The NFL is a quarterback-driven league. Either you have one or you don’t, and if you’re in the latter group, you probably won’t be competing for a Super Bowl. Finding a franchise quarterback is difficult, and these seven teams have had a hard time doing so.
Now that we’re past the NFL Draft and each team’s quarterback situation is somewhat clear, let’s take a look at the worst ones in the league.
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It’s not that the Broncos’ quarterback situation is bad. It’s just not great. We saw them win with Trevor Siemian last season despite his being a game manager whose job was to not make mistakes.
They also have Paxton Lynch, a first-round pick from last year. The Broncos are obviously high on him after trading up to land the Memphis product, and he should be in a position to compete for the starting job this season. If he still hasn’t developed enough to unseat Siemian, the Broncos will be in trouble.
Lynch needs to prove he can win as a pocket passer, particularly from under center. He didn’t do much of that at Memphis or for the Broncos last season, but having another year of learning under his belt should help.
Denver can make the playoffs with either guy starting at quarterback, but winning a Super Bowl with Siemian will be difficult. Lynch at least has a big arm and great potential.
Blake Bortles got a vote of confidence from the Jaguars this week when they picked up his fifth-year option for 2018. Why? I have absolutely no clue. He should be on his last gasp in Jacksonville after putting together a terrible season in 2016.
The former No. 3 overall pick hasn’t showed he’s a franchise quarterback despite the Jaguars treating him like one, surrounding him with plenty of talent on offense.
He’s not the worst quarterback in the league, and he has the potential to be a franchise guy, but that has yet to be realized. He’s turnover-prone, his mechanics are out of whack, and his decision-making on the field is questionable at best.
Still, there are far worse situations in the NFL. Bortles at least has a big arm and talent around him. Other teams have neither at quarterback.
How is it that the Bears spent $45 million on a quarterback, then drafted one second overall, and still have one of the worst situations in the league? I don’t exactly have an answer for you besides this: That’s what the Bears do.
They overspent for a backup in Mike Glennon, then compounded that bad decision by trading up to land Mitchell Trubisky with the second pick in the draft. Neither is even an above-average starter despite being paid fairly handsomely.
What the Bears do have is competence. They know what they’re getting in Glennon, who was decent for the Buccaneers in 2013-14. He can protect the football and not try to do too much, allowing Trubisky to learn for a season.
That’s all the Bears can ask from him because he’s not a top-tier starter who will carry a bad team to the playoffs.
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If not for the selection of Deshaun Watson, the Texans would be far higher on this list – and that’s not a good thing. Watson isn’t a perfect prospect and has a lot to learn in the NFL, but he at least gives Tom Savage some serious competition on the field.
So much so that I don’t plan on seeing Savage as the starter in Week 1. That title will go to Watson after he wins out in camp. He’ll prove to be a good fit in Bill O’Brien’s offense, executing short, quick throws with easy reads for the most part – similar to the way the Cowboys used Dak Prescott last season.
The Texans just need a quarterback who doesn’t turn the ball over as much as Osweiler did last season. Watson, although he was turnover-prone at Clemson in 2016, should be able to protect the football and utilize his playmakers on the outside, which is all the Texans need from him.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers could have had Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall, but new GM John Lynch was fine with going into the season with Brian Hoyer as the guy atop the depth chart. He’s a capable starter, but if you’re trying to win a Super Bowl, you should probably look elsewhere.
Hoyer has played better than he’s gotten credit for the past few seasons. In the last two years (17 games), he has 25 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions, completing 62.9 percent of his passes.
He shouldn’t have much trouble holding off Matt Barkley and rookie C.J. Beathard, but it’ll take a lot for him to lead the 49ers to the playoffs – especially with a lack of support on offense. Expect the 49ers to be in the mix for Kirk Cousins next offseason.
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The Browns seem comfortable with the guys currently on the roster, after passing on Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson in the draft. They did take DeShone Kizer in the second round, but no one expects him to be the starter in Week 1. He’ll compete with Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan with the best player winning the job.
Unfortunately, none of those guys has a particularly stacked NFL track record. Kessler had the best 2016 season, but that was in extremely limited action. The Browns know what they have in Osweiler, but there’s a reason Houston gave up a second-round pick to dump his contract.
Although it’s unlikely, the best scenario would be Kizer playing the way he did for Notre Dame in 2015 and unequivocally winning the starting gig in camp. He has all the tools you look for in an NFL quarterback, but inconsistency and accuracy problems have doomed him.
New York Jets
The Jets entered the draft with the league’s worst quarterback situation, and they left Philadelphia in the same position. They don’t have a legitimate starter on the roster with Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg as their best options. None of those three players would be starters on another team, which shows just how bad the Jets’ situation is.
Hackenberg is the top candidate to win the job despite having the same number of regular-season pass attempts in the NFL as you and I. He clearly wasn’t ready to take the reins last season, but as a second-round pick, the Jets can’t afford to have him sit on the bench for another season.
Expect to see New York in the mix for not only a quarterback in 2018 but likely the first overall pick in the draft. That’s how disastrous their quarterback situation is.