QB Index, Week 2: Russell Wilson short on support

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Sam Darnold was the only rookie quarterback to start in Week 1, but his head start on the rest of his classmates didn't last long. Josh Allen has already been elevated to the starting job in Buffalo after Nathan Peterman's rough outing in Baltimore, and the events of opening weekend show how difficult it will be to keep Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen on the bench. If Sam Bradford once again fails to lead the Cardinals to points for three straight quarters and Tyrod Taylor struggles with decisiveness and accuracy, why stick with the veterans?

It's only a matter of time before this season is defined, in part, by the class of 2018. However, the larger question is whether each young quarterback has the support he needs.

Lost in Darnold's terrific debut was how much help he was given. The Jets protected Darnold well against the Lions' lackluster front seven. The Jets' running game was responsible for big plays and advantageous down-and-distance situations. The Jets are a different team when rugged receiver Quincy Enunwa is healthy, and New York's diverse receiving crew made plays for Darnold. The team's defense and special teams provided insane field position all game, not to mention points.

Darnold can't expect that type of assistance every week, but Monday night provided a blueprint that many great rookie-quarterback seasons have followed. Less is more. Don't do too much and know what you don't know. Darnold showed off his sensational ability to throw on the move, making four to five key plays while fitting into the Jets' larger team framework.

It's hard to imagine Allen getting that type of help when he suits up Sunday against the Chargers. Buffalo's lackluster offensive line and overcomplicated play-calling were on display last week in Baltimore, whether it was Peterman or Allen (who entered the game early in the third quarter) behind center. Perhaps the switch to Allen as the starter will help simplify things for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, but the Bills aren't suddenly going to unearth quality linemen or wideouts.

Rookies aren't the only players who need help around them, though. With the next full set of QB rankings still a few weeks away, the rest of this week's QB Index will focus on quarterbacks who are saddled with the most concerning supporting casts.

1. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson perhaps received too much love last season for overcoming his offensive line. Now he risks needing to overcome his offensive line, his receiver group and his running game.

Losing Doug Baldwin to a knee sprain in Week 1 already has Wilson scrambling. Tyler Lockett, who hit career highs in snaps (779) and yards (664) as a rookie in 2015, is the team's nominal No. 1 receiver. The Seahawks are now relying on 13th-year veteran Brandon Marshall -- who nearly fell out of the league -- as a key outside receiver. Fourth-round rookie tight end Will Dissly, who was drafted primarily for his blocking ability, was Wilson's leading receiver in Week 1.

The Seahawks were expected to return to a ground-and-pound approach this year, yet they only called 14 rushes in a loss to Denver that was close throughout. First-round pick Rashaad Penny's struggles in his first game had coach Pete Carroll admitting this week that Chris Carson has earned more of the workload going forward.

New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer doesn't have the reputation of a coach who can cook up open receivers when he's working with such limited talent. Wilson has to play at a top-five level for this offense to survive, and he was far from doing that in the opener. Wilson admitted that he ran into at least three sacks. He missed some open throws, and his underthrown third-quarter interception helped give Denver a lead.

Wilson will play better moving forward, but this game was a reminder of what a small margin for error he has. It was depressing to see such a talented quarterback run such a haphazard hurry-up drill down three points with one minute left. The sequence: An 11-yard play to Nick Vannett that took 21 seconds off the clock, a fumble by Wilson, a false-start penalty, an incompletion and an interception to end the game. When Wilson needed a play late, he looked to Cardinals castoff Jaron Brown down the field. Wilson has made a career out of pulling off the improbable, but turning this cast of characters into a cohesive unit could be his toughest task yet.

2. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Week 1 has a way of washing away some of the offseason's most ridiculous narratives. Cowboys wideout Tavon Austin -- once promised by ownership to get "one or two dozen" touches per game -- played 10 snaps on offense in the opener. Carolina effectively stifled the Cowboys' running game by loading up the box against Ezekiel Elliott an unhealthy amount.

Prescott and his motley group of receivers couldn't make the Panthers pay, in part because the team's pass protection was poorer than usual. The team was worse than the league average protecting Prescott, according to Pro Football Focus, which is not something that has happened often in Prescott's career. That stat may not change anytime soon, with center Travis Frederick out of the lineup indefinitely and rookie guard Connor Williams struggling.

Prescott was his own worst enemy in the opener, missing a number of open throws. I've seen enough of Prescott to believe he will bounce back, but I have not seen enough from the receivers in Dallas to believe it will be enough. Perhaps Dak's best skill is throwing the off-script deep pass, and there aren't any logical candidates to catch those types of throws this year.

This is an offense begging for fresh ideas, for the scheme to create openings for receivers that might not be able to win one-on-one matchups. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan may be overly vilified in Dallas for his predictability, but there's no denying that defenses have a book on how to stop this Cowboys offense. It's been a while since Dak or his running mates have come up with an effective counterattack.

3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

"I've never been in a serious car wreck, but you get a little of that feeling," Andrew Luck said Wednesday, describing how he felt the day after his Week 1 effort vs. the Bengals.

This is what it's like to start for the Indianapolis Colts. As Rotoworld OG Evan Silva noted last week, Luck's starting right tackle in Week 1, J'Marcus Webb, was out of football last year. He didn't join the Colts until training camp, and we might not see him play again for Indianapolis, as he was placed on injured reserve this week with a hamstring injury. Starting left tackle Joe Haeg, who's filling in for the injured Anthony Castonzo, is playing the position for the first time at the pro level.

Coach Frank Reich's up-tempo, short-passing approach should help keep Luck upright, even if it limits the Colts' big plays. That's a net positive, but the team's lack of wideout depth after T.Y. Hilton and the lack of a running game are going to make Luck's job much harder overall. Needing to score 30 points each week to win won't help, either. A strong defense is perhaps the best asset a quarterback can have, and it's something Luck has still yet to experience as a pro.

4. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Watson was hit a dozen times by the Patriots in Week 1. Some of those hits can be attributed to Watson not making a quick decision, but most of them came from faulty pass protection. The season-ending injury to right tackle Seantrel Henderson further depletes Houston's rebuilt offensive line.

The lack of depth extends to the team's skill positions. With Will Fuller (hamstring) out of action in Week 1, the Patriots bracketed DeAndre Hopkins all afternoon. Hopkins still got his numbers (eight grabs for 78 yards), but the rest of Houston's receiver group couldn't win their matchups. The team's tight end trio (Ryan Griffin, Jordan Akins and Jordan Thomas) combined for three catches and 38 yards on nine total targets.

New England had an excellent gameplan to bottle up Watson, and the second-year QB bounced back nicely in the fourth quarter after a disastrous start to the game. Perhaps this was just a case of Watson knocking the rust off following his ACL surgery, but the overall personnel in Houston means that Watson, Hopkins and coach Bill O'Brien could be swimming upstream for much of the season.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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