Ranking the 9 Worst Quarterback Situations In the NFL


Astoundingly, there’s a lot of reason for optimism in quarterback rooms where there was none. The Cleveland Browns, for example, have begun turning their organization with a competent starter in Tyrod Taylor and the future face of the franchise in Baker Mayfield. The New York Jets have good reason to be excited about Sam Darnold, who may be ready to start Week 1. Heck, the Philadelphia Eagles have two quarterbacks who could win a Super Bowl.

There are a handful of teams verging on this list. Those teams have a lot of reason for optimism without a lot of tangible evidence. The Baltimore Ravens can feel good about the return of Joe Flacco and the future of Lamar Jackson. But Flacco is absolutely average (and maybe worse), and Jackson could be a developmental undertaking. The Kansas City Chiefs seem to have something special in Patrick Mahomes, but what if he doesn’t live up to the hype? The Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets just drafted their quarterback of the future with a capable veteran starter on the roster. All those unresolved but compelling groups remained off this list — which is why I ranked just nine teams.

Here’s a look at the worst quarterback situations in the NFL while weighing which quarterback(s) are ready to start right now while seeing what the team has to look forward to in the future.

9. New York Giants

QBs: Eli Manning, Kyle Lauletta, Davis Webb, Alex Tanney

Even though Lauletta is a fun prospect — particularly when considering how his lacrosse and military background might have matched with Bill Belichick — Lauletta is far from a polished product. There’s a reason he was a fourth-round pick this year. In the meantime, the Giants have Manning, who is coming off the worst season of his career. Could he bounce back? Absolutely. But at what point will he succumb to time?

The Giants had an opportunity to draft their quarterback of the future. They could have taken Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen at No. 2 overall. Instead, they took running back Saquon Barkley, an incredible talent, but not a player who plays the most important position in the NFL. The Giants’ starting position is slightly tenuous. Their backup position is slightly tenuous. And their (near) future at the position is a major question mark.

8. Washington Redskins

QBs: Alex Smith, Colt McCoy, Kevin Hogan

It’s important to remember that Smith’s 2017 season was an anomaly in his 12-year career. Even in recent seasons when he salvaged his career as a game-manager, he was putting up statistical duds. Look no further than 2016 when he completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 3,502 yards, 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Not bad at all. Still, not good.

Smith is fine. He has qualities you want in a quarterback, namely ball-security. However, the 34-year-old is not the type of player you’d want to wed your franchise to, which is basically what the Redskins did.

7. Chicago Bears

QBs: Mitch Trubisky, Chase Daniels, Tyler Bray

Trubisky is starting to develop buzz after a rookie season that was underwhelming. In 12 games, he completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,192 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Bears armed Trubisky with receiver Allen Robinson and tight Trey Burton. So he should be better in his second season. Should. If Trubisky can’t hang in the NFL, then what? Daniels is nothing impressive. Bray is Josh Allen gone wrong — and that was clear years ago. Bray has a great arm, but little else.

Trubisky showed too little in his rookie season for overwhelming optimism. But hey, he’s young. Let’s give him some time.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars

QBs: Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler, Tanner Lee

Bortles is fresh off an AFC Championship Game loss when he narrowly missed his opportunity at a Super Bowl berth. His defenders — looking at you, @BortlesFacts — are now armed with a legitimate argument. He made it to the AFC Title Game. The truth is that Bortles isn’t very good — please tell me that we all know this. When his stats aren’t inflated by garbage time (like they were in 2015), he’s a solid game-manager. But just like he proved in the AFC championship, he can’t win Jacksonville big games.

The Jaguars are built with a defense that can win games. So Jacksonville shouldn’t be a state of alarm. But if they had a better quarterback, they would be Super Bowl front-runners. (Also, Kessler and Lee are not good.)

5. Buffalo Bills

QBs: A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman, Josh Allen

The Bills quarterback competition is going to be ugly. Yes, every quarterback had a stunningly good preseason opener. But it’s preseason, where Deshone Kizer and Zach Sudfeld looked good.

Allen is probably one year away from competing for the starting role. He’s still a walking cliché of a quarterback bust with an absurdly strong arm and a dangerous level of inaccuracy. Peterman is still the player who threw five interceptions in his first NFL start. McCarron lasted deep into NFL free agency, and may just turn out to be the next Mike Glennon.

Color me very skeptical about this group both now and in the future.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QBs: Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin, Austin Allen

The face of the Buccaneers franchise has faced multiple sexual abuse allegations. How long can the Buccaneers possibly stick with a player who has a history of alleged sexual abuse going back to college? Well, if we look at the history in the NFL as a whole, Winston could last fairly long. But he shouldn’t. He should be the kind of deplorable character who the Buccaneers abandon when his contract expires. But that’s not how football works — general managers can ignore warts when the on-field product is excellent.

Still, he’s not that good on the field. Winston might be one of the more overrated quarterbacks in the NFL. He exploded onto the scene in 2015 with a strong rookie season: 4,042 yards, 22 touchdowns, 15 interceptions. The expectation was that he was the next big thing. But Winston hasn’t exactly gotten better. Some meaningful stats have improved in completion percentage and yards per attempt. But the bottom line has not. The Buccaneers are still a far cry from a playoff team, and Winston is a big reason why. In fact, his three-game suspension (for sexually assaulting an Uber driver) could put them out of the running entirely. An 0-3 hole has not done good things to teams with playoffs hopes.

With his history on the field and off it, Winston isn’t the kind of player a general manager would want to commit to, which leaves Tampa Bay in a very uncertain spot going forward.

3. Denver Broncos

QBs: Case Keenum, Chad Kelly, Paxton Lynch

This team is a hard one to place. They’ve got a quarterback who outdid himself in 2017 with the Minnesota Vikings. Everything seemed to go right for Keenum all the way to the NFC Championship Game where his luck ran out. The question that lingered: Was Keenum’s 2017 season legit? Well, yes. But in different circumstances (which are less advantageous), Keenum probably can’t recreate the same results.

And in recent years, Denver has struggled to support quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning.

Even if Keenum does play well to some degree, he’s not an elite quarterback, and he’s not the quarterback of the Broncos’ future. They’re still on the hunt with Kelly surpassing former first-round pick Lynch on the depth chart. The Broncos could take another quarterback in the first round in 2019 — they were reportedly considering Baker Mayfield in a big way in 2018.

2. Cincinnati Bengals

QBs: Andy Dalton, Matt Barkley, Jeff Driskel, Logan Woodside

Dalton and the Bengals once had a legacy of making the playoffs and losing once getting there. Now, they can’t even get there. Dalton is a below-average quarterback who is coming off two straight losing seasons and is now 31. Dalton’s teams made the playoffs earlier in his career, but he has done so little in the NFL as the Bengals’ starter since 2011 that his bio snippet on Wikipedia boasts that he was the winner of the 2011 Rose Bowl. Yes, his last major accomplishment was at TCU. Yet the Bengals seem intent sticking with Dalton, a quarterback who is 0-4 in the playoffs while coming off a 16-game season when he completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 3,320 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

No, thank you.

1. Miami Dolphins

QBs: Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, David Fales, Bryce Petty

There’s a lovely coincidence in this group. One of their players is named Fales.

Too much? Sorry.

Tannehill is coming off an ACL injury, and he wasn’t all that good before suffering the season-ender. He has never thrown fewer than 12 interceptions with fewer than four fumbles in a single season. And on the flip side, his career-high in touchdowns in 27. He is, at best, an average quarterback with little to show for his five NFL seasons. He hasn’t done much to show the Dolphins that they should commit to him when his contract expires in 2020, but Miami will also have trouble moving on from him anytime sooner with his contract with so much money guaranteed.

The rest of the group are proven failures, and in the case of Osweiler, he’s done so time and time again. Just like every other group in the NFL right now, they’re not completely hopeless. But there’s not much room for optimism this year or in the years to come.