Who needs to prove themselves this year?
Every season, players fight to prove themselves while other players fight to assert themselves on top. Most people have a set-in-stone hierarchy for quarterback dominance but even some proven quarterbacks have their detractors and those still unproven quarterbacks will need to show up this season to either prove they’re starting caliber players and get a big contract extension. When I say “make it or break it”, I don’t mean superstar or bust I’m only implying the pressure on these quarterbacks to succeed.
Jalen Hurts-Philadelphia Eagles
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Everyone and their mothers are talking about Hurts if he can be the franchise quarterback for the Eagles and it’s warranted. Hurts came in year one only to back up Carson Wentz. When Hurts took over, after Wentz fell off a cliff, he lead the Eagles to the playoffs in his first year as a starter. But he had holes in his passing game and the Eagles got slapped by the Bucs. Now everyone wants to know if Hurts can be a better passer and a better leader and lead this Eagles team into the future. He has a good test cut out for him as the NFC East is ripe for the taking. If Hurts can put together a good season and lead his Eagles squad over the Cowboys, win the NFC East, and maybe go crazy and win a playoff game then no one will be able to doubt Hurts as the starter in Philly. Improving on his passing is the first step and while a 61.3% completion isn’t bad it can be improved as well as throwing better then 16 touchdowns to 9 interceptions.
Lamar Jackson-Baltimore Ravens (Money Biased)
As a former league MVP and one of the best running quarterbacks the game has seen, Lamar Jackson is a proven quarterback. However, he isn’t on the level of Allen and Mahomes and the blueprint to beating him is out. It’s a big question mark as to how much money Jackson should get paid as there’s no doubting his abilities, but the biggest concern is teams come playoff time have figured out how to beat him. He isn’t a terrible passer by any means but he isn’t a willing passer either and when deciding to pay a quarterback $40 million you want him to be able to do good things in the passing game. Jackson’s last playoff game was in Buffalo where his Ravens squad got held to three points and the offense including Jackson couldn’t get anything going. My biggest concern with Jackson is teams know how to beat him but by no means should he not get paid, he’ll get paid based on this upcoming seasons performance and that’s why he’s on this list.
Davis Mills-Houston Texans
Mills is in an awkward spot. Most non-Texans fans expect Houston will take a quarterback in the draft next year. But Mills was arguably the second best rookie quarterback last season and showed flashes of what he could do. The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that the Texans are expected to finish poorly and put themselves in a position to draft a quarterback so Mills would have to perform well enough to warrant the Texans to ride the future with him. Recent history also isn’t in his favor, Drew Lock with Denver and Gardner Minshew with Jacksonville are just two names of young quarterbacks that showed flashes only to underperform and get replaced. The only way Mills can prove himself is to win consistently as he has to play the Texans out of a big hole. While good stats are nice in his position it would be easy for the Texans to look at a hot quarterback prospect coming in the draft with super potential and go a different direction.
Kyler Murray-Arizona Cardinals (Money Biased)
Murray might get paid before the season even starts so if that happens most of what gets said here won’t apply but as of now he still hasn’t gotten paid. How much to pay Murray? He hasn’t won anything and it’s reasonable to worry if your the Cardinals if he can bring you to the Super Bowl. Murray doesn’t have any holes in his game and he’s a very good runner but you’d like to see a track record of success worth $40 million/year considering that’s what it’s reported his camp is asking for. There isn’t much to say against Murray or in his defense, this all just comes down to if you believe he’s worth that price tag and if he can keep progressing and get himself to a point where he can carry the Cardinals. Being in the NFC West doesn’t make anything easier and winning a playoff game would certainly go nicely on his resume especially after his last playoff game in LA.
Ryan Tannehill-Tennessee Titans
The great comeback story of Ryan Tannehill is starting to show its flaws. Tannehill boomed onto the scene in Tennessee leading them to the AFC Championship and since then it’s only been downhill; from a first round exit to the Ravens to being the one seed and getting bounced by the Bengals after sacking Joe Burrow nine times. It’s seriously time to take a long, hard look at Tannehill. Can he win games by himself or was he only a product of Derrick Henry? He’s locked into a max contract right now but just because the Titans made it to the conference finals once doesn’t mean they can do it again. The rest of the AFC is filled with juggernauts and the Titans are lucky they get to play in the worst division in the AFC or else there’d be serious concern of them outright missing the playoffs. Tannehill has been exposed multiple times, throwing some really stupid interceptions and underperforming in big games and when you’re getting paid $30 million/year which doesn’t seem like a lot for a quarterback nowadays but with Malik Willis on the roster the Titans are preparing themselves in the event Tannehill disappoints them once again.
If you made it this far let me know any quarterback you think are going into make or break years and also how much would you personally pay guys like Jackson and Murray? Would you pay them at all or collect on multiple draft picks by trading them? It’s going to be a fun time for the franchises and fans figuring out how they feel about their respective quarterbacks and while teams may say they ride or die with their guy you have to remember the NFL is a business.