Starter: Andy Dalton
Backups: Josh Johnson (primary), AJ McCarron, and Keith Wenning
I think it's BS that Spurrier has such a reputation as a guy who can only produce quarterbacks that are good in college, while nobody has a word to say about Nick Saban's QB development. AJ McCarron is a part of a greater trend. Look at this list: Greg McElroy, Rohan Davey, Matt Mauck, Marcus Randall, John Parker Wilson, Todd Schultz, Bill Burke, and Tony Banks. If you have to go to Tony Banks to find a decent quarterback over 20 years of head coaching across three different schools, then a man's ability to develop QBs must be questioned. But Saban has won gobs of titles, so screw AJ, right? Josh Johnson is actually a decent quarterback who's been in some tough situations on some mediocre teams, but ultimately hasn't thrown a football since 2011. There must be a reason he's trusted as a second-stringer, and if Hard Knocks is to be believed, he certainly still has his athleticism. That's the great thing about not playing: you can't get injured.
Starter: Matt Cassel
Backups: EJ Manuel (primary), Tyrod Taylor, and Matt Simms
Why did I rank the Bills so high? Because I don't think there's anywhere to go for these quarterbacks other than up. I genuinely wouldn't be surprised if all of these quarterbacks showed a great deal of improvement. Well, maybe not a GREAT deal in the case of Matt Cassel, but he's got to be in a more mentally stable place. I'm sure Rex Ryan has taken our boy Cassel out for many plates of wings, many pitchers of beers, and many hot tubs of women. Worked for me after I had my fourth divorce. As for EJ Manuel and Tyrod Taylor, both are vying for a chance to be named the starter, and finally get their careers really started. Manuel was drafted too early and was given too much responsibility as a rookie, while Taylor has never gotten the chance to show us if he still has some college magic. Of course, Taylor hasn't thrown a ball in an NFL game since 2013, while Manuel looked acceptable last season, throwing five touchdowns to three picks, and finishing with a 2-2 record as a starter. Can Cassel at least throw more touchdowns than interceptions? Vegas says no.
Starter: Nick Foles
Backups: Austin Davis (primary), Case Keenum, and Sean Mannion
You know who was pretty decent last season? Austin Davis. He led the Rams to a 3-5 record in relief of Sam Bradford, and threw 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 63.5% passing. He also led the team on two game-winning drives, beat the defending Super Bowl champs (yeah really)' and conducted a fourth-quarter comeback against the lowly Bucs. These are things decent quarterbacks can and often do. Given the running back situation for the Rams have vastly improved, it's understandable that the Rams would want to get a fresh start with a supposed high-caliber, young quarterback in Foles, but we haven't seen him play a full season as a starter yet. Plus, Davis knows the plays, and it'd be interesting to see if he could take a leap. Alas, Foles is the listed starter, and the Rams added pressure on Davis by giving Case Kennum, he of an 0-8 record in 2013, another go-round. It has to be hard for Keenum to now start over as a backup, despite going 2-0 with the Texans last year prior to getting injured. In truth, I like all of these guys, but if I had to pick the guy I want as my starter, I think I'd go with Davis.
Starter: Jay Cutler
Backups: Jimmy Clausen (primary), Shane Carden, and David Fales
Why the Bears kept Clausen around for another season after seeing that he was as bad as people feared is a baffler of a decision. What was an easy decision was stealing Shane Carden from undrafted free agency hell. I'm a huge Carden fan, and seeing him land with my hometown team is naturally going to get me a little excited. He does have competition in 2014 sixth-round pick David Fales, though in a perfect world both young guns would stay and Jimmy Clausen would live a life that involves doing lines of cocaine off of hookers that get progressively uglier every year, eventually leading to coaching Iceland's national football team. Fresh powder, brah.
Starter: Russell Wilson
Backups: Tarvaris Jackson (primary) and R.J. Archer
Hey you. Lean over.
When’s the last time you saw Tavaris Jackson play football decently?
Psssssssst… hey. Don’t go anywhere.
Come over here. Lean over again.
Who the f*** is R.J. Archer?
Starter: Matt Ryan
Backups: T.J. Yates (primary) and Sean Renfree
I’ll say it, T.J. Yates got screwed by the Houston Texans. He mops up their 2011 campaign after Matt Schaub got injured and led them to the playoffs, only to ride pine and watch Case Keenum get drafted, followed up by Schaub’s slow decline into the mess of a man he is today. He has trash everywhere in his house except the trash can. He hasn’t taken a shower in three weeks. He keeps drinking eggnog and won’t turn on the air conditioner. T.J. Yates is an upstanding citizen, and could profit from another horrid Falcons season. I mean, Kyle Shanahan is the offensive coordinator, so there’s no question Matty Ice is finally going to have a nice, old-fashioned mental breakdown. Sean Renfree was a Falcons 7th round pick in 2013, and hasn’t even touched the field as a pro. Not even to hold the ball for a field goal or anything! Also, he looks like a sad Giovanni Ribisi, which is impressive given how sad Ribisi already looks.
Starter: Marcus Mariota (projected)
Backups: Zach Mettenberger (primary), Alex Tanney, and Charlie Whitehurst
Is it possible for two teams to have two successful paths, with the only difference being the quarterback? I really like the Titans future with either Mariota or Mettenberger, but I don't think it does either quarterback any favors to have them ride the pine and watch the other one succeed. Mettenberger already has the back of the locker room, and Mariota's style isn't going to change anytime soon, so it's not like watching a pocket QB is going to help him. Of course, that's presuming the Titans are smart enough to let Mariota work his magic in an Oregon-style offense. Charlie Whitehust, meanwhile, has amazing Jesus Christ Superstar hair, and is a terrible quarterback.
Starter: Alex Smith
Backups: Chase Daniel (primary), Tyler Bray, and Aaron Murray
I feel like these guys party a lot together. They’re in their mid-20s, they’re getting paid big bucks, and there’s not much else to do in Kansas City. The beer guts on these guys could crush the skulls of most monkeys. As for their talent, they all offer pretty much the same style of pocket passer, though Daniel may be the odd man out due to his significantly larger contract. As for Tyler Bray, he's done a remarkable job of staying away from hotel balconies and the football field. I feel like there was supposed to be a future for Bray, but I can’t for the life of me tell you what it was. Superstar QB? No, that seems too bold. Well, whatever it was, its long gone now.
Starter: Ben Roethlisberger
Backups: Bruce Gradkowski (primary), Tajh Boyd, and Landry Jones
Gradkowski cannot die! There couldn't be a more perfect quarterback to take the place of longtime Steelers backup Charlie Batch, both in terms of playing style and talent, but also as a quarterback who's too good for anybody to complain about him with any sort of passion. I'm not saying Bruce Gradkowski is a good quarterback, but he's a decent one, and clearly has no problem playing the next 12 years in the league as a second-stringer. Good for you, Bruce. On the other hand, Tajh Boyd might only have a job due to the fact that the FXFL cut it's inaugural season short. Boyd had a stink on him the second the Jets didn't keep around for their season after he was drafted in the sixth round. If the team that has Geno Smith as its starter doesn't think he's good enough, then Tajh might as well send in a resume to whatever god-awful show covers Clemson sports on local television. In the meantime I'm just going to keep making fun of him. As for that other guy, uh, Landry? I think that's his name. It might also be Lance. Either way he's just hanging around.
Starter: Teddy Bridgewater
Backups: Shaun Hill (primary) Taylor Heinicke, and Mike Kafka
Shaun Hill is the perfect backup for a team with a young quarterback. As we saw with his work in Detroit (backing up Matthew Stafford) and in St. Louis (backing up Sam Bradford), Hill makes for a good replacement-level quarterback. He’s shown he can run a fluid offense, and win more than a few games, but not play so well as to shake the confidence of an injured young starter. Hill will never be the future of a franchise, and he’ll never be in the Hall of Fame, but he can fill in for a hypothetically-injured Teddy Bridgewater for the second half, complete 75% of his passes, throw a touchdown, and lead the Vikings to a 17-13 win over, I dunno, the Bills or somebody. Shaun Hill is decently good, and that’s decent enough and good enough for Minnesota. As for the other backups, Taylor Heinicke needs to decide if he wants his last name to be Meineke or Heineken, because right now his name is just bulls***. Mike Kafka is simply going through a metamorphosis into a giant insect. If you don't get that reference, read a book.
Starter: Andrew Luck
Backups: Matt Hasselbeck (primary) and Bryan Bennett
I didn’t anticipate putting Matt Hasselbeck so low on this list. I thought he would at least crack the top ten. Half of his sixteen NFL seasons resulted in more than 3,000 yards passing, and he’s thrown for almost 35,000 yards in his career. He’s also turning 40 in September, and while he’s still proven himself to be a quality backup, and a terrific educator for Andrew Luck, he’s only going to get worse with age, not to mention more prone to injury. Behind him is the relatively unknown Bryan Bennett, but Bennett could end up being quite the sleeper. A 6’2”, 211-pound dual-threat QB from Southeastern Louisiana (originally at Oregon), Bennett finished his collegiate career with 85 cumulative touchdowns across 44 games, and clocked the fastest throw of any player at the combine: 60 miles per hour. Though good arm strength doesn’t equal good quarterback, it’s a place to start if the Colts want to invest in Bennett as a project to have a long-term backup in place.