BASN’s NFL Field Generals Report: First Quarter Review

By Anthony McClean, Editor-In-Chief Emeritus

For the second time in the last three seasons since we debuted the Field Generals Report, at least a dozen (13 in fact) black/minority quarterbacks started on Opening Day. Unfortunately, many have already been dealt with injury setbacks, questionable play calling, and the all too familiar double-standard of media scrutiny via the local and or national media.

In other words, it’s business as usual in the crazy world of the NFL.

Along the way, we’ve also seen the usual fantastic finishes, incredible comebacks, and outstanding individual performances that we’ve become accustomed to as well. The one change we’re making this year is instead of doing a week-by-week report, we’re breaking down the season by the months. It’ll be a group of quarterly reports and analysis.

Let’s begin our first quarter report


Lamar Jackson, Ravens

Remember the early years of Michael Jordan when every game story would read, “Despite (fill-in number here) points by MJ, the Bulls lost again tonight.” The early part of the Ravens’ season is eerily playing out in a similar fashion. While three of the four teams — including Baltimore — in the AFC North are all 2-2, both of the Ravens’ losses can be attributed to defensive meltdowns. The epic home losses to Miami (we’ll take about that in the Tua report) and Buffalo are the kind of games that can come back and bite you in the ass when playoff tiebreakers are discussed. While LJ has had his ugly moments, he’s also reminded his detractors why he’s still one of the most unique and gifted QB’s in the game. Entering the Buffalo matchup, Jackson completed 63.6 percent of his passes, tossed 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions, averaged a career-high 8.5 yards per attempt and posted a passer rating of 119.0, which is almost six points higher than his MVP season of 2019. Playing in nasty conditions, he managed just 144 passing yards on 20-of-29 passing with just one passing touchdown and a pair of interceptions. His passer rating on the day was just 63.0. That being said, Jackson still needs his defensive cohorts to stop being so “offensive” late in games.

Russell Wilson, Broncos

What looked to be a good partnership heading into the season has been a head scratching mystery to say the least. And the bad seeds may have been planted on Opening Night in No. 3’s return to Seattle. When head coach Nathaniel Hackett opted to go for a 64-yard field goal instead of going for a 4th-and-5 late in the game, red flags were everywhere to be seen. The fact that the new QB wasn’t given the opportunity to win the game is still one of the most dubious calls we’ve seen this season. Given that fact that the offense has struggled (to say the least) in the Red Zone most of the season, there are more than a few folks looking at the Broncos a bit crossed-eyed at the team early on. In Sunday’s 32-23 loss to the rival Raiders, Denver scored only once on six drives in the second half. While Wilson had his most productive game of the year (completing 17 of 25 passes for 237 yards and two TDs as well as a 3-yard TD run that cut the Raiders’ lead to 25-23), the team lost running back Javonte Williams for the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL in his right knee. At some point, the head coach has to realize he has a perennial Pro Bowl QB in his backfield and not a work in progress.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins

To say that the gamut of emotions has been on full display this season in South Beach would be a complete understatement. One minute, No. 1 is showing his critics why the Dolphins drafted him No. 1. The next minute, he’s not only fighting for his football life, but his entire being. His stirring 4th quarter comeback in Baltimore is the stuff that legends can be formed from. However, the startling image of Tua’s injury last Thursday night in Cincy sadly reminds us how tenuous an NFL playing career can be and how some teams can sabotage their own players. While the doctor who misdiagnosed Tua’s original concussion has been let go, the lingering effects (on and off the field) will be something that the Dolphins and the league in general will have to address. The continued media outrage and empty statements from the league will run its course. However, the powers that be on Park Avenue have once again shown that they can get tough on players dancing after TD’s. But when it comes to “player safety”, they’d rather look away and talk about “upholding the shield”.

Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs

Just when all the Mahomes haters started to beat their chests in public, No. 15 reminds you why he’s still on the best in the game. While their lone loss to Indy left a lot to be desired, the overall body of work this season has been vintage No. 15. Still not convinced? Here’s a brief review: 360 yards and five TD passes in Game 1 against his college coach, another 235 yards and 3 more TD passes in a division game against the Chargers, and 249 yards with 3 more scores in a win over the vaunted Tampa Bay defense. A fellow media colleague tried to tell me that Josh Allen has already passed Mahomes as the AFC’s best quarterback after Buffalo’s 2-0 start. Let’s not even entertain the fact that Allen still hasn’t beaten Mahomes in the postseason, mind you. While Allen and others are very good, No. 15 still remains the gold standard in the conference.

Jacoby Brissett, Browns

For Mr. Brissett, these early games were going to put him in the ultimate no-win situation. While the majority of fans in Believeland are breathlessly waiting for the end of Mr. Watson’s suspension, he’s been asked to “go warm up the car” until No. 4 is ready to take the keys. However, Brissett has been more than just a game manager for the Browns. Yes, it helps to have Nick Chubb and others to help a brotha out. But to his credit, the Browns’ offense has not struggled like many pundits predicted. Entering Sunday’s game at Atlanta, Brissett had already engineered a fourth-quarter, game-winning drive, in the Week 1 win over Carolina. He’s completed 66.3% of his passes. He’s thrown four touchdown passes. He’s also only turned the ball over once and he’s taken just four sacks, tied for sixth-fewest. No, he’s not Otto Graham or Bernie Kosar. But he’s not Spurgeon Wynn or Johnny Manziel either.


Jalen Hurts, Eagles

Despite leading the Eagles to the playoffs last year, there still seemed to be an unsettling feeling towards Mr. Hurts and the Philly faithful heading into the season. A 4-0 start as well as being named the NFC’s Offensive Player of the month of September is beginning to change that, for now. No. 1 has led with his arm and his legs this season as Philly remains unbeaten through the first quarter. The win against the improved Jaguars was a brief synopsis of Hurts’ development. Following an ill-advised pick-6 that put the Eagles in a 14-0 deficit, No. 1 went 16 of 25 for 201 passing yards while running 16 times for 38 yards including a TD on 4th down during the comeback. During the previous win against the Washington Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (sorry, but I know you laughed), Hurts was 22 of 35 for 340 yards and three touchdown passes.

Jameis Winston, Saints

Much like last season, Winston got off to a good start but has seen inconsistent play and injuries creep up in the mix. In the opening win against Atlanta, Famous Jameis helped overcome a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter for the win. Winston threw for 269 yards including a pair of TD passes to Michael Thomas in the final frame. However, turnovers, penalties and slow starts have doomed the Saints in three straight losses. They’ve scored three combined points in the first quarter of those games, and they’ve given the ball away freely, already eclipsing their 2021 fumble total with six this season. While Winston completed 25 of 41 passes for 353 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against Carolina, he was eventually sidelined with a back injury.

Marcus Mariota, Falcons

After an 0-2 start, the former Heisman Trophy winner and the Dirty Birds have rebounded to even their record with a pair of wins. In the win at Seattle last week, Mariota was 13 of 20 passing for 223 yards and a TD as Cordarrelle Patterson ran for a career-high 141 yards and one touchdown against the Seahawks. Sunday, Mariota had his worst individual performance of the season. He completed just 7 of 19 passes for 139 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. But once again, it was Atlanta’s running game that did the job as Patterson, rushed for just 38 yards, but rookies Tyson Allegier (10 carries for 84 yards) and Caleb Huntley (10 carries, 56 yards and a touchdown) picked up the slack. The Falcons, who boast one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL, rushed for 202 yards and averaged 5.8 yards a carry.

Dak Prescott, Cowboys

Coming off the best year of his career, Prescott was eager to get off to another good start in Big D. In the season opener, No. 4 finished 14 of 29 for 134 yards in the 19-3 loss to Tampa. Unfortunately, Prescott’s luck got worse after his right hand struck a defender when throwing a pass in the fourth quarter. He was checked on the sideline before jogging to the locker room. He’ll need surgery on his throwing hand and will miss multiple weeks, a season-altering blow for the defending NFC East champs. The latest injury came almost two years after the compound fracture of Prescott’s right ankle on the same field, a gruesome injury that ended his 2020 season in Week 5.

Justin Fields, Bears

With a new head coach and a year of experience under his belt, there were some that thought this season could be a whole different outlook for Fields. So far, it’s been a mixed bag of up-and-down play from last year’s No. 1 pick. After an opening win against the 49ers, Fields threw for 48 net passing yards in a loss at Green Bay in Week 2. He followed that up by completing just 8 of 17 passes for 106 yards and two interceptions against Houston. He also fumbled twice and tallied a 27.7 passer rating, the lowest of his NFL career where No. 1 himself stated “Straight up, I just played — I don’t want to say the A-word, but I played like trash.” Despite the Bears’ 2-2 record, Fields ranks near the bottom of the league in a multitude of passing stats compared to his NFL counterparts. To be fair, the Bears’ overall offense has no real breakout receivers. The most honest assessment of Fields this year may have come from analyst Ryan Clark who stated, “You can’t evaluate a quarterback if you don’t feel like you put him in a position to succeed. Justin Fields is in the worst position of any quarterback in the entire NFL.”

Kyler Murray, Cardinals

He survived an in-house character assassination of his work ethics and skills during the offseason. While the Cardinals haven’t jumped out to the fast start we’ve seen them do the last two seasons, Murray has had his moments. After an opening butt kicking at the hand of Kansas City, Murray put on an incredible performance in Vegas. Down 20-0 at halftime, Murray led two TD drives and two 2-point conversions. He passed for 277 yards, rushed for 28 more and flummoxed the Raiders’ defense with his elusiveness, particularly on a frantic scramble for a remarkable 2-point conversion with 8:13 to play. Murray threw an interception and committed a costly intentional-grounding penalty while passing for just 53 yards in the first half, but then racked up 188 yard through the air and made several unbelievable plays with his unique combination of athleticism and football smarts. Following a close road loss at L.A., Murray threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns and added another score on the ground as Arizona overcame another lackluster first half, rallying with 16 fourth-quarter points to beat Carolina. While he may have overcome some of the in-house slings and arrows, the pundits are still there for No.1. It’s safe to say that he and Shady McCoy won’t be exchanging gifts during the holidays.

Trey Lance, 49ers

When Lance opened the season as San Francisco’s No. 1 quarterback, the thought was that a new era was ready to begin. Playing in a quagmire on Opening Day in Chicago where he completed 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and an interception, there was still optimism despite the fact that the Niners were hurt by 12 penalties for 99 yards and were just 1 for 3 in the red zone. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down on last year’s No. 1 pick in the home opener against division rival Seattle. Lance broke his right ankle on the second drive of the game, a season-ending injury for the 22-year-old. San Francisco traded three first-round picks to move up nine spots to take Lance (third overall in 2021), making a major investment in him. Here’s hoping for a full recovery.

Geno Smith, Seahawks

Following a standout player — especially a Super Bowl winning QB — can be a tough thing. Four games in, Mr. Smith has more than held his own, being the heir apparent to Russell Wilson. In the opening win against No. 3, Smith finished 23 of 28 for 195 yards, but was 17 of 18 for 164 yards in the first half against the Broncos. Smith entered Week 3 with the NFL’s best completion percentage by a wide margin. By completing 23 of 30 attempts (for 320 yards) in what is becoming a typically efficient performance, he’s now at 77.3%. That’s the highest completion rate in NFL history through a team’s first four games among quarterbacks who attempted at least 125 passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the 48-45 shootout win at Detroit, Smith finished 23 of 30 for 320 yards. He also ran seven times for 49 yards, including an 8-yard score on his second drive as the Seahawks scored more in one afternoon than they had combined in their three previous games.

Anthony McClean can be reached via e-mail at

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