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Even Established Quarterbacks Are Struggling in Week 1

Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins, and Carson Palmer disappointed in the opening round of games

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No one was expecting much quality quarterback play out of guys like Blake Bortles (11-of-21 for 125 yards, one touchdown), Tom Savage (7-of-13 for 62 yards, one touchdown), Mike Glennon (26-of-40, 214 yards, one touchdown), or Josh McCown (26-of-39 for 187 yards, two interceptions) in Week 1, but it was tougher to predict there’d be so much terrible football coming from a gaggle of established veteran signal-callers, too. Tom Brady got the ball rolling on that trend with a subpar performance on Thursday night, finishing 16-for-36 for 267 yards, no touchdowns, no picks, and a 70.0 passer rating in a 42-27 blowout loss. Then on Sunday, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Kirk Cousins, and Carson Palmer took the torch from Brady and outdid him, finishing with a combined nine interceptions.

The Ravens can feel good about a 20-0 shutout of the Bengals in Cincy on Sunday, but the game didn’t bode well for a Joe Flacco bounce-back season. The 10th-year pro completed just nine passes in 17 attempts for 171 yards, tossing one touchdown and one pick and posting a 71.0 passer rating. Things were much worse for his counterpart, as Bengals’ signal-caller Andy Dalton finished with a disastrous line: 16-of-31 for 170 yards (5.5 yards per attempt) with zero touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 28.4 passer rating. Coming into the season, the Bengals’ offensive line was a point of concern, and that worry won’t go anywhere, as Dalton was sacked five times on the day.

Cousins, who’s playing on the franchise tag and needs a big year to cash in on a long-term contract, looked off-target and out of sync, completing just 23 of 40 passes for 240 yards (6.0 yards per attempt), with one touchdown, one pick, and a passer rating of 72.9 in the Redskins’ 30-17 loss to the Eagles. After losing his top two targets in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon to free agency and his offensive coordinator in Sean McVay, who is now the head coach of the Rams, a bit of regression could’ve been expected. But for the guy that finished third in passing yards (4,917), third in yards per attempt (8.1), and seventh in passer rating (97.2) last year, it was about as lackluster a start to the season as Washington fans could fear.

Things didn’t go any better for Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, who forced bad throw after bad throw into tight Detroit coverage. Palmer finished 27-of-48 for 269 yards passing, with one touchdown, three picks, and a 53.2 rating in a 35-23 loss to the Lions. The final Palmer interception—a pick-six by Lions safety Miles Killebrew with 4:13 remaining that put Detroit up 35-17—was the play sealed the game for Detroit.

Add in an early pick (the touchdown return was negated by a block-in-the-back penalty) by Aaron Rodgers in the Seahawks-Packers tilt—plus a couple of ineffective Seattle drives led by Russell Wilson, and this looks like one of the uglier Sundays in recent memory for the quarterback position.