If you were born in the 90s or had to live through them then you are familiar with the song “Step by Step” by Marky Mark and the New Kids in the block. In the NFL this year there are several players that are anxious to take the next step in their careers.
For receivers it is generally known that usually in your third year you take your game to the next level, with QBs it might take a little longer to fully develop, perhaps 4-5 years. Other positions might not have the patience and expect immediate production such as running back.
Last year a perfect example of a player taking their game to the next level would be 2 time super bowl winning QB Eli Manning. Manning went into last season not quite considered an elite QB and something to prove. By season’s end Manning had erased all doubt of whether he was elite and brought his game up to the point where is considered one of the games top passer.
This year I looked and some players that might make the jump in their game to get them to the next step.
Matt Ryan – While Ryan is no question a top 15 QB, he is still a borderline top 10 QB. Ryan’s lack of playoff success had limited his reputation in league circles, and his name seems to be forgotten when the elite QBs come up in conversation.
This year Ryan looks poised for a breakthrough year, fantasy football analyst are going crazy for Ryan’s potential this season. Peter King after seeing the Falcons this year said that 5000 yards is a possibility. If number 1 A WR Julio Jones can stay healthy, Ryan might have the luxury to throwing to the best receiving core in the league.
Ryan has been an absolute STUD this preseason and looks to bring his strong play into the season. Hall of fame Tight End Tony G believes that this Falcon team is the best team he has ever been on.
Will this be the year Ryan grows as a QB and joins the likes of Peyton, Eli, Brady, Brees and Rodgers?
Joe Flacco – Flacco has been criticized his whole career as being an average QB. Flacco gets even less respect in league circles than Ryan. Flacco will continue to prove to get rid of the haters until he is able to take the next step in his game.
Last year Flacco fell a couple of plays short from going to the Super Bowl which could have done wonders for him had he beat out Tom Terrific.
Joe needs to be the leader of this team and being the transition of his offense being the identity of this team and not the Ravens D.
Philip Rivers – Rivers is the most interesting name on this list because many had the young fiery QB as one of the elite QBs already. Rivers took his game to the next level which had him certainly in the conversation as the league’s best.
Not Bill Walton @NotBillWalton: "Remember when Philip Rivers was considered better than Eli Manning? Yeah, neither do I?"
Despite never going to the big game, Rivers was a consistent winner and a part of a 14 win teams, and several teams that just came up short, time after time as Cyndi Lauper would say.
That being said Rivers took a step back last season. You know your stock has dropped when you fall from being drafted early in the 2th round of fantasy to now dropping to between the 4th and 6th round. Rivers has all the skills, drive and what it takes to be a winner in this league just something seemed off last season.
Hopefully a healthy Antonio Gates this season will get Rivers back to his true form but let’s not forget he did lose his number one receiver this offseason and will have to do with a new receiving core with players who haven’t really had tremendous NFL success.
If I had to bet on which one of these QBs has the best chance of taking the next step, my guess would be easy: Matt Ryan. Ryan has a new offensive coordinator with a passing mindset, one of the best receiving corps in the league and a solid running game tied with a vet HOF tightend.
The pieces are there for Ryan, now it’s his turn to drive the bus, take the next step in his game and lead them to the promise land.