NFL training camps open up this week and optimism reigns supreme. Of course, you can have legitimate hope if you have Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan. But what if your team is in quarterback purgatory? Should you start sobbing now and keep the tissues close to the recliner?
Here are the five teams with the worst QB situations in the league.
5. Chicago Bears
Projected starter: Mike Glennon/ Mitch Trubisky
Probable backups: Mike Glennon/ Mitch Trubisky and Mark Sanchez
Level of bad: Probably not great, but probably not terrible either
No team on this list has a more intriguing quarterback battle. Mike Glennon vs. Mitch Trubisky might actually make you want to watch preseason games. Chicago created this drama after signing Glennon as a free agent to be their presumptive starter. Then the Bears traded a small fortune to move up one spot in the draft to take Trubisky. The trade was rightly criticized, but if Trubisky turns into a Pro Bowl-level quarterback, no one is going to remember or care.
You know you're completely screwed when the story of your season is a QB battle between Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky. #bringbackcutler
— Not Aaron Rodgers (@FakeRodgers) July 6, 2017
Glennon is a guy who in his short time at Tampa showed some flashes. In 21 games, he has thrown for 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. At the very least, Glennon looks like an above-average backup. But is he a long-term starting quarterback? Apparently, the Bears don’t think so. If they did, they wouldn’t have selected Trubisky.
How good could the rookie be? Trubisky only has 13 career starts at North Carolina. Chicago probably would like Trubisky to sit for a season while Glennon starts for now. A best-case scenario would be Glennon playing well enough to trade after the season.
4. San Francisco 49ers
Projected starter: Brian Hoyer
Probable backups: Matt Barkley, C.J. Beathard
Level of bad: Island of Misfit Quarterbacks
What in the name of Joe Montana, Steve Young and Jeff Garcia is going on here? This depth chart looks like that of a team whose regular starter and backup quarterback got injured and the team is just trying to patchwork its way through the remaining games of the season.
One thing is painfully clear: San Francisco has given up on the 2017 season with an eye to 2018. The Niners are praying that they can land Kirk Cousins in free agency. That makes sense, since San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan worked with Cousins when he was Washington’s offensive coordinator.
— Niners Now & Always (@AlwaysNiners) July 21, 2017
Until then, Shanahan must make do with the unremarkable Brian Hoyer. Hoyer is your prototypical stopgap, but give him credit: He had a winning record as a Browns starting quarterback (10-6 from 2013-2014!). Hoyer was with Shanahan in Cleveland, so he knows the offense. Problem No. 1: There isn’t enough talent around him. Problem No. 2: He’s Brian Hoyer. Matt Barkley is playing for his third different team in as many years and threw 14 interceptions in only seven games with Chicago. Yuck.
Best option is to wait for Cousins with a truckload of cash.
3. Cleveland Browns
Projected starter: Cody Kessler
Probable backups: DeShone Kizer, Brock Osweiler
Level of bad: Dumpster fire potential
It’s truly amazing how inept Cleveland has been at trying to find a franchise quarterback. It has been the No. 1 reason why the Browns haven’t had a winning record since 2007 and haven’t made the playoffs since 2002. Can you name the Browns’ starting quarterback from that game? Believe it or not, it was Kelly Holcomb who passed for 429 yards and three touchdowns in just his third career start. It set up a QB battle for 2003 that featured Holcomb versus Tim Couch. The results: predictably unsuccessful.
Will the three-way battle between Cody Kessler, DeShone Kizer and Brock Osweiler also be predictably terrible? Osweiler is the most expensive bad quarterback in NFL history. He was so terrible that Houston couldn’t wait to get rid of him even after making the playoffs. There is a good chance Osweiler might not even be on Cleveland’s roster at the start of the season.
— Browns Fans (@BrownsChat) July 7, 2017
The Browns will likely play Kessler and see if Kizer can get up to speed to at least be the backup. While Kessler went winless in eight starts, his passer rating (92.3) was good for a rookie. The best hope is that Kizer learns quickly and challenges Kessler.
2. Los Angeles Rams
Projected starter: Jared Goff
Probable backup: Sean Mannion
Level of bad: A few incompletions away from DEFCON 1
Usually when a collection of quarterbacks is this terrible, there’s a purge. The Rams are thinking differently, keeping two QBs from last year: Jared Goff and Sean Mannion. As a team, L.A. had the second worst passer rating (69.5), scored the fewest points (14.0) for the worst offense (262.7 total yards) in the league.
At the center of it all is Goff – a guy the Rams traded up to pick in the 2016 draft. You could attribute some of his struggles to being a rookie. But if he doesn’t start playing better, Goff could go down as the worst No. 1 overall draft choice of all time. (Yes, even worse than JaMarcus Russell.)
Eric Dickerson says Sean Mannion, not Jared Goff, should start at quarterback for LA Ramshttps://t.co/lUKu0OGCWz
— Migael Engelbrecht (@Migael02936) July 25, 2017
Goff didn’t just go 0-7 as a starter. He wasn’t just the worst starting quarterback in the league. Goff was the worst among rookie quarterbacks who saw significant action last season. He completed 54.6 percent of his passes, passed for an average of 155.5 yards per game and had five TDs to seven interceptions. The good news: Goff probably can’t play worse. Perhaps new Rams coach Sean McVay will help.
1. New York Jets
Projected starter: Josh McCown
Probable backups: Christian Hackenberg, Bryce Petty
Level of bad: Federal disaster area
When people accuse the Jets of tanking the season, just look at the depth chart. Even for the Jets, this is epically, hilariously bad. Josh McCown, a 38-year-old journeyman and career backup, is the most accomplished passer in the group. Christian Hackenberg has never played a game. Bryce Petty is 1-4 as a starter. Given the roster turnover and quality of quarterbacks, it’s possible that this could be the worst Jets team since 1996, when New York went 1-15.
It’s supposedly a three-way quarterback battle, but McCown will probably win because of his experience. He knows the West Coast offense and was productive as recently as 2015 with Cleveland (12 TDs to 4 INTs). McCown was fabulous in 2013 when he threw 13 TDs to 1 INT. However, that probably had more to do with the skill position talent around him: Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett.
Rich Eisen: If Jets really want to tank, play Christian Hackenberg – New York Post https://t.co/AGnWOBBWZ1
— Joseph Meliambro (@JosephMeliambro) July 21, 2017
Bottom line: New York is going nowhere. McCown (18-42 as a starter) is simply a placeholder. Unless Hackenberg and Petty are completely incompetent, it is best in the long term to play one of them to see if they can at least be a serviceable backup. Hackenberg is intriguing because of physical skills, but the lack of accuracy he displayed at Penn State is alarming.