The National Football League like most professional sports runs on a ‘what have you done for me lately’ ethos, and this will continue in 2021. Now the players who get the shortest leash, especially in the current day are Quarterbacks and therefore the microscope again returns to them this year. Some of these players will never be dropped, others have managed to get themselves into a position where they are the best of a bad bunch meaning they are safe too, however this luxury is not afforded to everyone.
I want to look at 5 of those situations were a Quarterbacks seat is warmer than they would like. It may be that the seat is lukewarm but a couple of bad performances will heat it up, it may be a situation where the seat is getting hotter and we need to see serious progress or they could be in for a bad season, or with one scenario, the seat is already on fire. Here are the 5 Quarterbacks looking over their shoulder this season.
Drew Lock – Denver Broncos
I am writing this article as the Broncos have just announced that Drew Lock actually lost the camp battle to Teddy Bridgewater, which in my eyes means his seat is well and truly on fire. I thought about leaving him off this list entirely, however Denver’s Quarterback situation is a mess and Drew Lock is playing now for his job in the NFL. It is highly likely the Broncos want a high pick in next years draft to get themselves a premiere Quarterback and Bridgewater while respectable is not the long term answer. He will have the chance to prove himself this, season and as long as he plays adequately, I expect Lock to be cut. The reason his seat is so hot is that if he cannot show something in the limited action he will end up having, his career might be over.
Heat-O-Meter – 5/5
Andy Dalton – Chicago Bears
Is it fair to put Dalton on this list? Absolutely not, so why is he here then? Well, because of all the starting Quarterbacks his seat is the hottest. It is not at all fair, he has come to Chicago as a free agent, he has been told he is the starter and he has a decent camp. Then why is his seat so hot then? Two words: Justin Fields. For a long time now the Bears have been living on scraps at the Quarterback position, and although I personally like Mitch Trubisky, he was not the one. Dalton will start the season away at the L.A Rams, which is maybe the toughest game on their schedule, and after one incomplete pass, the rumblings for Fields will begin.
I do not blame the fans either, Fields looks like the real deal, he has played well in camp and is a proven competitor. They want to see their new toy out on the field, especially since his starting ability feels about the same as Dalton’s ceiling. Chicago has a great situation with Dalton and Fields, especially because Dalton is a great professional too. This however will change very quickly, especially because Pace and Nagy do not exactly have long left if it does not work
Heat-O-Meter – 4/5
Cam Newton – New England Patriots
Okay everybody, say it with me now, the Cam Newton experiments did not work. As sad as it is to say about the former MVP, Cam Newton’s time as a high level starter is over. Now that is not to say he does not have talent, he absolutely still has something left to give and in the right situation would thrive, but that situation is not in New England. For as long as I have been a football fan, I remember watching Tom Brady and Bill Belichick light up the league. They had a formula, it worked and then Tom left town, and his replacement could not get close to the same production.
Enter ‘Big Mac’ Michael McCorkle Jones! The product out of Alabama was one of the least surprising picks of the 1st round in the 2021 NFL Draft and he will start before we know it. He suits the system and is exactly the type of Quarterback Belichick can build around. For all Cam’s talent, it will be the right place for him and I expect the trigger to be pulled sooner than the future Hall of Famer deserves.
Heat-O-Meter – 3/5
Derek Carr – Las Vegas Raiders
The one I know Adam has been waiting for, a man who probably should have been replaced last season, but not necessarily for his play. Last season he posted his highest ever total passing yards with a 27/9 Touchdown to Interceptions ratio, which is honestly really good, so how could he possibly make this list? The Raiders went 8-8 and Derek Carr is the most .500 Quarterback in the league. The Raiders are boring to watch, they have no identity and they scream average.
They are one of the best supported franchises in the league, well at least Oakland was, and when they moved many of their fans switched off. They went from beloved in Oakland to boring in Vegas and honestly they have the fix in house. Marcus Mariota is exciting, he has had time to recover and learn from his mistakes with the Titans and he brings an identity that the Raiders need. While Derek Carr is not by any means bad, he also does not sell tickets, Mariota would and while the he still has value the Raiders should cash in on Carr and had the team over to Mariota. If of course it does not work out long term, well they have their coach signed up so just draft someone new and wake up the fanbase.
Heat-O-Meter – 2/5
Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles
Right, so let’s get this straight right away, in all my season watching American Football and in this past year of writing these pieces, I never thought I would watch myself lose it while I wrote but this has to be said. Jalen Hurts has not convinced me he can be the long term answer for the Eagles, and with the trade for Gardner Minshew, i’m not sure the Eagles are convinced either. That one hurt my brain a little bit, however it is something to think about. When the Eagles traded Wentz the whole league assumed this was Hurts’ team, however bringing in Minshew feels like they regret making the initial trade.
For me Hurts is an interesting case, however I believe he will be found out in this league before he can thrive. We have seen players in the past with his skill set become just average once defensive co-ordinators get a handle on their style and I have no reason to believe otherwise for Jalen Hurts. He will give it his all, but I expect the Eagles to finish the season with Minshew under centre and a top 5 pick in their hands.
Heat-O-Meter – 2/5
So 5 was not really enough to go throw everyone, however the players in my honourable mentions are on a 1/5 on the Heat-O-Meter at best. Most of these situations should stay the same, at least for this season, but what out for changes coming if they are poor throughout the first few games.
Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers: The end in New York was bad, and although Matt Rhule is a huge fan, as am I, of Darnold, he is on a short leash if he starts as he left off with the Jets.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Washington Football Team – This one hurt me to write, but Fitzpatrick is a stop gap in Washington, whether he believes it or not. If the season begins to spiral expect him to be riding the bench while the Football Team finds out what it has in its backups before the high draft pick in 2022.
Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers – This is more a question of when, however when may be in 3 seasons time. Big Ben is slowing down and Dwayne Haskins on his second chance looks ready to play, if Ben’s regression is harsh, then Haskins might just be the future right now.
Jimmy Garoppolo – San Franciso 49ers – This is the same situation as the Bears except to a lesser degree. While Andy Dalton played poorly last year, Jimmy G did not really play a meaningful amount. He will get his chance, however the city is ready for Lance.
Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins – Until he is traded or the week 9 trade deadline comes and goes, DeShaun Watson will hang over the Dolphins and Tua. After an excellent camp, if he starts well, the speculation ends. (Sorry not sorry Alex).
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