It is the offseason already for 24 of the NFL’s 32 groups, and because the league’s Elite Eight prepare for one more spherical of playoffs this weekend, three-quarters of the league is concerning the look-forward enterprise: hiring coaches, assessing wage-cap situations, determining what they do and do not have at quarterback.
That final half is what we’re serving to with right here. Mid-January appears like an honest time for one more installment of the occasional sequence we name the Quarterback Confidence Index.
A reminder, or in case you are new: This isn’t supposed as a rating of every staff’s beginning quarterback (although clearly that is a giant a part of it). It’s supposed as an evaluation of every staff’s confidence in its quarterback state of affairs as a complete. Which means it takes under consideration the depth chart on the place, the starter’s age and well being historical past, and so forth. Please do not forget that earlier than hollering at me that Tom Brady is healthier than Nick Foles. I’m already conscious of this.
That stated, we’re gonna begin with Foles’ staff.
Soar to a staff:
Carson Wentz was the No. 2 total decide within the 2016 draft, when the Eagles traded up to get him. He was a powerful MVP candidate in 2017 earlier than he acquired harm in December. He got here again and performed properly this season, and the Eagles have repeatedly asserted their lengthy-time period perception in him.
Nevertheless, Foles is four-zero in postseason video games the previous two seasons and is the reigning Tremendous Bowl MVP. He is perhaps the very best backup in league historical past, and we’re one Eagles upset in New Orleans away from a critical dialogue about whether or not the staff wants to deliver him again because the starter subsequent season. By the way in which, the Eagles actually like third-stringer Nate Sudfeld. It is potential they’re too quarterback-wealthy.
Drew Brees might be going to lose the MVP award to a man two spots down on this checklist, however he simply had an MVP-caliber season on the age of 39. There isn’t any indication that he plans to retire any time soon or that his play is about to drop off. And if the previous does occur this offseason, the Saints proactively acquired Teddy Bridgewater from the Jets firstly of the season and will signal him lengthy-time period to be Brees’ substitute.
Assuming Brees comes again, Bridgewater most likely leaves for a beginning alternative some other place, and the Saints can have to discover a new backup plan. However for now, this can be a deep QB room.
After lacking a season to get better from shoulder surgical procedure, Andrew Luck got here again and appeared just like the Andrew Luck of outdated. In different information, he isn’t outdated. He is 29 and won’t flip 30 till September. Assured that the shoulder woes are behind him, Luck and the Colts can look ahead with confidence to perhaps one other decade of excessive-degree efficiency at crucial place. Plus, the Colts have a backup in Jacoby Brissett who acquired a yr’s value of starter expertise whereas Luck was out final season.
He would possibly by no means have one other 50-touchdown-go season (there have been solely three ever), however Patrick Mahomes’ potential is off the charts, and he and head coach Andy Reid are an ideal match. The presumptive league MVP is heading into his first playoff begin, so we wait to see how he handles a contemporary problem. However he is solely 23, and he outplayed everybody within the league in his first season as a starter. It is onerous not to be assured about your QB state of affairs when you’ve got a man this particular.
Chad Henne is the veteran backup with expertise, however as with a number of these backup situations, that is topic to change within the offseason.
Tom Brady will likely be 42 when the 2019 season begins, however as traditional, his present season is not over but. He completed top-10 in Whole QBR, passing yards and landing passes at age 41. Whereas a few of his numbers did not appear Brady-esque (11 interceptions, for instance, have been his most since 2013), that is primarily due to the usual to which we maintain him.
There isn’t any purpose not to count on him to carry out as top-of-the-line within the league if he comes again subsequent season. The rationale he is not greater is the shortage of an extended-time period succession plan behind him. Brian Hoyer is the emergency backup.
A yr in the past, Russell Wilson was the Seahawks’ offense — main the staff in dashing by a large margin as well as to carrying it on his again as a passer. This season, Seattle was in a position to set up an actual run recreation and take a few of that accountability off of Wilson’s plate. You’ll be able to argue that the Seahawks went too far that manner in final week’s playoff loss, actually.
However Wilson nonetheless demonstrates a capability to lead recreation-successful drives, make recreation-successful throws and selections, and reply the bell each week. He is 30 years outdated, has by no means missed a recreation and would possibly properly be the league’s highest-paid participant as soon as this summer season’s contract extensions are all in.
Brett Hundley, who began a bit of video games in 2017 whereas Aaron Rodgers was harm in Inexperienced Bay, is the backup in case one thing have been to occur to Wilson.
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May this be the yr that Philip Rivers lastly provides postseason success to his Corridor of Fame résumé? There appears to be one thing about this very deep, very gifted Chargers staff, and beating Brady for the primary time ever on Sunday could be one thing shut to a crowning accomplishment for Rivers. He simply turned 37 and does not appear to be slowing down.
Geno Smith is the backup ought to one thing occur within the subsequent couple of weeks, however Rivers hasn’t missed a recreation since he turned the Chargers’ starter in 2006.
Bear in mind when the return of Aaron Rodgers from damage was supposed to make the Packers on the spot 2018 contenders? It, uh … it didn’t. Rodgers’ oddly disappointing season, wherein he posted the bottom Whole QBR and landing price of his profession, noticed coach Mike McCarthy get fired earlier than it was over and the Packers miss the playoffs at 6-9-1.
Rodgers is 35, so he has prime years left. At his finest, he is as effective a quarterback as there has ever been. New coach Matt LaFleur, who helped information Matt Ryan’s 2016 MVP season and Jared Goff’s 2017 breakout, might be the man to revive Rodgers, and we might look again on 2018 as a blip in an in any other case historic profession. However after the way in which 2018 went, confidence is a bit bit decrease than we’re used to on this one.
Fascinating be aware on backup DeShone Kizer: LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame in 2014, which was Kizer’s redshirt yr there. They’ve labored collectively earlier than.
That is one other staff that disillusioned terribly in 2018, however Matt Ryan’s completion share, yardage, landing and interception numbers have been practically equivalent to those he put up in his 2016 MVP season. He is 33 and will likely be altering offensive coordinators for the second time in three years, so we’ll see how that impacts the staff’s success. However there’s little purpose to doubt Ryan as an elite possibility on the place.
Matt Schaub has been the backup for some time, and also you marvel if the Falcons will make a change there if they alter the offense.
Do you know that Ben Roethlisberger, at age 36, simply set profession highs in passing yardage and landing passes for a single season? That solely six occasions in historical past has a quarterback thrown for extra yards than Huge Ben did in 2018? I did not till I researched this column. So many issues occurred (and hold taking place!) this season in Pittsburgh to overshadow what was taking place on the sector. Roethlisberger stays a high quarterback, however you marvel how lengthy that can maintain up with Le’Veon Bell out and Antonio Brown perhaps on his manner.
Final yr’s third-spherical decide, Mason Rudolph, is the projected backup and potential successor. Joshua Dobbs can also be nonetheless beneath contract.
Yeah, I do know. Collapsed within the second half. Did not beat successful groups. Did not sufficiently elevate the group round him. They did higher the season earlier than with Case Keenum. Not saying any of these arguments about Kirk Cousins is with out benefit. What I’m saying is that the stuff Cousins nonetheless has left to show is all the identical because it was final yr, when the Vikings have been assured sufficient to assure him $84 million over three years.
Two of these years stay, and Cousins picked up a brand new offense in a short time this season and put up strong numbers. Let’s have a look at him with an improved offensive line and a wholesome Dalvin Cook dinner. Trevor Siemian is the backup with beginning NFL expertise.
• Watch: Andrew Luck
• Watch: Deshaun Watson
• Watch: Philip Rivers
• Watch: Baker Mayfield
• Watch: Patrick Mahomes
• Watch: Matthew Stafford
• Watch: Josh Rosen
Matthew Stafford is coming off his first full season wherein he failed to go for four,000 yards, and he posted his lowest landing whole since 2012. As with Rodgers and Ryan earlier on this checklist, he is going to be altering offensive coordinators this offseason, and the Lions most likely have to rebuild the huge receiver corps for him. He turns 31 in February, and one down yr should not shake the Lions’ confidence in him. Whether or not he is dwelling up to his contract is a distinct story, however he hasn’t missed a recreation since 2010.
Matt Cassel is the designated “backup with beginning NFL expertise” in Detroit.
Time will inform whether or not the Rams commit large-time QB cash to Jared Goff, who has one yr left on his rookie deal and a staff fifth-yr possibility for 2020. Goff has displayed excessive-finish arm expertise and a capability to thrive within the Rams’ loaded offense. This December noticed him fall sufferer to some typical younger QB inconsistency, however he completed the season with a powerful recreation and is in a terrific spot.
Nice younger coach, tons of expertise round him … there are three or 4 veteran quarterbacks forward of Goff on this checklist who would possibly need to commerce locations with him. The backup for now’s 2015 third-spherical decide Sean Mannion, whom the Rams like however who has little or no expertise.
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Dak Prescott’s large extension might come this offseason, and the way in which he performed down the stretch and in Dallas’ playoff opener is barely deepening the Cowboys’ need to hold him round. An upset win over Goff’s staff Saturday evening might ship the value tag even greater, however the Cowboys love Prescott and would not thoughts paying a premium if it meant a Tremendous Bowl run.
Backups Cooper Rush and Mike White are unknown portions.
Saturday’s playoff loss to the Colts was removed from Deshaun Watson’s best hour, however in his quick time within the league, he has proven a capability to dominate defenses, to lead a various group of gamers and to dangle powerful, even whereas being sacked a surprising 62 occasions in a single season. I spent a while across the Texans the previous couple of weeks, and it appeared as if all people instructed me some variation of, “With this man as our quarterback, we all the time suppose we have now an opportunity.”
Brandon Weeden and Joe Webb are the backups on the present roster, and every has began video games within the NFL.
The principle purpose the Panthers aren’t greater is that Cam Newton is harm, having ended the season with a shoulder damage that the staff says does not want surgical procedure but however is troublesome nonetheless. It virtually definitely affected his efficiency in a disappointing Carolina season, and he’ll carry questions with him into 2019 as a result.
Backups Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen flashed a bit in aid of Newton.
Jon Gruden continues to categorical confidence in Derek Carr, and although you may’t all the time ensure Gruden is saying what he actually believes in interviews and information conferences, he has been a fan since lengthy earlier than he was the Raiders’ coach.
Carr’s 19 landing passes, 11 interceptions and 10 fumbles in 2018 have been nothing to write residence about, however he went 10 video games in a row with out throwing a decide this season, and he appeared to begin to flourish a bit beneath Gruden because the season went on. What the Raiders do within the draft might inform you a large number about their true confidence in Carr. Final yr’s supposed scorching free agent, AJ McCarron, is Carr’s present backup.
From the wild-card spherical via Tremendous Bowl LIII, ESPN.com has you lined.
• Full schedule, information, notes »
Extra NFL protection »
Andy Dalton completed the season injured, with Jeff Driskel filling in and taking part in no less than competently in spots. At this level in Dalton’s profession, the Bengals may be fairly assured that he’s what he’s. Whether or not that is ok to elevate them out of the doldrums stays to be seen — as does who’s teaching him subsequent season and past.
We noticed some nice issues from Mitchell Trubisky in 2018, and there are indicators that he can thrive in Matt Nagy’s offense because the Bears proceed to put sturdy items round him. He stays a younger and really inexperienced participant, and his struggles early within the playoff loss to the Eagles did little to quiet Bears followers’ considerations that he is perhaps what retains them from being a Tremendous Bowl staff. Contemplate Trubisky a promising work-in-progress who’s yet another good yr away from vaulting up the arrogance ranks. Chase Daniel is the veteran backup who is aware of the offense.
There is perhaps no younger quarterback within the league — apart from Mahomes — who has followers extra excited than Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield. He went in for an injured Tyrod Taylor in Week three, led the Browns to their first win in two years and by no means appeared again. Below offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, who himself acquired an in-season promotion to that spot, Mayfield had an exciting second half of the season and may need wrested the Offensive Rookie of the 12 months Award from Saquon Barkley.
Taylor is probably going to look elsewhere for his alternative, however the staff might hold veteran backup Drew Stanton round in his mentor position.
Jameis Winston was suspended to begin the season, was benched in the course of it, completed because the starter and appears poised to nonetheless be the starter when 2019 opens. However tons of questions stay concerning the staff’s potential to belief him — on and off the sector — lengthy-time period. The Bucs nudge forward of the following staff on this checklist due to how properly backup Ryan Fitzpatrick carried out in stretches this season, however total, this case is much too turnover-inclined to encourage a ton of confidence.
Atone for what’s taking place heading into the playoffs:
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• Overreactions: O’Brien on the new seat? »
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• 2019 draft order: First-spherical picks from 1-32 »
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Extra NFL playoff protection »
It has been two years in a row now that Marcus Mariota was anticipated to take a giant step ahead in his growth. He continues to have hassle staying wholesome, and he’ll be altering offensive coordinators for the second yr in a row. Because the Bucs do with Winston, the Titans have a call to make about whether or not (and the way a lot) to commit to Mariota lengthy-time period. Pesky questions linger.
Backup Blaine Gabbert acquired some work in aid of Mariota when Mariota was injured this season. Austin Davis is on the roster as properly.
There’s scorching take after scorching take about what Lamar Jackson is, is not and will ultimately be. However he had a 6-1 file down the stretch to drag the Ravens into the playoffs. They confirmed they’ll win video games with him as their quarterback.
He clearly has work to do to refine himself as a thrower, and his stinker of a playoff efficiency will linger in recollections all offseason. However he has one thing different quarterbacks do not have — the flexibility to make an enormous play together with his legs — and he’ll proceed to be a novel drawback for defenses to strive to clear up.
Joe Flacco is unquestionably gone, however Robert Griffin III might return as Jackson’s backup.
Whether or not it was strictly for damage causes or not, the quick break Sam Darnold acquired from beginning video games within the second half of the season appeared to do one thing useful for him. He completed with a really sturdy December efficiency that has the Jets believing he is their man for the long run and that what they want to do now’s construct a greater staff round him. Let’s have a look at what they resolve about head coach, as the primary job of whoever that’s will likely be to groom Darnold into stardom. It stays to be seen whether or not veteran backup Josh McCown will return for one more season to assist with Darnold’s growth.
Considerably like Lamar Jackson’s rookie season, Josh Allen’s first yr was a tough one to consider. He appeared to make extra noise as a runner than as a passer, partially due to the Payments’ great shortcomings at offensive line and huge receiver.
As with Darnold, Allen wants his staff to construct an offense round him, however he discovered a manner to be productive within the meantime. I’m wondering if his comp finally ends up being Cam Newton, who by no means turned an excellent-correct passer however discovered different methods to use his bodily items to win video games.
Matt Barkley and Derek Anderson served because the veteran backups this season and acquired into some video games when Allen was harm.
It is sort of bizarre to see them down right here, given the monetary dedication they made final offseason to Jimmy Garoppolo. However Garoppolo, who was injured in Week three and missed the remainder of the season, nonetheless has solely 10 NFL begins to his credit score. A few of this yr’s rookies have extra. The Niners are assured that Garoppolo may be their man, however nobody has seen it but in a sustained manner.
The staff is definitely excessive on each of its backups, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, although the hope is that they won’t be wanted once more in 2019.
Of the rookie quarterbacks, Josh Rosen confirmed the least, although he had his moments, and he was taking part in on a staff that did not grant him a lot assist. If Arizona appreciated him a yr in the past, there isn’t any compelling purpose not to like him simply as a lot now. However the Cardinals have work to do earlier than they’ve the sort of staff that enables them to make a good analysis. Mike Glennon served as Rosen’s backup his rookie season and will return to achieve this once more, although the brand new teaching employees might produce other concepts.
We have entered the portion of the checklist the place the groups actually don’t know what they’re doing on the place. The Giants might deliver Eli Manning again for a 16th season, however he most likely has to take a pay lower for that to occur, and so they do not have a substitute in place. Test again in a few months to see what free company and/or the draft have achieved to this rating, however for now, the Giants’ quarterback state of affairs has to be counted as a thriller.
They’ve Case Keenum beneath contract, however he did little to encourage confidence in 2018 and might be changed with minimal monetary ache if John Elway finds a greater resolution in free company or the draft. Elway’s legacy as a GM would possibly hinge on his potential to clear up a quarterback drawback that has bedeviled him since Peyton Manning’s retirement.
• Pederson’s belief in Foles key for Philly
• Payton, Saints rewarded for sticking collectively
• Colts’ turnaround was no fast repair
• Cowboys feeling impression of Kris Richard
• Pats’ Gilmore becoming of No. 24 legacy
• Flacco supplies easy handoff to Jackson
• Playoffs schedule, Tremendous Bowl LIII protection
Ryan Tannehill remains to be there, nevertheless it’s anyone’s guess for a way lengthy. He was Adam Gase’s man, and Gase is now not the top coach, and Tannehill’s contract permits the Dolphins to escape if that is what they resolve to do. The issue is that, just like the Giants, the Dolphins do not have the substitute on the roster, having handed up an opportunity to draft one in final yr’s QB-heavy first spherical.
Alex Smith’s future is doubtful as a result of the intense leg damage that ended his season early. Backup Colt McCoy broke his leg a few weeks later, although his damage does not sound as doubtlessly profession-threatening as Smith’s does. Josh Johnson crammed in effective whereas the staff’s season fizzled. If Smith is wholesome, this rating goes manner up. However Washington wants to be within the QB market somehow this offseason, and it will probably’t ensure who the man goes to be at this level.
Extending Blake Bortles final yr, as a substitute of signing Cousins and/or drafting Lamar Jackson, was a mistake that harm the Jags this season and will create a tough close to-time period future for them. They benched Bortles late within the yr and are clearly anticipated to lower ties with him, so that is one other staff that simply does not know what it has at this level and subsequently cannot have any confidence.