Aside from the stellar performances from Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, quarterback play has been incredibly unpredictable the first eleven weeks of the NFL season. Quarterback play has caused the playoff picture to shake up, too. Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Dak Prescott are some of the names that are being mentioned as top-tier quarterbacks and are leading their teams to possible playoff berths, while some of the biggest names in the sport, such as Cam Newton, have seen their teams struggle. Today I’m going to focus on three of the normally elite quarterbacks who could be stuck watching the playoffs from home due to the mediocrity of their normally dominant teams.
X Option: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (4-6 record)
No running game, no defense, no receivers. Those have been the problems for arguably the best quarterback of his generation, Aaron Rodgers, and those problems have Rodgers staring down a disappointing 4-6 record and third place standing in the NFC North. The Packers’ rushing attack has Eddie Lacy as its leading rusher with a meager 360 rushing yards and has failed to add another dimension to the offense. Green Bay’s defense imploded after allowing Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott to eclipse 150 yards and gave up 47 points to the Tennessee Titans. Overall, the Packers’ struggles have contributed to a four game slide, with the Seahawks, Texans, Vikings, and Lions coming up.
Y Option: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (5-5 record)
I don’t like for people to get fired, but time’s up for Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano. After three promising playoff runs in the first years of the Grigson-Pagano pairing, the Colts’ mediocre roster has been exposed and the Colts are lucky to be at .500. Like Green Bay, the Colts’ rushing attack has been stale, as Frank Gore and Luck are the only players to rush for over 60 yards. The defense has allowed the third-most total yards and 27.3 points per game, forcing the offense to go into shootout mode to keep up with opponents. But the biggest problem has been the offensive line, which has been a horrible job of protecting Luck. The pressure has taken its toll on Luck, who was injured for portions of last year and has been sacked more than any other quarterback this year. The Colts are wasting Andrew Luck’s potential, and its time for some fresh faces in Indianapolis.
Z Option: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (4-6 record)
Drew Brees is up there in age, but he’s still racking up yards (3,277) and touchdowns (26) more than anyone else in the game. But with a porous defense and inconsistent roster, it is unlikely that Brees will return to the playoffs even if he leads the league in both statistical categories. New Orleans’ defense has been an issue in the post-Super Bowl, post-Bountygate era, giving up more points than every team not named Cleveland or San Francisco. Mark Ingram has failed to provide a consistent rushing threat and the free agent acquisitions, namely tight end Coby Fleener, haven’t produced.
Checkdown Option: Tony Romo… in another jersey?
This week, Tony Romo made headlines by orating a written statement during a press conference that effectively passed the torch of the Cowboys’ starter to rookie Dak Prescott, who has started every game for Dallas this season. Romo acknowledged that it has been tough for him to accept a backup role and that he wants to get back on the field.
Romo’s statement has led to speculation that the four-time Pro Bowler could leave Dallas this offseason for a chance to start for another team in the last couple years of his career. Denver, Chicago, and the Jets have been mentioned as some possible landing spots for Romo, but each of them could be disasters waiting to happen.
Denver is a playoff contender with question marks at quarterback, but the Broncos have a horrendous offensive line, a factor that could spell doom for the 36-year-old quarterback. Chicago is in the midst of a rebuilding phase and won’t be a playoff team for the foreseeable future. Which leaves… New York. The Jets have a potent rushing game with Matt Forte, two talented receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and some sense of direction under head coach Todd Bowles. It would be difficult for me to see Tony Romo in a different uniform, but with Dak Prescott as the established, low-paid starter in Dallas, Romo will look around and would do well to consider the Jets.
Last Week Record: 7-6
Vikings over Lions- Sam Bradford and Minnesota take the NFC North lead with a grit-it-out, 20-14 victory.
Cowboys over Redskins- Dallas extends its winning streak to double digits with a convincing 31-15 win over their archrivals.
Steelers over Colts- Big Ben outduels Andrew Luck as the Steelers get back on track in a 34-31 shootout.
Bengals over Ravens
Saints over Rams
Cardinals over Falcons
Dolphins over 49ers
Chargers over Texans
Giants over Browns
Titans over Bears
Jaguars over Bills
Seahawks over Buccaneers
Patriots over Jets
Panthers over Raiders
Broncos over Chiefs
Packers over Eagles