With the draft class of 2013 set to inject themselves into rosters throughout the NFL, it’s ‘out with the old and in with the new’. It is with this that I have decided to look at the top 5 quarterbacks going into the 2013-14 season that have to show improvement, otherwise they could soon find themselves stuck with a one way ticket out of their respective clubs.
5. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams
I hate to put my favourite player in the NFL on this list, but there is no question he does belong on this list. Yet to record a winning season, Bradford has had his ups and downs in his young career. Heading into his second and third season, Bradford was expected to break out, however this is yet to be the case. He would be a little bit higher on the list, but the fact that it is not entirely his fault to the Rams offensive struggles is why I have him at 5th. It’s a combined effort with Bradford, his offensive line, and his talent-lacking receiving group that has seen Bradford struggle.
Heading into the new season, Bradford’s line may have drastically improved with Jake Long signing, but his receiving group has taken a massive hit, losing both Amendola and Gibson (not to mention Jackson out of the backfield). Bradford is heading into a season where as a spectator you just have to sit back and see what happens. His season this year could go either way.
4. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I feel like Freeman has copped a lot of unfair blame from Tampa’s struggles, very much like Bradford with the Rams. But the difference between the two is the fact that Freeman has been caught in the line of fire. People want him gone. The pressure is mounting for Freeman to produce in 2013, and if he can’t, the Buccaneers could part ways with the former 17th overall pick.
Freeman caught fire mid to late last year, becoming quickly one of the most underrated quarterbacks in my eyes. But, despite his good play, the Buccaneers could only manufacture a 7-9 season. If Freeman doesn’t measure up this season, I can’t see him remaining in Tampa Bay.
3. Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings
I’m feeling like I might cop a bit of abuse for picking Ponder, and for putting him 3rd on the list, but I can’t help but feel like he should be better then what he is. He has Adrian Peterson. He had Harvin, who has now been replaced with Jennings. He has Rulfolph. He has the weapons to be one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but he isn’t. I get he is still developing, and compared to Webb, he seems like the right fit. But could you imagine the Vikings with a player like Russel Wilson?
Ponder obviously still needs time, and his contract still has him playing on past this season, but I can’t help but see 2013 as key to whether he will succeed in the NFL, or if it will just prove a waste of time for the Minnesota Vikings.
2. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
This really is self-explanatory. He is a disappointing player. There really isn’t much else to say. Rumours are swirling that the Jaguars are looking at Geno Smith in the upcoming draft. This wouldn’t be a shock. But I can’t help but feel sorry for the kid, which has landed him on my list. If Gabbert does get one more shot to prove himself this coming season, it will no doubt be the pivotal point of his career. If he can’t make it with receivers such as shorts and blackmon, then not only could Gabbert find himself out of Jacksonville, but he could struggle to find a home anywhere.
It is sad to see a players career struggle to take off, and without some luck, Gabbert may not take another snap as a starter for the remainder of his career.
1. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys.
Forget about Romo’s new contract for a second and look at his career. He has one playoff win, and is a well documented player who can’t come up big in the clutch. Now, just to get it out there, I like Romo. I think he is a good quarterback, and perhaps has the potential to become great. But right now, he’s just a frustrating player, and everyone is starting to get sick of it.
Having a breakout season statistically in 2012, Romo lit up teams in his aerial assault on defences. Romo and Dez Bryant had found themselves as arguably the most dangerous combination in the NFL, and the Cowboys were beginning to look like legitimate dark horses to make a run at the Superbowl. But much like Romo’s career, he couldn’t get it done late in the season. They missed out on playoffs on the back of one mistake. Again.
Whether it’s throwing an interception, or missing a wide open receiver to ice the game, Romo has time and time again proven that he cannot deliver late when his team needs it most.
Lucky to still be in Dallas after last season, fans are tired of Romo’s inability to close out games. But 2013 is a new year. A fresh start. Romo has been given a new contract, and another chance to prove himself. And it’s about time he did. If he cannot deliver, fans will want blood. Expectations this season for the Cowboys will be mixed throughout the NFL community. But one thing is certain: If Romo can’t lead the Cowboys into the playoffs as a bare minimum this coming season, Dallas are going to be having some serious issues heading forward. But even a playoff appearance might not be enough to convince the Cowboy faithful. Good luck with all ofthat Romo.