BKL: History of rookie QBs making 1st career start in the NFL

Inside The Buffalo Huddle

Rookie quarterbacks making their debuts have seen varying levels of success in the National Football League.

This week on Buffalo Kickoff LIVE, The Athletic’s Tim Graham took a look at the numbers.

By Tim Graham, The Athletic

History suggests Josh Allen will give the Bills a fighting chance against the Chargers, but he’ll need substantial help to leave New Era Field a winner.

Since the NFL last expanded and realigned its divisions, rookie quarterbacks making their first starts within the opening month are 15-22 with a 72.2 passer rating.

Their average stat line? 18-of-31 for 203 yards and one touchdown with one interception and two sacks.


But, enough to win a game with a rushing attack and some defensive help.

Over that span, two Bills quarterbacks made early-season debut starts and both played very well on substandard teams.

The 2007 Bills began with three straight losses, scoring two offensive touchdowns. Then Trent Edwards took over for a victory over the Jets.

EJ Manuel lost in his debut by two points to the Patriots in 2013.

Here’s an interesting factoid: Only once since 2002 has a quarterback made his first NFL start in Week 2.

That’s because coaches generally have a clear idea what they want to do with the game’s most important position and coaches are stubborn by nature and they won’t admit being wrong so quickly.

So, Sean McDermott is making a rare switch.

The lone previous example of Week 2 debut came last year, when the Texans went with 12th overall draft choice Deshaun Watson a week after Tom Savage was benched at halftime of a disastrous opening day.

Watson was an efficient 15-of-24 for 125 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He ran for 67 yards and a touchdown to beat the Bengals.

Josh Allen can surprise defenses with his running, too.

He was drafted for his arm, although it will be better for the Bills if he doesn’t have to throw a lot. A steady regimen of LeSean McCoy, quick/short passes and strong defense probably will be the best chance for Josh Allen to finish his first start — with his first win.

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