Perhaps more so than any other league, the NFL is a year to year league. One year a player can be great and the next year that same player may struggle, and before you know it, that player is no longer a starter, or in other instances out of the league altogether. Look at players like Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick for example. These two players looked like they could be the future of the NFL just a few seasons ago, and now, they are no longer in the league (at this time). It is not a coincidence that the NFL has the shortest average playing years. You truly need to come back better each season to ensure your status in the league.
However, there are also instances where we see players regress and continue to play. Every year there are players that do not look as good as the year before and there are also players that look much better than they did the previous year. Therefore, this article is going to predict eight quarterbacks that bounce back next season and predict seven that will regress.
Also, be aware that this article will also be based on winning and not just personal statistics when considering regression and bouncing back. After all, winning is why they play the game, not for statistics.
16 Bounce Back - Philip Rivers
It is hard to say Philip Rivers will have a bounce back year in 2017 when he had a better statistical year in 2016 than he did in 2015, in most respects. However, I feel that Rivers is much more capable of leading his team when it comes to W's. It has been two bad years in a row for the team and ultimately, Rivers is the most important player for the Chargers.
I know there have been a lot of injuries, and yes, a lot of the blame can also be placed on the offensive line but I do think Philip Rivers needs to and will find an extra gear next year. Playing in a new home will be almost like a fresh start for Rivers and the Chargers. As a result, I expect Rivers to play much better and lead his team to more victories.
15 Crash Down - Matt Ryan
I still believe that Matt Ryan will have a very good year next year, just not at the MVP level we saw in 2016. Ryan was all worldly in 2016 with 38 touchdown passes, 7 interceptions, and a 70 percent completion percentage. He also led his team to a Super Bowl appearance and proved to many around the league that he is indeed the real deal.
So if I acknowledge that Ryan was outstanding, why do I think he will regress? Firstly, I think that the personnel around him will not be be as effective. Teams are going to have better game-plans to stop receivers such as Taylor Gabriel and Mohammad Sanu. Secondly, I do not know how Atlanta is going to bounce back after choking the Super Bowl away. Maybe they show tons of mental toughness, but I am expecting a step back in Atlanta this season.
13 Bounce Back - Andrew Luck
By all accounts, Andrew Luck had a pretty good individual season in 2016. Some might even say that his 2016 season was a bounce back from the 2015 season. I mean, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions is a year most quarterbacks would love to have.
However, I have much higher expectations for Luck. I just feel that he has the ability to take his game to that next level, kind of what we saw in 2014. He has yet to get back to that level since and I think we will see that again next year, now that the drama with management/coaching is finally solved with Ryan Grigson being fired. We will see better offensive linemen around Luck, and he will bounce back by leading his team to the playoffs.
12 Crash Down - Joe Flacco
I believe that Joe Flacco has been regressing since the 2014 campaign. To be fair, part of this regression is because he has not really had any great wide receiver threats besides Steve Smith, as most of the others have been inconsistent.
Well now Smith is retired, and this could be a big problem for Baltimore. Who does Flacco have that he can rely on in crucial moments? Therefore, I feel this year is going to be a struggle for the Ravens offensively and it will reflect in Joe Flacco's play/numbers. The Ravens may be able to find a gem in the draft, but for now, I do not see their offense being very good. It appears Baltimore's Super Bowl window has now been shut.
11 Bounce Back - Andy Dalton
Do I think Andy Dalton is good enough to lead a team to Super Bowl? That is a very debatable answer and I do not have a definitive answer. One thing I do know is that Dalton is capable of playing much better than he did last season and this will be seen in 2017. Dalton's statistics dropped in almost every category and as a result, the Bengals were not able to make the postseason.
Part of Dalton's struggles can be blamed on the fact that he missed Marvin Jones dearly. Add in the injury woes to Tyler Eifert at the beginning of the season and it was an overall difficult year for Dalton. I expect Dalton and the Bengals to bounce back for a playoff spot.
10 Crash Down - Ben Roethlisberger
Am I expecting Ben Roethlisberger to become one of the least effective quarterbacks in the game? Absolutely not. However, I do expect to see a drop off in his play next season. How much remains to be seen.
There are a couple of reasons I feel Roethlisberger's best days are behind him. Roethelisberger has dealt with many injuries over the course of his career and I feel they will start to catch up to him sooner than later. In addition, Roethlisberger has been contemplating retirement and that is never a good sign, in my opinion. Will he remain as dedicated in the offseason? Does he still have that will to win? Overall, Pittsburgh will still be a good team, but I feel they will have to rely on Le'Veon Bell even more.
9 Bounce Back - Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson was still a good quarterback during the 2016 season. However, he was nowhere near as effective as he was in 2015. Wilson's touchdown stats dropped from 34 to 21 and he also threw three more interceptions in 2016. In addition, Wilson was also nowhere near as effective with his legs as he has been in the past.
To be fair, it has been reported that Wilson was dealing with nagging injuries all year. Look for those to be taken care of for next season and Wilson will bounce back. Additionally, we cannot forget that Wilson had a major adjustment without Marshawn Lynch and should be more used to it by next year. Finally, there is no way the Seahawks line can be that bad again, can it?
8 Crash Down - Kirk Cousins
If you watch Kirk Cousins play, you can see why some people around the league consider him a potential franchise quarterback. The one thing that just seems to be missing for Cousins and the Redskins is a play here or there. Eventually, luck will turn and Cousins and the Skins will get some breaks.
However, the team will be much different on offense next year and as a result, I expect Cousins to take a step back next year. Cousins is going to lose two of his favorite targets in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Jordan Reed is often hurt, so it might be a tough year for the Redskins O. I know they did acquire Terrelle Pryor, but we have to see how he fits in with Cousins first.
7 Bounce Back - Blake Bortles
No one can deny Blake Bortles had a terrible season last year. His numbers declined in nearly every important statistic, except interceptions, which surprisingly, went down. Nonetheless, Bortles threw for 12 less touchdowns and around 500 less yards in 2016 than 2015.
There is no doubt regression from a young quarterback is alarming and as a result, many people have given up on Blake Bortles as a good starting quarterback. I am not one of those people. Bortles showed me enough in the 2015 season that I think he can be an effective quarterback in the NFL. It is not an accident that he threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns in his sophomore year. With a new management team and head coach in place, Bortles will bounce back next year.
6 Crash Down - Derek Carr
The only reason I think Derek Carr will take a step back next season is because of the horrible injury he sustained. Will he be a poor quarterback? Absolutely not, but I just think it will take a while to see him get back to the level we saw during the 2016 season while he fully recovers and gets over the mental hurdles of his injury. Who knows, maybe he just has a rough couple of games to start the season before returning back to form.
Overall, Oakland is going to have to rely more on their ground game and offensive line next season to help take pressure off Carr. I am predicting Carr to throw around 25 touchdowns next season with ten interceptions. He will be a MVP some day, just not this season.
5 Bounce Back - Carson Palmer
Many people think Carson Palmer is done. After all, his passer rating did drop by 14 points when comparing the 2016 season to the 2015 season. He also threw for nine less touchdowns. Finally, consider Palmer's age and it is definitely fair to assume that his time as a good starting quarterback is done.
However, I feel that Palmer has at least one more good year in him and that year will be 2017. Bruce Arians is a terrific offensive mind and will find ways to make Palmer look good. David Johnson will continue to do damage and overall, we can look for the Cardinals to bounce back next season behind the improved play of Palmer. It might also be the last great season we see out of Palmer.
4 Crash Down - Drew Brees
Drew Brees is consistently one of the game's best quarterbacks when it comes to statistics. Who knows how much worse New Orleans would be if they did not have a Hall of Fame quarterback like Drew Brees on their team.
However, I feel that next year we will start to see a bit of decline in Brees's game. The first reason I believe Brees will take a step back is the loss of Brandin Cooks. I know the Saints have Michael Thomas and other recievers, but I am predicting Thomas to have a bit of a "sophomore" slump, and as a result Brees will be impacted in a negative way. Secondly, Brees is not getting any younger and father time has to catch up to quarterbacks like him or Tom Brady eventually.
3 Bounce Back - Eli Manning
Eli Manning threw more interceptions, less touchdowns and yards in 2016 than he did in 2015. It is arguable he has been in decline for sometime now. He is not getting any younger either, but I still feel he has something more to give.
The main reason I feel Eli Manning will bounce back is because his team signed a wide receiver that desperately wants to bounce back as well. This means two desperate players will be playing together. Manning finally has a guy in Brandon Marshall that can complement his superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Marshall will be huge for Eli in crucial third down situations. If teams try to double Beckham Jr, it will not matter as much with Brandon Marshall roaming the other side of the field.
2 Crash Down - Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott has all of the tools to be a great quarterback in the league for many years to come. However, I feel his second season will be a little bit tougher than his rookie year. After a full year of tape, teams will have better game-plans for him and Prescott will need time to adjust. I feel that teams are going to force Prescott to stay in the pocket next season and dare him to beat them that way. We will have to wait and see how he handles that, but the adjustment may take some time.
The Cowboys have also had some important losses on the offensive line this offseason and this is going to impact the time Prescott has to throw the ball. Overall, Prescott can easily prove me wrong because he is a great talent and has a great running back to take pressure off him.
1 Bounce Back - Cam Newton
Last year was not just a difficult year for Cam Newton, but the Carolina Panthers as a whole. After reaching the Super Bowl in the 2015 season, the Panthers failed to even reach the playoffs in 2016. Of course, the regression of Cam Newton's play had a lot to do with this, but so did the offensive line and the terrible secondary.
Next year should be a much better year for Newton. Remember, he is still in his 20s and he is one year removed from winning an MVP title. In addition, Kelvin Benjamin should be better next season after having a full season to play after his torn ACL. Overall, I look for the Panthers and Newton to improve dramatically next season, possibly taking the division title back.