Well you can SAY that “you can plan around your quarterback” as you build a team, but this year is showing us more than ever that a team needs to have its quarterback position shored up more than anything to guarantee success in the National Football League. Yes, coaching matters too, of course, and the other aspects of the game matter as well, but without a solid QB or a relatively solid backup plan in place, you’re kind of hosed.
Last month Alex Smith had his leg jacked up during a game. Washington was like, okay, we’ll go to Colt McCoy, he’s been in the system forever and should do okay. Last Monday against the Eagles, Colt McCoy got HIS leg jacked up, and so Mark Sanchez, who was last active during a game in the 2016 season, is now the Redskins’ starting quarterback. He will be backed up by Josh Johnson, who almost got drafted by some sort of thing called the Alliance of American Football.
Mitch Trubisky of the Bears is having some sort of nerve problem, which is holding him out of playing right now. Chase Daniel, who could charitably be described as “a’iight,” has started a couple of games, going .500. Not bad. Marcus Mariota of the Titans has been battling nerve injuries all season. His backup is former Jaguars washout Blaine Gabbert. (You can tell the difference.)
Right after Thanksgiving, Andy Dalton of the Bengals got his thumb messed up. Jeff Driskel (did I just hear Florida fans spit out their drinks?) is now the Bengals’ starting quarterback. Matthew Stafford of the Lions has a back injury. If he winds up having to sit out, Matt Cassel will take over.
And of course, as readers of this column know so well, Blake Bortles has been benched due to his general lack of skill throwing the football, with Cody Kessler starting and winning his first Jaguars start. Jameis Winston, formerly the starting scumbag-… er, I mean quarterback of the Bucs, has been benched again for Ryan Fitzpatrick. So it goes.
However, the Ravens traded up to the last pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft this past offseason and selected Lamar Jackson. Joe Flacco went down with an injury. Jackson has come in at quarterback and led the team to three wins in three starts, stopping a three-game losing streak. He has played competently and been worthy of that draft pick.
So why don’t NFL teams spend more relatively high draft picks on quarterbacks? Granted, there are some diamonds in the rough. Tom Brady was a late-round pick. Case Keenum, who almost led the Vikings to the Super Bowl, was undrafted. But multiple teams passed on quarterbacks like Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers. Now, with the rookie pay scale, it makes even less sense to pass on players of this caliber, especially when they fall into the second round and you have gotten that “big” first round pick you want.
It’s becoming extremely obvious, even as the league becomes more and more quarterback friendly, that you not only need a solid QB to succeed, but also a relatively decent backup as well.
In Jacksonville, I think that they won’t bring in a potential “big name free agent” to be the QB. First, I don’t think they have the money. They won’t be able to count on being able to trade Blake’s contract away at this rate. Additionally, a big name QB will be expensive, and there won’t be as many this coming offseason as there were last season. Flacco will probably be the biggest one.
Also, while some teams may indeed be tanking, I don’t agree with it. Nowadays teams can trade wherever they want in the draft, for the most part. Players aren’t thinking of tanking. They want to win as many games as possible. Josh Scobee, former Jaguars placekicker, confirmed this. If the team somehow wins out, don’t worry, fans. They’ll go where they need to go. Of the teams at the top of the draft order, I’d say that only one will be in need of a new QB, which is Oakland, because Gruden is an idiot who may try to get rid of Derek Carr. Maybe the Giants, maybe Detroit. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is if a team is locked into a player enough, they will do what it takes to get him.
I wouldn’t be mad at either Dwayne Haskins or Will Grier coming to Jacksonville. I am not picking favorites at this time, though.
AARON IT OUT TOP FIVE
PICKS AND PREVIEWS
JAGUARS @ TITANS – Part of me thinks the Jaguars will win, but considering their previous records against the Titans on Thursday nights, including that one game where they wore their Grey Poupon jerseys and were just plain awful, I don’t necessarily expect to see a return to Sacksonville again. Maybe I’m wrong, and the Jaguars could be 5-8 and have hope returning to town, but for now, I can’t pick them. Coming soon, though: the battle of the horrible quarterbacks (Jax vs. Washington in 2 weeks).
JAX 14 TEN 17
PANTHERS @ BROWNS – The Panthers have lost four in a row, including two mystery stinkers against the Lions and the Bucs. Cleveland doesn’t have the best record, but is a team on the rise and is looking to upset a few people along the way. You know what, I’m here to pick the Browns. Why not?
CAR 17 CLE 27
RAVENS @ CHIEFS – This should be a fun game to watch, Lamar vs. Patrick. (Also, the Jaguars fan in me will cry a little, realizing that the Jaguars could have picked both of those players to be their quarterback in the last couple of years.) Will the post-Kareem Chiefs be able to stick it out, or can Lamar lead the Ravens to another improbable victory? KC will probably win, but it will be close.
BAL 24 KC 27
COLTS @ TEXANS – I like the progress of both of these teams. However, Jacksonville exposed a lot of weaknesses last week, and Houston’s got a healthy JJ Watt bouncing around behind its defensive line. If Indy’s o-line gets with it, they can hang in. I think this game will be a clone of their first matchup, with the winner being the last team with the ball.
IND 28 HOU 24
PATRIOTS @ DOLPHINS – Who do you think will win?
NE 42 MIA 0
GIANTS @ REDSKINS – Oh my goodness, who cares? The Redskins suck now. They have lost not one, but two quarterbacks.
NYG 20 WSH 5
SAINTS @ BUCS – The Saints are eager to rebound from their loss to the Cowboys. They’ll do so, and it’ll be a big one.
NO 35 TB 9
FALCONS @ PACKERS – Do yourself a favor, Green Bay and Atlanta fans. Instead of watching this game, go to the Redbox, or go on your favorite on demand video service, and rent Mission Impossible Fallout. It is a far better use of your time than watching these two teams compete for draft position.
ATL 12 GB 15
JETS @ BILLS – Or, you could watch a Christmas movie. There are many great ones. Christmas Vacation and Elf are favorites in our house. There’s also Santa Clause and Christmas With the Kranks, for those of you who can tolerate Tim Allen. Die Hard has lots of action and Professor Snape. Home Alone 1 and 2 provide great slapstick comedy.
NYJ 3 BUF 6
BENGALS @ CHARGERS – While we’re on the subject, when did Frozen become a Christmas movie? Yes, it came out during that time, but Wreck it Ralph 2 came out at Thanksgiving, and that doesn’t make it a Thanksgiving movie. Just because there’s snow and ice, doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. There is no Santa, there are no trees or ornaments or lights, and no death-defying Bruce Willis stunts.
CIN 0 LAC 30
BRONCOS @ 49ERS – One of my current guilty pleasures, as I further my experience in seasonal outdoor illumination, is the Great Christmas Light Fight on ABC. Some people are ridiculous. For example, there were people that live by Disney that have a ton of Disney things. But some people are very innovative, putting a lot of time and effort into their decorations, or doing the decorations for charity. A fun show.
DEN 21 SF 6
EAGLES @ COWBOYS – This is all kind of coming off as a clone of another Thursday NFL preview column, which I promise is not the intention, but I feel bad just doing one-sentence blurbs on games with obvious outcomes. How about the Broncos, by the way? They’re gonna be all right. And hey, the Cowboys are doing a great job of setting themselves up to flame out in the divisional round of the playoffs.
PHI 14 DAL 28
STEELERS @ RAIDERS – Speaking of playoffs, I made homemade cheese dip for the first time last week. It was different, but pretty good! I melted cheese, milk, and butter and seasoned the ever-loving crap out of it. Definitely a step in the right direction and something easier to do than throwing on “go in public” clothes so you can schlep back to Winn-Dixie at 5:45.
PIT 45 OAK 7
LIONS @ CARDINALS – I have to say, though, some of these games just make me sad. Oh, and Matt Stafford’s hurt. Are they trying to explain why he’s bad this year? Has he been hurt his whole career?
DET 9 ARI 12
RAMS @ BEARS – Oh, look, an actual game featuring teams that people might actually watch. Very nice of them to schedule one of these. If the Bears can get to Goff, look out! They have the defense where it may be possible.
LAR 28 CHI 27
VIKINGS @ SEAHAWKS – So are, like, the Seahawks good? Will they make the playoffs? I don’t know. They definitely aren’t winning the west, they have already been spanked twice by the Rams, but okay. Sure. They face two tough games out of their last four, this being one of them. Minnesota will probably win this, because I like their defense.
MIN 24 SEA 19