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Don’t throw the QB under the bus

Without a doubt, the second half of the NFL season was just awful for the Carolina Panthers, going 0-8 with a defense and special teams that flat fell apart.

I know things went poorly, but I am not going to throw quarterback Kyle Allen under the bus.

Question: What quarterback to come out of college in 2018 or 2019 passed for the most yards per game this season?

Answer: Kyle Allen at 255.5 yards.

That is better than Kyler Murray, Baker Mayfield, Daniel Jones, Gardner Minshew II, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Mason Rudolph, Josh Rosen, Dwayne Haskins, Drew Lock and 13 other QBs that were drafted but either didn’t play enough to be listed in league stats or didn’t play at all.

Heck, it was more than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Went, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill — who all led their teams to the playoffs. He was just barely behind Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson — despite not playing the first quarter of one game when Will Grier started and got hurt.

Take that one quarter into consideration and Kyle Allen would have finished ninth in yards per game among those with at least 10 starts. Kyle was on pace for 4,080 yards in a season, and only six quarterbacks managed better than that.

Does that sound like easing a rookie into the NFL?

Yes, technically he wasn’t a rookie as he came out of college in 2018, but he wasn’t even on the active roster of a team until Week 16 of 2018, so how can you even count that as a year? This was his first year making a roster.

Did he throw a lot of interceptions? Sure, but he was pressing. And of course he was. The defense fell apart after the first four games of the year.

Yes, 16 INTs is too many. Even still, let’s put that into perspective.

James Winston threw 30 interceptions.

Baker Mayfield threw 21, and he has a year more experience.

Philip Rivers threw 20 and he is a potential Hall of Famer.

Jared Goff also threw 16, and he was being praised all 2018.

Matt Ryan threw 14 in 15 games.

Andy Dalton threw 14 in just 13 games.

Sam Darnold 13 in 13 games.

Let’s take a closer look at this one. Both in 13 games played, Sam Darnold and Kyle had almost exactly the same completion percentage and yards per attempt. Kyle was intercepted every 30.6 attempts. Sam once every 33.9 attempts.

And Sam got better over 2018. Kyle Allen’s numbers were superior than Darnold’s 2018 production in completion percentage, interception rate, yards per game and QB rating.

Baker Mayfield is a former #1 overall pick. In his two years he is averaging an interception once every 29.1 passes (to Kyle’s 30.6).

Getting hit

Let’s keep in mind that Kyle managed to have as much success as he did while getting knocked down over and over.

Kyle lost more yardage on sacks than any player in the league.

Sure, some of those were because he held onto the ball too long. Other times he thought the pocket was going to collapse, so he started to leak out and ran right into a pass rusher.

But, on many plays the line simply left some rusher unblocked. Tom Brady couldn’t be successful like that.

(I blame Ryan Kalil leaving the team because he was the leader of the line and called out protection assignments pre-snap.)

Kyle was dropped for 397 lost yards on sacks, almost 80 yards more than the next-closest QB.

Lamar Jackson only lost 105 yards in 15 games, but he has escapability. A better comparison is Jared Goff.

Goff was only sacked 22 times in 16 games — that’s less than 1½ times a game — and lost just 170 yards, which a little more than 10 yards a game. So he had that huge advantage, and what many have called the best group of receivers in the league (Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Josh Reynolds, and TEs Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett).

Still, Goff was only one percentage point better than Kyle on accuracy and threw for the same number of interceptions (16).

Player age

Another factor to consider in all this is that Kyle Allen is still young and very cheap.

He has a year on the practice squad and 14 games of experience, and he is still 23 years old. He won’t turn 24 until March 8.

By comparison, teammate Will Grier turns 25 on April 3 and has basically one game of experience under his belt.

Baker Mayfield turns 25 on April 14 and he regressed in Year Two.

Gardner Minshew turns 24 in May.

Pittsburgh still isn’t sure what it has with Mason Rudolph after a lackluster 10 games for Big Ben, and he turns 25 in July.

For that matter, Chicago isn’t sold on Mitchell Trubisky, and he turns 26 during the preseason.

Kyle Allen is young, and as a restricted-rights free agent, he can be retained for very little.

Why is everyone so quick to give up on him? His numbers are very similar to what Cam Newton did in his first two years and actually are better than what Cam did in 2016 and 2017.

Too many teams give up on QBs early.

Look at Philip Rivers. He didn’t start his first two years behind Drew Brees. Then in his second year as a starter (turning 26 during the season), he put up mediocre numbers like Kyle. Such as 60.2% completions, 3,152 yards passing, 6.9 yards per attempt, 15 interceptions and six fumbles.

Then in his next year he “arrived.” Rivers put up the first of three straight seasons with a 100 QB rating and at least 4,000 yards passing. He now has a career rating of 95.1 and twice as many TDs as INTs with a completion rate of 64.7%.

Steve Young didn’t play well in Tampa Bay and had his first great season at age 30.

Rich Gannon didn’t have his first rating in the 90s until he was 31, then after that he made the Pro Bowl four times and won a league MVP.

Steve Bono backed up Joe Montana for five seasons, then made the Pro Bowl at 33 with the Chiefs.

It took Cam Newton until he was 26 before he ever posted a season with a 90 QB rating, and he’s still only done it twice in eight years.

Now he is about to turn 31 and is coming off the second major injury/surgery in a year’s time. Much of Cam’s threat has been his ability to run, but if that is something he can’t or really shouldn’t do anymore, his passing alone isn’t any more impressive than Kyle Allen.

And Kyle is still learning.

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Jeff Linville News Editor Linville News Editor

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.



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