Aaron Rodgers has lost four of his last five games. Matt Ryan has lost five of six. Drew Brees has lost three in a row.
But Matt Hasselbeck and Brock Osweiler? They’re a combined 6-0 as starters this year. Hasselbeck is 4-0 for Indy, while Osweiler just led the Broncos to an overtime win over the previously unbeaten Patriots on Sunday Night Football.
How is that possible?
“It is sort of the year of the backup quarterback with the way Hasselbeck has played and with Brock Osweiler the last couple of games,” former NFL quarterback Sage Rosenfels said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But I think those two situations are similar but different. I think with Matt, when you get to (that age) – he’s as old as Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson – he knows what he can do and what he can’t do, and I think that’s a very important thing to do. I think a lot of younger players think they can make throws that they just can’t make or think they can take chances that you just shouldn’t take. I think what Matt Hasselbeck is doing is he’s playing within himself. He’s allowing his team to go out and win the football games. He’s a part of the team; he’s not the entire team. And I think when your skills aren’t as good as the top guys in the league, I think Matt understands he doesn’t have to carry the entire team on his back and go out and win it. He just needs to go out and execute (and) take care of the football.”
Hasselbeck threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns in Indy’s 25-12 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. He finished without a turnover and led a 15-play, 76-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton in the final minutes and put the game out of reach.
“Over the course of the game, he’s got a pretty good football team, they’ll win more games than they lose,” Rosenfels said. “He’s not making those crucial mistakes that Andrew Luck had been making all season, and they’ll win football games behind that.”
And let’s not forget about Kirk Cousins. The Redskins backup-turned-starter has 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions in his last five games and has transformed a 2-4 disaster into a semi-respectable 5-6 record. Washington beat the Giants, 20-14, on Sunday and is now atop the NFC East.
Should we be buying Cousins?
“I am,” Rosenfels said. “I think he’s a really good player. I don’t know if he’s a top-15 guy. I think every general manager is looking for a guy who can sort of be in the top half of quarterbacks in the league because those guys, whether you’re in the top 5 or just in the top 15, he can be part of a Super Bowl-caliber team. I think he’s doing some of those things right now now that you see out of really good quarterbacks. He’s throwing for big yardage, playing in bad conditions, he’s beaten some pretty good football teams. But yet, he still has that streaky side where he’ll go out and throw three picks in a game and play bad football. So he is still fairly young (27). He’s still trying to learn how to play the position and how to win.
“I think looking back, this is the best move that the Washington Redskins could have made was making Kirk Cousins the starter,” Rosenfels continued. “I don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the season, but I know one thing: His agent is really looking at what’s going to happen the rest of the season – because (over the) next five games, Kirk Cousins will decide whether he’s an NFL starter or just a high-quality backup.”
While the backup quarterback play has been surprising around the league, so too has the officiating, mainly because it – the officiating, not the quarterbacking – has been awful. Rosenfels, like many, can’t believe some of the horrendous calls that have been made this season, both before and after official reviews.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the game has gotten really complicated,” he said. “I think you try to figure out why football hasn’t caught on around the world – let’s say Europe or South America or Asia – we’ve got so many rules in the NFL and in college football that it’s hard to keep track of them. There’s so many rules and they keep trying to come up with new rules to fix old rules that aren’t the right way to fix them. Honestly, we have all the issues with pass interference and player safety and where you hit somebody and ticky-tack stuff that’s infuriating to fans – and I’m sure infuriating to Patriots fans after (those big calls) last night.”