The NFL today is ruled by mainly one position and that is the quarterback position. If a team has a great quarterback such as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Cam Newton, your team is likely going to advance deep into the playoffs. Many of these top quarterbacks have ruled the league for long stretches. There are a few young signal callers who are headed in the right direction but have not done enough to garner the status of an elite player. A team with a good quarterback is likely to be alright, but the teams who have below average quarterbacks are not so lucky when it comes to overall team success.
The bad quarterbacks of the league consist of young quarterbacks, quarterbacks past their prime, and retread quarterbacks. Most of the teams that these play callers reside on are not very good, and their playoff hopes are diminished due to their subpar play. There are also few examples of teams with bad starting quarterbacks that still make it into the playoffs. The reasons these teams make the playoffs is because they have incredible defenses to back up their putrid play, and/or they have incredible playmakers to make up for their lackluster arms.
15. Jameis Winston – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston is the starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he had a better rookie season than many expected him to have. The Bucs offense in general was very potent. Winston had top notch receivers to throw to in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, and Doug Martin had a renaissance of a year running the ball. Winston had 22 passing touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first year. What was most impressive is that he threw for over 4,000 passing yards, and like many rookies he should be able to cut down on the interceptions next season. Winston also lost around 20 pounds in the offseason. This will help Winston navigate around the pocket, and also help him scramble outside of the pocket when there is open space down the field. Jameis Winston was able to gain 213 yards on the ground last season along with six rushing touchdowns.
14. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan has been the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons for some time now, and has had some regular season success. Unfortunately he tends to flounder a bit once he starts playing in the postseason. He has the benefit of throwing to one of the best wide receivers in the NFL in Julio Jones, and also has an up and coming running back in the back field in Devonta Freeman. Totals of 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions are less than thrilling numbers coming from Matt Ryan. Throwing for nearly 4,600 passing yards is very impressive, and ranked towards the top of the league. His team started the season off as one of the surprise teams in the NFL with a 5-0 start. They eventually came back down to earth and finished the season 8-8, but this was not the fault of Matt Ryan. Ryan has been known to play his best at the end of games, and the Falcons are going to need his late game heroics to improve their record next season.
13. Jay Cutler – Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler seemed like he could be an elite quarterback in the NFL, but despite having great receivers throughout his time in the NFL he has had a few mediocre years. Last season he played well in Adam Gase’s system. He threw for only 21 touchdowns, but his interception total of 11 was down from 18 the previous season. Cutler has a great receiver in Alshon Jeffery to throw too but will be without the services of Martellus Bennett next year. Adam Gase has also abandoned Cutler to become the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Matt Forte has chosen to leave the Bears in favor of the New York Jets, and with all these changes going on in Chicago, Cutler will have an uphill battle in having the same success he had last season. Bears fans are hopeful that Kevin White becomes a stud receiver so that Cutler once again has two great outside receivers.
12. Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins is the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins and led his team into the playoffs last season. Many wonder whether the numbers Cousins put up in this one season were just a mirage. Washington exercised the franchise tag on Cousins for this upcoming season, and this will make Cousins a much wealthier man. Since he did not sign a long term deal he is going to have to prove to the team that he is worthy of having a ton of money thrown at him. He threw for over 4,000 yards last season and added 29 touchdown pass and only 11 interceptions to his resume.
If Cousins duplicates these numbers he should have no problem getting paid, but if he regresses he could be in trouble and not receive the long-term contract he so desperately wants. The NFC East is much stronger this season than last season which will make duplicating last season’s success that much tougher.
11. Sam Bradford – Philadelphia Eagles
Sam Bradford is the current starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, but after the Eagles selected Carson Wentz with the second pick during the 2016 NFL draft he may be playing this season to prove he is worthy of replacing another quarterback on this list for a different team next season. Last year Bradford threw 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He began to play much better in the second half of the season, and that is one of the key factors as to why the Eagles decided to resign the guy. The knock on him throughout his career is whether or not he can stay healthy. He is coming into training camp this season one hundred percent healthy, and is anxious to prove that he is an above average quarterback in the NFL. He’ll also have to beat out Wentz for the starting job. He does not have the greatest receiving core, but he will need to put up good numbers to receive interest from teams around the league.
10. Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills
Tyrod Taylor is the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, and last year during this time no one would have thought that Taylor would be the starter for the entire 2015 season. His dual-threat ability is what made him an intriguing player for Rex Ryan to invite to training camp to try and make the Bills roster. The football world was shocked when Taylor won the starting job, and then he actually played a good first season as a starter. In 14 games Tyrod Taylor threw for over 3,000 yards, 20 touchdown passes, and only six interceptions. His lack of turnovers helped the Bills contend for a playoff berth, and he also contributed on the ground rushing for 568 yards. Along with his low six interception number, he only lost one fumble on the year, and it will be interesting to see if he can become even better in his second year as a starting quarterback.
9. Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill is the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins, and throughout his career, he has not been all that bad. The problem is that he has not been that good either. His game is the definition of average, but his salary is that of an elite player in the league. To Tannehill’s defense, he has not had much receiver help, but Jarvis Landry has given him a better target to throw to than in previous years. His career numbers of 87 touchdown passes and 54 interceptions are not all that bad, and during his last two seasons, he has thrown for over 4,000 yards. Passing yard statistics are inflated all throughout the NFL solely based on teams throwing the ball at a much higher rate than in the past. If Tannehill gets more targets with the skill level of Jarvis Landry, he will be able to live up to his fairly new large contract.
8. Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota had some promising moments during his rookie campaign as the starting quarterback for the Tennessee Titans. He throws the ball with poise, and when he takes off with the ball there is almost certainly going to be a highlight play forthcoming. A minor injury caused Mariota to sit out four games during the season. Luckily for the Titans, it was nothing serious, and Mariota will look to improve his game during training camp for the upcoming season. He threw 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 12 games last season. The interception number is not too bad, but the Titans would like him to throw more touchdowns next season. Mariota also needs to focus on not fumbling the ball as much. This is a common problem associated with running quarterbacks, but he should be in store for a much better sophomore season with his new running back tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
7. Teddy Bridgewater – Minnesota Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater benefits greatly from having a stout defense and one of the best-running backs in the NFL in Adrian Peterson. The numbers that he has put up have been less than stellar throughout his short NFL tenure. He is a dual threat, and if he gets any kind of open space he can take off for a large gain. Last season, while leading the Vikings to the playoffs he only managed to throw 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 14 touchdowns was an upgrade from the 12 he threw his rookie season, but the great quarterbacks in the NFL are usually good for at least two touchdown passes a game. His receiving core was also extremely below average. If he had a true number one receiving option his numbers would undoubtedly go up, and many see this next season as a season that will define the rest of his career.
6. Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick seemed to be blossoming into one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL after leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012. The 49ers would end up playing in three straight NFC championship games from 2012 to 2014. Despite this great success, the league may have figured out just how to defend Kaepernick. In the middle of the 2015 season, Blaine Gabbert assumed the role of starting quarterback for the 49ers the rest of the season. Kaepernick’s days in San Francisco seemed to be over, but the hiring of Chip Kelly gives him a perfect scheme to put up numbers once again. For his career, he has thrown 56 touchdowns and 26 interceptions which are actually pretty good numbers. His 2015 QB rating of 78.5 is what ultimately got him benched, and Chip Kelly’s offense may be a breath of fresh air for the once dominant play caller.
5. Robert Griffin III – Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III is a retread quarterback in hopes of reviving his career with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have been a hell hole for quarterbacks, and RG3 will be looking to be the first great quarterback of the Cleveland Browns since the team moved back to Cleveland. RG3 seemed poised to have a great and long career after his rookie season. He even looked better than Andrew Luck his first year in the league, but then the injuries started to hamper him. After suffering a series of setbacks, Kirk Cousins took over the role of starting quarterback for Washington and never relinquished that role.
His career numbers of 40 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions are not terrible, and his ability to scramble out of the pocket makes him a dual threat. Robert Griffin III is looking to once again be that player that defenses hate to prepare against because of his ability to run and pass the ball proficiently.
4. Brock Osweiler – Houston Texans
Brock Osweiler is the new starting quarterback for the Houston Texans and got a very rich contract to come to the Texans. He is still very unproven. The Broncos only started him in a handful of games last season, and he did not blow anyone away with his performances. Despite not being that great he was not terrible either. This signing for the Houston Texans is an upgrade over quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer, and the Texans are poised to make another run at an AFC South division title for a second straight year. Osweiler through for almost 2,000 yards in the eight games he played in last season. DeAndre Hopkins will be a target that will help him rack up yards in bunches, and he also only threw six interceptions in the eight games he played in last season. Osweiler now has this chance with the Texans to prove that he is capable of holding down a starting quarterback job in the NFL.
3. Jared Goff – Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff looks like he will be the day one starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. It is already difficult to come into the NFL and be successful, but the bright lights of Los Angeles add an extra element of pressure for a young quarterback. There have been rumors that Goff has not looked too good in minicamp. Many questions arose about him coming into the draft, and some wondered if he was just a product of a fast paced offense at California. College football has proven to produce quarterback prospects with padded stats. California under Goff had a good season in 2015 but not a great season, but his 43 touchdown passes were impressive. He also threw 13 interceptions last season in 13 games. If he is throwing one interception a game against college teams, NFL teams may be very excited to face off against Goff this upcoming season.
2. Mark Sanchez – Denver Broncos
Mark Sanchez had moderate success when he was the starting quarterback of the New York Jets, but many made the argument that the Jets defense was what helped that team have success in the postseason. Sanchez is now in a similar position that he was in when he was with the Jets. The Denver Broncos are coming off a Super Bowl victory, and their defense was the dominant factor in helping them win the Lombardi Trophy. Sanchez can manage the game pretty well, but he is prone to making bone-headed plays in which he easily turns the ball over. His career stats of 86 touchdown passes and 84 interceptions prove just how hot and cold he can be throughout the course of a game. The Broncos may have a tough time getting back to the super bowl under the leadership of Mark Sanchez, and if he starts turning the ball over consistently, they may have to turn over the reins to Paxton Lynch.
1. Geno Smith – New York Jets
Geno Smith will be the New York Jets option at the starting quarterback position this upcoming season if Ryan Fitzpatrick cannot come to terms with the team. Smith has had an extremely mediocre career, and if Fitzpatrick does not resign with the team the Jets may be in trouble. The Jets used Smith as their starting quarterback for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The results were not great, and Smith ended up throwing for 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions combined. He does possess the ability to also run the ball if the pass rush comes after him. Quarterbacks are prone to turning over the ball in their first year in the league, but Smith kept up this charade going into his sophomore year. This opportunity, pending whether Ryan Fitzpatrick re-signs with the team, will be Smith’s last chance to prove that he is an NFL starting caliber signal caller.
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