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Aspiring NFL GM believes Jaguars and Jets made big mistakes

Are teams setting rookie quarterbacks up to fail? Where is the veteran leadership for the rookie quarterbacks?

After growing up being a fanatic of the Washington Redskins in the 1980’s, I learned something important from coach Joe Gibbs, every team needs a quality back-up quarterback (QB).

There was always someone to step up, whether it was Jay Schroeder stepping in for an injured Joe Theismann, or Doug Williams, Stan Humphries, or Mark Rypien stepping up – – Washington always had someone waiting in the wings. Gibbs is the only coach in NFL history to win three Super Bowls with three different QB’s. Gibbs proved just how important this really is.

During my time with the Jets, I got into my first big battle with management in 1999, when QB Vinny Testaverde ruptured his Achilles’ right out of the gates and not having a quality back-up resulted in Jets going from the AFC Championship game in ’98 to mediocrity in ’99 (8-8). It also resulted in Bill Parcells’ stepping down as head coach.

All off-season, prior to that season, I told anyone who would listen that we needed a quality veteran back-up to Testaverde. Instead, Parcells brought in QB Rick Mirer from Green Bay (who looked like a deer in headlights when I saw him in the hallway) and one of the guys he used to have in New England, QB Scott Zolak (who looked awful on film). It was said Mirer was brought in from Green Bay because Parcells was best friends with the Packers’ GM at the time, Ron Wolf.The Jets lack of better planning resulted in everything being destroyed Parcells had built. 

Every team needs an established back-up. 

It is downright puzzling to me that the Jaguars traded QB Gardner Minshew to Philadelphia for a conditional 6th round pick?

That is like getting a receipt from Goodwill for getting rid of a bunch of old clothes.

What if Lawrence gets hurt? 

What if Lawrence is not ready?

What if Lawrence is a bust? 

Granted, Jaguars’ QB C.J. Beathard has looked solid this preseason and now is Lawrence’s back-up, but I just do not understand why Jacksonville would sell their more proven insurance policy basically for pennies on the dollar? 

Every team is one hit away from the back-up being the starter. However, it is not just the threat of physical injury. There is also the toll of what a rough and tumble rookie season could spell from the neck up for both Lawrence and Wilson. Many young high round QB’s have taken such a pounding it has completely ruined their confidence – – and their careers.

This is not stopping Jacksonville from doubling down on Lawrence, who did not win the starting job based on merit this preseason. Lawrence did not remotely show through the first two pre-season games he is ready to be Jacksonville’s starter – – not to mention constant pressure he was under. 

As a general manager, I never would have drafted Lawrence to begin with, but the logic seems to be missing in the current regime that is in Jacksonville who does believe in Lawrence. 

The same rings true for the New York Jets. They drafted QB Zach Wilson #2 overall and then put two back-ups behind him who have never taken an NFL snap? At least Jacksonville has Beathard, who has NFL experience. The Jets do not even have that? 

At least Chicago has the luxury of two experienced veteran QB’s (Andy Dalton and Nick Foles) to go along with their first round pick, Justin Fields. San Francisco also looks smarter for hanging on veteran Jimmy Garoppolo with their unproven rookie QB, Trey Lance, who was taken third overall. 

Nothing the Jaguars or Jets have done with their QB decisions makes sense from a strategic standpoint and there is no turning back from what could very well prove to be devastating choices for both of these organizations. 

There is zero logic behind these decisions, because even if Lawrence and Wilson turn out to be great like the men who picked them hope they do, nobody is immune from the injury bug. 

Is third stringer Jake Luton (who threw three times as many interceptions as touchdowns last season) ready to be Beathard’s back-up if Lawrence gets hurt?

At the very least the Jets could have gone out and traded for a veteran like Foles, signed RGIII, talked Philip Rivers out of retirement – – done something – – anything. I am not saying these guys are the answer, but at least they have experience and could fill in and do well enough instead of possibly letting everything completely fall apart for the other 52 guys on the roster. 

I understand a vote of confidence in these rookies, but it is not logical. Both organizations have unnecessarily put their teams and their first round investments in jeopardy and both teams are now one hit away – – or too many hits away from a bad season or possibly much worse. 

Odds are these decisions are going to get everyone fired in Jacksonville and New York.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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