NFL Quarterback Rankings: The 5 Quarterbacks Facing the Most Pressure in 2012
NFL training camps officially open in less than a month, with Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles preparing for camp on July 22nd. Vick is among the list of quarterbacks who face plenty of pressure heading into the 2012 season.
The expectations have been taken to another level for five quarterbacks. Can either of these quarterbacks win their first championship in their NFL careers?
Will a certain quarterback rise to the occasion in a contract year? With the bar set high once again, here are the five quarterbacks that are facing the most pressure in the 2012 season.
5. Matt Ryan
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Ryan has not won a single playoff game in his career despite appearing in the playoffs three times in his first four seasons.
He does not have any excuses with regards to the lack of offensive talent surrounding him. Roddy White is in the prime of his career, and Julio Jones will make significant strides with a full off season under his belt. It also helps that future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez can still be productive in the passing game.
The Falcons added a new offensive and defensive coordinator and made upgrades to the defense in the offseason. Is this their best opportunity to contend in the NFC?
Clearly, the division is theirs for the taking. The New Orleans Saints will have to deal with plenty of adversity this upcoming season. The Carolina Panthers are likely a year away from becoming a legitimate threat to win the division.
Despite the large number of quality free-agent signings, there are questions surrounding Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Point blank, Matt Ryan must take his game to the next level and prove to the organizations that he is capable of bringing a championship to the city of Atlanta.
4. Philip Rivers
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Once again, Philip Rivers continues his quest for a championship ring after many seasons ending in disappointment. The San Diego Chargers struggled out of the gate this past season and failed to appear in the postseason.
After an offseason where Norv Turner returned as head coach and plenty of changes were made to the offense in free agency, Rivers needs to assert himself as an elite quarterback.
The AFC West will be the most unpredictable division in the NFL this season. All four teams have a shot of winning the division, and every team made a significant change in the off season.
Rivers will now face Peyton Manning twice a season. Can he continue his success against Manning now that both quarterbacks are in the same division?
The expectations for the Chargers cannot be any more simple—Super Bowl or bust. If the Chargers disappoint for another season and do not reach the big game, Rivers will continue facing questions as to whether or not he can ever win in the playoffs.
3. Michael Vick
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Could the expectations be higher for the Philadelphia Eagles this season? Now that the team is a potential Super Bowl contender, Michael Vick will have the responsibility of leading this team to a championship.
The defense, led by Nnamdi Asomugha, emerged late last season as one of the league's better units and showed why they deserved the hype from last summer. This veteran unit continued to improve with plenty of upgrades through the draft—most notably former Mississippi St. standout Fletcher Cox.
On the offensive side, Desean Jackson should return to his normal production after settling his contract dispute with the Eagles. Jeremy Maclin is poised for a breakout year, while LeSean McCoy has entered the conversation as one of the better running backs in the league.
Vick enters his third season as the starting quarterback for the Eagles. The organization wants to win now and is tired of the disappointment year after year.
With the talent in place, there's no reason for Vick not to be a more efficient quarterback during his pursuit of a championship ring.
2. Tony Romo
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Tony Romo's improbable run from undrafted rookie to the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys has been one of the more fascinating situations in the past decade. In fact, Romo is entering his seventh season as the Cowboys quarterback and has received his fair share of praise and criticisms.
However, a 1-3 playoff record and no championship appearances is an alarming thought when discussing Cowboys quarterbacks. Will Romo ever become clutch when it matters most?
After a struggling Cowboys defense erased a quality season for Romo in 2011, Jerry Jones wanted to make sure the excuses came to an end.
He signed top free-agent corner back Brandon Carr and traded up to select Morris Claiborne, who was clearly the best cornerback in college football last season.
The talent is still intact on the offensive side of the football. Dez Bryant is due for a breakout year, while Miles Austin and Jason Witten continue to produce in Jason Garrett's offense.
It will be difficult for Romo to survive another season without a championship, much less a playoff appearance. The expectations in Dallas have now hit an all-time high.
1. Joe Flacco
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Whenever you publicly say you are the best quarterback in the league, you will receive both fair and unfair criticism.
After a painful loss in the AFC championship game, the Baltimore Ravens haven't avoided the headlines this offseason. Quarterback Joe Flacco has garnered most of the attention with his comments about being the NFL's best.
However, no one can dispute the fact that Flacco wants to be paid top-five quarterback money. In 2012, he will have a chance to prove to the organization that he deserves a record-setting contract.
He has shown his ability to rise to the occasion in clutch moments, with the last-second win over the Pittsburgh Steelers proving to be one of the bigger highlights of his career. However, he needs to show he's a quality NFL starter on a consistent basis.
I expect Torrey Smith to continue making strides as a receiver and build off his very good rookie season. Anquan Boldin has continued to work well with Flacco these last two seasons.
As mentioned earlier in the offseason, the Ravens will go as far as Flacco this upcoming season. If he's given the reigns to play at an elite level and can carry the offense, then the Ravens have to be optimistic about their chances.
Although, another tough loss in the playoffs could be a crippling effect on an organization that has come up short on their quest for a title.
Matt Miselis is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.