PHILADELPHIA -- When Andy Reid became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he had a very detailed plan. It started with his quarterback.
Reid’s plan was to take a quarterback with the second pick in the 1999 NFL draft. Before that, though, Reid signed Green Bay backup quarterback Doug Pederson to a free-agent contract. Pederson would start until the rookie was ready.
As it turned out, Donovan McNabb became the Eagles’ starting quarterback by the 10th week of the 1999 season. He held that job for 11 years, including five seasons that saw the Eagles reach the NFC Championship Game.
So Reid’s plan was a pretty good one. Pederson, now the Eagles’ head coach, seems to buy into it. He told CSN-Philly that he believed a rookie quarterback shouldn’t be thrown into the starting lineup right away.
“Unless you need a guy, shelve him for a year,” Pederson told CSN-Philly. “Shelve him for a year. And let him get in your system and let him grow ... if you’ve got a guy in place already that he can kind of learn from.”
The Green Bay Packers did that with Aaron Rodgers. They had a “guy in place” by the name of Brett Favre. After being drafted 24th overall in 2005, Rodgers did not start a game for the first three years of his career.
But is that how it’s done in 2016?
It’s safe to say Carr and Bridgewater have brighter outlooks than Manziel.
E.J. Manuel, the only first-round quarterback in the 2013 draft, started the very first game of his rookie season in Buffalo.
The No. 1 pick in 2011, Cam Newton, also started every game as a rookie. It didn’t seem to hinder his progress.
Meanwhile, Jake Locker, the next QB taken in 2011, was kept on the sideline early in his rookie season. Since coming off “the shelf,” Locker has not been nearly as good as Newton or Wilson.
The bottom line: The quality of the quarterback, and of the coaching he receives, has much more to do with his success or failure than how he is introduced to the league. Some QBs need time to learn the NFL game. Others are ready to roll from Day 1.
Rodgers may have spent three years watching Favre, but he very well may have been just as successful if he’d played as a rookie. There’s no way to be sure, but the suspicion is that Rodgers’ talent and football smarts had more to do with his performance since 2008 than his delayed introduction.
But as a guiding principle, Pederson’s belief that a rookie QB should spend a season as a redshirt may be as dated as everything else from 1999.