QB Pressure Points Entering 2019 Season
It is easy to make a case that every NFL QB is under the microscope for most years. It is my opinion that there are three who actually have proven their value within the league. With a certain amount of success, one can make a case for that the upcoming 2019 season is likely to be a defining moment in their careers.
QB Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
Cam had a career year in 2015: NFL MVP and a career-high 99.4 QBR. His God-given talents and physical ability are unquestioned. He is big, athletic and has plenty of natural arm talent. Having said that, since his 2015 season he has had 3 mediocre (at best) seasons. Sure, last year has to warrant mulligan because of injury, but I see a player who has not progressed as a pocket passer who seems to take longer and longer to “get the ball out of his hand” and one that has not elevated the play of his teammates.
If these three vital characteristics are not improved upon in 2019, the criticism might even get ratcheted up to another level. His conscious effort to elevate his BRAND and fashion will not be effective if his play on the field doesn’t elevate as well. After 2019, he will have 1-year remaining on a contract that he signed in 2015. I feel a referendum coming after this season.
QB Joe Flacco – Denver Broncos
Flacco is 34 years old and entering year twelve of his career. He has 3 years left on a contract that he signed in 2016. Because of the struggle that the Broncos have had in finding a post-Peyton Manning QB, the microscope will be on Flacco in 19’ to save a floundering franchise and build credibility for the new coach, Vic Fangio. This is added to the fact that Joe has struggled to build up credibility chips with his lack of performance in Baltimore the last few years and his defiance of “competing for a job”. Given these factors, you have a QB on the defensive before he has even taken a snap. Joe probably needs to talk less and play more. I see a guy who holds the ball too long, whose accuracy has dwindled and whose poor confidence/body language has rubbed off on his teammates. His QBR has only been north of 90 twice in his career.
No doubt Joe is capable, but the “how bad does he want it” question is starting to be asked. I see a player who has not accepted or been accountable for his own performance and the media will love to jump on him at the first sign poor play. Not a good way to start a re-boot of a career. The pressure is on!
QB Kirk Cousins – Minnesota Vikings
If ever a career could be defined by analytics, this is the guy. He is crazy successful – 95 career QBR (5 of his 7 years over 90), 67% completion percentage, 129 TD’s to just 68 Ints. The former 4th round pick of the Redskins now enters year two of his stop in Minnesota. In my opinion, this is a case of numbers presenting a false picture of facts. What makes it even harder to be critical is Kirk is perhaps one of the best guys in the business. He has great character, all the leadership qualities and always says the right thing, etc.
Now getting down to the physical facts like average arm, average release, average accuracy; All the things that lead to the Redskins to saying enough is enough. No person has maximized his skill set to obtain market value, maybe in the history of the league like Kirk has. What tightens up the pressure value in my mind is the Vikings are a team that thinks they are Super Bowl ready. Because of this, last year had to be viewed as a disappointment. He was trumpeted as the missing link. He has a fully guaranteed contract so he’s not going anywhere, but he does become a target based on that same contract. I just see a game manager here who has yet to win a big game and is going to have to break through that ceiling to be considered a Top 15 QB. I don’t think he’s there yet so 2019 will be a giant year for him.
Other QBs Under Pressure
QB Josh Rosen- Miami – Can he prove the Cardinals wrong?
QB Derek Carr- Oakland – Already questioned within the Raiders hierarchy. Playing for his future in Oakland/LV
QB Andy Dalton- Cinn – New coach, same questions, after 19’contract questions will come up?
QB Marcus Mariota- Tenn – Needs to stay healthy. Is he worth the 25 million a year it will take to resign him? A free agent in 2020 – Playing for his future as a starter in the league.
QB Jameis Winston- Tampa Bay – Up and down results on and off the field. Entering last year of contract w/new coach? A free agent in 2020 – Same as Mariota, playing for his future as a starter in the league.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock | Action Sports Photography