Four Jekyll-and-Hyde quarterbacks


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The quarterbacks who impressed and disappointed the most in Week 1 were easy to identify. But what about the players who can't escape the middle?

The four-pack below has Jekyll-and-Hyde qualities. For a few throws or one quarter at a time, each player looks like a top-10 option. And then the poor decisions or inaccurate throws come. These are quarterbacks on the edge.

1. Geno Smith: There was a lot to like about Smith's first game. We charted only three bad passes the entire contest against Oakland, and Smith's pocket movement was impressive. That's a skill that is difficult to teach, and Smith has a natural feel of how to escape pressure in the pocket. He also used his legs at the right time running for first downs. He looks like an NFL starter.

That's the good part. The negatives are hard to ignore. Smith made roughly four awful plays against Oakland that almost torpedoed his whole game: an interception, two fumbles and a terrible sack. Quarterbacks usually learn to avoid such mistakes with experience. Smith has a lot of the traits you can't teach.

2. Jay Cutler: David Fleming of ESPN wrote a great piece on Cutler this week calling him the NFL's Goldilocks. Things are never juuuust right for him according to his legion of defenders, of which I am one. His opening-week performance was typical. One of his interceptions appeared to be Martellus Bennett's fault. The offensive line was a problem, and coach Marc Trestman started to call plays that recognized that problem. Cutler mixed in some beautiful throws with some clunkers, and then he made the type of backbreaking interception in the worst spot possible that great quarterbacks just can't make. Cutler was a trendy MVP pick by some, but he's always had trouble getting out of his own way.

A throw like this can ruin an entire game.

3. Ryan Tannehill: The Dolphins outscored New England 23-0 in the second half Sunday for one of their biggest wins in years. Yet this is what offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said after the game:

"My number one feeling is that we better get better fast, particularly in the passing game," Lazor said. "I feel like there were a lot of plays that we should have made and didn't make. Some might have been the throw or the decision. Some were the drop. I think a lot of them were easy to see if you were watching the game on TV and so I don't think that's a surprise."

He's right. Tannehill was not accurate against the Patriots and left a lot of plays on the field. Lazor cited Tannehill's decision-making, but it was easier to see the throws Tannehill couldn't keep on target. We love Tannehill's potential, and it's clear that he has better support this year. Lazor knows how to use Mike Wallace and the running game is vastly improved.

4. Carson Palmer: I want to believe Palmer can have a Philip Rivers-like resurgence, but he's never been as consistent as Rivers. Palmer is consistent in his own way. Each game, he mixes in four to five throws that few quarterbacks can make. And he throws a few groaners that should be picked off or never should have been thrown in the first place.

Palmer has better weapons this season than any time since he was piloting the Chad Johnson/T.J. Houshmandzadeh Bengals. But his best plays on Monday night against Arizona involved using his legs. No matter how many times Trent Dilfer tells me Palmer has underrated athleticism, this is not a recipe for success.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" recaps the Steelers-Ravens game and previews the other 15 games in Week 2.