Ian Book finally got his chance to start on Monday night after a wave of circumstances made way for him to take the reins for the New Orleans Saints against the Miami Dolphins. Things didn’t exactly go as planned for the quarterback or his team, as Book completed 12-of-20 passes for zero touchdowns and two interceptions in a 20-3 loss to the Dolphins.
It obviously wasn’t all Book’s fault—he was also playing with a depleted team that was without 20 eligible players, and his offensive line didn’t do him a remarkable amount of favors. Even though Book’s interceptions, especially the one he threw on just his third play as a rookie in a regular-season game, severely hurt his team, so did the whopping eight sacks he took on a day in which the Saints put up just 164 total yards of offense.
It was clear that Book took his rookie mistake on the pick-six hard, but he was quick to not let it affect him mentally. Book described the play as a “nightmare” but some of these things are to be expected when a team is down to its fourth quarterback and it’s a rookie who has zero regular-season experience.
On one of the interceptions, Book indicated he thought the Dolphins were in Cover 0 and that the bluffed look threw him off. He put it simply and shouldered the blame.
“They got me.”
The Saints were unable to make it to the end zone (as the lone field goal on the stat line would indicate) and couldn’t move the chains to save their lives, converting zero of their 12 third-down attempts.
So, what does this performance mean for Book and the Saints?
To answer the first question, it’s easy to want to make a judgment as to who a player is and how he’s transitioning to the next level based on his first showing—it is the trend these days. But really, this performance means next to nothing for Book. He’s an inexperienced rookie who was placed in a disadvantageous situation and if anything, it proved that there is plenty of value in sitting a rookie for his first year (Book likely never would have seen the field this season if it weren’t for the COVID situation). Couple that with the fact Miami’s defense looked solid and played with aggressiveness and it wasn’t the best recipe for Book, but one that was necessary. It also shows the Saints have a plethora of issues to address beyond the quarterback position if they want to consistently be a competitive team, regardless of who is going under center.
Moving forward, Book has plenty of time to continue to learn and grow as a quarterback and showed a lot of good things in the pre-draft process that the Saints have to look forward to down the line—a good degree of athleticism, ability to extend plays, ability to evade pressure, and mostly good overall accuracy, even if he did struggle in the latter category on Monday.
With another rookie quarterback start in the books from the 2021 NFL Draft class, the message remains the same outside of Mac Jones, who landed in the perfect spot off the jump: rookies will be rookies and there’s something to be said for the difficulty of transition, regardless of talent level.