Imagine taking a lesson from the New York Jets, of all teams.
Laugh all you want, but the Jets certainly showed just how important it is to have the right, dependable, long-term quarterback under center. After three weeks of offensive ineptitude while he recovered from mononucleosis, Sam Darnold returned to guide the New York Jets to a stunning 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
Other teams were not so lucky on Sunday. If they want to avoid continued ineptitude in the future, something might have to change and soon.
Here's a list of teams that desperately need franchise quarterbacks, ranked by their level of desperation.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner deserves plenty of credit for the job he's done this season. The Steelers aren't losing games because they lost Ben Roethlisberger. They've kept pace in the chaotic AFC North thanks to the efforts of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. But this last stretch has shown just how important it is for the franchise to prepare for life after Roethlisberger. Depending on how Rudolph recovers from his current concussion, the Steelers may want start looking into future options.
It's becoming increasingly clear that 31-year-old Andy Dalton is nearing the end of the line. Through six games, he has already been sacked 22 times and his current passer rating bests only that from his rookie season. The Bengals don't have much of a contingency plan when it comes to subbing Dalton out, with the best option perhaps being fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley. If Finley gets an opportunity and fails to pan out, the Bengals could perhaps emulate the current Denver Broncos plan. Denver is using Joe Flacco as a stopgap option in preparation for a potential Drew Lock takeover. The castaway in New Orleans' pair of free agents (Teddy Bridgewater/Taysom Hill) could be such an option.
2. Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers are in an unusual spot where it's clear they have to move on from Jameis Winston (who's set to be a free agent), but their divisional rivals are mostly set at the quarterback spot (even Carolina, who may have found a gem in Kyle Allen). The Buccaneers are not exactly in "win-now" mode, which puts them in the runner-up spot on this list. Even so, with so much talent on the offensive side of the roster (Mike Evans, O.J. Howard) they should be further along in their rebuild.
Winners of nine games for three consecutive seasons, this Titans team was on the cusp of entering true football relevancy again. But this season has proven that potential franchise savior Marcus Mariota is holding the team back. Like Tampa, there are so many talented players on this roster. And the Titans have an even stronger defense to boot, one that includes guys like Kevin Byard, Malcolm Butler, and Jurrell Casey. Offensively, the new quarterback will have guys to work with like Derrick Henry and Corey Davis. Simply put, this team is far too talented to go 9-7 every year. A switch under center could get them back to double-digit wins.