The Face of Every NFL Franchise
The face of every NFL franchise defers depending on the makeup of the organization. Having the quarterback as the face is the dream for every team. This is because it means that the quarterback is the best player on the team.
With the NFL being a quarterback dominant league, having a top-notch quarterback is very important.
However, there are others that feature offensive linemen, defenders and even coaches as the face of the franchise.
Franchise Player: DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker
The ability to generate pressure on the quarterback is one of the more important skill sets in the NFL. DeMarcus Ware has topped the double-digit sack mark in each of the last seven seasons. That type of consistency has helped everyone on the Dallas Cowboys' entire roster.
Ware owns the title as the face of the franchise mainly because Tony Romo's career has been filled with ups and downs. A quarterback has the easiest path to becoming the most important player on the team. However, they also have the easiest path to become the most hated player on the team.
In only the eighth season of his career, Ware still has a few good years left in the league.
New York Giants
Franchise Player: Eli Manning, Quarterback
There's no doubt that Eli Manning is the face of the New York Giants' franchise. He's a two-time Super Bowl winner and MVP, and that's enough to make some one the faces of the franchise for an extended period of time.
Manning's success has come despite dealing with a bunch turnover at the wide receiver position and along the offensive line. However, he finds a way each year to make those around him better. This has been the case for several seasons.
He's helped players like Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Martellus Bennett make a splash. Manning will get some flack for the way this season ended, but that shouldn't strip him of the title of face of the franchise.
Franchise Player: LeSean McCoy, Running Back
The NFL might be a pass-dominated league, but there's still plenty of value in an elite running back. LeSean McCoy possesses the skill set needed to be the focal point of the offense. He's the type of running back capable of moving the chains, breaking off long runs and catching the ball out of the back field.
Philadelphia's issue is that they don't design a game plan to utilize McCoy. This is one of the reasons why the Eagles are discussing moving on from Andy Reid. Each year Reid employs an attack that heavily relies on the passing game.
The Eagles' quarterback situation only increases the importance of McCoy. If they want to move forward with Nick Foles at quarterback he'll need help from the running game.
Franchise Player: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback
The Washington Redskins are on the verge of a playoff berth mainly because of how quickly Robert Griffin III has adjusted to the NFL. His explosiveness and versatility make it tough for defenses to completely shut down the Redskins offense.
Griffin deserves a lot of the credit because there really isn't a large amount of talent on this roster. For most of the year, he was without his top playmaker in Pierre Garcon. The only real help he received was from fellow-rookie Alfred Morris.
Washington needs to be a little worried about Griffin's style of play. He leaves himself open to big hits too often. Griffin can't be the Redskins' franchise player if he's off the field with injuries.
Franchise Player: C.J. Spiller, Running Back
C.J. Spiller is an explosive playmaker capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. His 6.5 yards per carry speaks to just the type of explosiveness he possesses. Spiller used this season to establish himself as the cornerstone of the Buffalo Bills offense.
Possessing the ability to break off large chucks of yards at a time is something at really opens up an offense. With Ryan Fitzpatrick struggling, Spiller will be very important to the development of the next quarterback Buffalo brings in.
The biggest thing moving forward is that Buffalo needs to make more of a focus of getting Spiller the ball. Fred Jackson is a good football player, but Spiller is just much more talented.
Franchise Player: Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins took a risk when they selected Ryan Tannehill in April's draft. Tannehill possesses a ton of talent, but had some issues with his decision making in college. Miami's coaching staff has done a great job bringing Tannehill along.
His decision making has greatly improved, and he has shown signs that he has the potential to develop into an elite quarterback.
Miami has a lot of talent on the defensive, but none of them possesses the same type of upside as Tannehill. If the Dolphins have a chance to make a splash in the next few years Tannehill needs to continue his development.
New England Patriots
Franchise Player: Tom Brady, Quarterback
The New England Patriots have had continued success for at least the past decade because of Tom Brady. He has seen changes all across the roster, but he's the one constant on the roster. His leadership allows the Patriots to take risks with different type of players.
New England can take a risk on a talented player because Brady's presence means they're always contenders.
Brady might not only be the face of his franchise, as he's one of the faces of the entire league. This is because he's extremely talent and avoids controversy off the field.
New York Jets
Franchise Player: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Offensive Tackle
The New York Jets have a ton of holes on their roster, with the biggest one at the quarterback position. Upgrading the quarterback spot will be the team's main focus moving forward. However, whoever takes over at quarterback will have D'Brickashaw Ferguson to keep them upright.
Finding an elite left tackle like Ferguson isn't an easy task. There's plenty of teams out there with a top-notch quarterback but can't provide him the time to locate open targets.
I'm sure someone like Jay Cutler would love to have Ferguson protecting his blindside.
Franchise Player: Larry Fitzgerald, Wide Receiver
Larry Fitzgerald is the exact definition of a franchise player. He's extremely talented, but also knows how to deal with adversity. This season had to be extremely frustrating for him, but he did a great job keeping his emotions in check.
He never quite on his team and continued to work to get better. Fitzgerald is committed to this franchise despite the struggles of the past few seasons.
All of the above only talked about his character, but we can't forget that he's one of the better wide receivers in the NFL. Once the Arizona Cardinals find themselves a legitimate quarterback Fitzgerald will show his dominance.
San Francisco 49ers
Franchise Player: Jim Harbaugh, Coach
The San Francisco 49ers' recent success is directly tied to the hire of Jim Harbaugh. He's not only a gifted offensive mind, but he brings a certain attitude to his team. Harbaugh stresses focus and playing with 100 percent effort at all times.
His intensity helps him relate to both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Prior to his arrival, the organization did a good job collecting talent. However, coaches like Mike Singletary struggled to translate that talent to wins.
This team is in line for years of solid football because of the presence of Harbaugh.
Franchise Player: Russell Wilson, Quarterback
Russell Wilson has taken charge of the Seattle Seahawks' roster and established himself as a leader. He accomplished this feat by playing solid football and working hard to improve each week. His improvement has been more evident in the past several weeks.
Seattle doesn't rely on Wilson to win football games, as they have an extremely talented defense and Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch received heavy consideration to earn this title, but when everything is equal the quarterback always wins out. However, Lynch deserves credit for sparking the team's hard-nosed style of play.
At this point, the Seahawks can be considered the hottest team in the league.
St. Louis Rams
Franchise Player: James Laurinaitis, Linebacker
Since Jeff Fisher's arrival the St. Louis Rams have become a team that looks to control the clock and rely on an improving defense. James Laurinaitis is the leader of that defense, as he's always around the football and helps others get in the proper position.
He currently ranks No. 5 in the league with a total of 137 tackles. His high tackle total does relate to the strong play of the defensive line. However, it also has to do with his quickness and top-notch football IQ.
Sam Bradford received some consideration, but the Rams have really taken the air out of the ball this season. This is the reason why Bradford's numbers are a little down this season.
Franchise Player: Peyton Manning, Quarterback
The addition of Peyton Manning has taken the Denver Broncos from a fringe playoff team to a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Manning has quickly found his rhythm after missing all of last season with a neck injury.
He has made good use of the raw talent on the roster. Players like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have developed into top-notch playmakers. Manning's ability to hurt a team through the air has also resurrected Knowshon Moreno's career.
Moreno is averaging 93 yards per game since taking over for Willis McGahee.
It's difficult seeing Manning as the face of any other franchise other than the Indianapolis Colts. However, success can quickly make an impression.
Kansas City Chiefs
Franchise Player: Jamaal Charles, Running Back
The lone bright spot for the Kansas City Chiefs this season has been the play of Jamaal Charles. He rebounded nicely from the significant injury he suffered last season. A lot of changes are coming in Kansas City, but Charles remain as an important piece of the puzzle.
It's important to note that Charles has had this success despite having to deal with inconsistency at the quarterback position. Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel don't strike fear in any defense in the league.
The thing that makes Charles so dangerous is his good vision explosiveness. He's truly capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
Franchise Player: Reggie McKenzie, General Manager
The Oakland Raiders roster is void of top-notch building blocks for the future. Players like Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer have talent, but neither can be counted on to produce in future seasons. It's up to general manager Reggie McKenzie to rebuild this roster.
McKenzie took over as general manager after spending several season in the Green Bay Packers organization. He has seen Ted Thompson make sound decisions and keep a team competitive for the long term.
Rebuilding this team won't be easy, but finding one transcendent player could build some optimism.
San Diego Chargers
Franchise Player: Philip Rivers, Quarterback
The San Diego Chargers have had to deal with two straight down seasons from Philip Rivers, but he still possesses the talent needed to be a real difference-maker. San Diego needs to find a new coach who can help Rivers back on track.
It's really difficult to land a quarterback with the type of talent as Rivers. However, the culture around the organization have led to his struggles.
Norv Turner has a good offensive mind, but he has struggled to succeed as a head coach. Someone with more organization and focus on discipline might make a real difference in San Diego.
Franchise Player: Jay Cutler, Quarterback
The Chicago Bears defense is starting to show their age, and it's time now for Jay Cutler to become the leader of this team. Brian Urlacher has held that title for the past several seasons, but he just isn't healthy enough to continue producing at a high level.
Cutler not only needs to improve his play, he also needs to do a better job controlling his emotion. His demeanor on and off the field doesn't create a great environment. The face of the franchise needs to be the one the entire team turns to in tough situations.
Look for the Bears to use this offense to give Cutler more weapons and better talent along the offensive line.
Franchise Player: Calvin Johnson, Wide Receiver
Calvin Johnson is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. His combination of size and quickness allows him to make plays all over the field. It also helps him continue to make plays despite facing constant double teams.
His talent also means that he can be effective no matter whose playing quarterback. That's the main reason why he gets the nod over Matthew Stafford. Johnson is the one that makes the Detroit Lions offense so effective. Stafford wouldn't be nearly as productive without Johnson in the lineup.
Green Bay Packers
Franchise Player: Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback
The Green Bay Packers earned another NFC North title this season despite having some holes on the roster. Aaron Rodgers is the reason why this team is in this position, as he helps them overcome the lack of a running game and issues along the offensive line.
It's Rodgers' athleticism and crafty play that makes him so dangerous. He can extend plays and excels at making plays down the field.
Take Rodgers out of the lineup and the Packers would struggle to be a .500 team. There's very little balance on the roster, which makes Rodgers one of the most irreplaceable.
Franchise Player: Adrian Peterson, Running Back
The Minnesota Vikings are one of the surprise teams of this season. Their success is directly tied to the unbelievable season by Adrian Peterson. His numbers are enough to gain a ton of attention, but the fact it has come after a significant knee injury is even more amazing.
Minnesota's offense doesn't get a lot of production out of the passing game. Christian Ponder is only averaging 180 passing yards per game. This only makes Peterson's accomplishments more amazing, as the opposing defense knows he's Minnesota's go-to guy.
Franchise Player: Ray Rice, Running Back
The main core of the Baltimore Ravens defense is starting to show signs of aging. This is why we've seen so much pressure placed on the offense to pick up the slack. A lot of that pressure was placed on Joe Flacco, but it has quickly become apparent that he isn't up to the task.
Ray Rice is the one player on offense that can consistently put up big numbers. This has been the case for several years, and won't change in the near future. It's Rice who allows the Ravens to survive Flacco's bouts of inconsistency.
The only real worry is how quickly Rice will start to wear down. He has topped the 200-carry mark in each of the last four seasons.
Franchise Player: A.J. Green, Wide Receiver
The Cincinnati Bengals offense has been able to help this team to the playoffs the past two seasons based on the play of A.J. Green. Andy Dalton plays a part in that success, but Green is the catalyst of the group.
It's Green's ability to go up and make a play on the ball at its highest point that makes him so successful. He possesses good body control which allows him to adjust to the ball in the air. Green is the type of wide receiver who's capable of making an impact despite facing constant double teams.
His playmaking ability has opened up opportunities for others on the offense. Youngsters like Andrew Hawkins and Mohamed Sanu have started to make their presences felt.
Franchise Player: Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns
Any time a team uses a top-five pick to select a running back they do so with plans to make him a major part of the offense. The Cleveland Browns feel like Trent Richardson possesses the skill set to quickly develop into a difference maker.
Richardson boasts a rare combination of power and speed. This allows him to pick up the tough yards between the tackles and also break off long runs.
His rookie season didn't quite go as expected, but that had a lot to do with a string of injuries. He also didn't benefit from the up-and-down production from the passing game.
Franchise Player: Ben Roethlisberger, Quarterback
The Pittsburgh Steelers face a lot of uncertainty heading into next season. They have issues at the running back position, injury concerns along the offensive line, Mike Wallace's contract situation and age problems on defense. However, the one area where they are set is at the quarterback position.
Ben Roethlisberger is the unquestioned leader of this football team. He's the type of player that makes those around him better. For example, his ability to extend plays has masked the problems along to offensive line for years.
There's no question who the Steelers will continue to build around.
Franchise Player: Matt Ryan, Quarterback
When the Atlanta Falcons made an aggressive move to land Julio Jones in the 2011 draft it showed their commitment to Matt Ryan. That move was made in order to give Ryan more weapons and to open up the offense.
Ryan responded by raising his play to an MVP level. The Falcons now have one of the more explosive offenses in the league. Ryan connects with Jones or Roddy White at least once a game on a long strike.
His game isn't just about taking shots down the field. He also does a great job sustaining drives and accurately delivering the football. This is a consistent player who's a leader both on and off the field.
Franchise Player: Cam Newton, Quarterback
Cam Newton needs to improve his demeanor, but there's now question he's the one player everyone looks to in pressure situations. His size, athleticism and charisma make him someone others can easily support. However, if he continues to flash a poor attitude that could quickly change.
Newton's talent also makes him a very important part of this franchise. He's a unique player who possesses the potential to develop into one of the better players in the NFL.
This Carolina Panthers team isn't talented enough to compete for a playoff spot, but Newton has helped them win plenty of games. Look for the Panthers to start making more noise once the roster gets some balance.
New Orleans Saints
Franchise Player: Drew Brees, Quarterback
Despite suffering through some problems this season, Drew Brees is still an elite quarterback and the face of the New Orleans Saints franchise. His status has been earned with strong play on the field and a background of getting involved in the community.
He's the type of player who has the respect of his teammates and the fan base.
However, Brees needs to watch the way he attacks the league over this bounty situation. He has been very outspoken which is something that could get some blow back from the media.
This season was a disappointment, but the Saints should be able to bounce back next season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Franchise Player: Doug Martin, Running Back
With Greg Schiano calling the shots with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Doug Martin will always play a major role in the offense. Schiano wants to feature a run-heavy attack and play strong defense. This though process is probably more true now after Josh Freeman's back-to-back four-interception games.
Martin is a versatile running back capable of running through the tackles, breaking off a long run and catching the ball out of the backfield. This well-rounded skill set allows the Buccaneers to get him involved in the game plan many different ways.
Freeman had a shot to claim this title, but he has been far too inconsistent. He'll likely get another shot to prove himself, but the clock is running out.
Franchise Player: J.J. Watt, Defensive End
J.J. Watt currently leads the NFL with 20.5 sacks. His presence along the defensive line has helped the Houston Texans defense develop into one of the best units in the NFL. The ability to generate pressure on the quarterback is highly valued trait.
Watt doesn't just sack the quarterback, as he also does a great job getting his hands up and batting balls at the line of scrimmage. There has been plenty of drives stopped by Watt tipping the ball at the line.
Arian Foster was also in consideration for this spot. However, it's the Texans defense that fuels this team. That defense is led by Watt and his well-rounded style of play.
Franchise Player: Andrew Luck, Quarterback
This past April the Indianapolis Colts own the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, but now they've earn a playoff berth. This is a remarkable turnaround that has been spearheaded by Andrew Luck's quick development. The rookie quarterback is highly talented and poised beyond his years.
Luck has had his share of ups and downs, but he just keeps fighting through each situation. His strong play has helped mask some problems on the offensive line, bring along a young wide receiver like T.Y. Hilton.
Indianapolis might not make a big splash in this year's playoffs, but because of Luck they'll be a force for years to come.
Franchise Player: Justin Blackmon, Wide Receiver
Maurice Jones-Drew is the best player on the Jacksonville Jaguars roster, but his unhappiness with his contract has strained his relationship with franchise. Upper management continues to say that Jones-Drew won't be traded, but I'm sure we'll see another face off this offseason.
Blackmon has flashed the playmaking ability needed to develop into a top-flight receiver. He's one of the true building blocks on this roster. The Jaguars have a lot of work to do in order to become a playoff contender.
Jacksonville really needs to figure the quarterback situation before they can take a step forward.
Franchise Player: Jake Locker, Quarterback
The fact that Jake Locker is the face of the Tennessee Titans shows that this franchise is a major rebuilding process. Locker possesses a ton of talent, but has showed this season that he's nowhere near ready to lead a winning team.
He's way too inconsistent for the Titans to get a real handle on his progress. This team needs Locker to develop or they'll be forced to deal with an even longer rebuilding process.
Chris Johnson garnered some consideration, but he really didn't have the type of season everyone was expecting. His slow start to the season caused some uproar within the fan base.