Back in April when the 2014 schedule was released, we speculated about how many rookie quarterbacks the Falcons would face this season. Now that the draft has passed, we have a much better idea and while facing off against a rookie starting quarterback doesn’t guarantee a win, it’s still an encouraging way to look at a possible Falcons win.
It’s way too early to know for sure if a team will be playing a starter when the Falcons face them, but there’s a pretty good chance there will be at least two rookie QBs suiting up and looking for a win. Cleveland (Week 12) and Minnesota (Week 4) both drafted first-round quarterbacks this year in Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater and the liklihood is strong that they’ll be their teams’ starters at some point this season.
Of course, injuries could change this drastically. An injury to a starter could put a less-experienced, possibly a rookie, quarterback under center, but for now it looks like two rookies will be tested by defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s unique game plans.
In two seasons as defensive coordinator in Atlanta, Nolan has entered a game against a starting rookie quarterback five times in the regular season, compiling a 3-2 record. In 2013, the Falcons faced four rookies in three games (Tampa and Mike Glennon were played twice), winning two of them.
In 2012, the Falcons won against Robert Griffin III and in the playoffs, beat Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Falcons also defeated Arizona, who played with a rookie for much of the game, but didn’t start one. For the purpose of this article, we’re all looking at games in which the starting QB was a rookie.
The 2011 season was the year of the rookie for the Falcons. Under then coordinator Brian VanGorder, the Falcons faced four rookie QBs in five games (two games vs. Carolina and Cam Newton) and came away with four wins. The Falcons went through a stretch of three games where the quarterback they faced the majority of the game was a rookie.