Why Jimmy Garoppolo could start in Week 1

Will Jimmy G start for the 49ers offense?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Now entering his fifth season with the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo finds himself in a competition for the starting quarterback job for the first time since arriving in San Francisco. This is because the organization traded all the way up to the third overall pick in the NFL Draft this year to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. A move like this is only made out of necessity, and the extensive injury history of Garoppolo played a major factor in this decision. He has unfortunately only been able to complete a full season once in his seven year career.

The 49ers have a roster that is built to win now, as demonstrated by their 2019 season where they made it all the way to the Super Bowl before being defeated by the Kansas City Chiefs. The organization does not want to continue to gamble on the health of Garoppolo and run the risk of wasting another season while their championship window is still wide open. That’s exactly what happened in the 2020 season when Garoppolo was only able to play in six games and the 49ers finished their disappointing season in last place in their division despite being the defending NFC conference champions.

All of this was factored in and lead the 49ers to draft Trey Lance as the likely eventual replacement for Garoppolo. A player drafted this high is not just an insurance policy but a huge part of future plans. The real question is centered around when Lance will get his opportunity to start. There is an open competition in training camp right now, so either of the two quarterbacks could be the starter for week one of the regular season. Here is why Garoppolo will get one more chance to keep his job.

Developing the Rookie

While Lance is an extremely talented and athletic quarterback, he may need some time to develop into an NFL ready quarterback. He only started 17 games in his entire college career including only one game in 2020 because of the pandemic restrictions. His one complete season in 2019 was off the charts and what justified his high selection in the draft. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards and 28 touchdowns with zero interceptions while also rushing for an additional 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Lance has a very high ceiling due to his raw talent as well as his situation but it’s still unclear if he is ready to play at the NFL level because of his overall inexperience. He is young, didn’t play a ton of games at the college level, and when he did play it was not against the highest quality of opponents. The best plan of action to maximize his potential may be to wait and let him develop first before starting.

Returning to Glory

Putting the Lance situation aside, the main reason why Garoppolo will get one more chance to be the starter is because of how much success he and the team had in the 2019 season when he was fully healthy. The 49ers won their division that year, won the NFC Conference championship game, and were minutes away from winning the Super Bowl if not for a spectacular come back lead by Patrick Mahomes. It’s hard to justify moving on from the quarterback that got you that far if he can find a way to stay healthy and productive. The former has always been the issue for Garoppolo because he has really been solid overall when he is actually on the field.

In that 2019 season, Garoppolo completed 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards and 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He was good enough to lead the 49ers to the 4th ranked total offense at 381.1 yards per game and 2nd ranked scoring offense at 29.9 points per game. They also had the 2nd best total defense in the NFL that year at 281.1 yards allowed per game and the 2nd best rushing offense at 144.1 yards per game.

The 49ers are returning the large majority of their roster and coaching staff for the 2021 season so it’s very fair to believe that their defense and rushing attack will again be towards the very top of the NFL. If Garoppolo can repeat or improve on his 2019 production the 49ers will once again be in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders and that is why he will be the opening day starter. That being said, he will be on a short leash and will need to perform to keep Lance on the sidelines.

What is the ceiling for Taylor Heinicke?

Is Taylor Heinicke the future quarterback in Washington?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Taylor Heinicke is a very interesting player to keep an eye on heading into the 2021 NFL season. According to head coach Ron Rivera, Washington will head into training camp with an open competition for the starting quarterback job between Heinicke, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Allen, and Steven Montez. While Fitzpatrick is the likely front runner for the job in week one, Heinicke should be right on his heels with a real chance to win the starting role at some point. The fact that the organization just gave him a two year contract extension despite signing the 38 year old Fitzpatrick in free agency is a clear indicator that they believe in the potential of Heinicke.

Career Numbers

Heinicke is already 28 years old and has a very small sample size to go off of when looking at his career statistics. In the regular season across eight games played, he has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 467 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also demonstrated his athleticism with 9 carries for 55 rushing yards. His career 71.7 passer rating is underwhelming but hard to fairly judge given the lack of volume. He’s produced very mixed results to say the least.

The one game that really showed off his potential was the playoff game that he started against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs last year. Washington did lose the game but was very competitive in the contest, partially due to the best game of the young career of Heinicke. He completed 26 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for an additional 46 yards on six attempts and another touchdown. This performance is the main reason why he was given an extension to remain in Washington with aspirations of becoming the future starting quarterback.

Season Outlook

The biggest and most obvious question for Heinicke heading into the 2021 NFL season is if and when he will get his opportunity to play. That may depend more on the play of Fitzpatrick, if he does in fact get the starting job for week one of the season. Fitzpatrick chose Washington in free agency because he believes it is his best chance to be the starter on a contending team. He did not sign there to be a backup or a mentor to Heinicke. He believes he still has plenty left in the tank and his solid 2020 season backs that up.

Across nine games played in 2020, Fitzpatrick completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 2091 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping the Miami Dolphins compete for a spot in the playoffs. In addition to registering his highest completion percentage in a season, he also recorded his best ever total QBR at 76.8 and his 95.6 passer rating was the second best mark for a season in his long 16 year career. If he puts up a similar stat line or better to start the 2021 NFL season, it’s going to be hard for Heinicke to justifiably take over the job. Ironically, Fitzpatrick did lose his starting job last year to rookie Tua Tagovailoa despite his great efforts.

The Ceiling

If Fitzpatrick begins the season as the starter, he will be on a very short leash and head coach Ron Rivera could choose to switch to Heinicke at any time. In fact, there is still a decent chance that Heinicke could even win the QB competition in training camp and be named the week one starter any way. Washington is a team with hopes of returning to the playoffs this year so they will need solid quarterback play out of whoever the starter is.

In terms of a player comparison, the ceiling for Heinicke would be a Ryan Tannehill type. They both have similar skill sets with a comparable list of strengths and weaknesses. They can both be gunslingers at times who are willing to take risks in the passing game. They are both very athletic players who definitely prefer to pass first but can also beat a defense with their rushing abilities when necessary. Tannehill at this current stage of his career is a borderline top ten quarterback in the NFL, so if Heinicke can reach that level, the Washington organization is going to be very happy with their decision to give him a contract extension this past offseason.

Projecting the floor and ceiling for Trey Lance

The 49ers rookie QB holds a lot of ability

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The San Francisco 49ers made a big move in the NFL Draft this year when they traded all the way up to the third overall pick to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. They traded away three first round picks and a third rounder to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the rights to draft their potential quarterback of the future in Lance. He is an extremely dynamic talent with a skillset that fits the modern version of the NFL very well because of both his big arm as well as his rushing abilities.

College Career

In just one full season as a starting quarterback, Lance put up some ridiculous numbers at North Dakota State. In his freshman season he was the back up and only threw one pass, while his junior season was unfortunately limited to just one game because of Covid restrictions. It was his sophomore season that he can be really be judged on and he was absolutely spectacular. In 16 games that year he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2786 yards with 28 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Just as impressive as his his throwing stats were his contributions on the ground, carrying the ball 169 times for 1100 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is a true dual threat quarterback who absolutely dominated his competition at the college level.

Projected Floor

The real floor for Lance this season would be if does not play, and instead just serves as the back up to Jimmy Garoppolo all year. This is a possibility because Garoppolo is likely going to be the week one starter so he would presumably keep the job for as long as he is healthy and playing well. He has had some success when he plays but unfortunately he just can’t seem to stay healthy, which is a big reason why the 49ers made such a big move to acquire a quarterback this offseason. Garoppolo has only been able to complete a full season once in his 7 year career and that was back in 2019. He did play pretty well that year, though not spectacular, completing 69 percent of his passes for 3978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The big thing that Lance brings to the table that Garoppolo is missing is the run threat. Lance would add a whole new dimension to an already efficient and explosive offensive unit with his impressive athleticism. The arsenal of Lance paired with the solid weapons around him such as George Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk make it pretty hard to imagine him having a low floor if he does in fact get his opportunity to start at some point this year. The 49ers have an excellent coaching staff too lead by the offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan so the success of Lance seems highly probable. It’s more a question of when rather than if he will succeed.

Projected Ceiling

Lance is not only a high floor player, as long he gets his chance to start of course, but his ceiling is sky high. The offensive scheme of Shanahan, by design, is extremely friendly to quarterbacks. The elite rushing attack opens up the field for the passing game beautifully and the built in reads of the system assists quarterbacks in being very efficient. The 2020 season was one plagued by injuries for the 49ers but back in 2019 they were one of the top offensive units in the entire NFL. They ranked 4th in total yards per game at 381.1, 13th in passing at 237 yards per game, 2nd in rushing at 144.1 yards per games, and 2nd in scoring at 29.9 points per game.

From a talent perspective alone, Lance is clearly an upgrade from Garoppolo so if he develops to his true potential than his expectations are massively high. Pretty much all of the key offensive pieces from 2019 are still on the team so Lance has a real chance to bring an already elite unit to a new level. Adding his rushing ability to the mix, which will be fun to watch with the creativity of Shanahan, is a nightmare for opposing defenses who already struggled to slow down this offense with a stationary quarterback. The most similar comparison for Lance would be a bigger and stronger version of Kyler Murray. That’s a dangerous concept to add to an already stacked offense.

All things considered including the talent, weapons, scheme, and coaching, it’s hard to imagine any way that Lance turns out to be a bust with the 49ers. The only thing that is a big question mark is the when factor. It is still completely unknown when he is going to get his opportunity at the starting quarterback role. It could be at some point this season or it might not be until the beginning of the 2022 season. When that time does come, Lance has an excellent shot to become a top tier quarterback in the NFL very quickly.

Why Dak Prescott will throw for over 5000 yards in 2021

Dak Prescott is an elite NFL QB

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

After an unfortunate and gruesome ankle injury ended his 2020 season after just five games, Dak Prescott is now healthy again and ready to get back on the field. This was an eventful offseason for him between recovering from the ankle surgery and signing a huge new contract with the Dallas Cowboys to remain their quarterback for the foreseeable future. As long as he can stay healthy this year, Prescott is lined up for a huge 2021 NFL season. Here is why he could throw for over 5000 yards.

Increasing Production

From the 2017 season through the 2019 season, Prescott increased his output from each year to the next. In those three seasons respectively, his passing yard totals were 3324, 3885, and 4902. That 2019 season, which was his last full season, was the best of his young career so far. In addition to the most passing yards of his career, he also had his most touchdown passes with 30. He was dangerously close to the 5000 yard mark that season and was on pace to do even better in 2020 before the injury.

Prescott was off to a scorching hot start to the 2020 season and on an absolutely ridiculous pace. Through his first four games he threw for a massive 1690 passing yards. Extended over a full 16 games, if he continued at that current rate he would have thrown for 6760 passing yards. That would have been a new NFL record by more than 1000 yards over Peyton Manning in 2013 with 5477 passing yards. While it is very unlikely that he would have been able to continue a full season at that insane pace, it just demonstrates the extremely impressive season he was having before the injury ended it. It also shows that he is still improving as a quarterback and his peak has probably not yet been reached.

Elite Offense

On paper, the Cowboys have one of the top offensive units in the entire NFL. They have a very good offensive line lead by All Pro guard Zack Martin, one of the most dynamic running backs in the league with Ezekiel Elliot, and a wide receivers group that includes dangerous weapons such as Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Despite the poor quarterback play after the Prescott injury, last season the Cowboys still ranked 8th in passing offense at 260.1 yards per game and 14th in total offense at 371.8 yards per game. Those rankings would almost definitely be much higher if Prescott had played all 16 games but it demonstrates the strength of their offense that they were still respectable without him.

The trio of Elliot, Cooper, and Gallup were all major parts of the Cowboys offense in both 2019 and 2020 when Prescott was playing his most productive football of his career. They are all still with the team and should continue to contribute in a big way. The key addition to the offense that was not there in 2019 is CeeDee Lamb. He was a rookie in 2020 so Prescott has never had the luxury of a full season with the dynamic Lamb as his slot receiver.

Lamb showed last season that he is going to be a major weapon out of the slot for the Cowboys. He put together an impressive rookie campaign consisting of 74 receptions on 111 targets for 935 yards and 5 touchdowns. Interestingly, his three best games of the season were all games in which Prescott was the starter. It was a small sample size but that is an encouraging trend and an indication of what could be coming this year. With a year of experience and a full offseason to work with Prescott, this can become a very valuable connection this season.

Huge Projections

All things considered, a healthy Prescott in 2021 is all lined up to have a monster season. With the offense that he has around him, he has as good of a chance as any other quarterback to lead the NFL in passing yards. He’s been extremely close to a 5000 yard season once, and was on pace to far surpass it last season, but this is the year he can really break through. According to the Draft Kings Sports Book, he is currently the 8th favorite to win the NFL MVP at 17 to 1 odds. If he can play to his full potential and eclipse that 5000 yard mark, he will be right in the mix to win it. Expectations are sky high for Prescott in the 2021 NFL season.

Which 2022 College Quarterback Prospect Best Fits the Steelers?

Who will be the Steelers QB of the future?

By: Noah Nichols

The Steelers are entering an interesting point in time. In the very near future Ben Roethlisberger is going to retire. The Steelers know that. What the Steelers don’t know, as of right now, is who their franchise quarterback is going to be. After almost two decades of play from the future first-ballot hall of famer, Roethlisberger will be hanging it up for good, mostly likely at the end of this year.

What happens next? Do the Steelers turn to Mason Rudolph? If that is the case, they would probably only do so for a year. They would give Rudolph a chance to prove himself, and while I like Rudolph as much as the next guy, he just does not have the physical tools necessary to bring the team forward. The Steelers will almost certainly turn to the 2022 draft to find their next franchise quarterback. What quarterback best fits the Steelers in 2022? It depends on what the Steelers are looking for.

And while the Steelers are not going to have their pick of the litter, so to speak, in 2022, there are a few quarterbacks that the Steelers could be eyeing in 2022, and one in particular is a great fit for them. As a disclaimer, I will not discuss Spencer Rattler or Sam Howell. Both are projected to be top five picks, and unless they fall off a literal cliff, that is where they are going to go. Instead I will be looking at some quarterbacks that the Steelers have a reasonable chance of nabbing. The probability of these quarterbacks being available when the Steelers pick will factor in when determining which quarterback best fits the Steelers.

Malik Willis

Probably the most talented quarterback in the draft aside from Rattler, Willis brings a lot to the table. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Willis is not a small quarterback that will be easily injured. Averaging 8.7 yards a carry for his career, his biggest problem is not turning the ball over. According to PFF he had one more big-time throw than turnover-worthy play last year, 20 and 19 respectively. That could be concerning, trying to do too much could result in some bad plays that kill the team, and he cannot run for his entire career.

However, he has a year to improve. And the Steelers are (mostly) fine with a quarterback who turns the ball over, as long as he makes big time plays too. That was Ben Roethlisberger for most of his career. Willis provides something that the Steelers have not had at quarterback since Kordell “Slash” Stewart, a quarterback in the mold of Michael Vick. Stewart rushed for over 2,100 yards in his career as a Steeler, so the concept would not be new to the organization. Big arm, big play legs are Malik Willis in a nutshell, and the Steelers would love to have that. The turnovers won’t really concern the Steelers too much, considering Ben has thrown 201 in his career.

KEDON SLOVIS

Almost the opposite of Willis, Slovis is an accuracy-first type player. With an adjusted completion percentage of 80.6% for his career, Willis is not going to put the ball in harms way very often. His biggest problem, and why the Steelers will not draft him, is his arm strength. He has never completed a pass over 50 yards in his career, and has the weakest arm in the 2022 quarterback class. The NFL is not trending in that direction, but the biggest problem is how Slovis does not fit Pittsburgh. Windy, rainy games are regular trend in Pittsburgh, especially later into the season. The Steelers will not take a quarterback who cannot regularly complete passes in bad weather. The AFC North is too brutal for that. If they played in a dome, the answer might be different. But they don’t, and Slovis wont play for the Steelers.

Desmond Ridder

Ridder resembles Lamar Jackson more than anyone else in this class. At 6-foot-4, 215-pounds, Ridder is two inches taller and three pounds heavier than Jackson. Ridder is very similar on the ground with insane speed and a start-stop ability that throws defenders in the opposite direction. It was reported that Mike Tomlin had wanted to draft Lamar Jackson when he came out. The validity of that report is up in the air, but if its true, Tomlin has a second chance right here. Ridder looks like a carbon copy, excelling on the ground, and even struggling in the air with accuracy. Ridder does not lack for a strong arm, his accuracy is his biggest weakness.

And while he grew in that area in 2020, only 53.5% of his passes targeted past the line of scrimmage last year were deemed accurate, according to PFF. However, Ridder has all of 2021 to grow in that area, and should improve in that area. If Ridder becomes more accurate, and it does not have to be a Drew Brees level of accuracy, than he could certainly be the Steelers first round pick in 2022. His athleticism paired with Najee Harris would be a nightmare for defenses to prepare for, and that is not taking into account Chase Claypool or Dionte Johnson. The Steelers offense could be beyond electric with Ridder at quarterback. It really depends on how well Ridder improves his accuracy.

Carson Strong

If any quarterback looks like Ben Roethlisberger in this draft class, its Carson Strong. At 6″4 214-pounds, Strong has all the arm strength in the world. His mechanics are great too, and his deep ball matches his arm strength and mechanics. According to PFF “No quarterback in the country targeted more passes 50-plus yards past the line of scrimmage last season than Strong. His 10 such attempts were double that of anyone in the 2021 quarterback class, and his four such completions were double that of anyone else in the country.”

There is no worry here that Strong might struggle in cold weather. There is not much to dislike here with Strong. Questions arise about benefiting from Romeo Doubbs, his star wide receiver, but otherwise, he shows little room for error. His pocket awareness needs to improve, but he does not play like he is blind to defenders. 2021 will certainly be the year for Strong to improve his draft stock and he has the potential to be a top-15 pick.

Best Fit

The Steelers don’t have a chance at Rattler or Slovis. And they certainly wont take Slovis due to the probability that he struggles in games with strong weather. Ridder brings a lot to the table, especially on the ground. He has the arm to make big plays downfield too. If his accuracy improves, he could certainly be the Steelers pick. Malik Willis has the most talent out of this group, but that’s the downside too. He probably wont be available when the Steelers pick, unless they trade up. Carson Strong is the most Roethlisberger like, and could certainly be available when they pick, but offers less as a runner.

So, who fits the best? It really depends on the scenario. However, I do believe that if Willis is available when the Steelers pick, they will take him over the other three quarterbacks. He offers everything Ridder has on the ground, and has the arm talent of Strong. If he’s there, he’s the pick. Will the Steelers trade up for him? That all depends on positioning in the draft, and while it could happen, its impossible to predict right now.

If Willis is not available, and Strong and Ridder are available, the Steelers probably will take Strong. Strong just offers more through the air, and the Steelers don’t NEED a running quarterback. However, if Ridder takes a leap and becomes a average-to above-average passer, then Ridder is the pick. Ultimately, I would put my money on Strong. He has the tools, his play style is similar to Big Ben in that he’s a big, strong armed quarterback, and he has the best chance to be available when the Steelers make their pick in 2022.

Is Kirk Cousins the future QB of the Vikings?

Will Kirk Cousins remain with the Vikings beyond his current contract?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Kirk Cousins is currently the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and it will be his job heading into the 2021 NFL season. He has had mixed results in this role and will have to prove his worth if he wants to keep it moving forward. He is still only 32 years old so time is on his side as he is still in the middle of his prime. He is not racing the clock but he is playing for his future with the team. Let’s take a look at whether or not he is the long-term answer at quarterback for the Vikings.

The Contract

Cousins is under contract with the Vikings for the next two seasons, through 2022, and is set to make a ton of guaranteed money. He is owed 76 million dollars guaranteed including salary cap hits of 31 million n 2021 and 45 million in 2022. This massive contract and the way that it is structured means he will almost definitely remain with the team until it concludes at the end of the 2022 season. That does not necessarily guarantee his starting job but it does keep him on the payroll.

The Production

After being the starting quarterback for 3 years in Washington, Cousins has now been the starter for the Vikings for 3 consecutive seasons and has only missed one game since arriving in Minnesota. In his 3 seasons with the Vikings he has accumulated over 12000 passing yards and 91 passing touchdowns against 29 interceptions. His completion percentage has decreased each year with 70.1 in 2018, 69.1 in 2019, and 67.6 in 2020. On the other hand, his total QBR has impressively improved each season with 59.5 in 2018, 60.4 in 2019, and 63.2 in 2020.

His numbers as a whole have not been bad but not exactly spectacular either. He has been fairly consistent and definitely does his best work out of the play-action passing game, which makes Dalvin Cook extremely valuable to the success of their offensive scheme. When Cook is rolling, it allows Cousins to get into his rhythm and operate at his best. Cousins has shown consistent chemistry with veteran Adam Thielen and great promise with the young stud Justin Jefferson.

Besides just the individual statistics, it’s also very important to look at the results of the team since Cousins took over as the starting quarterback. Since his arrival, the Vikings record is 25-22-1 in the regular season. They have only made the playoffs one time out of the three years as a wild card and have never won the NFC North division. While this is not a terrible record over three seasons it still leaves much to be desired. If the Vikings do not at the very least make the playoffs this upcoming season then Cousins could be in big trouble in terms of his job security. This may be his last chance to receive a contract extension beyond the 2022 season.

The Replacement

Through the first three years that Cousins was with the Vikings, there wasn’t any real threat on the roster to challenge him for the job including both the present and the future. It was really always his job alone but now things may be different after the organization used a third-round draft pick this year on quarterback Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M. Mond is definitely not going to start right away and is considered a little bit of a developmental project for now but he does have real talent and true potential. After spending some time with the Vikings coaching staff while also serving as the backup quarterback to Cousins, he could blossom into a solid starter eventually.

As a starter in all four years at college, Mond was a legitimate dual-threat quarterback with dangerous rushing abilities to go with arm talent that continuously improved from one year to the next. His accuracy, which was a weakness initially, started to become a strength as he matured and became more comfortable with how the quarterback position is played. He excelled greatly in a zone-read style of offense because of his elite athleticism and effective scrambling. In his college career, he accumulated an impressive 9661 passing yards, 71 passing touchdowns, 1609 rushing yards, and 22 rushing touchdowns.

What makes Mond a good fit with the Vikings is the similarity in styles between what they do as a team and what his strengths appear to be. With Cousins as their quarterback, the Vikings offensive scheme features a ton of play-action passing as well as RPOs. That is exactly the style of attack where Mond found his most success at the college game. Compared to Cousins, Mond is definitely more athletic and dangerous with his legs but not as efficient and accurate of a passer, especially the deep ball.

The Coach

Mike Zimmer has been the head coach of the Vikings since the 2014 season so that of course also includes the entire three years that Cousins has been the quarterback. He has a career record of 66-50-1 as the head coach of the team and it seems as though his job is on the line this year also. If the Vikings do not have a successful campaign this season and at a minimum make a playoff appearance then it is very likely that Zimmer will be fired. Often times when a team brings in a new head coach, it also means that it is time to make a change at quarterback as well, preferably to a younger option to develop chemistry between coach and player while growing together. This situation is another serious threat to the future of Cousins, especially with Mond lurking behind him.

The Verdict

All things considered, the plan for the future of the Vikings at the quarterback position seems pretty clear based on multiple factors. Financially, it would make the most sense to move on from him after the 2022 season when his contract officially expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The potential successor is already on the roster in Kellen Mond, who is an exciting young prospect with a style of play that very well fits the modern NFL game. Unless Cousins does something spectacular this season and not only makes a deep postseason run but is also the main reason for that success, it seems his days as the starting quarterback are numbered in Minnesota.

Though nothing is impossible, it is highly unlikely that Cousins can take such a leap at this point in his career. He can still improve his game but who he is as a quarterback has mostly been defined already. By the 2023 season, if not sooner, expect to see a new combination of a head coach and quarterback for the Vikings. The Cousins era in Minnesota was not a failure and still has a little time to be written, but it was not good enough to this point to justify another very expensive contract extension. As long as he continues to show promise, Kellen Mond is up next for the Vikings and even has a chance to take over the job this year if Cousins struggles at all.

Ranking the Top 10 NFL QBs right now

Who is the best NFL QB headed into the 2021 season?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

The start of the 2021 NFL season is less than three months away. Now is a good time to take a look at the top QBs in the NFL. These rankings will be based on success and production over the past few years as well as projections for the upcoming season and beyond. Let’s start at ten and count down to number one.

10. Ryan Tannehill

One of the most underappreciated QBs in the NFL is Ryan Tannehill of the Tennessee Titans. Running back Derrick Henry seems to get most of the praise for the success of their offense but they would not be what they are without Tannehill. Last season he ranked 15th in passing yards with 3819 and 7th in passing touchdowns with 33 in a run-first style of offense. Impressively, he was also in the top 5 for both rating and QBR. He took good care of the football by only throwing 7 interceptions and also chipped in an additional 7 touchdowns on the ground. He is a dual-threat quarterback that thrives in play action. He very quietly had an impressive 2020 season and cracks the top 10 QB rankings.

9. Lamar Jackson

The best rushing QB in the NFL right now, and arguably of all time, is Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. He has now rushed for over 1000 yards with more than 6 yards per carry and also 7 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. He won the league MVP back in 2019 and followed it up with a solid 2020 season. His statistics in the passing game are respectable, with a career 64 completion percentage and 68 passing touchdowns against just 18 interceptions, but his legs are obviously a much bigger threat than his arm. The biggest weakness in his game is his inability to consistently make big throws down the field. If he could improve in that area, he would jump much higher in the rankings.

8. Kyler Murray

One of the best true dual-threat QBs in the NFL is Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals. He is just as dangerous throwing the ball as he is running it. After just two seasons, he has already accounted for over 9000 combined yards and 61 total touchdowns. Unlike Jackson, what makes Murray especially dangerous in addition to running the ball is his ability to attack defenses with the deep ball. At just 23 years old, and with a young head coach in Kliff Kingsbury as well, it is fair to assume that he will be even better moving forward with more experience and chemistry with the team and coaching staff. He is a special talent and it will be exciting to see where his development and maturity will take him.

7. Josh Allen

The biggest breakout star of the 2020 NFL season was Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills. He finished the season in the top 5 in every major passing category including yards, touchdowns, completions, completion percentage, rating, and QBR. The most impressive being his 69.2 completion percentage which was well above his career 61.8 average. Accuracy was the biggest issue with his game through his first two seasons so if he has now figured that part out he is a whole new level of dangerous. Rushing the ball is another weapon in his arsenal, averaging more than 500 yards and 8 touchdowns per season on the ground. If these rankings were based on 2020 alone he would easily be in the top 3 but because 2020 was so drastically better than the first two years he will be ranked 7th for now. If he repeats in 2021 what he did last year or even continues to improve, he will catapult much higher on the list.

6. Dak Prescott

For the first time in his five-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott was unable to play a full season in 2020. Unfortunately, a gruesome ankle injury ended his season after just 5 games. Though it was a very small sample size, his passing yards were off the charts last year averaging a ridiculous 371.2 yards per game. It is unlikely that he would have been able to keep up that pace for a full 16 games but if he did, it would have easily set an NFL record in passing yards. The season before in 2019 was the best of his career with 4902 passing yards and 30 touchdowns. All 3 seasons before that one were solid as well and he has consistently improved and matured. As long as he can fully recover from the injury, all signs point to him being one of the best QBs in the NFL for many years to come.

5. Deshaun Watson

The Houston Texans are a disaster but that does not mean Deshaun Watson is not still one of the best QBs in the NFL right now. He is an example of a great player in a bad situation but he has still shined brightly despite the lack of talent around him in both the roster and the coaching staff. He was the league leader last season with 4823 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns against just 7 interceptions. He is an incredible athlete who has the ability to make plays in a wide variety of ways. He can do it all from the QB position and has done exactly that. Since becoming the full-time starter, he has consistently been one of the best in the NFL statistically for three straight seasons. Whether or not he plays this season because of legal problems is a whole different story, but if he does he will continue to be towards the top of the rankings even if the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league.

4. Tom Brady

Tom Brady will be 44 years old when the 2021 season begins but somehow he is still playing at an extremely high level. He put together one of the best seasons of his long career last season and even lead the Tampa Bay Bucs to a Super Bowl championship. He threw the third-most yards in the NFL last year with 4633 and the second-most touchdowns with 40. His longevity and an extensive list of accomplishments are the reason why he is clearly the greatest quarterback of all time and still one of the best in the game today despite his age. Conventional wisdom would say that he is going to drastically regress but that’s been the assumption for years now and it still hasn’t happened. Betting against Brady has always been a losing proposition so there is no reason to believe that he won’t once again dominate in the 2021 season.

3. Russell Wilson

In 9 straight seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson has not missed a game. He has played at an MVP caliber level every year and is still improving his all-around skill set. He is an extremely intelligent QB who understands how to attack a defense in multiple ways and has all of the tools to do it. He has no holes in his game and is a lethal combination of athleticism and arm talent. He probably has the best deep ball in the entire NFL and is one of the most dangerous at making plays with his legs as well. He is a master at the two-minute drill and just finds ways to win games. He is one of the most consistent and reliable players in the entire NFL over the last decade and has plenty of years to continue writing his legacy.

2. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is not only one of the best QBs right now but also one of the greatest of all time. Last season was one of the best of his entire career and that is beyond impressive considering how many great seasons he’s put together. He just won his third MVP last season so even at 37 years old he’s showing no signs at all of slowing down. He has arguably the best arm talent in the history of the NFL. He will be one of the favorites to win another MVP if he plays this year but that is actually not a guarantee at this point. He has not yet reported to camp and is threatening to sit out this entire season if he is not traded because of his reported frustrations with the Packers organization. If he does play this year, no matter what team it is for, there is no reason to believe he will be anything but his usual dominant self.

1. Patrick Mahomes

What Patrick Mahomes has accomplished in just 3 full seasons as the starting QB for the Kansas City Chiefs is more than most QBs achieve in their entire careers. He has already won a league MVP, a Super Bowl championship, two AFC championships, and a Super Bowl MVP. It’s hard to believe that he’s still only 25 years old considering what he’s already done. In fact, with how young he is he could realistically still get better than he already is. That is a scary concept for the rest of the league when looking at the way he already dominates. His numbers are just ridiculous so far, averaging 4623 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns per season over the last 3 years. It is still very early in his career, but Mahomes has a very real chance of going down as one of the best of all time. He definitely has the talent to do so and has already started to rack up the accomplishments to go with it.

Which QB had a better career: Joe Montana or Troy Aikman

Which legend had the better career?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Joe Montana and Troy Aikman are two of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. They are both in the Hall of Fame and are widely considered to be in the top ten QBs of all time. Their list of accomplishments are both extremely impressive and they will always be remembered in NFL history. The question here is about which of these two legends should be ranked higher on the all-time list. Let’s compare their careers to make a determination.

The Case for Joe Montana

As the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s, Montana put together one of the most impressive careers ever. He won four Super Bowls, which is the second-most for any quarterback in history, and won the Super Bowl MVP in three of those four victories. He won the regular season MVP twice and was selected to the All-Pro team five times, including three on the first team and two on the second team. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and was clearly the best quarterback of his time.

In addition to all of the winning, he also filled up the stat sheet. He was the NFL leader in passing touchdowns twice and completion percentage five times. He finished his career with 40,551 passing yards and 273 touchdown passes. At the time of his retirement, he was considered by many to be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game because of the way he dominated the league. He was ahead of his time and revolutionized the passing game in the NFL.

The Case for Troy Aikman

Similar to Montana, the career of Aikman was also one that was defined by winning. He was the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys for the entire decade of the 1990s, and two additional years after, where he found a ton of success. He won three Super Bowls and was awarded the MVP of the game in one of them. He was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and was among the best quarterbacks in the NFL for every season that he played.

It was a relatively short career for Aikman and one that can be considered quality over quantity. He did not compile a ton of stats but still does rank in the top 50 in just about every passing category. His leadership, which is something that can’t be measured, was one of the best of all time. The Cowboys really dominated the NFL in the 90s and Aikman was a huge reason why.

The Verdict

The Aikman Cowboys and Montana 49ers are considered two of the best teams in the history of the NFL and for good reason. They both dominated their competition in the era they played in, and the quarterback play was a major contributor. Both QBs have a long list of accomplishments, but when comparing the careers as a whole side by side, it’s safe to say that Montana deserves to be ranked higher on the all-time list. He was statistically better for his career, won more individual awards, and an extra Super Bowl.

Aikman is probably in the top ten of all time, but Montana is easily in the top five and can be ranked as high as number two. The fact that Aikman never won a regular-season MVP hurts his case, while Montana was clearly the best quarterback of his era. Though he retired a long time ago, there have still been very few quarterbacks that are even in the same conversation as Montana. This is even more impressive considering the way the game has evolved more and more towards featuring the quarterback, and it’s reasonable to believe that he would be even better in the style of game played today. Aikman is definitely a legend, but he’s just not quite on the same level as Montana.

Yes, Tom Brady could win more Super Bowls

Despite Brady’s age, he has shown no signs of slowing down

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Tom Brady will be 44 years old when the 2021 NFL season begins and his quest for an unbelievable 8th Super Bowl ring kicks off. After all, he did just win his 7th last season so there is no reason to believe that he can’t do it again. He is crushing all of the usual trends when it comes to age and peak performance in the league. For most players, at 44 years old they would be long retired by now, or at the very least they would be performing as a much less version of their prime. For Brady, he is still just as good as he’s ever been.

Traditional standards can’t be applied when looking at the career and trying to predict the future of Brady in the NFL. He is in a league of his own when it comes to accomplishments, and he continues to prove the doubters wrong about how long he can perform at the level he is on. Not only could Brady continue to be competitive on every level of the NFL, but he could even win more Super Bowls before the conclusion of his historic career. Here are some reasons why.

No Regression

Not only did Brady have a good season at the age of 43 last year, but it was actually one of the best of his entire career statistically. He threw for his most passing yards in a season since 2015 and his most touchdowns since 2007. In fact, it was only the second time in his career that he threw 40 or more touchdown passes in a season. His efficiency was impressive as well, completing 65.7 of his passes with a 102.2 passer rating, both of which are significantly higher than his career averages.

Obviously, compared to himself in previous seasons he was as good as ever last year and even better than most years. When comparing him to the rest of the current NFL, his numbers stack up just as well. His 4633 yards ranked third in the league while his 40 touchdowns ranked second. This proves that he is not just serviceable at his age, but he is still among the top quarterbacks in the NFL.

Elite Team

Not only is Brady a good enough quarterback currently to continue to compete for Super Bowls, but the Tampa Bay Bucs are an elite team. They have one of the best rosters in the NFL paired with a solid coaching staff lead by Bruce Arians. Brady operates behind one of the best offensive lines in the league and has an abundance of weapons as well. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are one of the best wide receiver tandems in the league while Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are a very respectable backfield. As a team last year, they ranked 7th in the NFL in total yards per game and 3rd in points per game.

To go with their top-tier offense, they also had one of the best defenses in the league last year. They ranked 6th in yards allowed per game and 8th in points allowed per game. What makes the Bucs one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl again this year, is the fact that they could justifiably be an even better team this upcoming season than they were last year. They are returning all of their key players, so another year of chemistry may raise their production even higher. When Tom Brady is leading the way there is always a shot to win it all, but with this solid of a team around him, the Bucs are a real threat to repeat.

The Reign Continues

Until somebody can knock him off of his throne, the reign of Brady in the NFL will continue. To put the cherry on top of his seventh Super Bowl championship run last season, he beat the elite class of quarterbacks in the playoffs to get it done including Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Brady has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down any time soon and there’s no reason to believe that he will not be elite once again this year.

The Bucs are one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl again, and nobody should be surprised if they do exactly that. At this rate, it appears that the only thing that can stop Brady is if he ever decides to just retire. He’s still here for now and just as capable as ever of winning more Super Bowls. He is truly a legend, and his story is not yet finished.

Should Drew Brees be Ranked Ahead of Aaron Rodgers Right Now?

Is Saints Drew Brees or Packers Aaron Rodgers on top?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

There is no doubt that Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are two of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL. Their talent, but more importantly their accomplishments, have earned both of them spots in the top ten of all-time at the position. They will both easily be first-ballot Hall of Famers when they become eligible.

The debate is which of these two legends should be ranked higher based on their accomplishments and abilities. It’s important to note that Brees has now officially retired so his resume is now final, while Rodgers is still playing so some of his story in the league is still unwritten. Let’s take a look back at these two great careers and determine who deserves the higher ranking.

Drew Brees Career

After playing 20 seasons in the NFL, including 5 with the Chargers and 15 with the Saints, Brees has now officially retired. To say it was a great career would be a complete understatement. It was arguably the best statistical career by any quarterback in the history of the league. At the time of his retirement, he is on top of the all-time leaderboards in several passing categories, including 80,35 passing yards on 7,142 completions with a 67.7 percent completion percentage. He is also ranked second in passing touchdowns with 571, fifth in passer rating with 98.7, and second in yards per game with 280.

Brees had the most passing yards in seven different seasons and the most touchdowns in four of them, both of which are the most in NFL history. He won the AP Offensive Player of the Year Award twice, was once a first-team all-pro selection, and was chosen for the pro bowl 13 times. He won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009 and was named the Super Bowl MVP.

Aaron Rodgers Career

Rodgers has spent all 16 of his NFL seasons with the Packers, and at 37 years old he still has plenty of gas left in the tank. This past season was one of the best of his entire career, and that’s saying a lot considering how good he has consistently been. He was awarded the NFL MVP this past season for the third time in his career. He has been selected as a first-team all-pro three times and to the pro bowl nine times. He won the Super Bowl in 2011 and was named the Super Bowl MVP.

His all-time passing rankings are already extremely impressive, and he still has plenty of time to climb the leaderboards even more. He currently ranks 11th in passing yards with 51,245, 10th in completions with 4,285, 7th in passing touchdowns with 412, and 12th in completion percentage with 65. One of the most impressive things in the wide skillset of Rodgers is how well he takes care of the football. This is demonstrated by his 1.4 percent interception rate, which is the best in NFL history.

The Verdict

The two legends have each won a single Super Bowl with the MVP of the game to go with it. Rodgers is way ahead in the season MVP totals with his three and counting, while Brees won zero of them. Brees absolutely dominates the current statistical totals, but again Rodgers is still playing so he has time to close that gap. Rodgers is showing no signs of decline yet either, being the reigning MVP of the league.

If looking at raw numbers only, there would be no case for Rodger to be above Brees. Greatness is not just defined by stats, there is much more that goes into it, including individual accomplishments and team success. While the team success has been very similar, the individual accomplishments have not. Brees was never once even named the MVP of the league, and at no time in his career was he considered the best current quarterback in the league.

All that being said, Rodgers is a better quarterback all-time than Brees. He has shined brighter in his career to this point, and it’s not at all over yet for him. Other factors to consider are that Brees had better weapons overall, a much better head coach, and a system specifically designed to optimize passing statistics. Rodgers did as much, if not more, with less. It’s a fairly close race between the two, but Rodgers gets the overall edge. If he can find a way to win at least one more Super Bowl before retiring, he would not only win this head-to-head comparison by a landslide, but he would catapult himself clearly into the top 5 of all time and maybe even higher.

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