It’s a fairly wide-held belief that quarterback is the most important position in American professional sports. When you think about it, it’s easy to see why. They are the highest-paid players in the National Football League, they impact the play of every non-special team during the course of a game, and there is almost always a direct correlation between their performance on the field and their team’s standing in the win/loss column.
With training camp and the regular season right around the corner, we put together a list of quarterbacks who we believe will drop the ball in 2016. Every guy on our list has all the tools to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, but for one reason or another, we just don’t believe that they will get it done this year. Here’s what we came up with.
1. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Our feelings about Joe Flacco are no secret: We firmly believe that the 31-year-old quarterback is one of the most overpaid and overrated players in the National Football League. As a result, we expect him to completely drop the ball in 2016. The bottom line here is that the Ravens haven’t done Flacco many favors from a personnel standpoint.
Baltimore still has yet to surround Flacco with a game-changing group of wide receivers — as much as we admire and respect Steve Smith Sr., he is simply not the player he used to be — and their offensive line is a major question mark, especially after Baltimore lost Kelechi Osemele during free agency this offseason.
However, in a bit of irony, Flacco partially has himself to blame for these issues when you consider the fact that his outrageous contract limits what the Ravens can do during free agency. Nevertheless, we predict another subpar season for the Ravens and the former Delaware quarterback.
2. Blaine Gabbert and/or Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
Let’s face it: The 49ers are a flat-out train wreck right now. Whether it’s Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick taking the snaps, we don’t foresee good things coming from the Niners’ quarterback position in 2016.
Even if Gabbert and Kaepernick can prove that their past play isn’t indicative of their talent, they will still play behind an average (at best) offensive line, and will throw the ball to wide receivers who don’t have a true No. 1 threat among them. When it comes down to it, we see the 49ers starting quarterback swiftly leading the team into contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
3. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
We believe that Jay Cutler will take a step backwards in 2016 after having a career year in 2015. The 10-year NFL veteran will have yet another offensive coordinator this year — his sixth since being traded to the Bears — and he will not have tight end Martellus Bennett available as a security blanket after the former Texas A&M standout was traded to the New England Patriots earlier this offseason.
Barring any surprises, the Bears will continue to have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and their rushing attack is a major question after longtime running back Matt Forte signed with the New York Jets earlier this offseason. If Cutler ends up struggling this season, as we predict, the Bears could ultimately end up cutting the former Vanderbilt stand out next offseason
4. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans
Simply put, the pressure is on Brock Osweiler to play at a high level after he spurned the Denver Broncos and signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Texans this offseason. While he will have a solid group of receivers — led by All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins — we just aren’t convinced that Osweiler will prove to be a Pro Bowl-caliber starter in Houston.
There is no denying that Osweiler was mediocre in his seven starts for the Broncos in 2015. He did deliver a couple of clutch possessions in close games, but other than that, we saw little that would suggest that the 6-foot-7, 240-pounder is the type of quarterback who can get the Texans over the hump in 2016. All said, we predict that the Texans will have buyer’s remorse in regards to signing Osweiler next offseason.
5. Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns
While we firmly believe that Robert Griffin III could potentially thrive under new Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson some time down the road, we expect the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner to struggle in 2016.
The Browns will likely have rookies at two of their top three wide receiver spots. Other than left tackle Joe Thomas, who is a future Hall of Famer, and guard Joel Bitonio, Cleveland’s offensive line is in rebuilding mode. With all that being said, we are fairly confident Griffin will struggle in 2016.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.