Changing teams in the NFL is not a smooth task for many quarterbacks. Learning a new system while trying to gain chemistry with new teammates can make the transition less than easy. However, if a team has brought you in to become the new starting quarterback, the expectation is excellence. In 2023, five veteran quarterbacks switched teams and earned the starting job in their new home. Each player had vastly different results. We ranked the debuts for each of the quarterbacks on new teams during Week 1 of NFL action.
Aaron Rodgers was set to make one of the most highly anticipated debuts on a new team in the history of the NFL. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way anyone wanted. Rodgers played only four snaps before suffering an injury on a Leonard Floyd sack. The worst was confirmed Tuesday morning, with the Jets star indeed suffering a torn Achilles, one of the worst injuries in sports.
The 39-year-old did not complete a pass before being carted off the field. Four of the five quarterbacks on new teams were able to secure a win in their first game, and that includes Rodgers, but it was Zach Wilson who came in relief and helped the New York Jets win 22-16 over the Buffalo Bills.
The news of Rodgers’ injury is devastating for the Jets and really all football fans. Maybe he can make a miraculous comeback, but if the injury is as bad as feared, at his age, this may be the end of the road for Rodgers.
4. Joshua Dobbs, Arizona Cardinals
Joshua Dobbs’ debut with the Arizona Cardinals went just about how most expected it to go. The Cardinals are a team that might be tanking for a better draft pick. They have limited talent around Dobbs, and the quarterback wasn’t even brought onto the team until a trade with the Cleveland Browns on Aug. 24, 2023. Dobbs wasn’t even named the starter until just days before the first game.
The lack of chemistry with his teammates and familiarity with the playbook showed. Dobbs only put up 132 passing yards, and he didn’t score a touchdown. The Cardinals lost 20-16 to the Washington Commanders.
Dobbs fumbled the ball three times, two of which were lost to the opponent. It was a costly flaw that cost the Cardinals the game. And for turning the ball over as much as he did, the quarterback was way too conservative as a pass thrower. He only had six plays go for at least 10 yards.
While there aren’t a lot of weapons to choose from in Arizona for Dobbs, he was way too predictable in throwing the ball to Zach Ertz. While there is nothing wrong with having a favorite target, a staggering 10 of Dobbs’ 30 attempts went to Ertz, yet the pair were only able to muster 21 yards of offense together. Dobbs will hold onto the starting job for Week 2, but if this play keeps up, it likely won’t be long until fifth-round rookie Clayton Tune takes over the offense.
Baker Mayfield has always been a gritty and fiery quarterback in his career. He demonstrated that again in Week 1, this time as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It wasn’t a pretty start for Mayfield, who completed just three of his first 11 passes. He’d go on to only miss on five more passes throughout the game, finishing 21-for-34 as a thrower. Mayfield had 173 yards and two touchdowns overall. His numbers didn’t stand out, but he was able to avoid turning the ball over and was clutch down the stretch.
Late in the fourth quarter, on third-and-10 to go, Mayfield connected with Chris Godwin for a first down that allowed the Buccaneers to run out the clock. It was the former first-rounder’s second third-down conversion on the final possession of the game, sealing the deal for a 20-17 upset victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
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Mayfield’s first third-down conversion in that series was an impressive display of determination. The quarterback scrambled for 4 yards while running through a defender to secure the first down. The Buccaneers’ last series was a perfect illustration of what Mayfield brings to the table. While he isn’t a perfect quarterback, he is going to do whatever it takes to try and secure a victory.
2. Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr got off to a hot start in his debut with the New Orleans Saints. Carr spent nine seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders. He completed a 25-yard pass on his first play from scrimmage to Michael Thomas with the Saints. It began a nine-play drive that resulted in a field goal. The rest of the first half didn’t go as smoothly, as Carr ended the second quarter with his lone interception of the game.
While Carr started the beginning of the game off hot for New Orleans, he finished it on fire. His 41-yard pass to Rashid Shaheed on third down in the final moments of the game put the final nail in the coffin as the Saints took a 16-15 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Overall, Carr threw for 305 yards and a touchdown. While the touchdown number leaves something to be desired, Carr’s yardage was great. He marched the team down the field for three field goal opportunities and conversions.
Jimmy Garoppolo led his new team to victory over the division rival Denver Broncos in his first game with the Las Vegas Raiders. While Garoppolo has struggled with injury problems throughout his career, he has done nothing but win football games when on the field. The 17-16 win extends the Raiders’ winning streak over the Broncos to seven straight games and was a brilliant way to ensure Las Vegas fans are on his side.
While the former San Francisco 49er has never been a stat darling, he put up okay numbers against Denver. He threw two touchdowns to go along with 200 passing yards. His QBR was 107.9, which was best among the veteran quarterbacks on new squads. Garoppolo once again had an injury scare in this game. He was knocked out of the game for a few plays after taking an illegal hit after scrambling for a first down.
If Garoppolo can remain healthy, he may just be the right man for the job in Las Vegas. He completed 76.9% of his passes and managed the game well enough to give his team a shot at winning. Garoppolo’s best drive came in the fourth quarter when he completed passes of 16, 18, and 20 yards before capping it off with a game-tying touchdown to Jakobi Meyers. The extra point gave Las Vegas a one-point lead, and the team was able to hold off Denver.