Next man up.
This mantra runs through every NFL team. You lose a player, there is no time to mourn, someone else is always ready to step in, but this season, more than in the past, the quarterback position has been hit hard.
Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Darnold, Cam Newton and Drew Brees have missed time through injury. Meaning we’ve been blessed with Matt Moore, Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk and Kyle Allen starting under centre.
Elsewhere, Marcus Mariota was benched for Ryan Tannehill and Andy Dalton was told he was no longer no.1 at the Cincinnati Bengals… On his birthday.
It may sound brutal, but the QB is arguably the key position for any franchise to get right, and with a new batch of play callers entering the league every year, you are only a couple of bad games away from being dumped for a shiny new toy.
Yet, with only 32 quarterbacks able to start, those who lose their spot are instantly thrown into an ongoing battle for a job.
Next season, around 10 teams could be looking for a new player to lead their franchise. The 2020 draft class looks stacked with four or five College QBs making the step up to the big time.
The Bengals and Dolphins are almost guaranteed to draft a quarterback, with others looking to trade up in order to land their man.
Which leaves a minimum of five spots in the NFL where teams will delve into the existing pot of available players.
Which brings a big question. Who do you trust?
Dalton, Mariota, Tannehill, Mitch Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Rosen, Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew, Nick Foles, Joe Flacco, and Jameis Winston could all be looking for new homes in the offseason.
Also, this doesn’t include the ongoing situations in Oakland and Pittsburgh where you either have an older, injured QB or someone who you are never quite sure if the head coach trusts.
Here are five of the current crop who deserve a second chance in a new team.
None of the Bengals’ failures this season can be put on the Red Rocket.
Before being replaced he was averaging 42.5 attempts per game, which is more than when he threw 586 passes in 2013 – his 33-touchdown year.
204 completed passes in eight games would put him on course for over 400 in a season. Something he has never managed since joining the league in 2011.
A poor O-Line, A.J Green’s injury, a team constantly behind, all puts more pressure on the second-round pick. However, just like Tannehill has managed in Tennessee. Imagine someone like Dalton, with his accuracy, with Matt Nagy and the Chicago offence, or even with Jon Gruden and the Raiders.
It seems the careers of the former Oregon QB and Jameis Winston will always be intertwined. Tampa Bay took the latter with the No.1 pick in 2015, then the Titans picked up the Hawaii native at number two.
Their successes and failures are always mentioned together and now they could be looking for a new team at the same time.
Mariota is no longer in Tennessee’s future, Tannehill’s performances have proven as much as the franchise could be to blame for not getting the best out their draft pick, he’s far from blameless.
However, he’s mobile, he’s one of the fastest quarterbacks along the ground and he can even throw touchdowns to himself.
With a QB rating of 33.6, he’s ranked 32nd this season with a completion % of 59.1 it is his worst return. The gun-slinger who picked up 26 TDs in 2016 is still in there somewhere, he just needs the right team and the right coach.
What would he look like beside Christian McCaffrey?
Ryan Tannehill is the 1st Titans QB with 2 Pass TD and 2 Rush TD in the same game since Steve McNair in 2001. McNair's last instance was also against the Jaguars.
The Titans scored 28 points in the 3rd quarter, their most in any quarter since 1991 (28 pts in 2nd quarter vs DEN). pic.twitter.com/tFsa70N6iU
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 24, 2019
The Ryan Tannehill led Titans beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 10. Yes, you read that right. Not only that, but it was the former Dolphin’s third game-winning drive of the season which put them ahead.
After seven games, at 55.7, his QB rating from ESPN matches his best numbers from his Miami days, completing 111 or 154 passes for 10 touchdowns.
Mike Vrabel and Jon Robinson may look elsewhere in the off-season, with Jake Fromm and Justin Herbert coming up in the draft, but this form should not go unnoticed and if any franchise wants a dependable and consistent passer, they could do much worse than the 2012 pick.
Remember, it’s 2019 and Brian Hoyer still has a job.
Speaking of impressive backups, the New Orleans Saints will struggle to keep Bridgewater in the Bayou next season.
Statistically, over just seven games, this is his best-ever season. 132 passes completed, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Not every team has an OL like the Saints, but the 2014 first-round pick has proven he is ready and able to be the starting QB for someone. Tampa Bay or Denver could both upgrade by bringing him in.
I’ve never seen anything like the quick flip among fans on Nick Foles. Probably shouldn’t expect a change to Minshew, though. In part b/c of this from Shad Khan in March: “I can tell you this, categorically, that as soon as the season was over, our dream was to get Nick Foles.”
— Michael DiRocco (@ESPNdirocco) November 25, 2019
For now, #MinshewMania, has been put on hold. Nick Foles is back as the Jacksonville Jaguars starter and with an $88 million contract over four years, it’s unlikely, barring another injury, he’ll be dropped again.
Minshew may be a rookie, but the sixth-round pick exceeded all expectations, and his future may lie elsewhere. Doug Marrone has an asset on his hands and could pick up some draft capital, with the QB showing enough promise to gain interest from rebuilding teams.
Why use a high draft pick on a quarterback when you can pick up someone in his second year, with NFL experience and the type of attitude who could be a leader for your team.
Then you can go and draft a better OL than the Jags had to protect him. #MinshewMania will return, but it’s unlikely to be in the AFC South.