The conventional wisdom on playing against rookie quarterbacks was always fairly simple, and even accurate: Blitz them, make them react while they’re still in the “thinking” stage of their NFL lives and they’ll unravel under pressure.
The Bears get rookie quarterbacks each of the next two weeks, first Carson Wentz for the Philadelphia Eagles, then Dak Prescott with the Dallas Cowboys. As far as them being vulnerable just by virtue of experience, “I think it’s a myth,” said linebacker Lamarr Houston.
“I think rookie quarterbacks do have a lot to learn but I also think they come into the league coached pretty well, more prepared, even coming from spread offenses.”
Prescott threw for 227 yards in a one-point loss to the New York Giants, behind a Dallas offensive line ranked among the NFL’s elite and allowed just three hits on Prescott (zero sacks) on 45 dropbacks.
Wentz won in his NFL debut, over the Cleveland Browns, who blitzed Wentz sparingly, sacked him twice but were burned for 278 yards and two TD passes without an interception. According to Tim McManus at ESPN, Wentz completed all eight of his passes against five or more rushers, i.e., blitzes.
"You're not always going to come out on top," Wentz said via conference call. "There are going to be losses. There are going to be bad plays. There are going to be mistakes. I'm not naive to think it's going to be smooth sailing for this team."
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Coach John Fox favors a base 3-4 defense because it confronts quarterbacks and offensive lines with as many as seven defenders to assess for rushers, but “[Wentz] was just efficient no matter what they were doing really. I didn’t see anything special either way.”
And not all rookie quarterbacks are created equal.
“Remember where I came from before I was here?” linebacker Jerrell Freeman said, laughing. “I know something about what rookie quarterbacks can do.”
Freeman was an Indianapolis Colt and his rookie teammate in 2012 was Andrew Luck.