The Vikings may need to replace Christian Ponder in order to take the next step.
The 2013 NFL season is approaching at a rapid pace, and the landscape of the NFL could look quite different with its arrival considering a quarter of the league has an issue at the quarterback position.
An NFL franchise with an inefficient or subpar quarterback can ruin a season quickly, and that was the case for several teams in 2012. A team can have a top-flight defense and great running game, but a quarterback who makes mistakes and cannot throw down the field will sink a season.
Fortunately for the eight teams with quarterback deficiencies, the 2013 NFL draft and free-agency period offer many options at the position. Both long-term solutions and immediate upgrades are available in both.
Let's take a moment to power rank the eight NFL franchises that most need a change of scenery at the quarterback position heading into the 2013 NFL season.
Mark Sanchez is not the long-term solution in New York.
The New York Jets had one of the worst passing offense in the NFL a year ago, and that will not change in 2013 until the reins are taken from quarterback Mark Sanchez.
According to ProFootballFocus, Sanchez was the second-worst quarterback overall in the NFL in 2012. He completed just over 54 percent of his passes and threw only 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Chalk it up to a lack of weapons and a legitimate running game, but last year showed Sanchez does not have what it takes to elevate the talent around him like a quality franchise quarterback would.
The Jets have a variety of holes throughout the roster or they would be ranked higher on this list. The draft and free agency are key to rebuilding the roster, and Sanchez's $58 million deal will be hard to shake. Sanchez needs to be replaced, but the Jets may have dug their own hole too deep.
Carson Palmer has failed to turn the Raiders around and could be cut.
The Oakland Raiders failed to surround quarterback Carson Palmer with quality in 2012, and the team suffered as a result.
Palmer will this offseason as well, with reports surfacing that the team has no intention of paying his $13 million salary and will instead cut him (h/t Jason La Canfora, CBS).
On paper, Palmer was not horrible in 2012. He threw for over 4,000 yards and connected with his targets for 22 touchdowns, all while dealing with 39 dropped passes according to ProFootballFocus.
The time is now for Oakland to find a new franchise quarterback. The Raiders hold the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft and should look to use it on a name like Geno Smith.
There are plenty of holes on the roster, but with the franchise intent on moving on from Palmer, now would be a good time to address the position.
John Skelton helped orchestrate one of the NFL's worst offenses in 2012.
The Arizona Cardinals utilized a triple-headed monster at the quarterback position in 2012 to laughable results. Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley combined to create the worst passing offense in the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus.
New head coach Bruce Arians is likely going to want to bring in his own franchise quarterback, but that may prove difficult with the Cardinals having only the No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. By the time that pick rolls around, the top prospects could be gone.
Arians could look to pick up a veteran to hold over for a year, or wait until the mid-rounds of the draft to replace the nightmare trio.
Either way, one thing is for sure—there is no reason for bad quarterback play in Arizona with an elite receiver like Larry Fitzgerald on the roster. Arizona needs an answer at quarterback badly, and Arians' job depends on him finding it.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may have played his last game as a starter in Buffalo.
Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be the starter for the Buffalo Bills in 2013 if offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's lack of commitment to him with the media is any indication (h/t Jay Skurski, Buffalo News).
The lack of commitment from the organization makes sense. According to ProFootballFocus, Fitzpatrick was the fourth-worst quarterback in the NFL last year as he threw for only 3,400 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Buffalo has a vast array of talent on the offensive side of the football thanks to the likes of receiver Stevie Johnson and explosive running back C.J. Spiller.
The organization has to be thinking of finding Fitzpatrick's replacement with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. Buffalo has some solid talent in place but needs a capable quarterback to take it to the next level in 2013.
Chad Henne was not much better than Blaine Gabbert in 2013.
The Jacksonville Jaguars moved on from supposed franchise quarterback Blaine Gabbert last year after he was injured.
The man they turned to, journeyman Chad Henne, was not much better.
In fact, Henne wound up worse than Gabbert overall in ProFootballFocus' overall 2012 quarterback rankings.
If a report by draftinsider is to be believed, the Jaguars may give Gabbert one more year as the starter before moving on to greener pastures. This is the same Gabbert who completed just 58 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards in over 300 dropbacks in 2012.
Jacksonville holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, so the report that Gabbert will get another year under center could be a smokescreen.
Jaguars fans had better hope it is.
Brandon Weeden will have competition for his starting spot leading up to the 2013 season.
The Cleveland Browns spent an early pick on Brandon Weeden in last year's draft despite him already being 29 years old. Now, it sounds as if the Browns would be willing to move on from the questionable investment.
According to Mary Kay Cabot via Twitter, the Browns plan on having competition for Weeden this offseason. This could mean a rookie (Cleveland holds the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft) or a veteran providing the competition.
It also means Weeden could be out of a job if the new management does not see anything it likes.
According to ProFootballFocus, Weeden was the worst quarterback in the NFL a year ago. It is a shame, because the Browns are close to a playoff berth with a better quarterback. There is an outstanding defense in place, a promising receiver in Josh Gordon and a franchise running back in Trent Richardson.
The weak link to said berth is Weeden.
Matt Cassel's time in Kansas City may be running out despite a new head coach taking over.
The Kansas City Chiefs are lucky enough to hold the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL draft, which is great news, because Matt Cassel has not got it done for the franchise.
In fact, the Chiefs may have the most talented offense in the league on paper outside of the quarterback position. The offense has a franchise receiver in Dwayne Bowe (who is set to hit free agency) and one of the NFL's best running backs in Jamaal Charles.
2012 saw Cassel complete only 58 percent of his passes and throw six touchdowns to 12 interceptions when he was healthy enough to be on the field.
According to Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star, head coach Andy Reid is still evaluating Cassel as a starting quarterback. It is the nice thing to say, but a quarterback guru like Reid knows that the body of work Cassel has given the Chiefs over the past four years is not cutting it.
The Chiefs need a new starting quarterback in the worst way, and Reid will deliver.
Is Christian Ponder truly capable of leading the Vikings to a Super Bowl?
According to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Minnesota Vikings are in no way looking to create competition for quarterback Christian Ponder.
The problem is, the franchise probably should be.
Ponder was horrendous last year, as noted by his bottom-five ranking in ProFootballFocus' quarterback rankings. He completed 60 percent of his passes for almost 3,000 yards and added 18 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.
The problem for Ponder was his inability to complete a pass down the field. He averaged just six yards per completion and at times seemed afraid and unable to push the ball vertically. This allowed defenses to craft a game plan that shut him down and focused on running back Adrian Peterson (not that it stopped Peterson).
Minnesota made the playoffs last year but was without Ponder due to injury. So far in his two-year career, Ponder has failed to elevate his level of play past the game-manager category. He has a chance to improve over the next few years, but with a team as talented as the Vikings, is it worth the wait?