The most important position in football is obviously Quarterback, the guy who gets the pigskin to start off every offensive play, yet it seems that about half of the NFL’s teams are in constant need of solid and consistent play at the spot. So, what teams are still in need of QB consistency heading into the 2015 NFL Season?
It’s definitely no coincidence that the teams that consistently make it to the NFL Playoffs and end up winning Super Bowls in recent seasons have really good starting QBs, decent depth at the position and almost revolve around their signal callers like planets do around their suns. The last 12 Super Bowl champions have all had great QBs leading them—the Patriots with Tom Brady (3); the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger (2); the Giants with Eli Manning (2); the Colts with Eli’s big brother Peyton Manning (1); the Ravens with Joe Flacco (1), the Seahawks with Russell Wilson (1); and, the Packers with Aaron Rodgers (1)—and odds are a team with a star QB will again be representing both the AFC and the NFC (NFC -130 to win Super Bowl, Bovada) in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium In Santa Clara on February 7. And, it’s certainly no coincidence that a beyond healthy number of teams on this list are also on the Season Team Win Totals Under picks we looked at here yesterday at Sportsbook Review, while the teams that do have some security and less stress at the QB position like the Green Bay Packers (Week 1 Odds: Packers -4½ at Bears, Total: 50½, GTBets) with Aaron Rodgers and the Seattle Seahawks (Week 1 Odds: Seahawks -3½ -105 at Rams, Total: 43½, GTBets) with Russell Wilson being two of the teams picked to back in our Season Team Win Totals Over story from Wednesday.
So, let’s see who needs help at QB in the NFL now, knowing that even if you draft or have a perceived Big Name QB in the NFL right now, that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re secure at the position. Some pretty potentially talented teams in the NFL are now suffering from the decisions their Big Name and highly paid QBs make on the gridiron, while others, like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted Florida State QB and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston with the #1 overall pick and the Tennessee Titans (Week 1 Odds: Buccaneers -2½ vs. Titans, Total: 42, GTBets), who selected Oregon QB and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota with the #2 overall pick, still can’t claim that they don’t need QBs because they—and we—have no idea how their highly anticipated careers will play out in the NFL. Those who place NFL picks know that names and hype don’t mean squat, results do. Just because you plop a brand new engine into the body of automobile doesn’t mean that the car is going to starting working great and breaking speed record immediately. Time grows QBs in the NFL, but not all great college Quarterbacks that get drafted and play in the league have the kind of impact they did in college with their respective schools. Ask former Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow (2007), Troy Smith (2006), Matt Leinart (2004) or Jason White (2003) about this. For every Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck there are about 20 or 30 Ryan Leafs or Eric Crouches.
Buffalo Bills—The Buffalo Bills (50/1 to win Super Bowl, BetVictor) have made some nice offseason moves and have a motivated Defense now, but with Matt Cassel (acquired in a trade with the Vikings in March) coming in to try to lead the Offense from Day One, and EJ Manuel, Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Tuel the 2-3-4 guys on the Bills Depth Chart, Buffalo just can’t say they are secure and confident at the QB position heading into the 2015 season, although it must be said that Cassel-Manual at 1-2 is better than they have had recently. The Bills Week 1 opener is at home in Ralph Wilson on Sept. 13 against maybe the most-improved NFL team on paper, the Indianapolis Colts (Colts -2½, Total: 47½, GTBets).
New York Jets—The New York Jets (100/1 to win Super Bowl, 888sport) have probably had the one of the two best offseasons to date, bringing in Free Agent CBs Darrelle Revis (All-Pro, Patriots) and Antonio Cromartie (Cardinals) as well as drafting some potential future studs in USC DL Leonard Williams, Ohio State WR Devin Smith and Baylor QB Bryce Petty a week ago. But with Geno Smith as the team’s #1 QB on the Depth Chart and Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Simms and Baylor rookie Bruce Petty, Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles may be better off giving Fitzpatrick (95.3 QBR) the job as starter over Smith (77.5 QBR) and groom Petty as his backup and potential team QB of the future. New York AFC plays the Browns in an AFC inter-divisional tilt and lidlifter on Sept. 13 at the Meadowlands (Jets -2½, Total: 41, GTBets).
Cleveland Browns—The Cleveland Browns (80/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) are apparently going to roll with Josh McCown this season, with 2014 #1 Pick and Texas A&M Heisman Trophy-winner and Problem Child Johnny Manziel, Thaddeus Lewis and Connor Shaw the 2-3-4 players on Cleveland’s current QB Depth Chart. The poor Browns have to play their AFC North roommates the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals all two times every year, and with all of those teams all already having very solid QBs (Roethlisberger, Flacco and Andy Dalton)—two of whom have already won Super Bowls—Cleveland’s best bet is to just wait, hope McCown can shine, and then wait some more for the next Manning or Rodgers or Luck in the NFL Draft. The Browns get to face another one team with QB Issues—the New York Jets—in Week 1 when they travel to the Meadowlands on Sept. 13th (Week 1 NFL Odds: Jets -2½, Total: 41, GTBets) in a game that will probably go under the radar on NFL Kickoff Weekend. Everything has a name these strange days.
Houston Texans—The mere fact the Houston Texans (50/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) just got Brian Hoyer from the Browns to be their new starting QB shows their choppiness at the position heading into the 2015 NFL season. The Texans have had a revolving door at the position last season (Fitzpatrick-Mallett-Keenum), and although Hoyer and backup Ryan Mallett are actually decent QBs who have the potential to be solid starters and even, god-forbid, “winners,” the state of the QB position in Houston is what it is and what it is is an organization starting another new guy at the helm with a lack of confidence probably in that player himself, the Offense, the entire team as well as the fanbase. Nobody in Houston knows what Hoyer (76.5 QBR in 2014) can do, but having been through so much insecurity at the position over recent seasons, the teams seems to quick to jump at letting some potentially good prospects at the position like David Carr (Raiders, 76.6 QBR ) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (Jets, 95.3 QBR) go elsewhere. Dumb. And you deserve what you get (and what you have). Tom Savage is the No. 3 guy on the Texans QB Depth Chart as of right now.
Tennessee Titans—The Tennessee Titans (250/1 to win Super Bowl, Betway) deserve major credit for not falling for the Bears attempted trade of former Vanderbilt graduate (Nashville, Tennessee) Jay Cutler to Tennessee on Draft Night last Thursday for the Titans #2 overall Pick, in which the AFC South team selected Oregon QB and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, theoretically making the former Ducks star the #1 man on the team’s Depth Chart at QB, although Zach Mettenberger could very well be the guy for the Titans on Sept. 13 on Opening Day (Buccaneers -2½, Total: 42, GTBets) against a team which may also have another top pick and Heisman Trophy winner at the helm in the Seminoles former signal caller Winston. Be there or be square, Pablo. Tennessee’s #3 and #4 QBs now are Charlie Whitehurst and Alex Tanney.
Kansas City Chiefs—The Kansas City Chiefs (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Betway) current 1-2-3-4 Depth Chart at QB is impressive in names with Alex Smith (Utah), Chase Daniel (Missouri), Aaron Murray (Georgia) and Tyler Bray (Tennessee) all having had some nice success at the collegiate level. But like so many others, having yet to really prove to be a star NFL starter, although Smith is underrated and is indeed a solid guy to have. But the with Kansas City’s unbelievably pathetic track record scoring TDs by the Air last season, this is a team with QB problems, despite having all of these wonderful athletes on their roster.
Oakland Raiders—Oakland Raiders (250/1 to win Super Bowl, BetVictor) starting QB David Carr may turn out to be the guy who turns this team’s Offense around, and with a new head coach (Jack Del Rio) and a nice Free Agent signing at WR (49ers Michael Crabtree), the future may be bright for the Silver and Black. But with Carr (#30 in 2014 QBR rankings), Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin and years or tears and fears, you make the list Oakland.The Raiders open up the 2015 NFL Regular Season at home at the O.co Colisuem against the enigmatic Bengals (Bengals -3½, Total: 44, GTBets) on Sunday, Sept. 13.
New York Giants—The New York Giants (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) do have two-time Super Bowl-winner Eli Manning at the helm but the 34-year-old Tennessee graduate is showing signs of aging (like big brother Peyton) and with Ryan Nassib and Ricky Stanzi as the G-Men’s 2-3 guys, New York could really use a franchise QB for the future...and may have to end up paying some big bucks to get one somewhere down the line.
Philadelphia Eagles—The Philadelphia Eagles (25/1 to win Super Bowl, Paddy Power) have Chip Kelly as Head Coach now so let the fun begin in the City of Brotherly Love and Cheesesteaks. The Eagles suddenly have injury-prone Sam Bradford (Rams) as their #1 QB, with USC’s Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley, former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and EJ Kinne on their 5-man deep QB Depth Chart at the moment to a sixth QB for Kelly by Sunday isn’t out of the question. Bradford will have to shine on a rebuilding team in one of the toughest cities in which to play professional sports in the USA. No easy feat. Luckily for the Eagles, their mailbox is in the NFC East.
Washington Redskins—The Washington Redskins (100/1 to win Super Bowl, Sky Bet) appear to have three guys who could start in Robert Griffin, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins, but the problem here is that whoever starts will be playing in the National Football League, circa 2015. Griffin is proving to be a project but with his athleticism and potential, it’s just too hard for the organization to cut the cord on the former Baylor star just yet. Expect more frustration for the Redskins at QB with Griffin continue to have moments of promise followed by periods of mediocre play, and the phrase “QB Controversy” to be bandied about in DC even though the real controversy should be maybe why Washington owner GM Daniel Snyder and GM Scot McCloughan and his staff try to go out and get a better QB earlier on. Washington opens the 2015 NFL Regular Season on Sunday, Sept. 13 at Home at FedExField in Landover, Maryland against the AFC’s Miami Dolphins (Dolphins -2, Total: 44½, GTBets).
Chicago Bears—Chicago Bears (66/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) starting QB Jay Cutler has magically found a way to chain smoke cigarettes while regularly throwing the football to the team with the opposite color uniform which he wears while getting paid massive money to do so. Where do I sign up? Sounds easy, lucrative and so American. Behind Captain Cutty on the Depth Chart are Jimmy Clausen and David Fales, so issues here in the Windy City for sure. And Chicago’s attempt to unload Cutler to the Titans for the #2 pick was genius on the surface but laughable in its actual attempt. Tennessee would have needed to ship Cutler, the Bears Round 1 pick and maybe one of the Lions from in front of the Art Institute to get that #2 Pick (Oregon QB Mariota) from the Titans. Chicago opens the season at home in Soldier Field on Sept. 13 against their bitter rivals, the Green Bay Packers (Packers -4½, Total: 50½, GTBets). There will be blood. And beer.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Just because you draft a Heisman Trophy winner with one of the first two overall picks of the NFL Draft doesn’t mean your team instantly doesn’t still have problems at the position and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (150/1 to win Super Bowl, bet365) will be finding that out probably in mid-October, if not earlier this season. Yeah, Tampa Bay landed Florida State QB and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston with the NFL Draft’s top overall pick, and yeah they should be improved some, but with Winston, Mike Glennon and Seth Lobato, it will be hard to even finishing with a .500 record. As mentioned above, the Buccaneers open up the season at Home at Raymond James Stadium against the lowly Titans (Buccaneers -2½, Total: 42, GTBets), and another top QB pick in the NFL Draft, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Both starting would be a surprise.
Minnesota Vikings—The Minnesota Vikings (66/1 to win Super Bowl, William Hill) and their fans are pumped about Louisville product Teddy Bridgewater (85.2 QBR, ranked #22) at QB, but I’m not so sure. With Bridgwater, Shaun Hill and Mike Kafka, Minnesota actually has three pretty solid and serviceable guys, yet still (realistically) could uses a solid QB to build around for The Future...something it thought about years back with now Raiders backup Christian Ponder, and something they are doing now with the young (22 years old) and athletic Bridgewater. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hill in there by Fall. The Purple People Eaters open up the season in Week 1 on the back end of a Monday Night Football (ESPN) doubleheader in San Francisco against the 49ers in what will be an instant must-win game for both scuffling squads (49ers -3½, Total: 41½, GTBets).
San Francisco 49ers—The San Francisco 49ers (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Sportingbet), like the Redskins, Bears and Chargers (Philip Rivers) have a guy in Colin Kaepernick who could probably evolve into a good NFL QB over time if he could just get his head right. Thoughts of “To throw or not to throw?” and, “To run or not to run?” must race through the Niners starting QB’s head so fast that the young man’s head could just explode one day. Poom! Behind Kaepernick on the 49ers Depth Chart at QB are Blaine Gabbert and rookie Dylan Thompson (South Carolina), so like the Vikes, this team has three decent and serviceable QBs but still can’t claim that they don’t have QB problems in the Bay Area., Funny how that works.
St. Louis Rams—The St. Louis Rams (50/1 to win Super Bowl, Paddy Power) sent the injury-prone Sam Bradford packing to the Eagles for Nick Foles, so St. Louis will apparently be rolling with Foles and #2 guy Austin Davis, #3 guy, rookie Sean Mannion (Oregon State) and #4 guy Case Keenum. This team may actually have the best depth at the QB spot in terms of what The Future may hold, but there isn’t enough relevant game experience now to not think one of the guys may someday become the regular starter and a star, but that would have to be former Beaver Mannion who was drafted exactly a week ago and who will still have to prove that he can play in the NFL...no small feat when you live in the NFC West and face the fierce Seahawks, Niners and upstart Cardinals twice a year. Credit to the Rams though for dumping Bradford. He should be injured in Philly by Halloween.
If you are planning on coming a General Manager in the NFL, beware of the seemingly never-ending plight of trying to find a good starting QB who can lead your franchise for a solid decade or so, let alone having any kind of quality depth at the position on your roster or a 1-2 punch which is as rare in the NFL as having two great starting Goalies in the NHL or Goalkeepers in soccer. Although having a 1-2 QB punch of Joe Montana and Steve Young as the San Francisco 49ers did in the Eighties are pretty much impossible in this Modern Era, the reality of having to worry about your team’s #1 guy getting injured and sidelined for some time—like what happened to the Cardinals and Carson Palmer (ACL) last season—is a brutal reality and there is no 1-800-GET-MEQB phone number to call to plug in a new one. When starting QBs go down, or get caught in some Mental Funk like the Bears’ Cutler, the 49ers’ Kaepernick, the Chargers’ Rivers or the Redskins’ Griffin seem to do, then all you can do is make sure your #2 and #3 guys are at least ready and serviceable, while keeping in the back of your mind that you (again, it’s a perennial thing) that you need to find a good QB...which is nearly impossible because the number of NFL-ready-and-likely-to-stick-in-the-league QBs is a very minute one, with those year’s NFL Draft actually yielding a plethora of potential future talent in FSU’s Winston, Oregon’s Mariota, Baylor’s Petty, UCLA’s Hundley, Colorado State’s Grayson and Oregon State’s Mannion.
Trying to maintain depth at the QB spot is almost an impossible and never-ending task for the NFL’s 32 GM’s in the year 2015, and my advice would simply be to prioritize the position in future Drafts, Free Agency and Trades/Transactions in an effort to have at least two really good guys at 1-2 on the Depth Chart with a future starter waiting in the wings as your #3 guy with the telephone number of a solid, veteran #4 ready in your pocket in case injuries happen at the position. And we all know that they do in the rugged and fast-paced NFL, and that things like that can suddenly mean you have to instantly adjust to go from having Carson Palmer as your starter one minute and one set of downs, to having Drew Stanton coming in to try “Be the man” for the rest of the game and the NFL season. And we all saw how that turned out for the Cardinals last season.