7 Quarterbacks Under the Most Pressure in 2011

Nick McAndrews@@NickMcAndrewsCorrespondent IIISeptember 3, 2011

7 Quarterbacks Under the Most Pressure in 2011

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    Quarterback is the most important position in American sports and therefore comes with the most stress.

    Being the QB also entails being the emotional leader of the offense and sometimes the whole team.

    In the NFL, a starting QB has to be more than just an athlete, they have to be the total package to survive not just the opposing defenses, but the press and the fans as well.

    If a team doesn't have a franchise quarterback, they are nothing. That being said, if you are the franchise quarterback, you are everything.

    Those kind of expectations come with a lot of pressure, the kind you truly have to be a mental heavyweight just to handle on a daily basis.

    Here's a countdown of the seven quarterbacks under the most pressure in 2011.

7. Aaron Rodgers

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    Aaron Rodgers has been on the top of the world since winning Super Bowl XLV and being voted Super Bowl MVP. He's spent the offseason doing everything a Champion QB would do: going to Disney World, appearing in front of every form of media possible and getting all of the attention.

    So why in the world is her under pressure then, Nick?

    The Green Bay Packers have been predicted since the day after Super Bowl XLV to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. They seem to be the pick to go all the way again because of "how deep they are at every position."

    This embarrassment of riches will show whether or not the Packers can live up to the expectations.

    Aaron Rodgers, being the team's franchise QB and widely considered an elite quarterback in the NFL, will have to live up to the expectations he set for himself in 2010.

    He may think that 2011 will be a piece of cake, but then again I'm sure Drew Brees thought the same thing about 2010.

6. Tony Romo

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    Tony Romo is rejoining the Dallas Cowboys really for the first time in about two seasons. Injuries have kept him sidelined in recent years, but owner Jerry Jones has not lost faith in his franchise QB, at least not yet.

    Along with a history of injuries, Romo has a history of choking in the playoffs.

    With a new head coach and a team full of very capable players, the Cowboys are poised to make a run for a playoff spot. Fans seem to believe that the 'Boys can still be one of the top teams in the NFL, but without a qualified play-caller, they are doomed to miss the playoffs for another year.

    Tony Romo will be under immense pressure to not only stay healthy, but to win games and make a playoff push.

    He doesn't have much time left to prove to the Cowboys and the fans that he can be a winner in Dallas. He must answer some pretty hefty questions this season to stay a starter, or he might be on his way out of Big D before 2012.

5. Jay Cutler

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    Jay Cutler could've been where Aaron Rodgers is right now, but he couldn't hold it together in 2010. The Chicago Bears were one of the best teams in the NFL but lost in a horrific upset in the NFC Championship to their arch-rival Green Bay Packers.

    Cutler went down with an injury late in the game, throwing backup Caleb Hanie to the wolves wearing Green and Yellow.

    At this time, Cutler could be seen yucking it up on the sidelines with his teammates, all the while his team was losing grip on the road to Super Bowl XLV.

    Over his career, Jay Cutler has been criticized by the media pretty heavily. The pressure exerted on him has resulted in some public breakdowns, earning him names like "Crybaby Cutler."

    Jay Cutler will not only be under the pressure to bring Chicago back to the level they were in 2010 but to get the media off his back and prove that he is tough enough to lead an NFL team.

4. Matthew Stafford

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    Matthew Stafford has been given a few years to prove that he is the future in Detroit. The Lions have nothing but faith in the young QB, but unfortunately he's had nothing but injuries.

    I think the thing I hear the most from Lions fans is that, "If Stafford was healthy, we'd be a great team."

    I'd be inclined to agree with Lions fans, but the guy hasn't stayed healthy long enough to even finish an NFL season. There's no way of telling whether or not this guy can be a franchise QB, when in reality he should be on a billboard for a physical therapy center.

    The Lions have a good group of players this season. They've improved as a team every year for quite a while now, but in the end, it comes down to whether or not Stafford can be a leader for this team.

    It's a well known fact that he can be a leader off the field, he certainly has the respect of his fans and his teammates, but he won't have the faith of the rest of the NFL and its fans until he can prove he can make it through a season. He can't go another season being fragile like your mom's china cabinet.

    (On a side note, I was trying to choose pictures that made the QBs look stressed, but this one was just too funny to not use.)

3. Donovan McNabb

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    Donovan McNabb may be all smiles in this picture, but that could change very soon. He seems to be comfortable in Minnesota so far, but he has inherited an offense that doesn't have many receiving targets.

    It will be nice that he has Adrian Peterson as a safety net, but he's going to have to throw the ball eventually and needs someone who can catch the ball.

    McNabb was given a new lease on life after a failed stint in Washington. He was 2010s most criticized quarterback and with this new chance at success, he will have to prove he still has something left in the tank.

    Because of the success Brett Favre had with the Vikings in 2009, McNabb automatically is under the pressure to have some degree of the same success. Maybe those are some unfair expectations, but that's the way it is.

    The fans want to see first-round draft pick Christian Ponder to take the field, and the Vikings will have no problem getting their rookie some experience if McNabb doesn't work out.

    This could be Donovan McNabb's last shot at being an NFL starter, he'll be under immense pressure to keep his job and show that, at his age, he can still play.

2. Kevin Kolb

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    Kevin Kolb was the trade-prize of 2011. Buying him off the Philadelphia Eagles cost the Arizona Cardinals a top cornerback and a nice draft pick.

    Kolb spent 2010 in Michael Vick's shadow after being named the starter and then going down on injury with a concussion courtesy of Clay Matthews.

    Kolb was considered the best "available" QB going into 2010 but really hasn't proved anything as an NFL starter.

    He'll be under a ton of pressure to prove that he can be the QB the Cardinals desperately need this season.

    (By the way, what's the deal with the segway in his picture? I mean I knew the guy was getting PAID, but isn't that a little excessive?)

1. Michael Vick

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    Michael Vick was the comeback story of the NFL in 2010. He went from being a jailbird to the top Bird in Philadelphia.

    Vick, who was a fantasy football standout, led the NFL in points for his work through the air and on the ground.

    In 2010, the Eagles seemed to be on the fast track to the Super Bowl, but their plans were derailed by the eventual Champion Green Bay Packers.

    This off-season, the Eagles put together a solid squad, already labeled a "dream team." That is a dangerous claim in pro sports.

    With the kind of talent around him and the expectations by the media and fans, Michael Vick may be under the most pressure of any QB in the NFL. Topping his 2010 production will be extremely difficult, but that is what he must accomplish if he wants to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.


    Thanks for reading.

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