This year unlike any other year, there will be no preseason. It usually takes a full length camp for first year players both drafted and undrafted a like to get acclimated at the pro level. This is usually them soaking in a new environment, getting accustomed to game speed, having a new group of teammates, and learning either a new scheme or playbook. Some players are better than others in some of these particular areas and it really comes down to the individual. With that being said there are exceptions in that there are guys who come in and have an immediate impact and even some that will look like seasoned veterans already. These guys do exist like we have seen with Joey Bosa and Derwin James however those guys are far and few in-between. Most rookies need time and the exceptions probably only make up maybe 10% of the rookie class on a particular year if I had to guess and I’m being very generous with that number. So the question remains, how much does this affect the large portion of rookie’s development?
I feel the answer to this question is position dependent. While techniqully it hurts the development of all rookies it hurts the rookie quarterbacks more so. Even without getting into the technicalities of the position it’s easy to see that a quarterback is meant to be the leader of the team. With limited time spent with your new teammates and with minimal reps in order to build chemistry to get a feel for each other, it will be hard to have the same expectations in a quarterbacks development as a coaching staff would any other year. Especially if you are looking for that quarterback to contribute right away like Cincinnati and Joe Burrow. Coincidentally enough Joe Burrows first meaningful NFL game experience will come against the Chargers week one. No matter how many game like situations you do in intersquad match ups in practice it simply isn’t the same. That’s as close to getting thrown to the wolves as you could possibly get. In this particular example it happens to work in the bolts favor however we also drafted a quarterback and while Tyrod Taylor gives Herbert the opportunity to not have to rush it still takes away meaningful game reps that he could have had under his belt leading up to what will inevitably be the passing of the torch. In fact there was a ridiculous narrative out that Herbert is not a good leader. If this has any semblance of any truth then the extra time a game reps with his new teammates would prove to be paramount. I personally don’t believe that narrative but the reps or lack thereof seem to give off the feel of a bad first step.
I wish I could give a simple answer to this question but the answer is a tricky one with no simple answers. In fact this is really just a wait and see type of scenario but one can’t help but to wonder. The one thing I do know for sure is that this year makes the idea and process of sitting a quarterback year one even more important. Herbert happens to be in a better spot in this strange offseason because of the fact that he has a top notch defense to go against in practice. Theoretically if a quarterback can get no pre-season reps then having a top 10 defense to practice against is more than helpful in getting young play callers ready for the next level. Someone like fellow rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa of the Miami Dolphins wouldn’t have the same luxury as Herbert would. He wouldn’t be getting the same meaningful reps in against a true NFL caliber defense the way Herbert or even Joe Burrow would. While Tua won’t likely play in 2020 the development process is still very important leading up to 2021.
These are unprecedented times and one can’t help but to feel for a guy in Joe Burrows situation. However even with his fellow rookie quarterbacks sitting year one, it will be interesting to see at the beginning of 2021 how much that first year of sitting has actually helped. In past season we have seen quarterbacks that sit year flourish in year two. It will be more than interesting to see if this season has a different effect on these quarterbacks.