The NFL preseason finally kicked off with the Ravens winning over the Bears in the Hall of Fame Game. The regular season is only 33 days away!
To go along with this hype, this article ranks the QB situation of each NFL team heading into the regular season (remember, this list only accounts for the upcoming season, not future ones). The rankings are based on each team’s projected starter and backup for the 2018 season.
Here are the rankings. Let’s get started!
#32. Chicago Bears
Starter) Mitchell Trubisky, Backup) Chase Daniel
Trubisky indisputably lacked offensive weapons in 2017. Still, he only threw for seven touchdowns in 12 starts, and he passed for only 2193 yards. Considering his bleak 2017 stats and lack of a phenomenal game, Trubisky is still an unreliable prospect. Having Chase Daniel, a 31 year-old who’s thrown one TD in an 8-year career, doesn’t help the Bears’ QB situation at all. The Bears are dead last due to Trubisky’s bad 2017 season and the Bears’ lack of a valid backup.
#31. Buffalo Bills
Starter) AJ McCarron, Backup) Josh Allen
AJ McCarron is just a bridge QB to prepare Josh Allen for the NFL. While McCarron had a decent 3-game stretch in 2015 during which he had a 6-2 TD-INT ratio, he’s only completed 7 throws ever since. I also think Josh Allen will be a bust. He’s overhyped and inaccurate. Don’t expect an outstanding pass offense from the Bills.
#30. Jacksonville Jaguars
Starter) Blake Bortles, Backup) Cody Kessler
The Jaguars have an average backup QB in Cody Kessler. Bortles, however, has a lot to prove. Last year, Bortles was carried by Leonard Fournette, while the defense dominated. The defensive powerhouse was called Sacksonville for a reason. Meanwhile, Bortles only recorded three 300+ yard games throughout the regular and post-season. Bortles is not a good passer, so Jags’ QB situation is clearly a weak spot on their roster.
#29. Baltimore Ravens
Starter) Joe Flacco, Backup) Lamar Jackson
Baltimore drafted Lamar Jackson as their QB of the future. The Raven’s shift from a big-arm gunslinger to a Mike Vick-type QB tells us something about Joe Flacco; His high-risk low-reward play style isn’t working. The 6’6 veteran will probably start throughout the 2018 season, and he’s not gonna exceed many expectations.
#28. Cincinnati Bengals
Starter) Andy Dalton, Backup) Matt Barkley
Andy Dalton had some decent years, but he was never an outstanding player. Furthermore, he’s coming off one of his worst seasons yet. Dalton completed less than 60% of his passes last year. The backup spot is also a weakness, as Matt Barkley has an atrocious TD-INT ratio of 8-18.
#27. Kansas City Chiefs
Starter) Patrick Mahomes II, Backup) Chad Henne
Patrick Mahomes II is utterly unproven. I hate how people are quick to dub more experienced QBs like Jimmy G and Tyrod Taylor as “unreliable” players, while they jump off their seats for a gunslinger like Mahomes. To be frank, Mahomes played in one 0-TD game; He hasn’t even scored yet. Personally, the Chiefs’ decision to trash Alex Smith and trust in Mahomes was hasty. I think the sophomore QB is quite overrated, but I also trust Andy Reid’s judgement. I have mixed feelings about this one, but I’m leaning towards the negative side.
#26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Starter) Jameis Winston*, Backup) Ryan Fitzpatrick
If not for Jameis Winston’s 4-game suspension following the alleged personal misconduct, the Buccaneers’ QB situation would be pretty good. Jameis has displayed steady growth throughout his first three seasons; his ability to assess risk and reward has developed, therefore his completion percentage increased from 58.3% in 2015 to 60.8% in 2016 to 63.8% in 2017. Losing a still-maturing QB for a fourth of the season hurts, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is a provenly mediocre player.
*Jameis Winston will face a 4-game suspension starting week 1.
#25. Miami Dolphins
Starter) Ryan Tannehill, Backup) Brock Osweiler
Ryan Tannehill is underrated. In 2016, he threw with a high 67.1% completion rate until his injury. Tannehill is consistently overlooked, despite his above-average stats. He’s also pretty young, so he can still learn from Brock Osweiler. Both the starter and backup position are covered, but the looming question for the Dolphins’ QB situation is the plausibility of Tannehill’s return following a year off the field.
#24. Carolina Panthers
Starter) Cam Newton, Backup) Garrett Gilbert
Cam Newton isn’t a top-tier thrower. His 2016 and 2017 seasons were horrendous; he had a 52.9% completion rate in 2016, while he racked up 16 interceptions in 2017. And don’t forget, Garrett Gilbert, Cam’s backup, hasn’t thrown a single ball in the NFL. However, Cam Newton is an absolute beast when he scrambles. Last year, he rushed for 754 yards, a career high. His rushing-power allows Carolina to run a diverse set of plays. Carolina’s QB room has to find stability; Cam isn’t consistent, and Garrett Gilbert is a nobody. Still, Cam’s ability to run over defenses significantly improves Carolina’s QB situation.
#23. Denver Broncos
Starter) Case Keenum, Backup) Paxton Lynch
Case Keenum was never a terrible QB, even as a backup on the Rams and Texans. He played especially well last year, as he led the Vikings to the NFC Championships. Paxton Lynch is also a decent backup with some NFL experience. I can’t, however, rank the Broncos higher on this list because 1) Case Keenum had only one great season, 2) the Vikings had the best defense in the League last year, and 3) there are many better QBs in the NFL right now.
#22. Arizona Cardinals
Starter) Sam Bradford, Backup) Josh Rosen
I want to rank the Cardinals much higher for two reasons. 1.) Sam Bradford plays amazingly when he stays healthy, and 2) in my opinion, Josh Rosen is the best QB out of the 2018 Draft after Baker Mayfield. Rosen will be a great NFL player. I’m calling it. Contrary to all his haters, I love his confidence. He hates to lose. WATCH THAT GAME BETWEEN UCLA AND TEXAS A&M. And in a football standpoint, Rosen is such a seamless, beautiful passer. However, Arizona’s situation doesn’t rely on just that because the Cardinals’ coaching staff won’t go all out on Rosen in his rookie year. If Bradford becomes injured again, Josh Rosen, a rookie QB, might enter the NFL field prematurely. Even though I think Rosen will be a great QB in the NFL, the potential commotion doesn’t help Arizona’s QB situation.
21. Tennessee Titans
Starter) Marcus Mariota, Backup) Blaine Gabbert
Marcus Mariota regressed last season. In the regular season, he had only 13 pass TDs, while he threw 15 INTs. Corey Davis’ disappointing rookie season probably affected Mariota’s performance. To look at things positively, Mariota’s successes in the post-season probably gave him some newfound confidence. Blaine Gabbert is also a very reliable backup QB. Overall, Mariota still must find consistency in his play. Doubts still pervade the Titans’ QB situation, rendering the Tennessee QB room mid-tier.
#20. Cleveland Browns
Starter) Tyrod Taylor, Backup) Baker Mayfield
For the first time in a while, the Browns have a reliable QB. We all know who Tyrod Taylor is and what he brings to the table. He is a low-risk QB who can both throw and run. He’ll bring stability to a position that was dreadful last season. Furthermore, if the Browns see fit, they have the opportunity to start Baker mid-season. This combination of stability and bright prospect is unheard of for the Browns. While the lack of a top-tier QB bars the Browns’ situation from reaching greater heights, in Browns terms, the QB room is looking great.
#19. New York Jets
Starter) Josh McCown, Backup) Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold
The Jets’ depth at the QB position helps as the team heads towards the 2018 season. Sam Darnold will most likely not start week one. Both McCown and Bridgewater are experienced QBs who are valid options for next season. Last season, Josh McCown distanced himself from his title as a backup as he threw at a 67.3% completion rate in 13 games. Bridgewater’s circumstances are more unique. In 2014 and 2015, his play-style and stats were very similar to those of Tyrod Taylor, but he hasn’t thrown in a full game for over two years. We’ll probably watch McCown sustain his starter status, while Darnold might take over mid-season. The sheer number of options the Jets have at QB renders their situation mid-tier.
#18. New York Giants
Starter) Eli Manning, Backup) Davis Webb
Eli Manning is a reliable starter. He’s been playing in the Big Apple for 14 years for a reason. He has consistently thrown at around a 62% completion rate for the past four years. He’s not a top-10 QB anymore, however, due to his age. His 2017 season wasn’t bad, considering that he had no run-game and OBJ out for a majority of the year. Having a very healthy veteran at starter, and a promising young QB in Davis Webb at backup gives the G-Men stability at the QB position.
#17. Dallas Cowboys
Starter) Dak Prescott, Backup) Cooper Rush
Dak Prescott went off his rookie season, but his sophomore year wasn’t as impressive. People questioned his declining performance as he endured a mediocre stretch of games without Zeke. Dak’s interceptions more than tripled in 2017 (4 in 2016 to 13 in 2017), while his TD rate remained nearly the same. Dak’s regression in his second season raises questions, but his talent is undeniable. We’ll probably see him get back into good form. In the meantime, the Cowboys’ plan at backup QB spot is terrible, considering that Cooper Rush, a no-name player holds down the role. Dak Prescott is talented, but his regression in 2017 and Cooper Rush at backup raises questions, so the Dallas QB situation is average.
#16. Washington Redskins
Starter) Alex Smith, Backup) Colt McCoy
Alex Smith is a pretty good QB. However, his previous successes in Kansas City were partly due to the team’s offensive weaponry. In 2017, he had a powerhouse offense that included Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill. Kirk Cousins is younger, and he’s a better QB; Cousins has performed at a higher level with fewer weapons. While Alex Smith is by no means a bad QB, Cousins was the face of the franchise and dropping him for Alex Smith was questionable. Also, the backup position needs improvement.
#15. Los Angeles Rams
Starter) Jared Goff, Backup) Sean Mannion
After his atrocious rookie season, Jared Goff found his way in the NFL in his second year. Sean Mcvay played a major role in Goff’s positive transformation. Goff’s performance was comparable to those of top-10 QBs. However, Todd Gurley played at an insanely high level, thus skewing Goff’s sophomore season stats. Also, we can’t just overlook the fact that Goff was one of the worst QBs in 2016. Plus, Sean Mannion at backup QB is very peculiar. The Rams don’t have a plan B at QB. Goff’s top-tier 2017 season, balanced out with his negative rookie year, along with the Rams’ weakness at backup QB renders the Ram QB situation mid-tier.
#14. Indianapolis Colts
Starter) Andrew Luck, Backup) Jacoby Brissett
Expected to return in 2018, Andrew Luck has had a tough stretch of injuries. He carried the Colts’ mediocre roster through three 11-5 seasons before sustaining his first injury. In his first five NFL seasons, he’s averaged over 30 TDs per 16 games. Despite his leadership, talent, and ability to endure tough hits, availability is the best ability. This notion applies especially in the NFL, so even if Luck is a top 5 QB talent-wise, if he can’t stay on the field, he’s basically useless. Jacoby Brissett helps the Colts QB situation, as he is a top-10 backup QB. Luck is a tremendous QB, and I’m excited to see what he accomplishes with the Colts in 2018. Until he’s healthy, I can’t rank the Indy QB situation higher.
#13. Los Angeles Chargers
Starter) Phillip Rivers, Backup) Geno Smith
Phillip Rivers has started every game in the last 12 years now. He still plays very well, but he’s been a bit less consistent in the past couple of seasons. Rivers has shown that he can still play, but assessing his potential decline is very difficult. He is 37 years old, so any of these next few seasons can be his final one. Geno Smith at backup QB doesn’t really help the situation because he’s a mid to low-tier backup. Rivers will probably play well again in 2018, but Geno at backup isn’t great. I rank the Chargers #13 for their high stability yet lack of superbness.
#12. Houston Texans
Starter) Deshaun Watson, Backup) Brandon Weeden
Deshaun Watson had a phenomenal rookie performance. I earnestly predicted he would be the best QB out of the 2017 Draft. Among the three first-round QBs from the 2017 Draft, Deshaun Watson easily performed the best last year. I think his ceiling is annual Pro Bowler and Superbowler. I want to even say Watson will reach Canton, but I can’t get TOO ahead of myself. First, the sample size is very small. He started only 6 games last year. Second, his injury is still concerning. Third, he is no longer the dark horse, so people will have higher expectations. This third concern is the least important because Deshaun Watson tends to GO OFF when the lights are bright (eg. Clemson v. Alabama in the College National Championships). If Watson overcomes his injury and stays healthy, he’ll be “the one” for the Texans. Houston’s ranking would hit single-digits if 1) they find a good backup and 2) Watson completely heals.
#11. Las Vegas Raiders
Starter) Derek Carr, Backup) Connor Cook
Derek Carr is already a three time Pro-Bowler. He played well in 2017 even though the Raiders’ rushing offense was 25th in yards per game in 2017, and their defense was 23rd in yards allowed per game in 2017. Also Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree didn’t help Carr, as they underperformed in 2017. Either way, he didn’t play as well last season, but he was still a Pro Bowler. He’s proven himself to be a top-5 QB in the AFC. Not just that, as a young QB, the level of spark Carr adds to the Raiders can’t be overlooked. Derek Carr is a very good QB and carries the Raiders, but he doesn’t have any postseason experience. Also, Connor Cook hasn’t started an NFL game.
#10. San Francisco 49ers
Starter) Jimmy Garoppolo, Backup) C.J. Beathard
49ers have found the QB they’ve been looking for since Alex Smith. Jimmy Garoppolo might have only seven games under his belt, but we can’t forget that he learned well under Tom Brady for a few years prior. His ability to lead the team and bring such passion and energy to the game is incredible. He’s clearly a winner. One thing we still need to see is his performance in differing circumstances. Last year before his 5-0 record, most people doubted his capabilities. Now that he’ll be starting for San Francisco, not only will Garoppolo need to play in 16+ games every season, but also expectations for him will be significantly higher. Also, the 49ers saw that C.J. Beathard was a bad backup, regardless of his rookie status in 2017. The 49ers’ backup QB isn’t good, and Jimmy G hasn’t played many games, but I trust Garoppolo is San Francisco’s future star, so I rank their QB situation at #10. I truly believe Garoppolo will be a top QB for the next 15 years.
#9. Detroit Lions
Starter) Matthew Stafford, Backup) Jake Rudock
Matthew Stafford is a competitor among competitors. He may have had a good WR core that features Golden Tate III and Marvin Jones, but he’s still a great QB. His last three seasons have been Pro Bowl caliber. His 4th quarter comebacks have saved the Lions on multiple occasions, and Detroit’s lack of wins can’t be blamed on Stafford. It’s a team sport, but the rest of the Lions are mainly to blame. In 2017, Detroit was 27th in total defense, and DEAD LAST in rushing yards per game. Yet, Stafford led the Lions to a winning record. Also, Jake Rudock, the Lions’ backup QB, has thrown five NFL balls, one of those being an INT: not ideal. Stafford CARRIES the Lions, rendering Detroit’s QB situation top-tier, but the backup position lowers their grade.
#8. Minnesota Vikings
Starter) Kirk Cousins, Backup) Trevor Siemian
The Vikings WON. They solved their chaotic three-QB situation by doing away with Keenum, Bridgewater, and Bradford. They ended up with Kirk Cousins, a top-tier QB. In each of his last three seasons, he threw for over 4,000 yards and had a QBR above 93. He was the face of the Redskins, and he’ll bring that “it” factor to Minnesota. But Cousins’ shortcoming is that he hasn’t won many games. His current record is 26-30-1, and he hasn’t won a single playoff game yet. Cousins’ lack of wins isn’t purely his’ fault, however, as the NFC East was a tough division, and the Redskins roster was below average. Cousins is clearly a good QB, but Trevor Siemian is a mediocre backup. He couldn’t prove himself on the Broncos, but he isn’t terrible. Still, Minnesota’s QB situation is very stable.
#7. Pittsburgh Steelers
Starter) Ben Roethlisberger, Backup) Landry Jones, Mason Rudolph
Big Ben is the second best QB in the AFC behind Brady. He’s been in the last four Pro Bowls. But we can’t overlook his idealistic situation. Let’s just look at the offensive weapons he’s had: Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster at WR, Le’veon Bell at RB. And don’t forget about the Steelers O-line either. He’s obviously a top-tier QB, but he’s not the sole player who’s led the team to success. Landry Jones/Mason Rudolph at backup QB isn’t bad. The Steelers QB situation is great. However, Roethlisberger isn’t the outstanding player on the Steelers’ roster, unlike the five QBs at the top who are easily the best players on the their respective rosters.
#6. Philadelphia Eagles
Starter) Carson Wentz, Backup) Nick Foles
Carson Wentz strikes me as a hard-working guy, even among other NFL players. I don’t doubt he’ll make an epic return next season. He played at an MVP level before his injury, as he racked up 33 TDs in 13 games. He led the League in TDs, despite playing in only 13 games. Nick Foles also WENT OFF in the Playoffs, and he deservingly won Superbowl MVP. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. First, Carson Wentz might not come back week one due to his continuing ACL injury. Second, Nick Foles isn’t necessarily a starter-caliber QB. We can’t overlook the fact that his regular season QB rating was 79.5, where he completed only 56.4% of his attempts. If Wentz doesn’t recover in time, the Eagles coaching staff will have to thrown in Foles onto the field week one, and that scenario wouldn’t be ideal.
#5. Atlanta Falcons
Starter) Matt Ryan, Backup) Matt Schaub
Matt Ryan is on his way to the Hall of Fame. A few more Pro Bowl caliber years, and he’ll be a first-ballot HOFer. Remember, he’s still only 33 years old. Matty Ice is very consistent. His completion percentage in the past six seasons is 67.2% (2398/3571), and his playoff record is a decent 10-10. He has a lot of experience under his belt, yet another potential 6-7 years to play. As for the 2018 season, the Falcons can definitely count on Matt Ryan to perform well. Furthermore, the Falcons also have potentially the best backup QB in the NFL. In his 13 year career, Matt Schaub has started in 92 games, and he’s recorded a high 63.9% completion rate. He’s an old-school QB, but his stats compare to a decent NFL starter. A spectacular starter in Matt Ryan and a seasoned backup in Matt Schaub puts the Falcons’ QB state in the top five.
#4. New Orleans Saints
Starter) Drew Brees, Backup) Tom Savage
Drew Brees has been in 9 out of the last 10 Pro Bowls. He’s completed over 70% of his passes in each of his last two seasons. Michael Thomas is the only Pro Bowl WR he’s ever had, yet he’s played incredibly for 17 years. With a decent backup QB and a first ballot HOFer at starter, the Saints’ QB situation is near the top of the NFL. Similar to Tom Brady, however, Drew Brees has brought up talks of his imminent retirement. This factor isn’t too notable, considering that Brees will continue to play at a high level as long as he’s on the field, but it does show that Brees is aging. The top-4 teams on this list are very close together, and the Saints aren’t in the top-3 solely because their QB situation doesn’t carry their roster as much.
#3. New England Patriots
Starter) Tom Brady, Backup) Brian Hoyer
The Patriots’ QB situation is almost interchangeable with the first place spot. The future HOFer has been the best QB of the 21st century if not of the history of the NFL. Only a once-in-a-lifetime legend like Brady wins FIVE Lombardi Trophies. However, Tom Brady himself has made comments about his impending retirement. Prior to the 2017 season, he showed a “I’m not thinking about retirement” kind of demeanor, but following his Superbowl loss, he has voiced some understandable fatigue. Also, more importantly, Brian Hoyer is a below-average backup, and Belichick’s role in the organization is equal to that of Brady, so the Pats aren’t #1 on this list. All in all, Tom Brady is still the best QB in the NFL, but 1) the Pats’ weakness at the backup spot without Jimmy G or Brissett, and 2) mastermind Belichick’s overshadowing of the QB situation render New England’s QB situation third in the NFL.
#2. Green Bay Packers
Starter) Aaron Rodgers, Backup) Brett Hundley
Aaron Rodgers is a top-3 QB in the NFL. He pulls crazy plays super often. He has proven himself to be a consistent top-3 QB every year. He can scramble, throw on the run, and make big time in-pocket plays; he’s super versatile. Rodgers’ value was on full display last year as the Packers broke apart without him. Rodgers manages to lead a mediocre team to great success even without many offensive weapons. Also, Brett Hundley now has some NFL experience, as he played decently with the help of Devante Adams. He was an average starter last year, and his responsibilities will lessen as he’ll be playing as backup in 2018. With Aaron Rodgers healthy and a good backup QB in Hundley, the Packers’ QB situation is near the top.
#1. Seattle Seahawks
Starter) Russell Wilson, Backup) Austin Davis
The Seahawks’ QB position is their only real strength. Russell Wilson has absolutely CARRIED the Seahawks over the past few years. Russell has NEVER had a Pro Bowl wide receiver, yet his passer rating has been top 10 in the NFL in five out of his six seasons. He threw for 34 TDs last year (1st among all QBs), and he ran for 586 yards (2nd among all QBs). Without Russell’s rushing last year, Seattle’s run-game would have been dead last in the League, as he contributed to 35.9% of the team’s run-game. Russell Wilson does EVERYTHING for the Seahawks, so he’s clearly under-appreciated. Although he doesn’t pass as cleanly, Russell is the same caliber-player as Brady and Rodgers because he can throw-on-run, run, and create plays out of nothing. Russell hasn’t missed a single start, and Austin Davis’ stats aren’t bad. Russell Wilson is more valuable to the Seahawks than is any other player to any of the 32 NFL teams, and he’s incredibly consistent, so the Seahawks’ QB room is the best in the NFL.
1. Seattle Seahawks
2. Green Bay Packers
3. New England Patriots
4. New Orleans Saints
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Philadelphia Eagles
7. Pittsburgh Steelers
8. Minnesota Vikings
9. Detroit Lions
10. San Francisco 49ers
11. Las Vegas Raiders
12. Houston Texans
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Indianapolis Colts
Average: Some improvements can be made
15. Los Angeles Rams
16. Washington Redskins
17. Dallas Cowboys
18. New York Giants
19. New York Jets
20. Cleveland Browns
21. Tennessee Titans
22. Arizona Cardinals
23. Denver Broncos
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Miami Dolphins
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. Kansas City Chiefs
28. Cincinnati Bengals
QB situation is looking weak for 2018
29. Baltimore Ravens
30. Jacksonville Jaguars
31. Buffalo Bills
32. Chicago Bears
That was my IN-DEPTH ranking of each NFL team’s QB situation. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed!!
Featured image from: Benoit, Andy, and Albert Breer. “The NFL’s Top 21 Quarterbacks for the Rest of 2017.” SI.com. Accessed August 03, 2018. https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/10/18/nfl-quarterbacks-qb-rankings.
“Andrew Luck Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed August 03, 2018. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/L/LuckAn00.htm.
“Carson Wentz Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed August 03, 2018. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WentCa00.htm.