Oct 6, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; New Orleans Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins (27) sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) forcing a fumble during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Jacksonville Jaguars – Blaine Gabbert era on a timer now
It often takes awhile for an obvious draft need to show up for a team during a season. Such is not the case for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Watching Blaine Gabbert play quarterback has been nothing short of cringe-worthy. It makes many experts wonder how he ever was considered a first round pick. Such is the inexact science of scouting quarterbacks during a draft. The fact is the Jaguars need to try again and this time get it right. They are the hands down favorite to land the first overall pick and it would be a miracle if they didn’t use it on a quarterback.
New York Giants – Eli Manning age coming into question
Throughout what has been a highly successful career that is starting to border on Hall of Fame terrioritory, it’s easy to forget that Eli Manning is 32-years old. That isn’t over the hill just yet but it’s creeping into territory that typically gets a team thinking about the future. The fact that the New York Giants are 0-5 has made that much easier. Manning leads the league in interception. Not all of that is his fault but it does reinforce the idea that his skills may have peaked already. If the record continues to slip this may be the best opportunity Big Blue will have to find a serious franchise-caliber replacement in the draft. Rumors have begun circulating about Teddy Bridgewater. How much worse can Manning play before other names creep onto the list?
Carolina Panthers – Faith in Cam Newton crumbling
The offensive outbursts are growing fewer and further apart. Cam Newton is too far into his pro career now to rely on the promise his rookie season showed. The Carolina Panthers need him, and aside from crushing the hapless Giants he hasn’t produced. He’s turning the ball over too much, he’s not decisive enough on his throws and his leadership clearly isn’t doing much to reverse the fortunate of what many thought was a good team. If Ron Rivera gets fired, which seems more and more likely, the safety net for Newton will go with him. With so many options next May it’s hard not seeing the Panthers considering a move to either give him competition or replace him outright.
Minnesota Vikings – Josh Freeman the major wild card
At 1-3 there are a lot of question circulating around the Minnesota Vikings. Most of them involve the future of Christian Ponder. Despite getting the team to the playoffs last season, his limited impact on games is becoming a problem as teams zero in on Adrian Peterson. After spending lots of money and draft picks to upgrade the offense, the Vikings need more from the quarterback position. That is why it was a clear message to Ponder that he must pick up when the team signed free agent Josh Freeman. Just 25-years old, Freeman has reached stat levels a franchise quarterback should. If Ponder falters or gets hurt again, he will get the call to play. How he does will shape how Minnesota approaches the 2014 NFL draft.
Chicago Bears – Jay Cutler not out of the woods yet
It takes time for a head coach and quarterback to become familiar with one another but the Chicago Bears are in a time limit conundrum. Jay Cutler is 30-years old and in the last year of his contract. So far his progress under Marc Trestman has been slow but steadily improving. The big issue at hand is does Trestman want to bring in a young arm if he doesn’t see enough improvement? Most offensive head coaches prefer that course of action. Cutler can still save his job but he must start taking better command of the offense, meaning faster starts and fewer turnovers. Otherwise Chicago could jump into the quarterback pool early.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike Glennon given no promises
Quarterback upheaval has become a regular trend lately for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their highly publicized breakup with Josh Freeman dominated headlines for two week. Now with Freeman out, the laser sight is squarely on the head of Greg Schiano. The second-year head coach is under fire for his teams’ 0-4 start and rumors of his militaristic coaching style that has failed to produce results. His fate along with the teams’ is in the hands of rookie 3rd round pick Mike Glennon. Experts believe he has a bright future in the pros but a lot can and will change if Schiano gets fired after the season. With a new head coach coming in, Glennon will be offered few guarantees to keep the starting job, especially with how strong the 2014 NFL draft class is in quarterbacks.