Quarterbacks Heading Into the 2016 NFL Season
In my last article, we ranked the 15 best wide receivers in the league at the moment. Now let’s switch our focus to the guys who get the receivers the ball. The big-money position, quarterback.
Typically being the face of the franchise, quarterbacks get all the glory and all the blame for their teams’ successes and failures. The camera is trained on them for most of the game, which can be frustrating when trying to watch what is going on in coverage down field.
A good quarterback can propel a franchise to greatness, but football is by no means an individual sport. Every aspect of the game must be crisp and coordinated, with plans of attack developed weeks ahead of time to counter opponents’ strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses.
Football is the “American sport,” and that’s probably because we modeled it after our next favorite past time; war. George Carlin summed it up best in his classic “Baseball vs. Football” monolog
“In Football, the object is for the quarterback, otherwise known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault; riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing his aerial assault with a sustained ground attack, which punches holes in the forward wall of the enemies’ defensive line.”
Keep that in mind next time you’re watching the NFL.
HONORABLE MENTION: BLAKE BORTLES
We’ll launch our attack with an up and coming talent in Jacksonville. The Jaguars struggled for years in search of a solid franchise-caliber quarterback. It appears like they have finally found a guy that should be able to win them some ball games, in Blake Bortles.
Bortles was the third overall pick out of Central Florida and has proven himself capable of handling an NFL huddle. He’s not particularly great at any one thing, but he doesn’t have any glaring flaws either.
The Jags also have a couple young receivers in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. They’re a developing squad, so it will be interesting to see if they can take the next step into the playoffs this season. It will be tough with the perennial playoff reaching Colts in their division.
Bortles has a bit more growing to do, but deserved to have something said about him, so he (barely) makes the list.
Top 15 Quarterbacks Heading Into the 2016 NFL Season
The sky is the limit for this kid. A little bit of a raw talent, Teddy Bridgewater has the physical attributes that can make him an NFL great. He has an unconventional arm action on his throws; it is long and loopy – almost like a baseball – but he makes it work, and can really fling it.
Combine Bridgewater’s arm strength with his ability to run, and you have the makings of a dangerous dual threat. He needs to improve his pocket awareness and have more confidence on his throws. He has a tendency to second guess himself and hesitates to let it fly, which leads to bonehead mistakes.
Once Bridgewater finds his comfort, he should be a pro bowl caliber quarterback. He and Adrian Peterson plodded and plunked the Vikings to the playoffs last year. They should be right in the mix again this season with Bridgewater taking another step forward.
Matthew Stafford has turned into a conventional modern-day veteran quarterback if that’s not an oxymoron. He is above average in all the places quarterbacks 20 years ago would’ve envied. Good pocket presence and awareness, strong arm, able to make a touch pass.
Stafford has relished his opportunity to play with one of the best wide receivers of all time in Calvin Johnson. Johnson is gone now, though, so it will be incumbent upon Stafford to spread the ball around a little more. He did a good job of that last year, and Golden Tate helped to ease the burden already.
Detroit hasn’t been able to rely on much else for years, but Stafford isn’t a club anymore, he should have them prepared for battle.
The Lions go the way Stafford goes. If he can reach 4,000+ yards for the sixth consecutive year, and toss 30+ touchdowns again, then Detroit will have a lion’s chance.