The last 8 months (2018 NFL season/2019 off-season) was just more evidence that we know nothing about quarterbacks. For example, a first year starter in Patrick Mahomes won the MVP, the almost retired Nick Foles received an 88 million dollar contract, and a 5’10 Kyler Murray was the 1st overall pick. Yeah, I definitely knew all of that was going to happen.
In all seriousness, quarterbacks really are becoming harder and harder to figure out. Yet, even with all of the unpredictability, the ones that have the most to prove stick out like a soar thumb.
Whether if it’s as obvious as being in a contract year or as low key as teams’ having some internal doubts. The reasons why quarterbacks are on the hot seat are easy to identify. Which is why I came up with a list of the 7 signal callers under the most pressure heading into 2019!
7. Carson Wentz
If you are strictly looking at Carson Wentz’s 2018 stats, you could make the case that he had a strong season. Many quarterbacks would take 21 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, a 69 completion percentage, and 3,074 yards in 11 games (according to NFL.com) in a heartbeat.
However, Wentz obviously didn’t play like he did in his phenomenal 2017 campaign. Things just didn’t come as easy to him because it always seemed like he was pressing.
This 3rd year regression left everyone questioning which version of Wentz is Philly going to consistently get. The elite 2017 version or the good but definitely worse 2018 version. 2019 will be the year where he reveals the caliber of quarterback he really is.
6. Kirk Cousins
As we all know, the narrative of Kirk Cousins’s inability to win big games has haunted him for the majority of his career. The Vikings clearly weren’t believers of this narrative because they specifically signed him to win the big games and ultimately take them over the top.
Cousins still came up short in big moments last season but it wasn’t completely on him. Minnesota’s offensive line really struggled and that affected how he played. Adding Garrett Bradbury and Dru Samia were clear efforts to improve his protection and he already has more than enough play makers around him to be successful.
That said, Cousins has no more excuses. He must show that he can win big games and be worth the 84 million dollars the Vikings invested in him.
5. Mitch Trubisky
Mitch Trubisky’s 2018 season was truly a roller coaster. He started off extremely shaky and had some really ugly moments. But then showed some awesome flashes and signs of growth towards the end of the year.
That said, it still always felt like the Bears won their biggest games in spite of how poorly Trubisky preformed. This winning formula just doesn’t seem very sustainable for the Bears to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Meaning, Trubisky needs to take the proverbial “next step” in his development and show that he can be a consistent reason why the Bears win games. Chicago basically has every other piece in place and he is really the only question mark. So, he must progress if this team is going to reach it’s full potential.
4. Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo’s miraculous 6 game stretch in 2017 earned him a 5 year 137 million dollar contract, so the expectations for his 2018 campaign were high. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to ACL injury.
That said, the expectations for 2019 are even higher because the 49ers’ roster is much improved. However, if San Francisco is actually ready to compete for a championship, Garoppolo must lead the way and we haven’t really seen him in many big game pressure situations.
Obviously, the flashes of brilliance that Garoppolo showed were great but he is still an unknown commodity. Therefore, 2019 is a make or break season for the success of the 49ers and for him to define his status as a quarterback.
3. Marcus Mariota
After his Sophomore season, it looked like Marcus Mariota was well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. However, he has clearly regressed and become more of a game manager since then.
Now, a game manager isn’t in the worst thing in the world and the Titans were fairly successful with him at the helm over the last 2 years (18-14, one trip to the playoffs). Yet, many were expecting more growth out of the former 2nd overall pick.
2019 is Mariota’s contract year and I highly doubt that Tennessee would extend him if he has another sub-par season. Meaning, he must improve and show the Titans that he can be the franchise quarterback that they drafted him to be. If he doesn’t, then I expect him to be on another team in 2020.
2. Jameis Winston
Many were surprised that the Buccaneers brought back Jameis Winston to finish his rookie deal. His production on the field has left much to be desired and trouble seems to continue to find him off the field.
However, Tampa Bay decided to invest one more year into him in hopes that he can still become the quarterback they drafted him to be. They even brought in one of the best “quarterback whispers” in Bruce Arians as their head coach in efforts to help him.
That said, if Arians cannot get through to Winston, then it’s safe to say that nobody can. So, he must take major strides this season. Like Mariota, Winston is in a contract year and I would be shocked if the Bucs gave him a new deal without drastically improving.
1. Derek Carr
There was a lot of speculation these past couple of months leading up to draft about Derek Carr not being Jon Gruden’s “guy.” Those rumors were clearly not true because the Raiders biggest off-season moves revolved around giving Carr enough to succeed and they didn’t draft a quarterback.
However, it is hard to be completely sold on Carr. The one break out year that he had seems to be an anomaly at this point and he has just been pretty average every other year.
Obviously, his struggles last season weren’t solely on him because of how bad his supporting cast was. But he has more then enough help to succeed now. If Carr does not hold up his end of the deal, then I expect Gruden to start looking for his own signal caller.
The Raiders can get out of Carr’s contract next season, so they could easily cut ties if the they wanted to. That said, Carr could possibly be playing for his job in 2020 and beyond, which is why I believe that he is under the most pressure heading into 2019.