A Sunday with quarterbacks and Tiger

Woods put Darnold and Rosen watching on hold

Howard Simon
August 13, 2018 - 2:50 pm

Photo: Vincent Carchietta - USA TODAY Sports

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For those of you who were curious how some of the other first round quarterbacks did in their preseason opener but didn’t want to subject yourself to the possible torture of watching them, I am here to help you out.

After devoting five hours to watch the final round of the PGA Championship (more on that in a moment), I went back and took a look at “game” No. 1 for both Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. I had planned on working my way through Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson’s games too, but that went by the boards thanks to extended PGA viewing. In short, Rosen was meh and Darnold was good.

Sam Bradford started Arizona’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers and played one series before giving way to Rosen, who was ahead of Mike Glennon in the pecking order. Rosen was in with the second stringers and they did him no favors. The offensive line had its issues with pass protection and there were a handful of lousy snaps out of the shotgun, including one ball that rolled to Rosen. I thought he did a good job of hanging in there on pass plays, as well as going through reads at times. The passes he completed were pretty much short throws.

His best completion of the night was a pretty back shoulder throw downfield, but it was overturned on a booth review after replay showed his receiver only had one foot in bounds. Rosen is more of a pocket passer than the other quarterbacks that were taken in Round 1, but he is not immobile. As I mentioned, the protection was breaking down too often and one of his better throws was when he moved to his right to avoid pressure but kept his eyes downfield. Rosen threw a strike to an open receiver in the middle of the field. 

He did throw what should have been a pick-six, a pass to the left flat inside his own 30-yard line that should have been caught and returned by a Chargers defensive back, but he dropped the ball. Rosen had four series and nothing really stood out. It was a fairly non-descript night. If I was doing a WHOSDAQ in Phoenix, there was nothing that would have made me think he is beating out Bradford for the job.

Darnold was definitely better than Rosen. The former USC star was the third quarterback of the night for the Jets, coming in after Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Darnold got extensive playing time, coming in with over eight minutes left in the second quarter and playing the rest of the game.

He ended up having seven drives and, unquestionably, his 10-play, 64-yard touchdown drive before halftime was his best work of the night. Darnold looked very comfortable in his NFL debut shoes. He was accurate, quick with his decisions and did a good job of throwing when on the run / out of the pocket. On the touchdown pass, he stepped up and then ran to his right and made a perfect pass to the receiver inside the one-yard line for an easy score. 

His stats weren’t eye popping as his 13 completions went for a total of just 96 yards. A couple of the drives saw the Jets start inside their own 10-yard line, so they opted for runs and with a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, his last two drives turned into run the ball and run some clock possessions. 

I will say this and it isn’t meant to prop up Josh Allen since I work in Buffalo. Neither Rosen nor Darnold were making the throws Allen was trying in the game against Carolina. Allen threw downfield more often than either of these guys and of course, neither guy attempted deep passes that traveled 60-65 yards in the air. I think Rosen’s longest attempt traveled about 25 yards. Darnold’s wouldn’t have been any longer than that.

I mentioned my quarterback plans were altered because of golf. I turned on the PGA Championship with Tiger Woods on the fourth hole. I didn’t change the channel from that point on. It was riveting television. I know I’m emotionally invested in a sporting event when I’m screaming at the television (good or bad), and Tiger Woods had me going. Let me first say I never thought Tiger would ever be in contention in a major again. I didn’t even think he’d play regularly on the tour, but there he was, like at The Open, with a serious shot at a 15th career major. Although, watching his front nine was extremely frustrating because he was literally all over the place off the tee. His front nine was the definition of grinding it out. He did so much work just to save pars and not drop down the leaderboard. In an amazing stat, Tiger was 2-under par on the front nine, despite the fact he was 0-7 on fairways. However, he took just 10 putts on those nine holes and ended up with four birdies.

The back nine was edge of your seat stuff as he pulled within one shot of the lead, but Brooks Koepka wasn’t going to let anyone beat him on this day. He was so calm and controlled while beating back the challenges of Woods and others.

Even though Woods camp up short, it reminded me of the glory years when Tiger, in contention for a major on the weekend, was must watch TV. His total score of 130 over Saturday and Sunday was actually a scoring record for the PGA Championship. CBS did a great job of covering his day too. I’m sure they knew everyone was tuning in as the story unfolded. There were great replays of reactions from Tiger when he made birdies and had near misses, including at hole No. 11 when his birdie putt stopped on the lip of the cup and froze there. CBS also showed reaction from fans at other holes as they watched highlights of Tiger on video screens set up on the course.  

Going into the tournament, there was some talk about Tiger possibly wearing down from all of the golf since he faltered towards the end of The Bridgestone the previous week. However, there were no signs of that over the weekend as Tiger played 27 holes on Saturday and then 18 on Sunday. It was fabulous to watch, and it's great for golf if Tiger is, indeed, back.

I can’t wait for the 2019 Masters.

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