It's cliche but it's not untrue. You're not going to win in the NFL without a quality starting quarterback. There's a reason you see the usual suspects in the playoffs year after year, and now more than ever, there simply do not seem to be enough starting QBs to go around. For a variety of reasons, ranging from injuries to less than saavy draft decisions, the man under center is what is keeping many teams out of playoff contention. Some of the teams included on our list have had recent success, others have been looking for a competent signal caller for the better part of two decades.
We've listed eight teams. Eight teams that needn't have playoffs on the brain unless a dramatic change is made at quarterback. Eight teams that are simply wasting money in free agency on other positions until they get their quarterback situation figured out. Whether through the draft or free agency, these eight teams have to do something and they have to do something. Now. We took care to not include those teams that have viable quarterback options already on the roster, so rest easy Dallas Cowboys fans. Looks like Dak Prescott will be the quarterback of the future until he's not.
16 Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are struggling through arguably the most disappointing stretch in franchise history. The owners of the only undefeated season in NFL history have made a trip to the postseason exactly once since 2003. In 2012, following a season in which the Dolphins finished 6-10, Miami used the number eight pick in the NFL Draft to select Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A&M. As an Aggie, Tannehill threw for 5,450 yards, 42 touchdowns, and 21 interceptions. He was the third quarterback chosen in the 2012 draft, behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and was the first quarterback chosen in the first round by the Dolphins since Dan Marino in 1983. Tannehill signed a four-year contract worth $12.6 million, and became Miami's 17th starting quarterback since Marino retired in 1999.
15 Why Miami Need A New QB
Holy cow. Dan Marino, this kid is not. Suffice it to say that Miami is still on the lookout for its next great franchise quarterback. Tannehill started game one of the 2012 season for Miami and the Dolphins fell to the Houston Texans, 30-10. Miami's rookie QB finished that game with 219 yards passing, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions. Certainly excusable for a rookie starting his first game in the NFL. Four seasons later it's been much of the same. Entering 2016, the Dolphins are 29-35 with Tannehill under center, and it does not look like this season will end any better than the previous four. Miami is 1-4, and Tannehill has the second lowest QB rating in the league in front of only Case Keenum of the Los Angeles Rams.
14 Kansas City Chiefs
Since hiring former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid in 2013, the Kansas City Chiefs have become an increasingly more competitive team in the AFC West. In his first season, Reid led the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and a Wild Card game appearance against Indianapolis Colts just a season after Kansas City finished with a league worst 2-14 record under former head coach Romeo Crennel. In Reid's second season at the helm, the Chiefs were 9-7 and out of the playoffs, before a return to post-season play last year after another 11-5 effort. Alex Smith has been the quarterback of the Chiefs for each of the seasons Reid has been the head coach, and he's only missed two games under center during his time in Kansas City.
13 Why Kansas City Need A New QB
Alex Smith's time in Kansas City is coming to an end. While the 2005 number one overall pick out of Utah has proven himself capable of engineering a simple offense that focuses on simply not turning the ball over, it's the lack of a dynamic passing attack that holds Kansas City back from making a significant run in the playoffs. This year has been especially underwhelming for the 32 year old Smith, as he ranks 28th in the league in QB rating and 26th in yards per pass attempt. The Chiefs are 2-2 so far in 2016, and they can expect serviceable work from Smith. But as long as he is under center a trip to the AFC Championship or the Super Bowl isn't going to happen.
12 Cleveland Browns
We love to clown the Cleveland Browns. The laughingstock of the NFL is an easy choice for a team that needs a change at quarterback and could probably make this list most seasons the franchise has been in existence. Since 1995, the Browns have made the playoffs just once, a 36-33 Wild Card loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002. Cleveland has been through quarterback after quarterback since that playoff appearance and only one, Derek Anderson, has led Cleveland to a winning record. With Anderson under center, the 2007 Browns finished with a 10-6 record but missed the playoffs. This season's Cleveland team has somehow managed to be worse that usual. The Browns are currently 0-5, will miss the playoffs for the 14th consecutive season, and are unquestionably a team without direction.
11 Why Cleveland Need A New QB
Entering 2016, fresh off the disaster that was Johnny Manziel, the Browns put the future of the franchise in the hands of Robert Griffin III. Griffin finished his first start in a Cleveland uniform 12-26 for 190 yards and an interception. He also fractured a bone in his shoulder. The next week it was Josh McCown at quarterback for the Browns. He finished 20-33 for 260 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. He also broke his collarbone. The next week Cleveland's quarterback was Cody Kessler. You know the story. Kessler is banged up after Sunday's loss to the Patriots, but it looks like he'll play next week. He's not in Cleveland's long term plans though, and with the Browns drafting twice in the first round in 2017, they'll take another crack at finding their quarterback of the future.
10 New York Jets
No team in the National Football League likes a good controversy like the New York Jets. It's been six years since the Jets last made a trip to the postseason, and with fiery head coach Rex Ryan now leading divisional rival Buffalo, Todd Bowles was appointed to turn around a team that finished a disappointing 4-12 in 2014. His rookie campaign in New York certainly caught the attention of fans, media, and the rest of the league. The Jets just missed the playoffs last season finishing 10-6, second place in the AFC East behind the New England Patriots. An impressive first season only heightened the expectations of Jets fans, and entering 2016 many are focused on New York earning its first playoff berth since 2010.
9 Why New York Need A New QB
There's talent all over the field in New York, but the Jets certainly aren't making a trip to the playoffs with this guy at quarterback. Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick was the starting QB for all sixteen games last season and put together the top performance of his 11 season career. Fitzpatrick threw for over 3,900 yards, 31 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Don't let those impressive numbers mislead you, though. The 2016 campaign has gone a little differently for Fitzpatrick. Through five weeks the Jets are a dreadful 1-4 and those playoff aspirations have all but evaporated. Fitzpatrick leads the NFL with ten interceptions, and is second from the bottom in the league among starting quarterbacks in completion percentage at 57.8%. To be clear, the quarterback of the future is not on the bench for the Jets, and New York is still in the market for a QB.
8 Arizona Cardinals
Defense is the name of the game in Arizona where points have been hard to come by for the opposition. A punching bag for so many seasons since their move to the Southwest, the Cardinals have turned into a perennial dominant force in the NFC West. Arizona has logged double digit wins each of the last three seasons and the Cardinals came to within a game of the Super Bowl in 2015, falling to the Carolina Panthers 49-15 in the NFC Championship. That game was the most lopsided NFC Championship game in 15 years. 2016 is the fourth season as quarterback of the Cardinals for Carson Palmer. Palmer spent the first seven years of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals, before two very disappointing seasons with the Oakland Raiders.
7 Why Arizona Need A New QB
And his time in Arizona is all but finished. The 36 year old Carson Palmer has struggled with inconsistent play at different times throughout his career in Cincinnati, Oakland, and now Arizona, and it appears the wheels are finally beginning to come off. While he's rejuvenated his career in Arizona to a certain extent, the first overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, has led the Cardinals to a 2-3 record in 2016, falling well short of expectations a third of the way into the season. A return trip to the playoffs does not look likely for Arizona as Palmer is 22nd in the league in QBR and 24th in completion percentage. The former USC Trojan signed a one year $24 million contract extension with the Cardinals in August.
6 Chicago Bears
The Bears will be happy when it's the Green Bay Packers who are looking for a change at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers is the bane of Chicago's existence. The Bears have won the NFC Central just once in the last ten years, and it looks like it's going to be an uphill battle for a while if they are going to capture another division crown. Chicago is 1-4 so far this season, and look destined for a third straight losing campaign. Ask any Chicago Bears fan the reason for the team's recent lack of success, and you're likely to hear the same answer. Chicago is not going to win as long as Jay Cutler is the starting quarterback. Cutler's been the starting quarterback in Chicago for seven seasons after spending his first three with the Denver Broncos.
5 Why Chicago Need A New QB
Bears fans aren't wrong. While many will point to Jay Cutler's attitude and lack of enthusiasm as reasons for the team's lack of success offensively, the answers lie in the numbers. Cutler's trouble turning over the ball at different points in his career have led to the 2006 draft pick being benched at various times. This season, he's missed four games courtesy of a thumb injury, and nine year veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer has started in his place. While Hoyer has played reasonably well, he's 30 years old, and there's a reason he's played for six different teams. He's certainly a competent backup, but he's not the future. Cutler will soon be gone and Chicago fans will get their wish when the Bears go looking for another starting quarterback.
4 San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are so far removed from the team that advanced to the NFC Championship game against the Seattle Seahawks in 2013, it can be difficult to remember exactly who was on the roster. The season after that trip to the Conference Championship, the Niners went 8-8, and the following season things continued to get worse. A 5-11 record, fourth place finish in the NFC West, and team turmoil all around prompted a change in the head coach and a benching for starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers are 1-4 so far in 2016, and truthfully, that's one game more than many fans thought they win to this point. Perhaps more than any team in the NFL, San Francisco has a quarterback crisis on its hands.
3 Why San Francisco Need A New QB
Certainly the San Francisco 49ers are not strangers to controversy at the quarterback position this season. Colin Kaepernick's very public protests have put the spotlight on a team that is certainly not garnering any attention for what they are doing on the field. Blaine Gabbert logged eight starts last season, throwing for just over 2,000 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. This season is equally underwhelming. Gabbert is fifth from the bottom in the league among starting quarterbacks in completion percentage and has tossed five touchdowns against six interceptions. At some point this season, 49ers head coach Chip Kelly may make the decision to hand the starting quarterback job back to Kaepernick, but it doesn't matter. San Francisco will be on the lookout for a new signal caller when the 2016 season is through.
2 New York Giants
Giants fans will likely bristle at this one. But it's time to think about the future. The New York Giants have not made the playoffs since they won Super Bowl XLVI over the New England Patriots in 2011. And it's not getting better, it's getting worse. New York has put together back to back 6-10 seasons and through five games they're headed down a similar route. The Giants are 2-3 and certainly do not have the look of a team that is headed to the postseason. Every year the NFC East is among the most competitive divisions in all of professional football, and if the Giants are going to continue to challenge for the top of that division, it is inarguable that a change has to be made at quarterback.
1 Why New York Need A New QB
Eli Manning is nothing short of a Hall of Fame quarterback but he's 35 years old and he's slipping. The Giants QB still managed to throw for over 4000 yards with 35 touchdowns last season, but he also fumbled 11 times, his most since 2009. Manning's quarterback play in 2016, while certainly not among the worst in the league, is not going to lead the Giants to the playoffs. The writing is on the wall. Manning failed to throw for 200 yards in last Thursday's loss to the Green Bay Packers, the third time that has happened since October of last season. Giants fans may not want to hear it, but the time has come for New York to find their quarterback of the future.