No position undergoes more scrutiny in the NFL than the quarterbacks. Which names need a big year to save their jobs?
Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams
First it was no continuity in the coaching staff. Then it was injuries. Sam Bradford has had little to offer the St. Louis Rams except excuses since becoming their first pick of the 2010 draft. He’s also becoming a problem for their salary cap. The roster is loaded with talent, offensively and defensively. Bradford has the confidence of his head coach in Jeff Fisher. If he can’t deliver in 2014 then there is little doubt the Rams will begin the process of replacing him.
Matt Schaub – Oakland Raiders
Being traded for a low round NFL draft pick is pretty much never the best sign for a quarterback. Matt Schaub is a veteran and two-time Pro Bowler but is also coming off the worst season of his career. The Oakland Raiders took a chance on him, hoping he can regain some of his old form in order get out of the doldrums. At the same time, they also drafted Derek Carr, sending a clear signal that their patience has a limit.
Jake Locker – Tennessee Titans
That safety net of being a first round pick is long gone for Jake Locker. Once viewed as the future of the Tennessee Titans, he is now just hoping to have one more shot. His old coaching staff is gone. New head man Ken Whisenhunt has said he’s willing to work with Locker in hopes of seeing whether or not he has what it takes. Many people have their doubts. The Titans can only hope they’re wrong.
Andy Dalton – Cincinnati Bengals
It’s not about regular season success at this point for Andy Dalton. In three years he has made the playoffs three times and had his best statistical season as a pro in 2013. However, NFL history is rather hard on players who don’t show up in January and Dalton is living that nightmare. The Cincinnati Bengals have not won a single playoff game with him at quarterback. In fact they haven’t even scored more than 13 points in any of the contests. Any sort of regression this year or another quick playoff exit may spell trouble for him with a new contract coming up.
E.J. Manuel – Buffalo Bills
The fact that E.J. Manuel was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft is more an indictment than an honor. The Buffalo Bills needed a quarterback and couldn’t afford to pass on him. That doesn’t mean they are married to him for the long-term. Manuel has a lot of developing still to do after an uneven first year, and in a city that has gone too long without playoff football he won’t have the luxury of patience from coaches or the fans.