Shortest QB Leashes in 2018
The NFL has proven to be a business of winning since its emergence in 1920. The centerpiece of any franchise has normally been the quarterback, as he is the driving force behind every offense. In 2018, there are plenty of quarterbacks that may very well overstay their welcome. With that, here are a few individuals who hold particularly short leashes heading into the new season:
Sam Bradford (Arizona Cardinals)
After inking a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals, the front office proceeded to select UCLA QB Josh Rosen with the #10 overall pick. Although both quarterbacks have played fairly well during their preseason stints, the team should be in no rush to throw Rosen into the fire.
Although Bradford is the assumed starter at the current moment, he is quite injury prone. Having not started a full seasons since 2012, there is a chance that Rosen could have the opportunity to separate himself in this proclaimed quarterback competition.
By the end, Sam Bradford will once again be forced to move on, as the Cardinals will ride with Josh Rosen in 2019. Rosen is 9 years younger than Bradford, and aside from grade 1 concussions in 2017, the only other injury history for the rookie includes a shoulder tear back in 2016.
Projection: Sam Bradford is the weekly starter, pending injury, but is not viewed as the answer in 2019.
Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
After three straight mediocre seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, I’m not sure the leash can be any shorter for Joe Flacco this season. All three quarterbacks (Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III, Lamar Jackson) have been equally impressive in the preseason, but both Flacco and Griffin have shown plenty of inconsistencies in the regular season.
Although Robert Griffin III has been placed as the “official” backup for the Ravens heading into week one, the Ravens need to rely on Lamar Jackson as the quarterback of the future. Without him, the 2018 season may be over before it even begins. As it stands, Baltimore could very well finish last in the AFC North if certain aspects don’t go their way.
Perhaps it’s the same situation with Rosen in terms of letting rookies learn the playbook, but Jackson is an NFL-ready quarterback that will be forced to save a sinking ship. Flacco is the obvious week one starter, but unless previous merit keeps him under center, he is nowhere near the most talented quarterback on the current roster.
Projection: Joe Flacco starts week one, but if the season goes downhill, Baltimore will experiment between Robert Griffin III and Lamar Jackson in the final weeks.
AJ McCarron (Buffalo Bills)
After suffering a collarbone injury in week two of the preseason, there is a chance that AJ McCarron may not even be ready for the start of the upcoming regular season. Behind McCarron on the depth chart is Josh Allen, who is receiving plenty of reps with the first-team offense.
While there are apparent rookie flaws in Allen, he is viewed as the potential answer past this season. McCarron is currently signed under a one-year deal, and the assumption is that the Buffalo Bills invested their #7 overall pick in a potential franchise centerpiece.
Josh Allen is extremely low in terms of quality quarterbacks that could be available in the 2019 NFL Draft, as well as the future free agency period. if healthy, I don’t see a reason why Buffalo should give Allen any playing time in 2018.
Projection: AJ McCarron is the weekly starter, pending injury, while Josh Allen will battle for the starting position in 2019.
Tyrod Taylor (Cleveland Browns)
Perhaps the shortest leash of all, Tyrod Taylor will be viewed as the current starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. Despite suffering a minor hand injury during the third week of the preseason, the social media outroar for Baker Mayfield to take over justifies that Taylor’s leash is shorter than optimists believe.
Both Taylor and Mayfield have been impressive through the preseason, but don’t forget that Taylor is an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season. With the growth of Mayfield at hand, there is no reason to believe he won’t be the franchise centerpiece in 2019.
As for Taylor, there will be plenty of openings after this season. In the current state of the NFL, having two efficient quarterbacks on a roster is one of the biggest advantages in the game (just ask the Philadelphia Eagles).
Projection: Tyrod Taylor is the starter going into week one, but much like Sam Bradford, he will not be the answer in 2019.
Sam Darnold (New York Jets)
This one is a bit tricky, but the reasoning is intact. For 2018 alone, Sam Darnold’s leash is in fact short. With an experienced journeyman in Josh McCown, as well as a proven starter in Teddy Bridgewater, Danrold will be held to high expectations in the upcoming season.
Over the course of the next few seasons, Darnold should and will be labeled as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. With rumors of the Jets potentially trading away Bridgewater in the near future, this gives Darnold a bit more slack.
Sam Darnold has been impressive through the postseason, but the regular season is a different feeling. If New York feels like they are slipping in the standings, Darnold could be benched for cautionary reasoning.
Projection: Sam Darnold will be the weekly starter, but pending any decline from the Jets roster, he could be benched for either Josh McCown or Teddy Bridgewater for cautionary reasoning late into the season.
Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Despite putting on an impressive clinic through the postseason, 24-year old Jameis Winston has displayed inconsistent behavior on and off the field. After being suspended three games by the NFL for misconduct, individuals need to remember that he also lost four of his last five starts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers under center.
There is plenty of talent in Winston, but he has proven to be somewhat immature at times. Maturity comes within real life experiences, as he has proven to be the polar opposite of temporary starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. If Winston can’t control himself, would the Buccaneers truly offer him an extension after the 2019 season?
Jameis Winston will come back after three weeks and will be immediately thrown back into the starting position. Despite his poor judgement, I believe the leash on Winston is shorter than most believe.
Projection: Jameis Winston comes back in week four as the starter, but the leash is shorter than most believe.
Featured Image: John Kuntz, cleveland.com
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