NFL Team-By-Team Quarterback Landscape
With Brett Favre once again being the storyline of the offseason, as well as evident flirtations between himself and the Minnesota Vikings, it brings up an interesting topic.
The thought is that if he were to go to Minnesota, he would instantly upgrade their weakest and most important position by giving them a solid veteran with a proven track record.
With franchise QB's at a premium, let us take a look around the league to see just how many of them are out there, and which teams will trot out onto the field every Sunday in spite of who goes under center.
The Jay Cutler soap opera has left them with a hole at the position with the Pro-Bowl QB crying and whining his way to Chicago.
But Josh McDaniels at least seems to be high on Kyle Orton on the surface, which should help Orton’s confidence a bit.
However, neither Orton nor backup Chris Simms will scare any opponents this season.
Kansas City Chiefs
A blockbuster trade for a guy who has started 15 games in the last eight years seems like a risky move, but Scott Pioli knows what he is doing, and Cassell is a natural leader with a good background.
The trade of Tony Gonzalez will hurt Kansas City’s passing game, but at least they have a solid game manager in Cassell, but if he goes down, the Chiefs are in BIG trouble.
Entering his second season as a full-time starter, JaMarcus Russell needs to validate Al Davis’ decision to make him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft.
He showed some promise in Tom Cable’s run-heavy offense at the end of last season, but consistency and decision-making are the biggest question marks with his skill set.
Journeyman veteran Jeff Garcia has shown to be a great mentor so far in Oakland, and his ability to push Russell should show the league what Oakland really has at the QB position.
San Diego Chargers
Phillip Rivers has grown into the Quarterback position in San Diego with few obstacles, and he is clearly the cream of the crop in terms of AFC West QBs.
With key offensive pieces Gates and Tomlinson fading a bit, it will be up to Rivers to lead this offense for many years to come.
He will be tested more now than ever, but he looks to be up to the task.
With Kurt Warner enjoying yet another career resurgence in a different uniform, the Cardinals are in a “win now” situation coming off the heels of a very surprising Super Bowl appearance.
With Warner likely to retire within the next year or two, can Matt Leinart buckle down and show he can lead this team into the future?
It hasn’t looked overly promising now, but Leinart will have some very nice offensive weapons at his disposal if and when he is able to take the reins.
San Francisco 49ers
Neither QB in the “open competition” has been enthusiastically endorsed by the organization, which is a bad sign for them.
Shaun Hill will likely be the starter come Week 1, but if he struggles, then Alex Smith will likely receive his final shot both with the organization, and with the league.
Damon Huard is just there to hold a clipboard and teach the other guys what he can, but the QB position is a big question mark going forward for this organization.
Surprisingly confident in their QB position on draft day, it is of note that Seattle didn’t take Sanchez as widely believed.
Coming off numerous nagging back injuries, Hasselbeck might not have too much left in him, and Seneca Wallace is not a long-term answer.
New coach Jim Mora has his work cut out for him, and may be hoping for one of Bradford/Tebow/McCoy to be available come next year’s draft.
St. Louis Rams
With a new coaching regime and the plummeting stock of Marc Bulger, it’s a wonder the team didn’t attempt to do more to improve the position. With concussions and injuries an issue for Bulger in recent years, newly-signed backup Kyle Boller may get to do a lot more playing and a lot less clipboard holding, which isn’t a very promising sign. Being in the same position as Seattle at the position, it will be interesting to see how new coach Steve Spagnuolo addresses the position after this season.
The Bills made arguably the most surprising move of the offseason, by snatching up diva castoff WR Terrell Owens, and giving QB Trent Edwards an interesting new target. However, if things go sour up in Buffalo, expect some more fireworks from Owens, and his not-so-subtle calls for backup Ryan Fitzpatrick to start up. Should be an interesting year in Buffalo, but Edwards is a smart kid with plenty of offensive firepower to work with.
Chad Pennington had a storybook resurgence in 2008-2009, but only has a year left on his current contract and doesn’t appear to fit-in with the Dolphins’ plans after this season. Expect Chad Henne to be worked into the lineup as the season progresses, but if he doesn’t show promise, the Dolphins will be in the market for a franchise-type QB a year from now.
New England Patriots
Not even a question until last season, but when healthy, Tom Brady is arguably the best QB on the league’s best team. The Patriots must feel very confident in his recovery from major knee surgery to ship Matt Cassell to Kansas City, and with the offensive weapons Brady has to work with, it should be a fairly easy transition back into the game.
With seldom-used backups Kevin O’Connell and Matt Gutierrez the only other options on the roster, the Patriots seem to be their usual confident selves. And with a (hopefully) healthy Tom Brady under center, they have every right to be.
New York Jets
A high/risk high reward move to help make the team and the fans forget about the failed Brett Favre experiment from a year ago, the Jets made a big splash by trading up in the draft to take Mark Sanchez. He has had some very solid mini-camp practices and has a good head on his shoulders, but how will he take the pressure of the New York media and the fans while being thrown into the fire right away? Kellen Clemens thinks he’s the man, but with GM Mike Tannenbaum’s job on the line, Sanchez will have his work cut out for him.
The casual fan would think that with T.O. gone, Tony Romo will finally be able to play stress and worry-free. But losing the team’s biggest playmaker is going to hurt the team, there’s no doubt about that. Everyone knows TE Jason Whitten can make plays, but can Roy Williams step in and be a legitimate #1 WR for these Cowboys?
With the most pressure in the league on his shoulders, another subpar season and no playoffs in Dallas can be Romo’s swan song wearing the Star. Otherwise, the team will have to rely on journeyman veteran Jon Kitna to pick this team up, and that’s rarely a good sign.
New York Giants
Eli Manning has really only put together one half of a truly productive NFL regular season, and won a Super Bowl. His biggest weapon shot himself off of the team and maybe out of the league, so Eli will really have his newly found leadership skills put to the test with a flock of young new Wide Receivers. And that O-line better make sure he stays upright, because backup David Carr surely won’t.
The drama has lived in Philly as long as Donovan has been their QB. A connection? Most definitely. With everything on the line for the best QB to not have a Super Bowl ring, McNabb and Andy Reid have one last shot at it all this season, otherwise it will be time to take the training wheels off of Kevin Kolb.
With Jason Campbell being brought up just as often as Jay Cutler has this offseason, it will be a wonder if Campbell can and will want to produce in Washington after the team failed to “upgrade” the position. One slip-up and it could be Todd Collins time. Or Colt Brennan Time. Or Chase Daniel time. See where the problem is?
Joe Flacco had the starting job fall into his lap because of several injuries and illnesses a year ago, and he did pretty well with it in a simplified offense. I guess when your defense it that good, it is easy to pull the QB position of by handing the ball of 25-30 times a game and working in the occasional deep pass or trick play. Probably not a better situation in the league for a young QB, but Flacco can and will need to improve steadily to give this team the franchise QB they have been looking for.
The good sign in Cincinnati? Carson Palmer is healthy and ready to challenge Brad Manning, and Brees for best QB in the league. The bad sign in Cincinnati? There’s not a whole lot else there to work with, having some talent in the form of a diva WR (Chad Ochocinco), a castoff WR (Laveranues Coles), and a choppy running game.
If Palmer’s nagging injuries are more serious than everyone thinks, and he hasn’t fully healed, then JT O’Sullivan (ugh) is the only other option. No pressure Carson, but this season, and many people’s jobs, ride on your health.
How’s the saying go, “if you have two QB’s then you have zero QB’s?” If that holds true, then Browns fans are in for a long season. But Brady Quinn showed flashes of promise and was slightly better than Derek Anderson (that isn’t really saying much) in his 3 starts before suffering a broken finger on his throwing hand, and the job seems to be his to lose. Then again, the overall lack of talent throughout the roster mixed with a new and questionable coaching regime could put Cleveland back into the QB market at the end of the season.
Big Ben Roethlisberger coming off of Super Bowl win #2 and seems to be healthy and hungry for more. With everything on Pittsburgh’s roster very solid aside from the most important position group (Offensive line), Big Ben may be running for his life a little more than usual. But if the patchwork unit can mesh well and keep him upright, Pittsburgh will be playing well into the New Year (again) and Big Ben will do even more to make Steelers’ fans forget the name Terry Bradshaw.
Jay Cutler will have his work cut out for him with the much tougher defenses that reside in his new division, but he got what he wanted when he was shipped out of Denver. Will he use this new season to try to prove his former team wrong, or will he fold under the immense amount of pressure he has put himself under? Should be an interesting season in Chicago, but Cutler gives them the first legitimate franchise QB the team has had in over a quarter century.
Matt Stafford, welcome to the NFL, and oh yeah, the team that just gave you $41.7 million guaranteed to save their franchise, finished last season as the first 0-16 team in league history. Learn what you can from Daunte Culpepper while you can, because you will be expected to be inserted under Center, and to perform well at some point in year one. I hope you are up to the task.
Green Bay Packers
With Aaron Rodgers hopefully and finally able to escape the shadow of Brett Favre in Green Bay, he has the skill set and the offensive tools to succeed in the league. If he crumbles, untested and unheralded Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn sit behind him on the depth chart. No pressure Aaron, just keep your TD/INT ratio above 1-1, and you can begin to let Green Bay fans forget about good ole #4.
I said I wouldn’t mention Favre here, but Sage Rosenfels, Tarvaris Jackson, and John David Booty kind of make that impossible. If/when Brett Favre ends the charade and signs with the Vikings, they will have a one-year window to win it all, otherwise, it’s back to square one at the QB position.
Replacing solid backup Sage Rosenfels with Dan “I thought this was the CFL” Orlovsky seems like quite a setback behind incumbent starter Matt Schaub. But with Coach Gary Kubiak and Matt Schaub in their make-or-break year in Houston (year 3), it will be playoffs or bust for at least one of these two. But Schaub has one of the best WR’s in the league in Andre Johnson, so they should be ok.
With Peyton Manning under Center, the Colts will always have a chance, but with a supporting cast that is somewhat fading, and a new head coach, things may not be so easy in Indianapolis as they have been for the last seven or so years. Peyton Manning will play as long as they will let him, so Colts’ fans don’t have to worry about the QB position for quite a while.
David Garrard learned last year just how difficult it is to play behind no Offensive line and throw it to stone-handed WR’s. With the additions of OT Eugene Monroe (draft) and WR Torry Holt (free agency), Garrard will have an easier time shopping his craft. But if ’09 is a repeat of ’08, Garrard may go the way of Byron Leftwich.
With Vince Young blowing his chance at NFL stardom, Kerry Collins had little problem taking the reins and leading the Titans into the playoffs last season. But another one-and-done season in Tennessee, and they may have a lot more to address than just the QB position.
If the Falcons can build off of last season, keeping Matt Ryan relatively upright while he went on to a stellar rookie campaign, then the team will be just fine. Matt Ryan is their guy at franchise QB, but if anything happens to him, Chris Redman will have the Falcons’ fans clamoring for answers. The addition of TE Tony Gonzalez and the emergence of WR Roddy White should make things a bit easier for Matt Ryan though, as he guides this team for many years to come.
Panthers’ ownership wanted to make QB Jake Delhomme forget about his disastrous playoff game against the seemingly much weaker Arizona Cardinals by giving him a huge back-loaded deal. But if ’09 resembles ’08, the Panthers will be shopping for a new QB a year from now, and backup Josh McCown won’t have any say in the matter.
New Orleans Saints
With Drew Brees at QB and a much-improved defense, the Saints should have Super Bowl aspirations. Keep Brees upright, and those dreams can live on, because backups Mark Brunell and Joey Harrington shouldn’t be doing anything other than wearing headsets and holding clipboards.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Gruden running things, the Buccaneers stockpiled as many QB’s as they could fit on the roster. With Raheem Morris taking over for the fired Gruden, the team still seems to have just as many QB’s. Jeff Garcia wasn’t re-signed for reasons unknown, and the team is taking a BIG risk on raw Kansas State product Josh Freeman, but the team still believes in quantity over quality, with Byron Leftwich, Josh Johnson, Luke McCown, and Brian Griese filling out the depth chart at the position. Something tells me this team may be looking for an actual “franchise” QB two years from now, but I hope Josh Freeman proves me and his many skeptical critics wrong.
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