Super Wild Card Weekend: Five QBs set for NFL playoffs debut
Derek Carr, Joe Burrow, Mac Jones, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts are all poised to make their first appearance in the NFL playoffs during Super Wild Card Weekend.
One of the most eye-catching stats about the 2021/22 NFL playoffs, which begin on Saturday with the wild card round, is the number of quarterbacks who’ll be making their debut in the postseason.
In the AFC, Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and Mac Jones of the New England Patriots will be appearing in the playoffs for the first time. Carr and Burrow face each other in the opening wild card game, while Jones’ Patriots go to Orchard Park to take on the Buffalo Bills.
Meanwhile, in the NFC, there are a further two playoffs debutants: Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, and Jalen Hurts of the Philadelphia Eagles. Both face tough wild card assignments, as they take on Matthew Stafford’s Los Angeles Rams and Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.
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Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
Carr is the most experienced debutant quarterback in this season’s playoffs. The 30-year-old was recruited by the Raiders in round two of the 2014 draft and is in his eighth season as a professional.
The younger of the Carr brothers would have featured in the playoffs in the 2016 season, in the wild card round against the Houston Texans, but was ruled out by a leg break. His place was taken by Connor Cook.
So far in his NFL career, the former Fresno State player has thrown for 31,700 yards, 193 touchdowns and 85 interceptions, having completed 65% of his passes in 127 games.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
The first pick in the 2020 draft, Burrow will make his first appearance in the playoffs, after overcoming a serious knee injury in his first season in the NFL.
The 25-year-old Iowan has excelled in 2021, throwing for 4,611 yards, 34 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He has also completed 70.4% of his throws and led the Bengals to their first division title since 2015.
Mac Jones, New England Patriots
Of the rookie quarterbacks in 2021, Jones was handed the best gig possible when he was drafted by Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots. The 23-year-old will have a golden opportunity when he comes up against the Bills in the wild card round.
In an offence where the running attack has taken centre stage, the Alabama product registered 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 touchdowns in his first regular season in the NFL.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Murray is in his third season in the NFL, having been drafted as first pick in 2019. After winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and earning two Pro Bowl nominations, the 24-year-old is now about to make his debut in the playoffs.
In his career in the NFL, the former Oklahoma player has thrown for 11,480 yards, 70 touchdown passes and 34 interceptions, and has run for 1,786 yards and 20 TDs.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
The final debutant is Hurts, 23, who was part of the college programme at Alabama alongside Jones. The Texan became the Eagles’ starting quarterback in Week 14 of the 2020 season and, since then, has played in 19 games, winning nine.
Hurts is the chief offensive weapon in Nick Sirianni’s team, because in addition to being the starting QB, he is the side’s leading rusher, having run for 784 yards and 10 touchdowns. In his second season as QB, he completed 265 out of 432 passes for 3,144 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions.