The Best/Worst Quarterback Depth Charts in the NFL
It always helps to be prepared in case of a disaster. In the National Football League, disaster preparedness could be the difference of being a contender or pretender.
In the NFL, disaster is broadly defined as "starting quarterback goes down". For some teams...like the Dallas Cowboys...a season became an odyssey in failure. Others however...like the Cincinnati Bengals...didn't lose a step when their starter went down, thanks to solid play from the next man up. With training camp a few weeks away, here's a look at some teams who prepared well for disaster, and others' whose depth charts need work.
Best: Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have been through 17 different quarterbacks since Rich Gannon led them to Super Bowl XXXVII, none of whom have played in a postseason game in an Oakland jersey. Derek Carr, a second round steal, figures to finally be the franchise quarterback the team has been looking for, having started all 32 games in his first two seasons and tallying 53 touchdown passes. Carr also made his first ever Pro Bowl last season. In the latter stages of this year's draft, Oakland traded up to select highly decorated Michigan State QB Connor Cook to serve as Carr's backup, though a competition will ensue between fellow Big Ten alum Matt McGloin this summer. Oakland's young throwing corps, among other youngsters, has given their raucous fans hope for the first time in forever.
Worst: Seattle Seahawks
Now, this is no knock on Russell Wilson. Cast aside by many when Seattle selected him in the 3rd round of the 2012 Draft, the new Mr. Ciara has outperformed the expectations of so many experts, becoming one of the NFL's strongest and elusive quarterbacks, possessing weapons in both his arms and legs. However, we've seen what happens to electrifying rushing quarterbacks if they take a hit too many (Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick). Wilson has incredible durability, starting in every single Seahawks game since he arrived, but if he does go down, it's an uglier situation than the Seahawks' neon-green alternate jersey experiment. Wilson's longtime backup, Tarvaris Jackson, was not brought back after he was arrested for a domestic violence incident last month. The new emergency plan now consists of two undrafted passers Trevone Boykin and Jake Heaps. Boykin has a skill set similar to Wilson, but his stock dropped after facing legal issues of his own at TCU. Heaps, who briefly spent time in Jets camp last summer, struggled in college, never finding a permanent home amongst three different schools.
Best: Minnesota Vikings
14 quarterbacks were taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, a trio of whom went in the first round. The class of that class in this small sample size has been Teddy Bridgewater, whom the Vikings nabbed on the final pick of the first. Bridgewater set several Vikings rookie quarterback records in his debut, as well as an NFL record for highest single game completion percentage and becoming the first rookie throw over 70% in four straight games. He continued that success into his sophomore year, but this time the wins started to accompany the stats, as the Vikes earned their first division title since 2009. The Vikings also have a solid insurance policy behind Bridgewater in Shaun Hill. A 10-year NFL veteran, Hill is in his second tenure in Minnesota. Last season, he took over for a concussed Bridgewater in a Week 9 tilt with St. Louis, Hill helped the Vikings to a 21-18 victory in overtime. With four different teams, Hill owns a career. 85.9 passer rating.
Worst: New York Jets
There are no winners or losers in the case of the New York Jets vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Harvard grad has made a solid, if not serviceable, NFL career, one that has now spanned a decade. You certainly wouldn't call him an "elite" quarterback, but to a team like the New York Jets, who posses several offensive weapons and a fine defense, he's more than passable in the spot, and the Jets won 10 games (the first time since 2010 they won double digit games). With Fitz on the free agent market and seeing how much Sam Bradford, whose numbers are similar, if not worse, than Fitzpatrick's, is getting paid, you can hardly blame for wanting a similar salary. You can also not fault the Jets for balking at such a massive price tag. With training camp coming, neither side has made a compromise.
So where do the Jets stand now? Well, if a Fitzpatrick truce cannot be reached the Week 1 starter is likely Geno Smith…whose getting punched in the face was a legit cause for celebration among (some dim-witted) Jets fans last season. Behind Geno are two major question marks and zero throws in the NFL. Bryce Petty was one of the most prolific passers in college football history, but that happens when Baylor football lets you throw it 70 times a game. Also brought in was Christian Hackenberg, whom many experts once pegged as the 2016 Draft's first overall pick prior to last season, but instead he fell all the way to the Jets…in the second round, at 51st.
Best: Cincinnati Bengals
We'll never know if Andy Dalton would've been able to escape the infamous "Meltdown at Paul Brown" with a win, but the much maligned Dalton, jokes aside, actually had a really good season last year before a December injury knocked him out last season. He tallied a career high 106.2 passer rating, and threw just 7 interceptions last season, accounting for a mere 1.8% of his pass attempts. Backing up Dalton is another prolific college passer, AJ McCarron. We've seen Alabama quarterbacks fizzle out in the NFL, unable to even cut it as backups (Greg McElroy, John Parker Wilson, Brodie Croyle), but McCarron reversed the trend, becoming the first Tide quarterback to win an NFL start in decades. Over three starts, McCarron tallied an impressive 97.1 passer rating. Also armed with his championship experiences from Bama, McCarron just may be the NFL's most reliable backup.
Worst: Dallas Cowboys
Grow up. It's time to admit that Tony Romo, indeed, is a very very good quarterback. However, even the staunchest Romo apologist will admit to you that their heart skips a beat every time he's on the ground for more than 3 seconds. The Cowboys rise and fall as Romo does, evidenced by their 3-1 record with him last year, contrasting the 1-11 record they suffered when Romo missed time due to two separate injuries. After the Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel stopgaps failed, the Cowboys turned to college football hero from Boise State, Kellen Moore. The winningest quarterback in college football history showed ever so brief flashes of brilliance, but nothing to assure he's a long term solution in case Romo goes down again. The Cowboys also didn't bother to trade up in the Draft to take a potential backup, and the aforementioned Raiders took advantage, trading up to swipe away Connor Cook, three picks before Dallas's 4th round selection. The Cowboys did bring in rookie Dak Prescott, but will his style of offense translate to the NFL?
Are you satisfied with your team's quarterbacks? Tweet me @GeoffMags5490 and continue the conversation
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