DP, you seem to keep moving the goal posts on me. First, it's start him opening day. Then it's start him when he's ready. This has been my stance all along. Finally, it's start him if he's better in practice than Dalton.
I can guarantee you three things:
First, if you ask a rookie QB starting on opening day if they're before the game, they'll all unequivocally say, ""yes, absolutely."
Second, if you ask that same QB a year later if they were ready on that opening day, they'll most probably say, "absolutely not."
Finally, being better than another QB in practice does NOT at all mean that he's ready to start an actual game.
There are just too much that separates practice, even preseason games, from actual NFL games. In practice, QBs aren't allowed to be hit. In practice, you're focusing on learning specific plays or a specific series of plays. Even in preseason games, you're limiting your play selection to the more generic ones. None of that has absolutely anything to do with installing an actual regular season game plan and having command over the entire playbook. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think that Fields is most probably better than Dalton RIGHT NOW in practice. But that's a far cry from having command of the playbook.
You're article on QB injuries is really interesting, but it's also terribly skewed from somebody like Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson who haven't really been injured. As Moriarity mentioned, look at the longevity of the careers of the QBs who ran little, while look at all those who run at a lot and the career changing injuries they've suffered: RG3, Alex Smith, and Cam Newton. Look at all the season ending injuries from that running group: Bridgewater, Mariota (multiple times), Garoppolo, Prescott, Tyrod Taylor, Geno Smith.
But really that's not my point, as I'm really NOT trying to neuter Fields. I'm trying to get him to run SMART. In going through every throw and run of his in college, I also saw a handful of times that he went out of bounds or slid. Mostly, he's trying to get extra yards, sometimes very foolishly. And he does that awful spin move quite often. He has to do better. Play smarter.
Some of you think that he'll learn absolutely nothing standing on the sidelines. I completely disagree, and those QBs who did that, agree with me. Here's what Mahomes has said:
"I would have just been trying to make plays,” Mahomes told PFT by phone after Sunday’s 42-37 win over the Steelers, “and I wouldn’t have had the same confidence I have now.”
Just going out and trying to make plays is EXACTLY what I worry about with Fields. That's how a rookie can get hurt, particularly one with the attitude of Fields in trying to get the absolute most out of every single play and refusing to go down.
Instead, Mahomes learned while not playing. He learned how to prepare. He learned how to read coverages. He learned how to execute the Chiefs offense the way coach Andy Reid wants it to be executed. As a result, Mahomes was ready for games like the one he played today, in a stadium that he said was the loudest he’d ever experienced as a player.
This is something else I want to see. I don't want him out there starting if he doesn't completely have the play book down. If he has to go out there with a play list on his sleeve, he shouldn't be out there. I can't even imagine starting him opening night in that Los Angeles environment against that Ram defense with a fucking playlist he has to check on his sleeve. That's the height of stupidity right there.
Something else that hasn't been spoken about as near as I can tell is how much a rookie QB can learn from running the scout team, as Mahomes attests:
Playing the scout-team quarterback in practice really helped develop my game. When we were playing the Jets, with Josh McCown, I'd have to throw a lot of deep balls. Tyrod Taylor with the Bills, you'd have to scramble around a lot. With Tom Brady, it was about dissecting the defense. You go through other offenses, and you make them into your own, and try to make it relate to your offense. I had to do stuff I wasn’t comfortable with, and see what I liked and what I didn’t like.
Nagy is apparently talking to Daly and Fields about what Fields like in college and trying to incorporate that. This scout team experience might even increase Field's exposure to other plays he might like in other offenses he's had to run. It can only increase the size of the playbook but also increase Fields' comfort zone. Sure wish Nagy had this experience with Trubs before straight jacketing him into his offense.
Finally, apparently the rookie wall is real. Here's what Sam Darnold says about that:
The turning point in Sam Darnold's first professional season started with a foot injury he suffered in the Jets' 13-6 loss to the Dolphins in Miami on Nov. 4. Even though the competitor in him didn't know it at the time, he needed to step away from the field.
"The break definitely helped me get a little more juice and a little more energy because that rookie wall is real," Darnold said this spring. "Don't get me wrong — I'm the last person to make an excuse, but it's a long year for us: going through the draft, combine, all those things that go along with the process, pro day, getting ready for so many different things."
The No. 3 overall selection in the 2018 Draft would sit for more than a month as his foot healed. Grizzled veteran Josh McCown, Darnold's backup last season and trusted confidant, led the Green & White for a three-game stretch. While the Jets wouldn't taste victory in any of McCown's starts, they ultimately won because Darnold took a step forward despite never getting a rep.
"He was able to sit in the classroom with me and teach me how to do things," Darnold said of the well-traveled McCown. "But I think more than anything, while I was hurt, watching him play those few games just really helped out there and taught me how to play fast. I think I kind of carried that on the last few games of the season where I thought I played my best football."
And that's what I'm talking about--the ability to play fast and smart. Only then will he be ready.
In the meantime, I think that we should give him a couple of plays to start with, ones that he's practiced enough to have completely down. I see nothing wrong with letting him go in as weapon for those couple of plays and then letting them evaluate them afterwards. Give him a taste. I wouldn't even be against doing that opening night. Then you progress to giving him a series that he's well versed in, and diagnose that. THEN when he has things down, you turn him loose. But not before then.