You take encouragement where you can find it, and after his terrible performance against the Titans Thursday night, Clayton Thorson found it.
Yes, he missed just about everybody. Badly. But the guys he was throwing to were open. Which means he was making the right reads.
All he’s got to figure out now is how to get them the football.
I think I was just excited, ya know?” Thorson said at his locker after the game. “I felt like I was seeing it well. The guys I was throwing to were open and I just missed ‘em. I felt like I’m seeing it, just got to set my feet and make the throws, it’s as simple as that. … You can practice all you want, it’s different to put the pads on and practice against another team.
Thorson, a rookie fifth-round pick from Northwestern, was 2 for 9 for seven yards with an interception in the Eagles’ preseason opener against the Titans at the Linc.
He averaged 28 inches per pass attempt.
His 0.0 passer rating was lowest by an Eagles quarterback in a preseason game since 2010, when Michael Vick put up a goose egg with an 0-for-5, two-interception performance in a game against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
“Everything was right there,” he said. “Great calls, just got to put the ball on some guys. Those guys were open, I was seeing the right plays on most of them, just got to make the throws.”
This wasn’t out of the blue. Thorson hasn’t been sharp at training camp, and this was his first taste of NFL football.
For some perspective, let’s take a look at the best and worst rookie debuts by Eagles QBs since 2000:
143.8 … Nick Foles vs. Steelers, 2012
83.0 … Mike Kafka vs. Jaguars, 2010
78.4 … Matt Barkley vs. Patriots, 2013
41.8 … Carson Wentz, vs. Buccaneers, 2016
6.2 … Dane Evans vs. Packers, 2017
0.0 … Clayton Thorson vs. Titans, 2019
At least outwardly, Thorson had a good attitude about it all. He said Wentz and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor gave him lots of encouragement each time he came to the sideline.
Every quarterback has had a day like this.
Well, maybe not this bad.
“Got my feet wet,” he said. “First NFL game, lot of fun to be out there with the guys, and obviously playing this position you’ve got to have a short memory — good and bad — but it was awesome being out there and playing. Feeling good about moving forward, getting better, learning from this film and coming back next week.”
The Eagles are back at practice Saturday morning. Thorson gets a chance to atone for his Titans performance Thursday night in Jacksonville against the Jaguars.
“Shoot, I was thinking about it even as they were going down to the two-minute warning, hoping to get another possession so I could go back out there,” he said. “But really looking forward to next week and keep building on this and getting better.”
Thorson needs to take advantage of his next couple opportunities or the reality is that he won’t get any more.
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