Had to get this set up before his big starting debut tomorrow
Tony Petersen has no doubt about Jeff Driskel.
Now the offensive coordinator at East Carolina, Petersen coached Driskel at Louisiana Tech and Byron Leftwich and Chad Pennington, both first-round draft picks and NFL multi-year starters, at Marshall. It's Driskel, though, that Petersen points to as "everything you could want to be," as a quarterback destined for success.
"He’s the best God-given ability quarterback I’ve ever seen in my life," Petersen said. "That kid should have been a first-round draft pick."
There are reasons why Drisekl wasn't selected until the sixth round in the 2016 draft. That contributed to Driskel winding his way to the Cincinnati Bengals, a calculated roster move that created opportunity, development and return on investment.
Driskel will start Sunday in place of injured Andy Dalton against the Denver Broncos. This wasn't an accident or by chance or random.
It's because the Bengals saw the most reliable factor in predicting success.
"Talent," Driskel says. "I was a talented player with a lot of room to improve."
So how does a 6-foot-4, 230-pound, former five-star, No. 1 overall quarterback recruit, with a 4.5 40-yard dash and 32-inch vertical jump pass beneath the radar and surface for his first career start three years into his professional career?
Less than advantageous circumstances directly altered Driskel's advancement.
Driskel committed to the University of Florida in spring of 2010. The way it played out, however, head coaches and offensive coordinators weren't as committed to the Gators as the nation's best quarterback in the high school class of 2011.
Urban Meyer quit before Driskel got to campus due, in Meyer's version of events, to health reasons. And Coach Will Muschamp's failure to manage the offensive side of the program's operations led to his dismissal four years later in 2014.
Charlie Weis served as Muschamp's first offensive coordinator. That lasted less than 12 months. Then came Brent Pease. He lasted two seasons. Then Kurt Roper came in for one final, underachieving, losing season.
Three offensive coordinators for four consecutive seasons ranked behind at least 100 teams in the country in total offense.
Driskel remained for it all, a time in his life he tries, perhaps to avoid unnecessarily calling out the obvious, to spin positively.
"That’s part of the deal," he said. "That happens in football and you learn stuff from different people. You take things from certain people and apply down the road."
Petersen doesn't keep it PC.
"You’ll never hear Jeff say anything bad about anybody, but it was a bad situation," he said. "It was a rough time for Florida and Jeff got caught in the middle of it as the quarterback.
"He should have thrown for 4,000 yards every year, he should have rushed for 1,000 yards every year, and he should have been a first-round draft pick. He really should have."
Due to redshirting after a broken leg his junior season and graduating, Driskel was eligible to transfer and play immediately. He chose Louisiana Tech and Petersen's multiple, spread offense.
The decision led to success. Driskel passed for 4,026 yards, more than his four seasons combined at Florida (3,411), and scored 32 total touchdowns, leading the Bulldogs to nine wins.
"The quarterback had to make throws on third down and had to be able to throw in the red zone and score," Petersen said of his offense. "If you could be successful in our offense, I would think the NFL would love you, especially with Jeff's body, talent and arm."
But 206 players were drafted ahead of Driskel in the 2016 draft. And the team that did pick him, the San Francisco 49ers, already had three quarterbacks entering preseason camp.
The 49ers waived Driskel that September as part of final cuts. The Cincinnati Bengals claimed him the next day. Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, then the quarterbacks coach entering his first season with the franchise, had studied Driskel months before.
"Part of the process of getting ready for the draft, I remember one of the exercises we do is watch all the third-down passes that they make because typically in college, a lot of college offenses have a whole bunch of throws that don't translate real well to what's hard in the NFL," Lazor said. "But if you watch the third downs and the red zones, you can maybe get a clearer picture."
And considering what Driskel had been through — four offensive coordinators at two programs in five seasons — the paper trail needed to evaluate his potential wasn't exactly conventional. At Louisiana Tech, though, 47 percent of Driskel's 98 passing attempts on third down led to a touchdown (nine) or first down (38).
Lazor saw that.
"I remember watching Jeff and thinking this guy has some NFL-looking throws on tape, not just physically but where he threw the ball, his confidence to get the ball in tight windows," Lazor said. "So that really was my first impression of him when I started watching video of him."
So the Bengals brought Driskel in. They kept him around in 2017 despite already having Dalton and established backup A.J. McCarron. And they elevated him to No. 2 on the depth chart when McCarron left in March as a free agent.
"Obviously his ability and athleticism are two things that stood out," said Bengals quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, who landed on the Bengals staff in January. "His hard work and everything he’s done to put into it — I’ve watched him grow from when I got here. It’s all from hard work, really. He has the skillset; it’s just putting in the work to refine that skill set."
When Dalton went out Sunday against the Browns with a thumb injury against the Browns, Driskel entered and directed two touchdowns drives in the second half. And when it was announced Dalton was sidelined for the season, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said the team would, "move forward led by Jeff Driskel."
His team, his time. Simple as that, after a complicated path to here and now.
"I think I’ve improved the whole time I’ve been here, and I still have a long way to go, for sure," Driskel said. "Definitely feel like I’ve made major strides here. Just looking forward to keep developing and keep getting better."
Always a believer, none of this surprises Petersen. He says Cincinnati was the "perfect place," for Driskel to develop for a few years without expectations behind Dalton, and it's likely Driskel eventually proves himself worthy and takes off as a long-time starter.
"I wouldn’t be coaching if I had his body and ability," Petersen said. "I would have played in the NFL a long time and I’d have a lot of money and I’d be retired right now."
Not trying to make a WDIS.I would lean towards starting him. What are your options?
I don't know his backstory at all, I just know what I saw last week when he came into the game.I’m rooting for this guy. His college resume is very messy. I haven’t even got to see him play but his running could make him viable even as a reserve. I tried to store him a couple weeks back and held out in some leagues. Andy Dalton is not special. I guess he’s serviceable but not at all dynamic. Love the fact that Driskel can run the ball. Isn’t he a guy that was a minor league baseball player for a bit too?
Did a quick once over his wiki page and read the long Faust article. TL/DR: Driskel was recruited by Urban and suffered through Muschamp’s tenure with multiple OC’s. Transferred to a spread offense in LTech and had big success. Didn’t play minor league baseball but was one of those late round dart throws teams like to make and actually signed with Boston (don’t know if he actually played at all, never played high school baseball).I don't know his backstory at all, I just know what I saw last week when he came into the game.
One other positive to note.
Really good feel for pressure.
When Dalton went out I thought, oh yeah Myles gonna eat and Garrett tore off the edge and got a free shot on Driskel but the kid got out of it.
I thought, hmnn the kid got lucky but then it happened again and again and again. Myles was really frustrated and said he left at least 4 sacks on the field last week. Sorta of exaggeration, I saw 3 but the rest of the D-Line left at least 2 others and he played a role in applying pressure on those missed sacks. He did get one sack but he really worked for it.
So Driskel has a real good feel for pressure IMHO so consider that another inherent skill that leaps out at you when you get a chance to watch him play.
The metrics don't surprise me at all especially the burst and speed but would like to see other QB specific metrics like arm strength and hand size.
Last week Glenn was OUT and his backup got dinged during the game.Glenn is out again at OT. The OL is a mess again. He’s going to need some athleticism today to avoid getting crushed.
Good thing hes not a rookieLast week Glenn was OUT and his backup got dinged during the game.
The table was set for Myles Garrett to clean up and he got pressure but Driskel was able to avoid multiple sacks and make plays under pressure.
Like I said, it could have been a one-off game because the kid showed zero nerves.
I don't know if today's game is on the road or not but I'd pull back if it is since road games and rookies don't mix very well.
correct. but the guy has sat for 2+ years, learned what the NFL is all about and to get the game to slow down. In Aaron Rodgers' first career road start he had a qbr of 117. Threw for over 300 yards and 3 scores. I wouldn't have called him a rookie in that scenario.First NFL start so ...
Rodgers came off the bench in Dallas and the next week got his first start at home IIRC. He was a 1st round pick, the 2nd QB taken off the board and he was sitting behind a HOF QB not Andy Dalton so not quite the same situation.correct. but the guy has sat for 2+ years, learned what the NFL is all about and to get the game to slow down. In Aaron Rodgers' first career road start he had a qbr of 117. Threw for over 300 yards and 3 scores. I wouldn't have called him a rookie in that scenario.
Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson believes Jeff Driskel is a cut candidate if rookie QB Ryan Finley shows well in the preseason.
Finley is mentally ready for the backup job, but he reportedly needs to show the coaching staff that he has the physical tools. The reality is the Bengals are very likely to keep Finley on the active roster regardless of how he plays in the preseason after spending a fourth-round pick on him. Driskel will need the Bengals to keep three quarterbacks active to survive cuts.
Jun 23, 2019, 4:32 PM ET
Jeff Driskel completed 15-of-26 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions in the Lions' 35-27, Week 11 loss to the Cowboys.
Driskel added 51 yards and another score on the ground. He wasn’t awful by any stretch, regularly extending the play with his plus athleticism and giving his beastly WRs chances to win 50/50 balls down the field. Unfortunately, the Lions defense largely didn’t even come close to slowing down Dak Prescott and company. Up next is a plus matchup on the road against the Redskins. Treat Driskel as an upside QB2 considering he’s demonstrated the ability to both rack up yards on the ground as well as continue to produce fantasy points with negative game script.
Nov 17, 2019, 4:57 PM ET
Jeff Driskel completed 20-of-33 passes for 207 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in Detroit's Week 12 loss to Washington.
He also added 63 rushing yards on nine scrambles. It was far and away Driskel's worst performance to date as he gifted the ball to Washington on a back-foot interception with 48 seconds remaining to set them up for a game-winning field goal before committing his third turnover with two seconds left to ice defeat. Driskel's rushing floor, which he's flashed for 50.3 yards per game in his three starts, keep him as a weekly fringe QB1 but Thanksgiving Day obviously presents a tougher matchup against Chicago's swarming defense. He should only be used in 2-QB and Superflex leagues in that one
Really had a pretty good outing in relief. I could see him as a possible start in 14-16 teamers.Jeff Driskel completed 18-of-34 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in the Broncos' Week 2 loss to the Steelers.
Driskel, who subbed in after Drew Lock left the game in the first quarter with an arm injury, performed admirably. He absorbed big hits from oncoming Pittsburgh defenders and delivered accurate passes throughout. Driskel peppered Jerry Jeudy with seven targets in Denver's comeback attempt, which fell just short. He shapes up as a worthwhile pickup in superflex leagues if Lock is out for a while. Denver plays Tampa in Week 3.
whoa good callDriskel's running ability makes him enticing. He has rushed for 13-88-1 over the last 2 weeks. A quarterback without arm talent can put up nice fantasy numbers if he has elite running ability. He ran a 4.56 40 at the combine. Russell Wilson ran a 4.55. Cam Newton ran a 4.59. Driskel might even be worth a dynasty stash. He will be a UFA. He could end up a starter somewhere next year with the way teams are wanting mobile quarterbacks.