NFL Predictions: 6 Backup Quarterbacks Who Will Be Starting by Midseason
When a team is forced to switch quarterbacks midseason, it generally isn't a good thing. In fact, only seven teams in the Super Bowl Era have gone on to win the Super Bowl after changing their starting quarterback at some point during the season.
That statistic doesn't bode well for the following six teams that I'm predicting will be starting their backup quarterbacks by midseason.
John Skelton Replaces Kevin Kolb in Arizona...Or the Other Way Around
The most wide-open quarterback battle heading into the preseason resides in Arizona. Neither Kevin Kolb nor John Skelton have a firm grip on the starting job, and it's definitely a possibility that we won't know who'll start in Week 1 for the Arizona Cardinals until the final week of the preseason.
However, that type of competition doesn't mean that Arizona has two super-talented quarterbacks to choose from. In fact, the complete opposite couldn't be truer.
Both Kolb and Skelton struggled to perform consistently during the 2011 season when they switched back and forth between bench warmer and starting quarterback.
Unless one of these quarterbacks proves to be greatly improved during training camp and the preseason, it is very likely that the first sign of trouble will force Arizona to bring in their backup quarterback.
With a talented defense and a potentially explosive offense surrounding Kolb and Skelton, there is no reason this team shouldn't at least be somewhat competitive this year.
If the Cardinals get off to a slow start with their first choice at quarterback—definitely possible with the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles in the first three weeks—a change will certainly happen.
Whether that change will bring in Skelton or Kolb is a mystery, but a change will take place by midseason.
Chad Henne Gets the Nod over Blaine Gabbert
To say that Blaine Gabbert was underwhelming during his rookie season would be quite the understatement. His 65.4 quarterback rating during his first year in the league only scratches the surface of Gabbert's issues as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
The biggest problem that Gabbert had as a rookie was his difficulty at staying calm with pressure in his face. Whenever a defense would bring extra men, Gabbert would freeze like a lake in a Wisconsin winter.
That's a big reason why the Jacksonville Jaguars felt it necessary to bring a veteran quarterback like Chad Henne in during the offseason. While Henne is no Tom Brady or Drew Brees, he has the ability to be a serviceable starter for Jacksonville.
The reason Gabbert is going to be replaced is because you can't teach a player to be brave. Quarterbacks can't be afraid of pressure, especially in the NFL, and I simply don't see Gabbert getting over his issue soon enough to hold onto his starting job.
Once the Jaguars struggle to put together wins at the start of the season, they'll be looking for Henne to provide some type of spark to salvage the season.
Miami Goes Young with Ryan Tannehill over David Garrard, Matt Moore
This might be the most shocking replacement during the regular season, but the Miami Dolphins didn't draft Ryan Tannehill with the eighth pick of the 2012 NFL draft to let him sit on the bench while the team is losing.
With one of the more difficult schedules in the league through the first eight weeks, it's likely that the Dolphins will struggle to win more than a couple games by midseason.
While Miami could choose to go with one of the veterans over Tannehill, they'll simply feel too much pressure from the fanbase to not give Tannehill a shot at starting.
There is little doubt that he'll struggle at first, but much like the Minnesota Vikings did with Christian Ponder last year, the coaching staff in Miami will conclude that the experience will ultimately be good for Tannehill.
Should the Dolphins jump out to even a .500 record, there is no way they'll put Tannehill on the field. However, with games against the Houston Texans, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets in their first five games, a .500 record seems unlikely.
Tannehill is definitely the future in Miami, and that future will start taking place this year by midseason.
Mark Sanchez Loses Starting Job to None Other Than Tim Tebow
This one really shouldn't come as a surprise. At the first sign of trouble for Mark Sanchez, the fans will be screaming for Tim Tebow. And just like what happened in Denver last year, the pressure will be too much to not give Tebow the starting job.
The decision to trade for Tebow was one of the worst of the entire offseason. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that Sanchez is a better quarterback than Tebow, and seemingly the only reason that the Jets brought him in was for publicity.
While it will be an awful decision when New York replaces Sanchez with Tebow, it is one that is guaranteed to happen.
Jake Locker Overtakes Matt Hasselbeck in Tennessee
When the Tennessee Titans needed to turn to Jake Locker last year, he performed admirably. In limited playing time, Locker threw for 542 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions.
While the sample size is too small for a full-blown conclusion about Locker's future, he certainly appears to have the tools to be a successful quarterback in this league. With that said, the Titans will most likely start the year with the veteran at quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck.
The first four weeks of their schedule are absolutely brutal, with games against the New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. Hasselbeck will be able to handle that level of competition better.
With that said, there is simply too much potential oozing out of Locker for him to spend another full year on the bench.
Even though the Titans may not have a horrid record by midseason, I believe they'll give Locker a chance to win the starting job before every game. By about Week 8, the job should be his.
Russell Wilson Silences All Height Critics, Takes Job from Matt Flynn
Of all the training-camp battles soon to be taking place in the NFL, the battle between Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson and Russell Wilson has to be the most intriguing.
The Seattle Seahawks signed Flynn to a moderate contract in the offseason to replace Jackson, who definitely had his fair share of difficulties in his first year with the team. Then, in a move that shocked everyone, the Seahawks drafted Wilson in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft.
While few expected Wilson to have a legitimate shot at starting his rookie season, all the reports coming out of Seattle stated just how impressive of a prospect Wilson was.
Despite his size, which was beaten to death heading into the draft, Wilson plays bigger than he is and has all the tools necessary to succeed in the NFL.
Now the Seahawks have a three-headed battle heading into training camp. The likely starter heading into the regular season will be Flynn, but he may not stay that way for too long.
Wilson is guaranteed to be breathing down his neck. Without a huge financial investment in Flynn, Pete Carroll will start whomever he feels will give his team the best chance to win.
By midseason that player will be Wilson, which is why he'll take the job from Flynn.