In Manning's struggles, Jones sees himself in '73 Ex-Colts QB and No. 2 pick recalls his rough start

October 04, 1998|By Ken Murray

The high-profile rookie quarterback struggled through his first four NFL games, throwing interception after interception. With each loss, the clamor grew: Were the Colts wrong to rush their fuzzy-cheeked prodigy?

Only the quarterback in question here isn't Peyton Manning at 22.

It was Bert Jones at 23.

Twenty-five years after Jones, the second pick in the 1973 draft, got off to a rocky start with the Baltimore Colts, history is repeating itself.

"I think there is a parallel that is quite apparent," Jones said. "We were a young, immature, not very good ballclub at the time. I think he's experiencing the same thing. He doesn't have a very good team to play with."

In his first month on the job, Jones threw for four touchdowns and nine interceptions, and went 1-3. Manning has thrown for three touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and Indianapolis is 0-4.

Jones missed four weeks of training camp his rookie season because of the Chicago all-star game. "Because of that, I was at a severe disadvantage," he said. "Of course, I didn't know it. You don't know what you don't know."

He won just two of 10 starts his first two seasons, then achieved a breakthrough in 1975 with the arrival of Ted Marchibroda, taking the Colts to the playoffs.

The rate of inflation? Jones got $100,000 in his 1973 signing bonus. Manning received an $11.6 million signing bonus this year.

Breaking in rookie quarterbacks

Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning follow a long line of struggling rookie quarterbacks. The following nine active quarterbacks made at least 10 starts in their rookie seasons. Here's how they started and finished:

Player, team.... ....... Rookie .. 1st 4 .. Rookie .. .... .........QB

..... ..... .... ....... season .. games .. record ..TD .. Int. rating

John Elway, Broncos .... 1983 .... 2-2 .... 4-6 .... 7 ... 14 ... 54.9

Dan Marino, Dolphins ... 1983 .... 3-1 .... 7-2 ... 20 .... 6 ... 96.0

Chris Chandler, Colts .. 1988 .... 2-2 .... 9-4 .... 8 ... 12 ... 67.2

Troy Aikman, Cowboys ... 1989 .... 0-4 .... 0-11 ... 9 ... 18 ... 55.7

Jeff George, Colts ..... 1990 .... 0-4 .... 5-7 ... 16 ... 13 ... 73.8

Drew Bledsoe, Patriots . 1993 .... 0-4 .... 5-7 ... 15 ... 15 ... 65.0

Rick Mirer, Seahawks ... 1993 .... 2-2 .... 6-10 .. 12 ... 17 ... 67.0

Kerry Collins, Panthers. 1995 .... 2-2 .... 7-6 ... 14 ... 19 ... 62.0

Tony Banks, Rams ....... 1996 .... 1-3 .... 5-8 ... 15 ... 15 ... 71.0

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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