NFL Analysis


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NFL Quarterbacks Who Must Avoid Being One-Hit Wonders During 2024 Season

Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) warms up before a 2024 AFC divisional round game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Houston Texans QB C.J. Stroud was a big success in his rookie season after being drafted second overall in 2023. He was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and led the Texans on a surprising turnaround from 3-13-1 to AFC South champs with a playoff victory against Cleveland.

Is Stroud a one-hit wonder, or will he continue to ascend? You could ask the same of Jordan Love after a terrific second half of the season and playoff run for the Green Bay Packers. And for Brock Purdy, who led the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl in his first full season as the starter.

These three players lead my list of five signal-callers who recently had great seasons and are now under pressure to prove themselves as elite-level quarterbacks. 

QBs Who Must Avoid Being One-Hit Wonders


The six first-round quarterbacks in the most recent draft will attempt to follow in Stroud's footsteps. He statistically had a fantastic rookie season and led his team to the playoffs.

Stroud was so poised and confident. He went 9-6 in his 15 regular season starts, ranking sixth in passer rating (100.8) and eighth in passing yards (4,108), while his five interceptions were the fewest by a quarterback with more than eight starts. 

Stroud then exploded for 274 yards passing and three touchdowns with a near-perfect passer rating as the Texans throttled the Browns’ top-ranked defense 45-14 in the wild card round. A 34-10 loss followed that in the divisional round at Baltimore, but Stroud had no turnovers in that game.

Stroud was selected to the Pro Bowl, a rare achievement for a rookie quarterback.

Houston has improved Stroud’s supporting cast by adding four-time Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs to create a dynamic trio of receivers in Diggs, Nico Collins, and Tank Dell. They also have Joe Mixon in the backfield, Dalton Schultz at tight end, and a solid offensive line.

Now, Stroud and the Texans have high expectations to win another division title and earn a higher playoff seed. Some might have visions of the team’s first Super Bowl trip despite playing in the stacked AFC. 

Pressure indeed for a second-year quarterback.

Jordan Love throws a pass (in a green jersey and yellow pants/helmet)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) drops back to pass against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of the 2024 NFC wild card game at AT&T Stadium. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)


The Packers traded four-time league MVP Aaron Rodgers to clear the way for Love — their 2020 first-round pick — to finally take over after three years as a backup. 

At midseason, when Green Bay was 3-6, things were not going well.

Then, Love caught fire with 18 touchdown passes and only one interception in the final eight regular season games, leading the Packers to a 6-2 record (including upset victories against Kansas City and Detroit) to earn a wild card spot.

Love then led a huge road win in Dallas in the wild-card round. He passed for 272 yards and three touchdowns in a game the Packers led 27-0 in the second quarter. Love and the Packers pushed the 49ers to the brink in the divisional round before falling 24-21.

Love, 25, ranked second in the league with 32 touchdown passes and seventh in passing yards (4,159). He’s signed for $13.5 million this season but should be extended before training camp as this is the final year of his contract. 

Regardless of whether his contract is settled, there will be pressure on Love to prove his strong finish last season wasn’t a fluke. He’ll be competing in the tough NFC North and trying to follow his predecessors — Rodgers and Brett Favre — in leading the Packers to a Super Bowl triumph.  

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) holds the George Halas Trophy after winning the NFC Championship football game. Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports.


As the last pick in the 2022 draft, Purdy burst on the scene by winning his first seven starts, including two playoff games before a severe elbow injury in the NFC title game ended his rookie season. 

He’s on my list this year since 2023 was his first full season as the 49ers’ starter.

And what a great season it was for Purdy. He led the league in passer rating (113.0) with 31 touchdowns (third-most), 11 interceptions, a 69.4 percent completion rate (fifth-best), and 4,280 passing yards (fifth-most). Those numbers led the 49ers to 12 wins and the NFC West crown. 

In the playoffs, he beat Green Bay and Detroit before losing in overtime to Kansas City in the Super Bowl. Purdy showed good scrambling ability in addition to his passing skills last season, earning a Pro Bowl selection.

Purdy is one of the NFL’s best bargains, with a $985,000 base salary in 2024. After this season, he’ll have one year left on his rookie deal. He will surely receive a lucrative extension in 2025 if he continues to produce at a high level and has a great supporting cast to help his cause.

With a new contract on the line and as the quarterback for a Super Bowl contender, this shapes up as a pressure-filled season for the former Mr. Irrelevant.  

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) on the field in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.


It may seem odd to include a seventh-year quarterback who was the first overall pick in 2018 and led the Browns to the playoffs in 2020 with an 11-5 record before directing a road playoff victory against the arch-rival Steelers.

However, Baker Mayfield’s career plummeted after that 2020 season. He struggled (with injuries a factor) in 2021. Then, he was traded to Carolina in 2022 and finished that year with the Rams. 

He signed a bargain one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season and threw for career-highs of 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns. That helped the Buccaneers win the NFC South title with four wins in their final five games. 

Mayfield played well in the playoffs, recording 337 passing yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 32-9 wild-card round blowout against the Eagles. Then, the Buccaneers lost 31-23 to the Lions the following week. Mayfield had 349 passing yards and three touchdown tosses in that game but was intercepted twice. He made his first Pro Bowl last season.

He signed a new three-year, $100 million deal (plus $15 million in incentives) with the Buccaneers before free agency. The Buccaneers also re-signed Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans, which was good news for Mayfield. 

Now he has to prove that his 2023 version is the real deal compared to his 2021 and 2022 seasons, or the Buccaneers could consider drafting his successor as soon as next April.  


Daniel Jones is another former first-round quarterback (from 2019) who made this list last season after his career-best year of 2022. 

But in his six 2023 starts, he had a sub-par season, with a dismal 70.6 passer rating (two touchdowns, six interceptions, 1-5 record). He played behind the league’s worst pass-protecting offensive line. He was sacked 30 times before his season ended with a torn ACL.

There were rumblings that the New York Giants tried to trade up from No. 6 in this year’s draft to take Drake Maye due to their concern about Jones’ ability to return to his 2022 form. 

In 2022, Jones went 9-6-1 as the starter, leading the Giants to a wild-card spot and a road playoff win in Minnesota (with 301 passing yards, two touchdown tosses, and 78 rushing yards).

In the regular season, Jones had 15 TD passes, only five picks, and threw for 3,205 yards with a 92.5 passer rating. He also showcased his running ability, recording 708 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Jones’ fine 2022 season in the final year of his rookie deal (after the Giants had declined his fifth-year option) set him up for a four-year, $160 million pre-free agency contract last year. 

But if he doesn’t return to his 2022 form, the Giants can cut or trade Jones next March and take a tough but manageable dead money hit of $22.2 million while gaining $19.4 million in cap room. 

There’s tremendous pressure this season on the 27-year-old Jones, who was not drafted by the current football leadership of general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll.

The good news for Jones is he has been participating in the Giants’ OTA sessions as he continues his ACL recovery. Also, the Giants drafted WR Malik Nabers sixth overall, giving Jones the best receiving weapon he’s had in New York. 

But he’ll miss the production of retired TE Darren Waller and Pro Bowl RB Saquon Barkley, who Devin Singletary is replacing. And the Giants' offensive line is still a question mark.