2010 NFL Predictions: Will Teams With a New QB Sink Or Swim in 2010?
It's the position that represents the consummate team leader.
It's the position that's more important to the team—nay, the sport—than any other position in any other sport. They are often the face of the franchise.
That’s why there’s such a high premium on top-tier quarterbacks.
As usual, many teams that were less than satisfied with their quarterback play last year made moves to change their fortunes at that position. This is a list of the teams that made significant additions or suffered a significant loss at quarterback, and my take on whether they will sink or swim in 2010.
Arizona Cardinals—Derek Anderson/Matt Leinart
What’s there to like about transitioning from a Super Bowl-winning, former MVP, future Hall of Fame quarterback to...Matt Leinart or Derek Anderson?
Both quarterbacks have had opportunities in the past, with limited success. Not only are they both far less talented than Warner, but whomever is starting won’t have Anquan Boldin to throw to.
Of course, they’ll still have Larry Fitzgerald and a solid run game, but with a defense that’s still suspect, the pressure may still be there to air it out. Are either Leinart or Anderson to be trusted throwing the ball as often as Warner?
Carolina Panthers—Matt Moore/Jimmy Clausen
The starting job is Moore's to lose, but something gives me the feeling he won't. He quickly helped the Panthers forget about the awful start to their season and begin looking forward to 2010.
The competition that Jimmy Clausen’s presence creates, though, should motivate Moore and push him to the peak of his potential.
Either will benefit from a good offensive line and running game behind them, and if the defense can continue its end-of-year success in holding opponents to low-scoring games, there will be absolutely no pressure on whoever gets the nod.
Denver Broncos—Brady Quinn/Tim Tebow
There's a stable of quarterbacks suiting up in Denver, but it's full of ponies. It seems to be Kyle Orton’s job to lose in Denver; Brady Quinn was pulled after three games in 2010, and didn't contribute much to wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Odds are fairly high that Tim Tebow will watch for a year at least before he starts.
The pressure will be on whoever is declared starter to perform early and not to fade down the stretch. If that person doesn't play well throughout, their job could be in jeopardy.
And whoever gets that job will get it without Brandon Marshall, the team's leading receiver for the past three seasons.
Cleveland Browns—Jake Delhomme/Colt McCoy
I don’t doubt that the Browns will still be a losing team and that they probably won’t do much better than their 5-11 2009 campaign. Neither do I think that Delhomme is the guy that can pull the Browns out of the dregs on his own.
He is, however, a much better candidate for the job than either Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson was. He has the veteran leadership the Browns need sorely, and can act as a mentor for third-round selection Colt McCoy.
Plus, it’s better that Delhomme start instead of McCoy while the Browns sort out the disarray of the past decade.
Oakland Raiders—Jason Campbell
Campbell spent the first four seasons of his career learning two new offenses. Now, he gets to play in a system that plays to his strengths as a deep passer. The Raiders have also been building their offensive line, a chore which the Redskins never deemed important during Campbell’s tenure in Washington.
If the supporting cast can step up, Campbell is poised for a breakout season in 2010. The Raiders may not dominate all their competition in 2010, but they are much better off with Campbell, and vice versa.
It’s August 2 and surprise surprise, Brett Favre still hasn’t announced whether he’ll return or retire. The good money is on him coming back, but all NFL teams need to be prepared for anything, right?
Not the Vikings; they still feature Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels as Favre’s backups, and passed up an opportunity to draft Jimmy Clausen.
I'm not saying this because I think Favre won't return, but more just as a reminder that the window is closing for Minnesota, but it's almost closed if Favre doesn't return.
Philadelphia Eagles—Kevin Kolb
It’s hard to follow in the footsteps of a legend, but Kolb obviously has a vote of confidence from the front office and coaching staff, and even DeSean Jackson has stepped up in defense of his new quarterback.
The votes of confidence will mean nothing, though, when the game begins. He’s effective in terms of yardage when his teammates are the ones reeling in the ball, but he needs to eliminate the nasty habit of throwing to the wrong jerseys.
The jury is still out on how Kolb will turn out in the long run, but it's safe to bet on a step backward for the Eagles in 2010.
St. Louis Rams—AJ Feeley/Sam Bradford
While Marc Bulger surely wasn’t the sole reason for the demise of the Rams, his presence carried the memory of painful times for the organization. It’ll be up to either Feeley or Bradford to be the new face of the franchise for 2010
It’s unclear who will start, but the primary goal is the development of Sam Bradford. In this case, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Either way, the Rams are looking forward, and will surely be better for it. Things can’t get much worse than in the Rams’ recent past.
But I better not say that too loudly; the 0-16 Lions might have something to say about that.
Washington Redskins—Donovan McNabb
Adding McNabb at quarterback plays to the strengths of Washington’s receiving corps. Devin Thomas and Santana Moss are both good deep receivers who will love McNabb’s arm strength.
He’s completed 133 passes to tight ends over the past two years, and will have two great weapons at tight end in Chris Cooley and Fred Davis to make use of.
Eagles fans will sorely miss McNabb, and they’ll realize exactly how much on October 3, 2010 when he makes his return to Lincoln Financial Field.