Examining the Quarterback Situations
This year, more than any in recent memory, there will be NFL teams with serious issues at the quarterback position. Yes, this has been coming for years. Let's remember that the Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel, Matt Schaub and Ryan Fitzpatrick were listed as preseason starters. In 2015, there could be teams hoping to start these quarterbacks. With few decent free agent options and only two solid incoming rookies, it could be ugly for a few teams. We will look at the quarterback position of each team and try to predict how things will shake out.
Buffalo – With Kyle Orton retiring, the Bills will be stuck looking to free agency for a starting quarterback. There is no way the team can rely on EJ Manuel as the unquestioned starter. We expect soon-to-be free agent Mark Sanchez to follow coach Rex Ryan to Buffalo. There may be a “competition” between Manuel and the free agent signee, but the odds are stacked against Manuel. Coming from the Jets, Ryan is familiar with the Bills roster and knows what he has in Manuel.
Miami – The Dolphins will lean on Ryan Tannehill once again, and hope he continues to improve. The 2015 season will be the last Tannehill gets the benefit of the doubt. He will soon have to begin living up to his potential. Matt Moore will probably return as the backup.
New England – The Super Bowl champs have Tom Brady returning as the starter. Jimmy Garoppolo will gladly hold the clipboard again while learning at Brady's feet.
New York – The Jets have Geno Smith returning and may look to draft one of the two rookies if either is available at their pick. With free agency taking place before the NFL Draft, New York will likely sign a middling passer to avoid missing out completely in case both rookies are taken early in the Draft. Smith will have competition at the very least. It is doubtful that Michael Vick is back with the Jets and the lack of weapons may lead the better free agent quarterbacks to avoid the Big Apple.
Baltimore – Joe Flacco is locked in as the Ravens starter and Tyrod Taylor should continue to provide depth at the position.
Cincinnati – The Bengals seem satisfied to have Andy Dalton at the helm. While many outside of the organization wish the team would try to upgrade the quarterback position, it does not look likely. Jason Campbell and A.J. McCarron will back him up, but not provide any type of competition for the starting gig.
Cleveland – The Browns are a mess. Johnny Manziel is in rehab, hopefully getting his life together. The former first round pick lacked dedication to develop as a player. We are rooting for him to turn the corner, both personally and professionally. Brian Hoyer is a free agent, but the team is trying to woo him to stay in Cleveland. With so many starting jobs open, Hoyer would be smart to leave his home state and start on a better team.
Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger is a star and will be a fantasy starter again in 2015. His durability and production should promote the Steelers passer to increased fantasy visibility. Bruce Gradkowski will back him up. Todd Haley has this offense running well.
Houston – The Texans began the 2014 season with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. He proved to be only a slight upgrade over Matt Schaub. Houston also drafted Tom Savage in the fourth round a year ago. He, too, failed to play well … even in limited duty. Savage is still raw as a prospect. In addition, the Texans traded for Ryan Mallett from the Patriots. He played for coach Bill O'Brien in New England. Even though he showed the most promise of the trio, Mallett is an impending free agent. He should re-sign with Houston given the lack of talent the team has at the position and familiarity with O'Brien.
Indianapolis – The other 31 teams in the NFL are envious of the Colts. Andrew Luck is a great prospect and will only get better. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck will hold the clipboard.
Jacksonville – Blake Bortles was drafted high in the first round of the 2014 Draft. He has the physical tools but still has a ways to go in mental aspects of the position. The Jaguars are now tied to the youngster. The team cannot go back to Chad Henne. The good news for Bortles is the young receiving corps.
Tennessee – The Titans will have a decision to make. Will the team rely on second-year pro Zach Mettenberger or go with a rookie. Holding the second overall pick in the Draft, Tennessee could select one of the two star rookie quarterbacks. The situation is muddy since the Titans have so little talent at many positions and could use that pick to upgrade another position. Jake Locker will likely sign with a different team.
Denver – Peyton Manning is expected back in Denver with Brock Osweiler backing him up. With the doubt regarding Manning's future, keep an eye out to see if the Broncos add a developmental quarterback in the Draft.
Kansas City – The Chiefs are tied to Alex Smith to run the Andy Reid version of the West Coast offense. Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray are low-level backups.
Oakland – The Raiders are now fully on the Derek Carr train. There is no turning back now. Matt Schaub is likely returning to provide a veteran presence, even though he has not played well for several years. Matt McGloin is also in Oakland, but he is not a threat to Carr.
San Diego – Philip Rivers played through an undisclosed injury for the latter half of the 2014 season. He should be healthy by the beginning of the 2015 campaign. We expect Rivers to finish in the Top 10 at the position this coming year. The weak-armed Kellen Clemens should be back as a reserve.
Dallas – Tony Romo will be looking to take the Cowboys deep into the playoffs in 2015. Brandon Weeden will be entering the final season of his two-year deal. Weeden did not play well while filling in for Romo and will need to improve to be in Dallas past 2015. Romo will be 35 years of age in a couple of months so the team will be soon be looking for his eventual successor.
New York – Eli Manning will have a good group of receivers this coming season. With Odell Beckham breaking out and Victor Cruz returning from injury, Manning has a chance to have his best statistical season in 2015. An aging defense void of play-makers could help the passing attempts. Ryan Nassib will continue to be the QB2 behind the durable veteran.
Philadelphia – With Sanchez likely leaving in free agency, the Eagles will soon tell us all how they feel about Nick Foles. Will Philadelphia trade up for Chip Kelly's college quarterback, Marcus Mariota or sit tight with Foles? There is even talk of the Eagles trading Foles away in the trade. But, in all reality, big trades like this are rare … but so is Kelly. The good news for Foles dynasty owners is the lack of quality quarterback play for many teams. He should have a starting gig somewhere. The problem is that Kelly's offense is as quarterback-friendly as any. Can he produce similar numbers elsewhere?
Washington – This may be the most muddled quarterback situation of them all. Robert Griffin III III is the defacto starter. He needs to prove himself healthy and play well. Neither Kirk Cousins nor Colt McCoy were able to capitalize on Griffin's poor play last season. Coach Jay Gruden will want to give Griffin every benefit of the doubt given his upside and flashes of greatness in the past.
Chicago – The Bears will make changes given the new coaching staff. There is the assumption that Jay Cutler will remain with the team but there is a very real chance that he is traded away. With so many teams having BAD options at the quarterback position, Cutler still holds tremendous value, especially with teams needing wins this season. Jimmy Clausen and David Fales are behind him on the depth chart.
Detroit – Matthew Stafford is back and he will have Calvin Johnson and company to target. Dan Orlovsky is his backup.
Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers is one of the premier passers in the NFL. Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien are his inexpensive reserves.
Minnesota – Teddy Bridgewater does not get his due for a solid rookie season. Expect the bandwagon to be full by preseason as more analysts study the 2014 tapes. Both Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder could be gone in the offseason.
Atlanta – The new coaching staff is enamored with Matt Ryan. He will have a chance to put up big numbers in 2015. The Falcons only have T.J. Yates behind Ryan and could look to locate a better backup. We expect Ryan to pass more frequently in 2015.
Carolina – Cam Newton played very well down the stretch for the Panthers, after a few poor outings in the middle of the season. Veteran Derek Anderson is his backup. Expect status quo at the position and the Panthers to give Newton more options in the passing game.
New Orleans – Drew Brees is back for the Saints, even though the team is in major cap trouble. Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin will ride the pine behind Brees.
Tampa Bay – The Buccaneers will certainly take one of the rookie passers with the first pick in the Draft. Josh McCown will likely not be back with the team, but he did not show well enough to garner a starting job, even on the most desperate of teams. Mike Glennon is an intriguing young player. There was buzz a few weeks ago that Tampa Bay may look to trade Glennon to a quarterback-needy team. Glennon showed promise, but still has plenty of room to improve before expectations are heightened.
Arizona – The Cardinals are anxious for Carson Palmer to get healthy. His backups (Ryan Lindley and Drew Stanton) played poorly after Palmer went down. Youngster Logan Thomas was not ready to contribute, even with the play of the Lindley and Stanton. Palmer will be healthy for training camp and have a quality group of receivers to target. It would also be of no surprise if Arizona upgraded the QB2 position.
St. Louis – The Rams have an intriguing situation at quarterback. Sam Bradford will be healthy, but slated to make a boatload of money (almost $13 million) in the last year of his monstrous rookie deal, even though Bradford has been hurt most of his professional career. So, the team may be forced to pay – or extend – Bradford just to have a decent option at quarterback. He would be wise to either make the team pay his full salary or release him unto the open – and hungry – marketplace. Shaun Hill and Austin Davis are not the answer. It is not as though St. Louis will be able to find a suitable replacement either in free agency or via the Draft. Think of it this way: The Rams were very competitive in 2014, beating several playoff teams, even with Hill and Davis under center.
San Francisco – Colin Kaepernick will return as the starter for the 49ers. With only Blaine Gabbert backing him up, Kaepernick is locked in. We are hoping that the new coaching staff will be able to develop the youngster and put him in positions to succeed.
Seattle – Russell Wilson is a superstar and his mistake in the Super Bowl should not be held against him in 2015. Tarvaris Jackson seems content to be Wilson's long-term backup.
As soon as free agency opens in a few weeks, it will become obvious to many that their favorite NFL team will be unable to upgrade the quarterback position. By our count, there will be as many as eight teams desperate for a quarterback upgrade and there are only two viable rookies and few options in free agency to give hope.
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