For an NFL quarterback, winning the Super Bowl means everything. One Super Bowl title can transform the perception of a quarterback's entire career. Throughout the 50 year history, Super Bowl winning quarterbacks have come from all different backgrounds.
There have been young quarterbacks that blossomed into a great situation. For example, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks became the missing link. First of all, Wilson should have been drafted prior to the third round of the 2012. However, once he fell into the lap of Pete Carroll and company, there was no looking back. He won a Super Bowl title in his second season and was one Marshawn Lynch handoff away from winning a second championship. Despite the heartbreaking Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, Wilson will always have solace in his first championship.
Other quarterbacks have been moments away from a Super Bowl title, but haven't been so lucky. Remember when Colin Kaepernick was the next great quarterback leading the San Francisco 49ers? He was also a couple yards short of winning a Super Bowl. Since then, Kaepernick lost his starting job. He's also playing for his third head coach.
That's why it's so important to seize the opportunity when it arises. Second chances don't always come. Ask Dan Marino. He spent 17 years slinging the pigskin for the Miami Dolphins. After winning the AFC during the 1984 season, Marino never brought the Dolphins back to the Super Bowl in eight more playoff appearances.
Here are 15 active NFL quarterbacks that deserve a Super Bowl title.
Ryan Fitzpatrick was a seventh round selection in the 2005 NFL Draft. Throughout his 11-year career, Fitzpatrick has failed to make the postseason. He was so close to snapping the streak in 2015, but Fitzpatrick turned into the Jets' version of Tony Romo in the season finale against Buffalo. Three interceptions doomed the Jets and they were left wondering what could have been. He led the Jets to a 10-6 record last season. It was the first time Fitzpatrick ever had a winning season. However, expectations are large for the 2016 season. Currently, Fitzpatrick has a 43-61-1 record in the NFL.
He has a lot of work to do to reach .500 as a quarterback. Yet, if he won a Super Bowl as a starting quarterback, Jets' fans would declare Fitzpatrick a spot in the Hall Of Fame. He has 154 touchdown passes and 116 interceptions. Fitzpatrick waited this long to persevere. He deserves some love that would come with a Super Bowl title.
Remember when Robert Griffin III was special? The former Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor melted hearts of Washington Redskins' fans everywhere. Griffin passed for 3,200 yards as rookie, leading the Redskins to the NFL playoffs in 2012. Unfortunately, the postseason was the beginning of the end. Griffin injured his knee late in the season, but returned for the playoff game. He started the game with flawless execution until another hit hobbled the rookie QB. Instead of heading to the bench, Griffin played until his knee finally succumbed to the pressure. He was never the same, and things spiraled out of control once Jay Gruden was hired as head coach.
Now Griffin is the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. On his first preseason play, he connected with Terrell Pryor on a deep pass. Moments later, Griffin threw an interception at the goal line. Currently, Griffin is a reclamation project for the Browns. It might be his final chance to become a starting quarterback again. A Super Bowl championship would be sweet vindication for a career that seemed to be cut short.
Brock Osweiler was the perfect soldier for the Denver Broncos until it was time for free agency. Due to Peyton Manning's ineffectiveness and old age, Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015. He helped the team earn the no. 1 seed in the AFC. But when it was time for the playoffs to start, the coaching staff went with the veteran. Manning could barely throw the ball. Yet, when the dust settled, the Broncos were Super Bowl champions. Osweiler has a ring, but he wasn't the starter. It's also the reason why he's not in Denver anymore.
Osweiler decided to blaze a new trail for himself with the starved-quarterback Houston Texans. For years, the Texans have struggled at the QB position and managed to make the postseason. Osweiler believes he's the missing link. In March, he signed a four-year, $72 million deal. That's not bad for a quarterback with 11 career touchdown passes. Now that he's gotten paid, he'd better be hungry to bring Houston a Super Bowl.
Jay Cutler entered the NFL after four seasons with the Vanderbilt Commodores. The four-year starter only had 11 wins for the Commodores, but he was considered to be a can't miss prospect in 2005. Cutler finished his college his college career with 8,697 yards and 59 touchdown passes. He also threw 36 interceptions for Vanderbilt. Still, Cutler was billed to have all world talent. In 10 seasons, that talent has led to one playoff appearance. During the 2010 NFL season, Cutler led the Chicago Bears to the postseason. After winning his first game against the Seahawks, Cutler entered a showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. He only threw 14 passes before leaving the game with an MCL sprain.
Like clockwork, Cutler's toughness was questioned. The Bears lost 21-14 and they haven't sniffed the postseason since. However, it's not out of the realm of possibility to see Cutler get back to the playoffs. First, he has to lead the Bears to a winning season. He only has two seasons with 10 wins. Otherwise, Cutler has been a disappointment in the first decade of his career.
Did Mark Sanchez really just fall into the perfect spot for a Super Bowl title? Despite the jokes, Sanchez hasn't had the worst career ever. However he may have had the NFL's most iconic moment. Yes. The "butt" fumble. Personally, the analysis of the play was never really that funny. Maybe it would have been hilarious if the butt actually caused the fumble, but that clearly wasn't the case. Unfortunately, he's never really lived the play down. The game happened on Thanksgiving night against the New England Patriots, the perfect recipe for a social media explosion. However, there's more to Sanchez than that one fumble. First of all, he's had plenty of fumbles.
In total, Sanchez fumbled the ball 51 times. Opponents have returned 13 for touchdowns. He's also thrown 84 interceptions in his career. Yet, Sanchez helped lead the New York Jets to a pair of AFC Championship games in his first two seasons. He has a 4-2 career playoff record. If Sanchez wins the starting job in Denver, he may erase the stigma of the butt fumble forever.
Some people love Philip Rivers, while other people hate him. He started his career behind Drew Brees, but it was evident the Chargers were in favor of giving Rivers the keys to the offense. Rivers is flamboyant, feisty and tough. He loves to throw the ball all over the field with a unique delivery. But like every quarterback on this list, Rivers has failed to win the big one. Early in his career, the Chargers were Super Bowl favorites. Now they are trying to get back to the top of the AFC West. Rivers has a 92-68 NFL record. He's thrown for 41,447 yards and 281 touchdowns. Rivers also has 135 interceptions in his career. Despite the gaudy numbers, the Chargers have not made the playoffs since 2013. Time may be running out for this future Hall Of Fame candidate. Due to the Broncos dominance and the Oakland Raiders' resurgence, Rivers will have a tough time not finishing in the bottom of the AFC West. Yet, Rivers can put a team on his back if the postseason comes calling.
Sam Bradford was the overall no. 1 draft pick in 2010 by the team formerly known as the St. Louis (LA) Rams. Countless knee injuries and a trade to the Philadelphia has Bradford on course to becoming a journeyman QB. With a record of 25-37-1, he's been a major disappointment. However, Bradford is only 28 years old. After playing 14 games last season, the NFL may see the best of the former Oklahoma quarterback. Overall, Bradford has 78 touchdowns and 52 interceptions. He can still make plays for the offense. More importantly, Bradford might be the best quarterback on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Unfortunately, if Bradford wins the Super Bowl, it will either be in 2017 or for another NFL organization. The Eagles selected Carson Wentz with the No. 2 selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. He's the quarterback of the future and Bradford seems to be the odd man out. Bradford has never appeared in the postseason. The first time could be the charm.
Andy Dalton has been impressive through his first five seasons in the NFL. He's posted a 50-26-1 regular season record. Last year, he was having an MVP type of season. In 13 games, Dalton threw for 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Unfortunately, the 2015 season ended with an injury, missing a chance to redeem playoff failures. So far, Dalton is 0-4 in playoff games, and the last few seasons were highly disappointing. For example, Dalton has one touchdown pass and six interceptions in his postseason career. It's dreadful for a quarterback of his stature.
Once he breaks through the postseason with a win, Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals might not stop until they are celebrating under a storm of confetti. If Dalton could stay healthy this year, with a Bengals squad this talented, it may finally be the year he breaks through and it would be a great redemption story.
In eight seasons, Matt Ryan is has missed two games. His first five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons were glorious. The Falcons made four trips to the NFL playoffs, but folded in the end. His first three playoff appearances end in bad losses. In 2012, Ryan won his first playoff game, and had a chance to win the NFC Championship game. Ryan couldn't find an open receiver, giving the San Francisco 49ers the win. Some may say that game broke the spirit of the Falcons. Since then, the Falcons have won just 18 games, missing playoffs three straight years. It's time for Ryan to get back into a groove. So far, Ryan has 202 touchdown passes and 107 interceptions. Although the numbers have remained great, he won't receive the proper recognition until more postseason success arises. It's time for Ryan to rise from the ashes and take what was seemed to be destined for him.
Alex Smith is known as the check down master. At the start of his NFL career in 2005, Smith had trouble breaking the 50 percent completion rate. Since 2011, Smith hasn't been below 60 percent and the teams have been better for it. He led San Francisco to the NFC Championship game in Jim Harbaugh's first season as head coach. Then Smith suffered a concussion during the 2012 season and he never regained the starting quarterback job again. Smith had a 6-2-1 record, and the 49ers made the Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. They lost and Smith was traded to Kansas City. Since then, he's led the Chiefs to two 11-win seasons. He has to wonder if he would have been able to win a title with the 49ers. Smith has 142 touchdowns and 83 interceptions in his career. However, he hasn't thrown double digit picks since 2010. Smith has avoided the bad plays, but can he make a spectacular play when it counts most?
Winners never quit. Quitters never win. Don't tell that nonsense to Carson Palmer. The beloved Arizona Cardinals' quarterback left Cincinnati high and dry in 2011. The losing took a toll and Palmer threatened to retire. Eventually, Palmer was traded to Oakland, where he spent two seasons. During his three seasons with the Cardinals, Palmer has been lethal to opposing defenses. He's 29-9 as a starter with the Cardinals. Unfortunately, a knee injury cost Palmer a promising season in 2014. Now Palmer has an 83-76 record as a starting quarterback. Some believe he's a home field playoff advantage away from playing in his first Super Bowl.
Will the Cardinals need to win 14 or 15 games in 2016? Palmer won his first ever playoff game last season, then he imploded during the NFC Championship game. He threw four interceptions during the 49-15 loss. Let's see how Palmer can bounce back from a disastrous end.
The fall of Colin Kaepernick is astonishing. Some NFL pundits felt like he was the future of the NFL. After all, Kaepernick helped lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and a pair of NFC Championship games. Since challenging Richard Sherman with that "sorry receiver," Kaepernick has struggled to win games. He's 10-14 in his last 24 starts. Kaepernick was also benched for Blaine Gabbert last season. Now the challenge is to get back into the starting lineup. He was so close to winning a Super Bowl title, but this isn't horseshoes or hand grenades. Still, Kaepernick has 56 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions.
We'll have to see if Chip Kelly is the type of coach that can resurrect Kaepernick's career. The problem is this 49ers team is not nearly as talented as the one who made it to three straight NFC Championship games under Jim Harbaugh.
Still, when Kaepernick's on his game, he is exciting and we'd love to see him reach that level again.
The best storylines in the NFL always revolve around the play of Tony Romo. We all just wait for Romo to throw the season altering interception. Sometimes Romo throws a perfect pass that's ruled incomplete. Either way, he's never flourished in the postseason. In four playoff appearances, Romo has a 2-4 record. During the regular season, Romo has a 78-49 record with the Dallas Cowboys. However, Romo has had some uneven performances to say the least. From 2011-13, the Cowboys finished with a 24-24 record. All three seasons they were stuck at 8-8. Romo only missed one start in those years. Then Dallas implemented a heavy dose of the running game in 2014. Romo had his best season ever, completing 69.9 percent of his passes. He also had 34 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Romo only threw the ball 435 times that season. Barring injury filled seasons, it was the lowest amount attempts Romo had since starting 10 games in 2006.
Romo will gladly utilize a running game to get a Super Bowl. It would also help if he avoided the late game interception. Romo has 247 touchdown passes and 117 interceptions. He's never had a single season with 20 interceptions.
Andrew Luck is supposed to be the best of the young quarterbacks in the NFL. However, he hasn't made it to the Super Bowl. In addition, Luck has not always thrived in the postseason. During his first three seasons, Luck led the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs. He progressed nicely to an AFC Championship game in 2014. So far, Luck has a 3-3 record in the postseason, but he fell off last season due to injury. Luck only played seven games and when he was in the lineup the superstar quarterback was awful. The Colts were 2-5 behind Luck's 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. With his new six-year $140 million contract in tow, the Colts expect Luck to be back to form in 2016.
One major monkey he'll have to get off his back is Tom Brady. Brady and his Patriots have owned Luck's Colts the last few seasons and if Luck is ever going to win a Super Bowl in the near future, he'll have to get through Brady and Bill Belichick.
The Carolina Panthers were expected to flounder during the 2015 season. Cam Newton had other ideas for the Panthers. He led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. Newton earned NFL MVP honors with 35 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. He also added 10 rushing touchdowns last season. Unfortunately, Newton had no answers for the Denver Broncos' defense in Super Bowl 50. Newton and the Panthers had the ball late in the fourth quarter. The potential game winning drive would have gone down in NFL lore. Instead, Newton fumbled and failed to recover the ball.
In a few years, he may find himself in the same predicament as Dan Marino and Colin Kaepernick.
Hopefully that doesn't happen as Newton was the most exciting player in the NFL last season. It's for the good of the game if a player as revolutionary as Newton finds a way to win the Super Bowl.