This week the topic of quarterback “hot seats” was brought up when Mike Florio discussed the San Francisco 49ers and their actual comfort with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter next season, with Florio saying that he thinks they’re not that comfortable. Okay, that’s certainly an opinion and a valid one, I have never really understood the excitement about Garoppolo and I was not surprised that they considered Tom Brady this offseason.
But I’m not going to talk about Garoppolo. Not only Garoppolo. How safe is the job for any quarterback out there today and how relevant is that to the LA Rams and Jared Goff? I’ll begin that thought process today by evaluating the expected starter for all 32 teams and then sliding them into tiers for job safety.
Starting with the safest.
Not At All Hot
I have to ask myself this question: If this player played poorly for two months, would the team seriously consider benching him for the backup? And if that answer is “No” then they fall into this category. But what is “poor” play? Look, if we want to get in extremes and say “Oh come on, dude, what if Ben throws 15 picks and no interceptions?!?!” then we’re not even taking this seriously.
When you look at a case like 2015 Peyton Manning, the Broncos had to witness 10 games of truly awful play that climaxed in a 5-of-20, four-interception game against the Chiefs before they went to Brock Osweiler. And then they still went back to Manning.
There’s no current threat to the following players and for specific cases I’ll break down why in my opinion:
Joe Burrow, Ben Roethlisberger, Deshaun Watson, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Kyler Murray, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson
My defense of the controversial picks:
- I don’t see any reason why the Bengals should turn to Ryan Finley if Burrow starts off struggling. Zac Taylor went 2-14 in his first season and even if Cincinnati is headed to 2-14 again, I don’t see why his job would be safer if he benched Burrow in some attempt to go 4-12. But I also don’t think Burrow will struggle and I believe the Bengals could be a .500 team.
- Ben is old and didn’t really play last year but Mason Rudolph, Devlin Hodges, Paxton Lynch, and JT Barrett? I did see some of those players play last year or years prior and that’s not a threat. Only if the team signed Cam Newton (which they don’t really have any money for) could there be a threat here.
- Rivers had some major issues last season but I think the Colts will move Jacoby Brissett at some point anyhow and there won’t be another serious option. Rivers may also have less issues now with a better offensive line.
- Funny how Tannehill got here but how do you dispute his place in this tier now?
- More reason Dak deserves to get paid.
- The Eagles did draft Jalen Hurts in the second round but the only real threat to Wentz in 2020 is his health.
- The Packers did draft Jordan Love but if there’s any consideration for him threatening Rodgers’ job next season, then Aaron would probably smell that out and demand a trade or something. The situation has to be that Rodgers is safe and that Love is only a future consideration.
- I’m not even a Bridgewater believer but as of now Will Grier is his backup and that doesn’t feel like a threat to me when Bridgewater just got paid a bit.
- Yes, New Orleans signed Jameis Winston and has Taysom Hill, which for some reason some people think means they have three QBs. When I think about how poorly Brees would have to play for Sean Payton to go to Winston, I have a hard time imagining him playing that poorly.
- Brady is old but the Bucs haven’t given another option a second thought. See the Peyton Manning thing.
- Murray is young but look at 2019 Baker Mayfield. The Cardinals are invested here and they’ll let him struggle if he’s destined to struggle. Could Arizona be a contending roster right now? Yes. So if they were good but Murray was bad, would they make a move? To Brett Hundley? No. They’d have to make a signing or trade.
- I don’t know that Goff is a “controversial” pick here but we all saw the numbers. Goff ranked 22nd in passer rating, 19th in completion percentage, 14th in yards per attempt, and he threw the same number of touchdowns as Ryan Tannehill; which is significant because Tannehill had 286 attempts and Goff had 626 attempts. But his contract pays him $28.8 million in 2020 and $34.6 million in 2021 and there’s nothing the Rams can really do about it. So they’re not even planning as if there is a contingency because Goff has to be the guy. They don’t have the money or draft picks to have any other options in the next two seasons. Instead, Sean McVay is focusing on what to do around Goff and they’ll be sticking with that as the formula for keeping Goff off the hot seat.
I Wouldn’t Bet On Them Being Benched, But Okay I Could See It
The explanation is all right there in the title.
Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, Daniel Jones, Jimmy Garoppolo
Four of these five players are here because I just want to see more before I anoint our future stars. Burrow gets to sit in the first tier because we don’t know anything about him as an NFL pro yet and I have more evidence to think they’ll stick with him through more struggles than maybe the Browns will with Mayfield if he’s looking to repeat his turnover total from 2019.
The Bills backup to Allen is Matt Barkley, who went 27-of-51 with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Maybe if Buffalo signs Newton, but I see little competition for Allen. I’m just not yet sold that he wouldn’t play himself into one. Same as Jones, who is backed up by Colt McCoy and Cooper Rush.
Garoppolo doesn’t have the same financial security to back him up like Goff does and Kyle Shanahan did make the offense work a little bit with Nick Mullens once. If the defense was elite but the offense couldn’t go (a la 2000 Ravens) then I could see some switching around.
So yeah, the reigning MVP not being in the first tier. Using the same question as in tier 1 — “What if this QB struggled for two months?” — I could make an argument for the Ravens going to Robert Griffin in that scenario with no intention to not have Jackson remain as the future of the franchise. The 2019 offense was WEIRD in a good way but those weird offenses, it’s good to cross-check them with how the NFL responds the following season.
We forget that Jackson wasn’t perfect every week last season (from Week 3-Week 7, Jackson completed 60%, four touchdowns, five interceptions, 75.2 rating, 14 sacks taken, 6.6 Y/A, four fumbles in five games) and we know that Baltimore is a Super Bowl favorite for plenty of reasons other than the MVP. Like defense, offensive line, great rushing attack outside of Jackson, tight ends.
Like I said, “I wouldn’t bet on it” and Jackson is one of my favorite NFL players to watch and to root for and I went into last season believing the Ravens could be the best team in the AFC in large part because of Jackson, but is there no scenario where I could see the Ravens giving him a break if he struggled? There are scenarios.
Potentially A Few Bad Games Away
Dwayne Haskins, Tyrod Taylor, Derek Carr, Drew Lock, Gardner Minshew, Sam Darnold, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles, Jarrett Stidham
Some more reasoning:
- I don’t buy Kyle Allen as much of a threat there in Washington but Ron Rivera did scoop him up and Haskins has shown an ability to be awful.
- If Taylor even is the starter.
- If Carr even is the starter.
- If Fitzpatrick even is the starter.
- JARRETT STIDHAM?
- I imagine a lot of people might have Mitchell Trubisky as the starter in Chicago, but I’m picking Nick Foles to win the job. For a game or two, but if he struggles at all, then Matt Nagy has shown a willingness to be wishy-washy.
- I like Lock and Minshew fine. I actually kind of really like both and me personally, I might prefer one or both of them over some quarterbacks who are listed as being “safer” above. Maybe I even love Minshew, I don’t know yet, I went to the same college and am biased with that too. But will the Jaguars flip on him with a few bad games? That wouldn’t surprise me. These teams don’t have serious threats at backup right now though.
- The Jets signed Joe Flacco not just to mentor Darnold, but Darnold was as bad or worse than Haskins sometimes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Darnold as a great quarterback some day or even as a pretty good one as soon as 2020, but the question is what if he isn’t? Flacco is an easy excuse for Adam Gase to make a change.
Now tell me where I’m wrong because surely we have some different opinions on this.