The NFL is never perfect, and plans often go awry.
Quarterback is viewed as the most important position in football, so it’s crucial that teams get it right. The NFL can be a brutal business where coaches get fired after one season, so if they make the wrong call on who starts at QB, it could cost them their job.
Even if the stakes aren’t that high, a correct quarterback change can make a drastic improvement on a team. In 2019, we saw the Titans go from Marcus Mariota to Ryan Tannehill. In six starts with Mariota, the Titans went 2-4 and had a much less productive offense. Tannehill came in and went 7-3 in 10 starts and took the Titans to the AFC championship game.
Is there a player who can pull off something similar in 2020? Possibly. That’s why we’re going to look at some quarterbacks who are in situations that could result in them sitting on the bench at some point in 2020.
Mitch Trubisky, Bears
Assuming Mitch Trubisky retains the starting quarterback job at the start of 2020, he seems like an obvious choice for someone who could get benched at some point this season. Chicago brought in Nick Foles, who is earning a hefty $8 million contract in 2020. Foles has had an interesting career, which has seen him win Super Bowl MVP and also lose a starting quarterback job to Gardner Minshew.
He’s shown enough promise in his career to warrant being a starting quarterback, and he’ll be breathing down Trubisky’s neck all season. Chicago rejected Trubisky’s fifth-year option, so he’s on thin ice for the Bears. Unless he dramatically turns things around, it would be easy to see Chicago bring in Foles to start at some point this season.
Tyrod Taylor, Chargers
Tyrod Taylor is listed as the Chargers’ starting quarterback for 2020. Taylor joined L.A. last season after starting three games for the Browns in 2018. He faces a similar situation as he did in Cleveland where he’s projected to be the starting quarterback on a team that drafted a first-round QB the same year.
Taylor has had a decent NFL career, but fans already know about what they can expect from him. They don’t know what to expect from rookie Justin Herbert. And that’s why if Taylor struggles at all, fans will be clamoring for Herbert. It’s an extremely tough position for Taylor to be in, but he’s used to living through uncertainty.
Derek Carr, Raiders
Oddly enough, Marcus Mariota is in the same situation he was last year, but reversed. Instead of having the backup quarterback replace him, he’ll be doing the replacing. Mariota signed a two-year deal worth $17.6 million, which isn’t cheap for a backup option. Carr wasn’t terrible in 2019, completing 70.4% of his passes with a 21-8 TD-INT ratio, but the Raiders’ 7-9 record left fans unsatisfied.
I personally don’t think Mariota would be a better option than Carr, but I can easily see a scenario where Las Vegas goes to its backup. If the Raiders begin to struggle and fail to get wins, the coaching staff may as well see if Mariota can make something happen.
Dwayne Haskins, Washington
This is an interesting situation because Dwayne Haskins was a first-round pick in 2019, but a different coaching staff wanted him. He’s now working with Ron Rivera, who is coming off a season working with Kyle Allen, who he traded for in Washington. The Panthers received a fifth-round pick for Allen, which isn’t bad considering he was an undrafted player in 2018.
Haskins wasn’t great in his rookie year, but he didn’t have much help around him. Many are expecting a better campaign in 2020 as he has a new coaching staff, another offseason to prepare and more time to develop at the professional level. Still, the arrival of Allen via trade is something worth monitoring.
“We really like what we have in terms of our young quarterbacks,” Rivera said earlier this offseason. “Kyle is also a young guy who has a live arm, understands the game, understands how we do things. So, I’m excited about what the potential could be.”
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick is listed as the Dolphins’ starter at the moment, and with this being a weird NFL offseason due to the coronavirus, it wouldn’t be surprising if he starts Week 1. He’ll probably start a few more games, but everyone knows he’s just a stop-gap quarterback for Miami. Tua Tagovailoa is the future of the Dolphins, and I’d be surprised if the rookie didn’t play at all this season.
Tagovailoa is an exciting talent, and he’ll likely make an appearance at some point in 2020. Even if Fitzpatrick is playing OK, getting Tagovailoa reps will be important. The only reason to not bring Tagovailoa in is if Fitzpatrick has the Dolphins on track for the playoffs. But based on their roster, that would be a surprise.
The names above are names I could realistically see getting benched. But there are some other situations I could see a backup coming in, even if I don’t truly believe it will happen. One is Sam Darnold getting benched in favor of Joe Flacco. The New York media is tough, and some fans may want to see what the veteran has to offer.
Philip Rivers is an interesting case because he truly was not good last year. With Jacoby Brissett behind him, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see the Colts go with the younger option.
The final mention is Teddy Bridgewater. He looked good filling in for Drew Brees, but he was also in a high-powered offense in New Orleans. Behind him in Carolina is XFL standout P.J. Walker, who played with new coach Matt Rhule at Temple during his college days.
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