- Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)
One of the most surprising players of 2014 was Carson Palmer. Accurate, sharp, and mobile, he played stellar football until he tore his ACL on a non-contact injury.
This injury is the reason he ranks so low, but a healthy Palmer should rank much higher. This is the best he’s played since 2005, where he looked like an elite QB in the making. Arizona’s offense actually played worse without him, as Football Outsiders noticed a significant decline in DVOA on 3rd down with his absence.
It’s been said before, but the Cardinals have a fetish for old quarterbacks. Whatever works.
- Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
Forget that lame “KC had 0 TD from their wide receivers!” nonsense. The #18 QB heading into 2015 is responsible for this statistical anomaly.
Alex Smith’s conservative style of play has eliminated any mistakes from his game. It’s also eliminated any shot of Kansas City truly competing, because 2014 was filled with multiple situations in which Smith deliberately would not pass to an open receiver, costing the team games and ultimately the playoffs.
It’s been 10 years and this style of play has not changed. It allows Smith to rank higher, but not much more so than 18th. As a result, Andy Reid has done a great job with a limited QB during his time in KC.
Alex Smith is so conservative, that 5 quarterbacks had had more TD passes from 2011-2014 than his entire career.
In conclusion, AS is frustrating if you like to have fun watching a QB play.
- Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers)
Colin Kaepernick is the face of the San Francisco 49ers franchise, but that’s only because everyone else either left or retired in what has been an atrocious offseason in the Bay Area.
After 2 star worthy seasons in 2012 and 2013, Kaepernick’s dynamic playmaking skills could not advance to the next level. His pocket passing is very much inefficient, and he struggles to make multiple reads in the pocket.
Still, he boasts incredible arm velocity, and his scrambling skills, while not timeless, will provide some use for 2015. That’s all of the positives though, and he’ll have to show signs of progression if he plans on keeping a starting job.
- Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “This is the year Jay Cutler will break out as an MVP candidate.” I thought so before the 2014 season before Cutler made me feel like a jackass.
To be fair, however this is not all on him. He’s a problem, but he’s not THE problem for the Bears. The defense has been terrible, the offensive line is below average, and the offense excelled in garbage time last year.
Cutler’s arm strength is always talked about, but it’s overrated when considering how mentally inconsistent he is. At times he forces throws, a big no-no. Nevertheless, this is a QB that’s better than most would like to think, and a comeback is still possible.
Just let me believe it when I see it.
- Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Matthew Stafford is incredibly tough to judge. At his worst, he can frustrate like no other with inaccurate downfield passing and questionable short passing. At his best, he is a comeback king, and has that play making ability found in the most gifted of athletes.
Being the best Lions QB since Bobby Layne has its benefits, but Stafford once again found himself failing to go to the next level as a QB. His elite arm strength can get him by, if only because he has Calvin Johnson to bail him out at times on the 50/50 ball.
As a result, Stafford is 15th at best heading into 2015. The offensive line sucked last season, so a better one should help him down the road. He was basically Jay Cutler with a better defense, but his late game heroics (5 Game Winning Drives in 2014) and better cast give him the slight edge.
- Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)
The Dolphins have had very little to celebrate at the QB position since Dan Marino’s retirement. Chad Pennington had a strong MVP-esque year in 2008, but that was pretty much it.
With that being said, Ryan Tannehill is coming off a quality 2014 campaign, getting help from Bill Lazor, the man who helped deliver Nick Foles’ 27-2 TD-INT ratio in 2013.
Tannehill is not a legend at anything he does, but he is greater than the sum of his parts. He has very good mobility, progressed under pressure, and can run the Dolphins offense well. Under Lazor’s command, he finally got a competent offensive scheme to run.
With an upgrade at the receiving position (Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Cameron, DeVante Parker, etc.), as well as the underrated runningback Lamar Miller, Tannehill should be able to continue to progress in 2015. I look forward to seeing more of what he can do.
- Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Cam Newton is an interesting QB to debate in. He’s not good enough to establish himself as a top 10 passer, but he’s good enough that he can stay close to that mark.
Playing unhealthy behind a struggling offensive line and inexperienced receiving core (Kelvin Benjamin recorded 10 drops, a few of which came on great passes from Cam), Newton made the most out of his cast. However, his accuracy is something that will have to be fixed as he goes into training camp. As much as his receivers screwed him over, he occasionally overthrew his guys downfield.
Cam’s scrambling and mobility are 2 pluses, and he’s been a solid deep passer for the most part. That’s good enough for the 13th spot for me.
- Eli Manning (New York Giants)
Did it seem like Eli Manning’s time in New York would come to an end in 2014? Think again. After a disastrous 2013 season in which the entire Giants offense collapsed, a new offensive scheme provided by Ben McAdoo has rejuvenated Eli Manning, allowing him to present one of his strongest seasons in his NFL career.
So why is he only ranked 12th? Because I want him to make a “I’ll show you 2014 was a step in the right direction” kind of statement. He lacked big time accuracy on downfield throws, but was much better in the intermediate game. This is the same QB we’ve known throughout the years, just in a better offense. More time should allow him to re-enter the top 10.
Oh yeah, and Odell Beckham Jr. too.
- Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)
The Playoff God of the 2010s’ has entered. Joe Flacco is a unique case. Coming off a career season, Flacco rebounded from a dismal 2013 season, having more strong performances than in past regular seasons.
I would not enter allow him into the top 10 yet. He’s not as consistent as the top 10 guys, and I’m not a fan of his “Defensive Pass Interference Calls” style of play. However, when on point, he can make some excellent downfield throws. The offensive line has given him the great protection he missed in 2013, and solid options with Justin Forsett and Steve Smith have helped his play.
2015 should be somewhat similar to the previous year, for better or worse. I lean towards better.