NFL quarterbacks Jordan Love, Bryce Young, and Sam Howell
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Preseason Check-In on NFL's First-Year Starting Quarterbacks

A new era of NFL quarterbacks is upon us. Here's how five of the league's newest starting QBs performed in week 2 of the preseason.

The landscape of the quarterback position in the National Football League has undeniably entered a new era. Tom Brady, and Drew Brees have retired, and Aaron Rodgers is now chasing a second ring in the final years of his career. With Patrick Mahomes at the forefront, this new era of signal-callers has taken over. This season, 18 starting quarterbacks will be under the age of 30, with 13 of those being under 25. Between rookies, and heirs who will finally be given their opportunity after years of developing, many of these young quarterbacks will be starting for the first time this season. Week 2 of the preseason featured many of these first-year starters; here's how their performances went.

Bryce Young (Carolina Panthers)

3/6, 35 Yards

To put it simply, Bryce Young looked like a rookie quarterback still trying to figure out his new world in the preseason. Shades of his talent could be found throughout his short performance against the New York Giants; but inaccurate passes and blown-up plays were also easy to find. The Panthers' poor offensive line performance undoubtedly caused Young to be uneasy in the pocket and led to a few overthrows. The internet's heckling of Young's short stature of only 5-foot-10 was funny, but his height did seem to be a detriment to his play as he struggled to see over the helmets of massive pass rushers. Despite this performance from Young, there should be no serious concern about whether he will be successful in the NFL. A fully equipped offensive line will aid Young quite a bit, and he undoubtedly has elite talent.

Best play:

C.J. Stroud (Houston Texans)

7/12, 60 Yards

After only having four pass attempts in his preseason debut — one of them being an interception — the Texans' second-overall pick had a much better showing against the Dolphins. Under constant pressure, C.J. Stroud was forced to throw off-balance multiple times. The former Ohio State Buckeye was also willing to throw into some tight targets and was mostly successful. Having to play behind the Texans' subpar offensive line will be an adjustment for Stroud. Last season, Stroud's Ohio State offensive line received a 73.6 blocking grade from Pro Football Focus (subscription required), while the Texans earned a 60.9 mark. Barring improvement from the Texans' offensive line, Stroud will have to quickly adjust to getting the ball out sooner and constantly moving in the pocket.

Best play:

Jordan Love (Green Bay Packers)

5/8, 84 Yards, 1 Touchdown

Jordan Love's play-making ability was perfectly represented in the Packers' game against the New England Patriots. Love has all the talent needed to make game-changing plays. The question remains if he will be able to make these plays consistently enough and eliminate the errant passes that plagued him at Utah State. Two of these big-time plays were made on Love's last drive before he was pulled. Starting back near his own end zone late in the first quarter, Love connected with second-year wide receiver Romeo Doubs for a 42-yard reception. Though the pass was crucial in kickstarting the Packers' drive — which ended with a Jayden Reed touchdown — Love underthrew Doubs a tad bit, causing Doubs to slow down and erasing a likely 92-yard touchdown reception. This performance seems indicative of what most of the 2023 season will look like for the fourth-year quarterback and the rest of the Packers' offense. Only three offensive starters for Matt LaFleur's unit are older than 26. The young team will undoubtedly take some time to mesh and find their identity as an offense.

Best play:

Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons)

7/9, 80 Yards, 1 Interception

After sitting behind Marcus Mariota for all but four games last year, the Desmond Ridder experiment will enter its next stage this season, as he has officially been named the Falcons' starter. Ridder looked confident in the pocket and made impressively quick decisions. He was not afraid to make attempts into tight pockets, including a 50/50 ball to Drake London down the sideline. Ridder still has a long way to go to be a top-tier quarterback in the NFL, but he looks much sharper in year two.

Best play:

Sam Howell (Washington Commanders)

19/25, 188 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

Washington's new commander-in-chief had arguably the most impressive performance out of all first-year starters in this week's preseason games. A fifth-round draft pick in 2022, Sam Howell has the potential to be an elite quarterback for the Commanders. Washington has provided him plenty of artillery, too, with receivers Jahan Dotson, Terry McLaurin and Howell's former teammate at the University of North Carolina, Dyami Brown. While some young passers might appear nervous as they try to prove themselves, Howell never lost his confidence. While he is patient in the pocket, he also has an impressive ability to extend plays outside of the pocket. His improv style of play was shown off many times Monday night but especially on a play late in the second quarter, when Brian Robinson failed to pick up a blitzing cornerback and left Howell stranded in a collapsed pocket. Howell stepped up, scrambled to the right and delivered a dart to Dotson on the right sideline. Whether Howell will step up in the regular season is still a valid question, but he undoubtedly has the skill set to be a dangerous quarterback.

Best play:

The new era of star quarterbacks has officially begun in the NFL. There are plenty of reasons for football bans to be excited as young blood continues to take over the league. Tracking the progress of these five quarterbacks and their contemporaries will offer compelling storylines to watch over the next decade.

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