While McCarthy suggested otherwise on Sunday, it’s possible. The UCLA product took a brutal hit on his final interception, and there’s always a concern inexperienced quarterbacks will struggle to deal with NFL pass pressure and take hits that knock them out of games solely from sheer inexperience. (See: Garoppolo, Jimmy.) Part of the concern in losing a starting quarterback isn’t just that you go from No. 1 on the depth chart to No. 2; it’s that you may quickly end up going from No. 1 to No. 3.
Get past the joke candidates. Brett Favre is 48 and wasn’t any good the last time he suited up seven seasons ago. Romo is 37 and hasn’t thrown a pass in nearly a year. The Packers reacquired Flynn and inserted him into the lineup as a stopgap measure in 2013, but he hasn’t taken an NFL snap since 2014 nor been on a roster since 2015. He’s the most plausible of the totally implausible candidates.
That play might have sparked something in his teammates. The next drive ended in the Texans’ first score of the night, a perfect ball to DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone.
Even with the game out of reach, Watson still hit DeAndre Hopkins for a 34-yard score and another 1-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Watson threw five touchdowns when it was all said and done.
The Giants started 0-6 in 2013 before rallying to a 7-9 record. The Chargers haven’t had an 0-4 start since 2003, when another loss extended the record to 0-5. They finished with a 4-12 record.
For Rivers and Manning, the end looks near. There are a few older quarterbacks — Tom Brady, Carson Palmer and Drew Brees — but the time is ripe for both the Giants and Chargers to look for a replacement in 2018.
Ultimately, Sunday has little impact on the legacy of either player, but for Manning, a loss could leave a weird footnote on the trade that began his NFL career.