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Utah’s Tyler Huntley, BYU’s Taysom Hill, Zach Wilson making headlines in the NFL

Trio of QBs with Utah ties all started Sunday for their respective NFL teams

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Baltimore quarterback Tyler Huntley scores a touchdown in the second half against the Green Bay Packers, Dec. 19, 2021.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley scores a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Baltimore. The former Ute standout turned in a solid effort in a losing outcome against Green Bay.

Nick Wass, Associated Press

The state of QBs.

NFL quarterbacks with ties to Utah had performances worthy of headlines this past weekend, perhaps an upward trend for these former collegians from Utah and BYU.

Tyler Huntley proved he could start for a team in the NFL, Taysom Hill helped lead New Orleans to a win over Tampa Bay, and Zach Wilson had his best game of the year for the struggling, beat-up Jets.

In short, Huntley found himself going against Aaron Rodgers and Hill faced the immortal Tom Brady. They held their own. Although Hill’s New Orleans win over the Buccaneers was more of a defensive gem, he played the custodial part, avoiding turnovers.

Wilson, with a depleted offensive line, receiving and running back corps, created highlight videos against Miami. He then caught flak for avoiding a loaded question from a reporter.

Tyler Huntley

Huntley was sensational and certainly inspired his teammates in an impressive performance for the Baltimore Ravens, who came up one point short from upsetting the Green Bay Packers Sunday.

He did the best Lamar Jackson imitation imaginable: Dangerous.

Jackson is out with an ankle injury. With Huntley, Baltimore didn’t miss a beat.

The former Ute did a little bit of everything Sunday. He completed 28 of 40 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He then ran for two more TDs, amassing 73 yards on 13 carries.  Folks in Baltimore believe the Ravens’ offense has never looked more in sync, more capable, more confident, or executed with more efficiency.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had plenty of praise for Huntley afterward. Huntley became the first Ravens QB to run for two TDs and pass for two TDs in the same game. This Harbaugh quote was taken from the team’s website:

“Tyler is playing that kind of football. He played really well. I thought today, he took another step forward, just in terms of handling himself, operating on time in rhythm, taking off and running at the right time, accurate throws, all of those things. He took a big step. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Repetition really makes a big difference, and he’s a quick learner.”

“He’s a special player. I think everybody on the field feels a connection with him. He puts the ball where it needs to be, his eyes are great. Being behind a guy like Lamar, you learn a ton, and he’s been able to absorb all these different things. I think he’s going to be a superstar in this league for a long, long time.” — Raven tight end Mark Andrews about Tyler Huntley

This was Huntley’s second start this season with five total game appearances. So far in his NFL career he is 89 of 130 (68%) completions for 758 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. At Utah, he was a 67% passer with a 152 efficiency rating for 7,351 yards and 46 touchdowns.

“He’s a special player,” said Ravens tight end Mark Andrews. “I think everybody on the field feels a connection with him. He puts the ball where it needs to be, his eyes are great. Being behind a guy like Lamar, you learn a ton, and he’s been able to absorb all these different things. I think he’s going to be a superstar in this league for a long, long time.”

Bottom line: A team should make Huntley a starter after this season’s pact expires.

Taysom Hill


New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill attempts a pass during game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday Dec. 19th, 2021 in Tampa, Fla.

Don Montague, Associated Press

He still has that Hercules look.

After his disastrous debut as Saints’ starter in a loss to the Cowboys three weeks ago in which he threw four interceptions, Hill has effectively helped end a five-game losing streak for the Saints with two straight wins over the Jets and Buccaneers.

The Saints are now in a position to earn a wild-card berth.

Hill has attempted 48 straight passes without an interception. In Sunday’s win, his team’s defense, in the middle of a resurgence with the return of sack artist Cameron Jordan, shut Brady out and the league’s top offense. It marked the first shutout of a Brady-quarterbacked team since 2006 (255 games) and the first home shutout of his NFL career.

Hill’s part was that of protecting leads given by the Saints’ field goal kicker and not messing up. He was an effective guardian/operator.

A fair analysis of this Saints’ win came from Saintswire: “We can’t ignore how gnarly the New Orleans offense looked for much of the game. They averaged just 3.5 yards per play and Taysom Hill completed only 13 of his 27 pass attempts, taking a pair of sacks at inopportune times (which, to be fair, it’s never a good time to take a sack). Hill made poor decisions with the football and his receivers weren’t much better. Even Alvin Kamara was bottled up well with just 18 yards on the ground and 13 through the air. But (Brett) Maher’s clutch kicking was enough to help them go the distance.”

Hill called the Saints defense “incredible” and his job was to avoid turning over the ball to Brady for easy scores.

Bottom line: Hill is starting and the Saints are winning and the playoffs are reachable. He is 5-2 as a starting QB in the NFL.

Zach Wilson


New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson raises his arms as he celebrates New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios scoring a touchdown during game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Doug Murray, Associated Press

Wilson’s wild journey in Jetsville turned another page Sunday. 

The former Cougar and No. 2 pick has struggled mightily, but his team’s offensive roster is Swiss cheese.

On Sunday the Jets blew a 10-point lead in a loss to the Dolphins. Wilson started off hot, then struggled. His good plays include some improvisation, a great run for a first down twisting his way through tacklers, and a reverse catch and pass play for a big first down.

Right now, the Jets are looking for progress from a team that’s been devastated by injuries.  They got that this past week — even with Wilson.

Brian Costello of the New York Post details the Jets issues. “The other problem is the wide receivers Wilson is currently working with. Elijah Moore and Corey Davis are the Jets’ best receivers. Both are injured. That leaves Wilson with a crew of Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios and Vyncint Smith. All of them are complementary receivers at best and some don’t even deserve to be playing.

“When the Dolphins played man-to-man, the Jets receivers could not get open. That led to protection issues in the second half with Wilson having to hold the ball. It is hard to play quarterback when no one is getting open.”

Costello said Wilson doesn’t look as confused as he did earlier in the year, going 13 of 23 for 170 yards in the 31-24 loss to Miami.

“His issues do not appear to be with reading defenses and that is a major positive. Too often with (Sam) Darnold, it appeared he did not know what he was looking at.

“This is not to excuse Wilson. He needs to improve. But there were some good signs on Sunday. Wilson made a few nice improvisational plays, his trademark at BYU.”

After the Jets loss, a reporter name BJ Bien-Aime, asked Wilson how much was it his fault that the Jets are averaging just 16 points and under 300 yards a game since he returned from injury. Wilson responded that he doesn't worry about that stuff. Bien-Aime immediately tweeted out Wilson’s response, which he said wasn’t a good look for the QB.

Wilson could have said it was his fault, which he has taken responsibility for in public in the past, and looked weak; or he could cite injuries as an excuse, or he could blame his receivers, backs and O-line and throw folks under the bus. He chose to say he didn’t care about those stats. He could have added he cared about winning.

Wilson was 5 for 5 on his first drive then 8 for 18 the rest of the game. In 10 games, Wilson is 173 of 308 for 1,911 yards (56.3%) with six TDs and 11 interceptions with 34 sacks. No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence for 2-12 Jacksonville in 14 games is 293 of 504 (58%) with nine TDs, 14 interceptions and 28 sacks. Lawrence leads the NFL in interceptions; Wilson has gone 81 throws without a pick.

Bottom line: Jets are a mess; Wilson is improving inside that 3-11 NY circus, and he and Lawrence are in difficult situations.