by Anirudh Kannan ‘25
Published Oct. 16th, 2021
While even the most hyped college quarterbacks aren’t necessarily expected to succeed upon entering the league, the talent of the 2021 draft led many to believe youngsters like Mac Jones and Zach Wilson would step in as elite QB’s starting as early as Week 1. However, the transition has been unusually tough this year: First overall pick Trevor Lawrence has thrown for 7 interceptions in just 4 games. Similarly, Jets first-rounder Zach Wilson has thrown just 2 passing touchdowns as the Jets have limped their way to another disappointing start, while fellow first-rounder Justin Fields has spent much of his season relegated to a backup role.
Fueled by a defensive front headlined by Chase Young and Jonathan Allen, the Washington Football Team had one of the league’s best defenses last season. Outside their dominant pass rush, Washington’s secondary was full of solid players, including established corner Kendall Fuller and young stars like Jamin Davis and Kameron Curl.
With a reputable coach in Ron Rivera at the helm, fans have been shocked by multiple uncharacteristic performances this season, as the unit has allowed over thirty points a game. The pass rush has looked lethargic while the secondary looks slow to pick up assignments, resulting in an inability to force crucial turnovers, critical issues that must be corrected if the team wishes to compete come playoff time.
Coming into the season, many fans expected the Arizona Cardinals to finish last in the competitive NFC West. However, throughout the first 4 weeks the team has looked nothing but elite, knocking off top teams like the Rams and Titans on the road to a 4-0 start. Young quarterback Kyler Murray has thrown for 1273 yards at 9.5 yards per attempt through his first four games, showing dynamic mobility reminiscent of a young Russell Wilson. Murray’s ability to shift within the pocket has kept opposing defenders off balance, leaving Murray with a plethora of talented receivers to target downfield. Whether it be the experienced veteran DeAndre Hopkins or electric rookie Rondale Moore, Arizona has had no trouble putting points on the board. On the other side of the ball, the defense has shown great improvement, with Isiah Simmons recording 30 tackles and Chandler Jones getting to the quarterback 5 times. While nothing is guaranteed in the NFL, the Cardinals perfect start bodes well for the team as they look to find their way back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2009.