Twenty of the NFL's 32 starting quarterbacks are younger than 30 years old and seven of them were drafted in either 2012 or 2013, so we've become used to seeing green signal callers under center league-wide. However, only two rookies will start in Week 1 this season, and circumstances such as injuries were factors for both EJ Manuel and the Buffalo Bills and Geno Smith and the New York Jets.
With Kevin Kolb on injured reserve, Manuel probably has a long leash in Buffalo, but Rex Ryan won't say yet if Smith will be the long-term starter for Gang Green. The point is that we're not as fulfilled with optimism as we were with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden one year ago.
I can envision both quarterbacks struggling a fair bit in 2013. While Stevie Johnson and C.J. Spiller provide a decent amount of support for Manuel, who was the only quarterback selected in the first round of the 2013 draft, the Florida State product has thrown just 33 preseason passes in the NFL and has never really had to make pre-snap reads. It's going to take some time.
Smith was considered to be the top quarterback prospect in the lead-up to the draft but he slid into the second round. He lacks support in that offense, especially with Santonio Holmes a question mark. The Bills were near the top of the league with 5.0 yards per carry last year, while the Jets were closer to the bottom at 3.8.
The Jets do have a stronger defense, but not by a wide margin. Both units finished below the median in terms of points allowed last season and neither had positive offseasons on the free-agent market.
When all is said and done, though, Manuel is probably a safer bet this season. He has put up much better preseason numbers, has a slightly better supporting cast and a significantly less dysfunctional locker room to work with.