NFL Predictions 2012: 3 Underrated QBs Who Will Put Up Massive Numbers
Like most years in the NFL, this season will feature multiple underrated quarterbacks who will put up hugely unexpected numbers. Whether it be a up-and-comer having a breakout season—Sam Bradford—or a veteran returning to his star-like ways—Jay Cutler—this group includes them all.
Let's take a look at each underrated quarterback who will succeed and how they will do it.
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Besides his rookie year, last season was the worst of Jay Cutler's career. He battled a thumb injury late in the year, and that kept him out for the final six games of the Bears' season. Nevertheless, he averaged just about 230 yards per game while throwing for 13 TDs and seven interceptions.
That yards-per-game average put Cutler behind the likes of Rex Grossman and John Skelton—not guys who are exactly considered elite.
Cutler's improved health should automatically result in a better season for him, and the addition of former Bronco teammate Brandon Marshall to the Bears offense gives Cutler a true No. 1 receiver—and one he knows very well.
The last time Cutler and Marshall were on the same team was 2008. Not coincidentally, that was Cutler's best statistical year of his career. He finished that season with over 4,500 passing yards and 25 touchdowns with just 18 picks.
The combination of a healthy Cutler, Marshall and a pass-happy Mike Tice offense should bode well for Cutler and the Bears.
Expect a career year from the 29-year-old, as he has more weapons than ever before and is in an offense that he feels comfortable with.
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Matt Cassel has been one of the more underrated quarterbacks over the past four seasons. He was the man who made everyone believe that literally any quarterback could be put into the Patriots system and succeed.
While Cassel did benefit from that very talented Patriot squad, he's gifted in his own right.
In 2010, the former USC Trojan had the best year of his career—3,116 yards, 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions—making his first and only Pro Bowl thus far. However, multiple injuries shortened Cassel's season in 2011. He threw for just about 1,700 yards, 10 TDs and nine picks while playing in just nine games.
Cassel was just one of the numerous key Chief players who went down with injuries last season. Starting running back Jamaal Charles suffered a season-ending knee injury the second game of the season, star safety Eric Berry and starting tight end Tony Moeaki both suffered season-ending injuries prior to the first game of the season.
With a healthy Charles, a productive Dwayne Bowe and second-year receiver Jonathan Baldwin and a healthy Moeaki, this Chief offense could be scary good, resulting in massive numbers from Cassel.
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Last season, the Rams' Sam Bradford was the victim of a severe sophomore slump. Looking at last season's numbers compared to those of 2010, it's somewhat baffling as to why such a huge drop-off occurred.
Bradford played in just 10 games in 2011, compared to all 16 the year before. However, he still had about 1,400 less passing yards and threw for just six TDs—compared to 18 in 2010.
New head coach Jeff Fisher immediately brings a sense of stability to this young Rams team—something they seemed to be lacking last season as they apparently crumbled under the pressure of heightened expectations.
This offseason didn't necessarily bring in any top-tier weapons to St. Louis, but another full offseason working with his receivers will be very beneficial for Bradford. The Rams did add a few nice pieces in wide receiver Steve Smith, who had over 100 receptions and 1,000 yards in 2009.
The team also added Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick in April's draft. Quick is a big, strong receiver—standing 6'3'' and weighing in at 220 pounds. Add slot-receiver-extraordinaire Danny Amendola to the mix, and Bradford suddenly has some real weapons in St. Louis.
Expect Bradford to bounce back from his sophomore slump, and in a big way.