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Since I feel better about my flailing writing “career” when I pretend to be a drunk, depraved, bootleg ESPN writer, I’ve developed my own rubric for evaluating just how fucked some NFL teams are in their endless pursuit of the elusive “franchise quarterback.”
The grading system is simple: a player’s potential, age, salary (cost to the team is imperative with hard cap of the NFL) and current ability are all considered, while the only requirement for consideration for the coveted “worst starting quarterback in America” title is to be a currently projected starter.
Here’s the list:
Why: Winning a Super Bowl on the literal last legs of an NFL Legend, and then replacing him with the man who orchestrated the butt fumble, is a bigger letdown than my senior prom date’s mid-thrust menstruation.
In fairness to Sanchez and team President John Elway, who let apparent QB-in-waiting Brock Osweiler walk to conference rival Houston in the wake of the Manning retirement, by the end, Peyton’s once above-average arm looked like a wet noodle, inducing cringes with every wobbling pass.
Sanchez, amazingly, is still on the right side of 30 at age 29. The man who Rex Ryan tattooed on himself in some sort of bizarre show of confidence will likely start for the defending champions as talented rookie Paxton Lynch remains the most “raw” of the top 6 quarterbacks selected according to most experts.
Sanchez has lead a defense-oriented team, as the Broncos will be this season, to the AFC Title game twice while in New York, but as a 7th-year player and infamous turnover machine, Sanchez’s ceiling is about as low as any starter in the league. Fortunately, he is extremely inexpensive at just a fraction of the league average for starters, and showed some ability to perform as a “game manager” in Philadelphia.
This is bad, but could be far worse.
Why: This is so fucking depressing I can’t even believe it. New Coach Hue Jackson, who may be some sort of mad genius after posting an 8-8 season in the city to which coaches go to die (Oakland) and accepting the Browns position amidst seemingly far better opportunities, now is in the unenviable position of choosing between two wholly uninspiring options at the game’s most important position.
RGIII, who at one time referred to himself as “superman” while winning NFL Rookie of the Year for the Redskins, after being acquired via the worst trade in the history of the NFL draft, has spent the last several years making Anthony Davis look durable and Johnny Football mature.
McCown, though beloved in the locker room, is a 37-year-old journeyman who, aside from a magical 6 game stretch replacing my beloved Jay Cutler in Chicago, has accumulated the worst winning percentage of any active quarterback with at least 50 starts. Not exactly inspiring.
The only reason this miserable duo is not higher on the list is RGIII’s age and supposed health. It is, in theory, possible he could revert back to his rookie form or somewhere near it under the tutelage of Hue Jackson, who made Andy Dalton a Pro Bowler. That’s a miracle in itself.
Why: This is a tough one, as one would have to think the Jets will cave to last year’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick’s salary demands at some point, as he remains a free agent at an impasse with management. As of now, though, Smith is the man in New York for the first time since having his jaw broken by his own teammate prior to last season.
Now, Smith on the field has been a complete mess — there’s no doubt about that. He’s turned the ball over at a rate so alarming you’d think he’d have to be fixing games, highlighted by a 4-interception first quarter in 2014. Smith possesses average arm strength, a surprising lack of mobility, and makes decisions that had Jets fans pining for the return of number 5 on our list.
But where Geno is truly an unmitigated disaster is off the field. The man who famously went Michael Jordan crying face after falling out of the 1st round of the NFL Draft, has accumulated team-issued fines while literally fighting with his own team. Teammates, both anonymously and in public, have openly supported Fitzpatrick, and have lobbied for his resigning in the face of a Smith return under center.
At least Geno is still young, and with the NFL’s absurdly low rookie pay scale, extremely cheap.
Why: It’s truly a testament to just how awful #1 on the list is that this dumpster fire is ranked second. I truly cannot decide which is the worst option; it’s like choosing between gonorrhea and syphilis. Guess it depends on your allergies to strains of antibiotics.
In Gabbert, you have a former top 10 pick who flamed out in Jacksonville faster than my last Tinder “relationship,” leading the Jags to fewer wins than millions of dollars he collected during his abominable tenure. Gabbert possesses a strong arm, but is a deer in headlights in the pocket, perhaps scarred from the beating he took in a Jags uniform while tap dancing like George Michael in the face of defenders.
Kaepernick, on the other hand, actually has some semblance of a track record that inspires hope. Twice leading the 49ers to the NFC Title game, and one blown pass interference call from defeating the Ravens in the Super Bowl, Kap looked the part of an NFL star.
But in Jim Harbaugh’s last season in San Francisco, the cracks began to widen, as Kaepernick’s already suspect accuracy and decisionmaking gave way to horrendous turnovers and nagging injuries. The once elite athlete sporting 4.5 speed at over 225 pounds, looked a shell of himself while the once mighty team limped to an 8-8 record.
With the installation of perhaps the most inept coaching staff in NFL history last season, Jim Tomsula spent more time defecating during press conferences than assisting Kap, as the 49ers’ abysmal season ended mercifully with the termination of the entire staff. Now, under Chip Kelly, who one would imagine can appreciate and extenuate Kaepernick’s running ability, can Kap reclaim any fraction of the potential he once possessed?
At $17 million guaranteed this upcoming season, that’s one of the worst bets in the league.
Why: I realize Keenum is just a placeholder for #1 overall pick Jared Goff as the Rams begin their inaugural season in Los Angeles. However, Goff may take a little longer than expected to win the starting job, as Cal’s “bear raid” offense does not resemble NFL offensive schemes. With single reads and quick option routes all he knows, Goff has spent as much time reading defenses as Helen Keller has books.
With that in mind, I think it’s very possible the Rams go the entire season with Keenum under center, a horrifying thought for the Rams’ marketing division, who are still salivating with the move out of St. Louis to the bright lights of Hollywood. A young quarterback’s confidence is imperative to his success, so throwing Goff to the wolves that are perhaps the conference’s two best defenses in Seattle and Arizona, whom the Rams play twice each, would be a risky move from historically conservative Coach Jeff Fisher.
Keenum has a well below average arm, poor size for the position, a terrible TD-to-turnover ratio, absolutely no history of successful stretches as a starter, and has been in the league for long enough (4 seasons) to make any sort of substantial progression unlikely as he approaches 29.
He is cheap, but this has got to be the most uninspiring starter in a very long time in the NFL, especially for a team in its inaugural season in a market as demanding and at times apathetic (Clippers pre-CP3 era?) as LA.
Yes, the Rams do still have Nick “The Forgotten Man” Foles on the roster, but after last season in which he averaged twice as many interceptions and fumbles as completions over 30 yards, I think it’s safe to say his time has come to an end as the Rams’ signal caller.
Just hand the ball to Todd Gurley. Every. Single. Time..
Image via YouTube