NFL Handicapping: Uncertain Quarterback Situations

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NFL Handicapping: Uncertain Quarterback Situations
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“Uncertainty” is a word that can always describe several quarterback situations with NFL teams, and this year is no exception. As we wait for the start of training camps here’s a look at how I expect six of the more uncertain QB situations to be resolved at the start of the regular season:

 

New York Jets

In a league that regularly puts bad ideas in action, this one reaches new heights.

Maybe my view is colored because I really don’t like the Jets at the best of times, but I just don’t see a way that this ends well in New York.

Mark Sanchez is coming off a pretty lousy year in which he was heavily-criticized. A lot of the issues weren’t his, as his protection was lousy and his receivers didn’t do their job. Despite that, Sanchez didn’t shine under pressure, and he’s going to face even more pressure this year—namely that quarterback walking on water behind him.

Sanchez is at least theoretically the starter. However, Tim Tebow will get plenty of snaps and lots of time in the red zone to pad his stats.

The media loves Tebow and is unconvinced by Sanchez. The same goes for fans. Sanchez isn’t going to rise to the occasion, and he isn’t going to be helped by the fact that those offensive line and receiver issues don’t seem to be dramatically improved.

If there is one thing we know about Tebow it’s that he is a relentless competitor who isn’t going to be content until he takes every snap—regardless of whatever he says.

There will be a QB change this season, but not before ridiculously intense distractions derail yet another season for the ridiculous Jets.

 

Miami Dolphins

It’s a three-man race here. Really, it’s just a waiting game for Ryan Tannehill to be ready, with Matt Moore and David Garrard looking to get a shot until the draft pick takes his inevitable place.

I fall squarely into the camp of Tannehill skeptics, due to his lack of experience and the fact that he rose up draft boards far faster after he was done playing than he did on the field.

He’ll get his chance for sure, and likely by Week 9 or so when the Dolphins are totally without hope for the year.

In the meantime I expect Moore to get the starting gig as a reward for his play with the team last year, and Garrard to be available as a free agent again after training camp.

 

Cleveland Browns

What’s the biggest criticism of Colt McCoy?

It’s that he’s a moderately-talented quarterback without massive upside. He can be a game manager at his best, but will never be a superstar. He likely doesn’t have what it takes to lead this team, or any other, to salvation.

How is that any different from Brandon Weeden? He’s a great story, but he’s already an older player, his skills are very solid but not exceptional and he still has a few gaping holes to deal with on this offense.

It’s obviously Weeden’s job to lose, and I expect him to do what needs to be done. I’ll be totally shocked if he starts more than 12 games, though.

He doesn’t have strong receivers, three-fifths of his line is a concern and he faces a very steep learning curve.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

I’m a big Chad Henne guy, so part of me will be hoping he gets a chance to shine. He could do some damage with this receiver corps if given the chance, and I fully believe he has the ability to be a top 15 NFL QB.

I’m not convinced he’ll get that chance in Jacksonville.

Blaine Gabbert is going to be given every chance to start since the team needs to know what they have in their draft pick. His season last year wasn’t pretty, but his coaching was lousy, he started before he was ready and his receivers were lousy.

The addition of Justin Blackmon, Lee Evans and Laurent Robinson will be huge for Gabbert, and the game should slow down for him in his second season. He also has a new coach in Mike Mularkey who knows how to develop quarterbacks.

Gabbert is not heading to the Pro Bowl any time soon, but he should come out on top here to start the season.

 

Tennessee Titans

Jake Locker didn’t play that much last year, but he looked pretty good at times when he did. He has a ton of upside, and I think he’ll turn into the best member of the 2011 QB class who is not named Newton by the time he’s done.

The right long-term move would be to give him the starting role out of the gate, but there are two good reasons to think that Matt Hasselbeck will start the season in charge.

First, the AFC South is wide open, and a playoff spot is a real possibility for this squad. In the short-term the veteran gives them a better chance of winning.

Second, the start of their season is absolutely horrific—New England, San Diego, Detroit and Houston in a month. That isn’t a very good stretch to give a new, young starter the confidence to build a career on.

 

Seattle Seahawks

I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this one. The storyline is that it is a wide-open race, with Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson fighting for the starting role and Russell Wilson looming as a dark horse.

I’m not buying it at all.

Flynn is the man. We have seen with two teams what we have in Jackson—a competent but underwhelming option. Flynn has far more upside, and he has the potential to lead a far more explosive offense than Jackson ever could.

Wilson was a nice value pick, but he’s undersized and raw and not a viable option here, at least at this point. I’ll be surprised if Flynn doesn’t get his chance.

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