for EJ Manuel.

Justin Fields is being developed by a coach who already failed developing Trubisky. The two rookies in the best culture right now are Mac Jones and Trey Lance. They both have proven Super Bowl-quality coaches that know how to build a roster for success. Pay attention to the QBs who cut down on their mistakes as the season progresses and that should tell you who is heading in the right direction and who is stuck in a hamster wheel that is not necessarily their fault.

Random Observations from Week 3

  • I’ve never seen Sean Payton upset after a Saints touchdown like he was after a Jameis Winston jumpball heave in the red zone that could have been picked off. Winston is currently ranked 24th in my rankings which can change quickly due to small sample size, but something to pay attention to as we move forward.

  • Philip Rivers and Drew Brees forgot to pick up Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan on their farewell bus tour last season. We mentioned this on the Go Long Podcast last season. Much like a head coach who holds on too long, a franchise quarterback who brought so much success to an organization can hold on too long, too. You are holding your team back.

  • Did anyone see Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians almost have his knee blown out during the game against the Rams? The only thing that looked more painful was every time Gronk would get tackled or try to make a catch. He goes down hard these days.

  • Carson Wentz is exhausting to watch. He is playing OK but seems like everything he does is very exaggerated.

  • One of my favorite rookies I’ve watched is Broncos running back Javonte Williams. Love his toughness and vision that reminds a little of Fred Jackson.

Houston @ Buffalo (-16.5)

Everyone around the NFL is talking about the return of former Bills quarterbacks coach David Culley to Orchard Park. Or not. Does anyone remember he coached the quarterbacks in 2017 and 2018? Joking aside, Culley was on our quarterback workout tour before the 2017 draft with myself, Whaley, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, head coach Sean McDermott and owner Terry Pegula.

Culley can make every conversation entertaining and I always felt fortunate to know him going back to when I started with Philadelphia Eagles in 2001.

As far as this game goes the Bills dominant defense gets to face a rookie quarterback who looked no different than the other rookies starting around the league. It’s the fourth game in a row that Buffalo is facing a poor offense. If no crazy plays happen on special teams and there are no turnovers from the Buffalo offense, I expect another solid win for the Bills. Not that is some incredible prediction, but I am going to go ahead and take Houston +16.5 for one reason. Entering this season, big favorites in the NFL after a win are 36-34-1 ATS since 2016.

Combine that with the good old “look ahead” game theory against Patrick “Pegula” Mahomes next week and I’ll take the points and hope for a backdoor cover.

Enjoy the QB rankings and please hit us up with questions for the podcast!

The Eye in the Sky

Each week, expect to get the Monos Report quarterback grades right here in “The Eye in the Sky.” How does this work? Simply, it’s a plus/negative point system determined by the types of throws and the situation in the game. Meaningful runs/scrambles do count. The final stat line does not matter. A “good” play gets you +1 while a bad play gets you -1 throughout the course of the game. This number is then divided by the number of run or pass attempts that quarterback had in the game to net the “score” you see here.

Through two weeks, here’s how the quarterbacks rank:

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