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Couch: Entire 2021 NFL QB class might tell JaMarcus Russell to hold its beer

Op-ed
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Well, Chicago Bears fans, at least Justin Fields isn't alone. All the rookie quarterbacks stink and are headed for failure.

I warned you six weeks ago that Fields wasn't going to make it. And in Fields' first start Sunday, signaling the Bears' future after decades of waiting for a real quarterback, Fields led the offense to a grand total of 1 net passing yard. One. He was sacked nine times. On 29 dropbacks, he threw for 68 yards and lost 67 in sacks.

Bears fans have every right to feel hopeless. But the truth is, Fields is really no worse than Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, or Trey Lance, the other first-round picks facing NFL baptism before they're truly ready. Chicago, we're in good company.

This entire highly regarded rookie quarterback class, led by Lawrence, the supposed "generational" QB, could be the JaMarcus Russell of draft classes. You remember JaMarcus, the No. 1 pick of the 2007 draft, the Raiders flameout? Al Davis fell in love with Russell's rocket-launcher right arm and ignored his Guns N' Roses appetite for (food) destruction.

The point is the celebrated 2021 QB class could be the antithesis of the 1983 draft class that featured John Elway, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Todd Blackledge, Ken O'Brien, and Tony Eason.

Excessive hype on social media and by ESPN, which keeps selling the idea that what you're seeing now is better than anything you've seen before, has led to unrealistic QB expectations. Check that. It's not just unrealistic QB expectations. It's simply unrealistic expectations. The social media and ESPN hype machines are the reason LeBron James has stepped on the court for two decades chasing a ghost, Michael Jordan, that he can never catch.

The hype machine sold last season's college football playoff semifinal between Clemson and Ohio State as the next John Elway (Lawrence) vs. the next Patrick Mahomes (Fields). Lawrence and Fields aren't the next Joe Burrow.

On top of that, Twitter has taught us not to have any patience. Young quarterbacks, such as Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson are having early success, too, and antsy fan bases demand the same.

Put all of that together and NFL fans think they're looking at the greatest can't-miss prospects ever. Zach Wilson is supposed to be the Jets' next Joe Namath, and he has until Sunday to prove it.

So he was shut out at Denver last week and seems to be getting worse as he goes. New England's Mac Jones is supposed to be the next Tom Brady in New England, but this Sunday, he'll be pantsed by the real Brady when Tampa Bay plays the Patriots.

We're just three weeks into the season, but so far, rookie quarterbacks have managed to win just one game. That's 1-10 as starters. And that one win was Jones beating the New York Jets' rookie Zach Wilson.

One of them had to win.

Every time a rookie quarterback starts out poorly, the media have to remind us that Troy Aikman was winless and bruised and battered his rookie year, too. And look how well that came 0ut. Peyton Manning was throwing to the wrong team a lot, too, as a rookie.

True, true. But most of the terrible quarterbacks in NFL history were bad as rookies, too.

Lawrence and Wilson have already thrown seven interceptions. In NFL history, only Manning and Deshone Kizer had thrown that many in their first three starts.

There is a much better chance that Lawrence, Wilson, Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones (Davis Mills also started a game for the Houston Texans) will all end up more like Kizer than like Manning. According to ProFootballTalk, of the 34 QBs who have attempted at least 35 passes, Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, and Mills are the bottom four in completion percentage.

Fields has been sacked on 23.9 percent of his dropbacks. On Sunday, every time he dropped back, Myles Garrett was back there waiting for him.

Sure, Fields holds the ball too long, as he did at Ohio State. But the Bears' offensive line is so bad that Garrett could have beaten Fields to the snap if he wanted to.

So there is no time. There's no time for a learning curve, either, and Wilson and Fields are learning in roughly the same way a bug learns how to avoid a windshield.

In Chicago, Bears fans, unwilling to return their new Fields jerseys, didn't blame him for a thing. It's all on Coach Matt Nagy now, who ran the same offense with Mitch Trubisky that he ran with Nick Foles last year, and then Andy Dalton and Fields this year. Now, Foles might start this week.

With offenses and quarterbacks, one size does not fit all. Without any time to pass the ball and with great foot speed, Fields could benefit from some rollouts or screens, or anything to help him get the ball out of his hands faster or in open space. Maybe the Bears could hand the ball off every once in a while.

Meanwhile, Lawrence's weekly failures and coach Urban Meyer's blood pressure are a national story. And in New York, Wilson was sacked five times and hit nine times Sunday. The Jets have been outscored 46-3 in first halves this year.

It's impossible to pinpoint just one place where the problem lies. But there is one common thread: In the case of this year's rookie class of QBs, it seems to lie on their backs.
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