The NFL's Most Uncertain QB Situations Heading into 2011
While there are always a bunch of teams with quarterback issues going into any NFL offseason, the 2010 campaign has revealed that more than one third of the league's teams have serious questions at the quarterback position as the season comes to a close.
Fortunately, the upcoming NFL Draft has one of the deepest quarterback pools in years, so a lot of teams will have their quarterback question answered, at least for the 2011 season.
So let's examine each team with a quarterback issue and what they might do.
Teams That Solved Their Issue
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I recently did a piece on the big picture in the NFL concerning quarterbacks and how Tim Tebow, Cam Newton and other QBs can bail out needy teams in 2011.
Of the teams in that piece, you can cross the Browns and the Eagles off of this particular list.
The Browns have named Colt McCoy the starting quarterback for the rest of the season and unless disaster strikes, you can expect him to be the starter coming out of camp next year.
The Eagles are going to sign Michael Vick and trade Kevin Kolb, so that issue is settled as well.
Now on to the teams with big issues.
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The Seattle Seahawks have Matt Hasselbeck and the 16th-ranked passing game in the NFL.
Head coach Pete Carroll passed on drafting a quarterback in 2010, but Hasselbeck is now 35 and the Seahawks' depth chart consists of Charlie Whitehurst and J.P. Losman.
While the Seahawks could get another year out of Hasselbeck, they need to upgrade their offensive line and give Hasselbeck more weapons.
They also need to draft a young quarterback, but they don't necessarily have to try and grab one in the first two rounds.
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Carson Palmer has been having a pretty bad year and a lot of people think it's time for the Bengals to cut ties with him and move on.
The problem is we only know what we don't know.
We don't know how much of Palmer's troubles stem from the injuries to his knee and elbow over the years and how much may be from Marvin Lewis' lousy coaching.
A new coach usually means a new quarterback, but we also don't know how attached owner Mike Brown is to Palmer. Palmer may get one more shot under a new regime that thinks it may be able to fix him.
The Bengals also have rookie Dan LeFevour, who still could develop into a legitimate starting quarterback if given the opportunity.
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What is Mike Shanahan going to do? Will he even be the coach next year?
With the team playing as badly as it is and Shanahan's losses when it comes to the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth situations, it's a fair question.
McNabb just signed a new contract, but there's an escape clause for the Redskins for next year. That being said, there are rumors that Shanahan may once again bench McNabb, who has been inconsistent all year.
McNabb is no spring chicken, but Rex Grossman is a backup quarterback for a reason.
The Redskins probably are going to draft a quarterback next year. The question is whom and in what round?
UPDATE: McNabb has been benched for the rest of the season and Shanahan is evaluating the rest of the quarterbacks.
My instant read on this is the Redskins probably will try and trade McNabb before cutting him, but McNabb will not be back in Washington next year, of that I'm pretty sure of.
So it's a draft pick for the Redskins as I find it doubtful at this point they're going to trade again.
This is assuming Shanahan also is around for the 2011 campaign as well, which is no guarantee at this point.
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If Jason Campbell were the quarterback of the future for the Raiders, Bruce Gradkowski wouldn't have gotten all those starts.
The only reason Campbell is in there now is that Gradkowski got hurt. But Gradkowski's career is just about over and Kyle Boller certainly isn't a viable starter in the NFL.
The Raiders traded away their first-round draft pick for 2011 to the Patriots, so it's more likely the Raiders will try and find another quarterback in free agency in 2011, or perhaps through another trade.
The sky is the limit right now as far as options and it's up to the Raiders to take advantage of those options.
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Vince Young and head coach Jeff Fisher are on the outs and that relationship may be beyond fixing. However, Titans owner Bud Adams reportedly wants the two men to patch things up and put Young back in as the starter in 2011.
In my opinion, that will be a complete disaster for the Titans, as Young has never shown he's mature enough to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. At his age and level of experience, it's doubtful things are going to change.
The Titans look like they're going to keep Vince Young and that will just lead to another year of inconsistent play and another year of missing the playoffs.
The only difference is that Fisher will probably walk.
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Not only has Ryan Fitzpatrick thrown himself into the possible starters' mix for next year in Buffalo, but he's probably also thrown the Bills out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
If Luck isn't on the board when the Bills draft, they'll probably hold off until the second round to get a quarterback and see if Fitzpatrick can give them another year of good fantasy stats.
Chan Gailey has exceeded expectations as, even in their losses, the Bills have looked better than any analyst predicted last summer.
San Francisco 49ers
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Alex Smith is inconsistent and that's just all there is to say when you try and encapsulate his career. Smith is just as likely to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns as he is to throw for 150 yards and three picks.
So the 49ers turned to Troy Smith for a few games and he gave the offense a real spark the first few weeks before sputtering out.
The question the 49ers have to answer in the offseason is if their problems come down to coaching, or if it's time to make personnel changes again.
This is a question that is very difficult to answer until the 49ers answer the coaching question. If they bring in a new coach, then that coach will bring in his own quarterback and that will end both Smiths' time in San Francisco, most likely.
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The Miami Dolphins thought they had their quarterback issues resolved this year, but Chad Henne hasn't provided the kind of leadership they were looking for and Chad Pennington's career may be over.
The question is what the Dolphins want to do about it, whether they think there's a first-round quarterback worth taking that still may be on the board when they pick, or if they try and trade up or hope the guy they like is still there for the taking in the second round.
The Dolphins may try and trade for a quarterback as well. The only thing I would bet on is that Henne won't be the starting quarterback for the Dolphins in 2011.
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Right now, Joe Webb is scheduled to get the start in the Vikings' Monday night game against the Bears. Webb is not the quarterback of the future, unless he somehow comes out and stuns the Bears. Even then, all he does is get a shot at the starting job next year.
After the season is over, you can actually count on Brett Favre retiring. And if Tarvaris Jackson was the quarterback of the future for Minnesota, Favre wouldn't have been in the mix this year.
The Vikings are going to have to draft a quarterback and, no matter who the head coach ends up being, there's no getting around that.
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John Skelton will play a role in the Cardinals' offseason plans, but where he'll sit on next year's depth chart can't be speculated on until training camp opens.
Derek Anderson is history, unless head coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to lose his job. Max Hall proved he just wasn't ready to be the starter yet, but that's no guarantee for next year.
The Cardinals are going to end up trading for or drafting a new quarterback next year and then the debate can begin on who is going to be taking the first-team snaps come training camp.
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Jimmy Clausen has shown no pocket presence, poor vision, no feel for where the receivers are going to be and nothing resembling the skills needed to be an effective starting quarterback in the NFL.
Colt McCoy has shown more in less time with about the same amount of talent, or lack thereof, so that pretty much should tell you all you need to know about Clausen.
He's already fighting with his teammates and was called out by Steve Smith after last Sunday's game. With a new coach coming in and with the tape of Clausen's performance to review, it's probably the end of Clausen's starting career for the immediate future.
Clausen may develop into an effective backup one day, but since the Panthers didn't spend first round money on him, it makes the decision to move on that much easier.
Plus, the Panthers still have Tony Pike, so they have lots of backup options.
Now we just have to wait and see if the Panthers decide to take Andrew Luck with the first pick in the draft.
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The new coach of the Denver Broncos has to be on board with Tim Tebow because the Broncos have too much invested in him to cut him, and no other team is going to be remotely interested in trading for Tebow at the price the Broncos will ask.
Kyle Orton may end up moving on again because, other than the last two weeks, he's had a very good year on a team that was ravaged by injuries in training camp.
Tebow has been getting more reps in practice this week and it's possible we'll see Tebow starting a game before the end of the season.
How Tebow performs will go a long way in determining what the Broncos do with him and Orton in the offseason.