The NFL can be a brutal business. In one year, you’re a promising quarterback with a bright future. Two or three years later, you’re about to be replaced. Young quarterbacks like San Francisco’s Trey Lance and Chicago’s Justin Fields face this predicament in 2022 with a stacked class of quarterbacks this coming NFL Draft. The NFL odds are different for their teams, but anything less than a stellar campaign from either could mean a bleaker future.
Return of a “Frenemy” Complicates Lance’s Position
The 49ers traded up to select Trey Lance in the 2021 NFL Draft despite the fact that he’s barely played. The allure of Lance, a physical specimen who can both throw deep and run, comes from a player like Josh Allen. The Wyoming product was also raw when the Bills drafted him but he’s now the MVP favorite in the sportsbook.
It’s officially Trey season in San Francisco. 🔥@treylance09 | @49ers pic.twitter.com/Mhw7Fzg0vg
— NFL (@NFL) August 30, 2022
Lance remains a “boom-or-bust” type of player. In one snap, he’s making superstar-like plays and in the next, he looks like he doesn’t belong in the NFL. He’s a work-in-progress and both fans and management should be patient.
But patience is in short supply in San Francisco. This is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, which puts plenty of pressure on Lance to not only be good but be great. Allen needed two seasons to turn into a bonafide star. Lance isn’t even getting one as he has every right to feel disrespected with the team bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Niners have the fifth-hardest schedule this season with their first six weeks being the easiest. If Lance struggles and San Francisco is not above .500, the 22-year-old could be looking behind his back.
Fields in Wrong Place at Wrong Time
Facing Lance in Week 1 is a fellow 2021 draftee in Fields. Like San Francisco, Chicago traded up to acquire the Buckeye after he had an impressive junior campaign. But unlike Lance, Fields has had plenty of time on the field. His rookie year with the Bears was “okay” given the circumstances. What puts him in an unenviable spot is the regime change.
Gone are Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy, the ones responsible for bringing him to Chicago. Now, Fields must start over and impress the new brass, who could already be eyeing a few players in the 2022 NFL Draft. Ryan Poles, the new general manager, did not provide Fields with enough support this offseason.
Fields barely has any weapons on offense and the offensive line, which was already a bottom-five unit in 2021, lost its best players. The defense also got worse, which is why NFL predictions have Chicago as one of the worst teams this year.
Even if Fields has plenty of potential, he may never realize it as he and the Bears get lit up all year. Another down year from Chicago and Fields could be the odd man out in 2023.
Other Quarterbacks Who Must Win Now
Opposite of Chicago, Miami is giving Tua Tagovailoa every chance to succeed. The team hired an offensively-driven coaching staff and traded for Tyreek Hill, a superstar receiver. Miami is looking to, at least, make the playoffs. Tagovailoa will need to stay healthy and make this happen or the team will likely replace him next year.
The second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. But as much as the fans and coach Robert Saleh loves him, management may have other ideas if Wilson and the Jets don’t show any improvements. But if he does, betting online on the Jets could be more than fun. Big problems have arisen already as Wilson will miss at least the first 3 Jets games in 2022 while recovering from a preseason knee injury.
New York’s other quarterback has one final shot to convince the powers-at-be that he’s capable of being a starter in the NFL. The Giants declined his fifth-year option so he is just a placeholder for the team at this point. But with Brian Daboll now calling the shots, a tremendous improvement from Jones could have him return next year even if it is for another team.