The Eagles’ Carson Wentz and Cowboys’ Dak Prescott became the 18th and 19th rookie quarterbacks to start on Kickoff Weekend since 2008, continuing nine-year streak of at least one every season.
We list the previous 17 — including the Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill — in order of NFL career winning percentage, with regular-season and playoff won-lost records noted. Then we weigh accomplishment and potential to grade how each QB has worked out. Records are up to the minute and include last week’s results:
Russell Wilson .720 (47-18, 7-3), Seahawks 2012, still solid starter. Grade: A; Joe Flacco .623 (76-47, 10-5), Ravens 2008, still solid starter Grade: B+; Andy Dalton .623 (50-26-1, 0-4), Bengals 2011, still solid starter. Grade: B; Andrew Luck .613 (35-21, 3-3), Colts 2012, still solid starter. Grade: B+; Cam Newton .571 (45-33-1, 3-3), Panthers 2011, still solid starter. Grade: A-; Matt Ryan .568 (74-53, 1-4), Falcons 2008, still solid starter. Grade: B; Mark Sanchez .526 (37-35, 4-2), Jets 2009, now a Cowboys backup. Grade: D; Matthew Stafford .448 (43-51, 0-2), Lions 2009, still solid starter. Grade: B-; Ryan Tannehill .446 (29-36, 0-0), Dolphins 2012, still solid starter. x; Jameis Winston .412 (7-10, 0-0); Buccaneers 2015, still solid starter. Grade: B; Sam Bradford .405 (25-37-1, 0-0), Rams 2010, recently acquired by Vikings. Grade: C-; Geno Smith .379 (11-18, 0-0), Jets 2013, now a backup. Grade: C-; Robert Griffin III, .378 (14-22, 0-1), Redskins 2012, now injured for Browns. Grade: D; EJ Manuel .375 (6-10, 0-0), Bills 2013, now a backup. Grade: D; Derek Carr .333 (11-22, 0-0), Raiders 2014, still solid starter. Grade: B; Brandon Weeden .240 (6-19, 0-0), Browns 2012, now third-string for Texans. Grade: D-; Marcus Mariota .231 (3-10, 0-0), Titans 2015, still solid starter. Grade: B-.
Notice Tannehill has the most career starts without a playoff appearance of anyone on the list. I’d also note Tannehill has the most starts of anyone yet to make a Pro Bowl. (Flacco has more starts without a Pro Bowl, officially, although he was selected in 2014 but declined in order to attend the birth of a child.) The nine men above who have made at least one Pro Bowl include four with fewer career starts than Tannehill.
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Those are some of the reasons why I graded Miami’s guy only 11th of the 17 previous rookie passers who have started an opener since 2008. That’s neither good nor awful — perfectly reflecting the muck of in-between Tannehill and his team still are trying to escape.
▪ Nine teams trailing in fourth quarter won on Kickoff Weekend, most in any one week since 2011, and the six games decided by one or two points were most ever on Week 1. (Like I needed a reminder how tough it is to predict the NFL.)
▪ Raiders’ Jalen Richard became first rookie with a 75-plus TD run in his NFL debut since 1979. Who did it then? The old Hurricane, Ottis (O.J.) Anderson.
▪ Another old Cane who ain’t done yet, Titans’ Andre Johnson, caught three passes last week to give him 83 in career openers. Only Jerry Rice (92) had more.
▪ Since the 16-game schedule began in 1978, teams that start 1-0 have made the playoffs 52 percent of the time vs. 24 percent for teams that start 0-1.