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QB Watch, Week 15: Which teams need new signal-callers?

Finding the right quarterback is at least as difficult as finding the right head coach. Which players are on the QB hot seat and who should feel safe moving forward.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

With only three games left in the season, teams are already starting to fire head coaches, while others may need to start throwing their backup QBs into the fire. Other coaches will get the ax over the next month, but quarterbacks aren't going to be safe either.

Looking over the NFL, I see that nearly half the teams in the league may still have questions at the position and may need to find answers in the offseason. Much like judging how you're dressed at the Oscars and deciding if he's "Totally Chic" or "Totally Bleak," let's take a look at 14 teams right now and determine:

QuarterBack or QuarterLack?

Jets - QuarterLack

Geno Smith, Matt Simms, David Garrard, Mark Sanchez

To find another team that had a solid defense and still remained in playoff contention despite awful play from the quarterback position, I guess you'd have to go back to ... the 2009 Jets! Rex Ryan stuck with Sanchez for 2010-2012 and really fell into this position of missing their window. But it's not too late.


With Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, the defensive line really is elite. The biggest issues are the massive dropoff from Darrelle Revis to Dee Milliner, and the 20 interceptions from Geno Smith.

Would New York be major players for Jay Cutler in a trade with Chicago, assuming that they tag him and bag him?

Titans - QuarterBack

Jake Locker, Ryan Fitzpatrick

There are reports already that Tennessee won't stick with Locker past 2014, which is just... a little too soon to start calling that shot, isn't it? If Locker comes back next season and actually manages to stay healthy all year (which never sounds probable for Locker, I know) while being productive (very possible), then the Titans won't let him go anywhere.

Tennessee has seen cornerback Alterraun Verner turn into a superstar this season, Jurrell Casey has become one of the top defensive lineman in the league, and Kendall Wright should go over 1,000 yards receiving. There's something to work with for the Titans, and the QB isn't as big of an issue as building around him. Especially since Fitzpatrick can do an admirable job as well.

Bills - QuarterLack

EJ Manuel, Thad Lewis, Jeff Tuel

One place where I haven't seen a lot of people bring it up as a potential issue is Buffalo. But the Bills may have an even better defense than the Jets, yet are 4-9. Manuel threw a career-high four interceptions on Sunday in a loss to the Buccaneers and isn't close to just getting a "pass" this season.

Why spotlight Smith and not Manuel?

I wouldn't suggest that Buffalo uses their first pick on a quarterback, but it might not be too early to give Manuel some competition.

Browns - QuarterLack

Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer

Despite being excommunicated from Washington, Oakland and Chicago, there are still people that believe in Campbell as the answer to their quarterback woes. The Browns have two first round picks and could find themselves in the top five.

If they leave the 2014 NFL draft without one of the top QBs available and decide to re-sign Campbell or Hoyer to be the starter next year, we'll know for sure that Cleveland will never, ever be successful again.


Chiefs - QuarterBack

Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray

Spending two second round picks on Smith is no different than using a first rounder to get a signal-caller, and you don't give up on that after one year. (The difference between that and say, Manuel, is that the Bills shouldn't give up on Manuel but they should get another option besides him.) Especially since you're 10-3 and Smith, while unspectacular, is every bit as good as advertised when you acquired him.

He doesn't turn the ball over and occasionally he steps up during big moments in big games. Daniel is a capable backup and Bray is the developmental third guy.

Jaguars - QuarterLack

Chad Henne, Blaine Gabbert, Ricky Stanzi

This is perhaps the most obvious answer in the league but Jacksonville has made it a lot more complicated to find that answer because of all that darn-tootin' winning they're doing! There almost certainly won't be any Bridgewater for Jacksonville, but there should be enough QB talent in the draft to quench their thirst anyway.

While in Seattle, Gus Bradley saw first-hand that you don't draft a QB early just because you need one, you have to make sure he's the one that fills your needs. If the right one isn't available, they'll stick with Henne for another year.

Raiders - QuarterBack

Matt McGloin, Terrelle Pryor

Both McGloin and Pryor are younger than Russell Wilson, and while it's unlikely that they'll ever achieve that sort of status, it does give you some perspective on what Oakland already has at quarterback: Two interesting options that are still very young.

What they don't have is very much talent around them.

Last year, GM Reggie McKenzie traded down from three to pick up an extra second round pick and select tackle Menelik Watson. He'd probably do the same this year in a draft with some good QBs at the top and a lot of QB-needy teams looking to move up.

Texans - QuarterLack

Case Keenum, Matt Schaub, TJ Yates

This is the most obvious one of all, and if Houston manages to lose the rest of their games, they could be all set to be next season's Chiefs. With Bridgewater, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins, the offense could at least get back to being average.

Add a secondary player with the first pick of the second round, along with JJ Watt (still possibly the best defensive player in the NFL) and Brian Cushing in a winnable division, and the Texans could be right back to 10-6.

Redskins - QuarterBack

Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins

As of now, Washington is sending the second overall pick to the Rams. That means they won't be netting Griffin any help until the second round, at the earliest -- unless they trade up. And that's all RGIII really needs right now, is a little help.

With a pass defense that's beyond terrible, they're going to hope they can get lucky with whatever secondary players they find in the draft or free agency and they have not been very lucky in that regard lately.

Bears - QuarterLack

Jay Cutler, Josh McCown

You could tag Cutler, then trade him for something and re-sign McCown to hold down the fort while you develop somebody like Johnny Manziel. Chicago could also tag Cutler, stick with him for another year and see how that goes to try this again in 2014 (despite the fact that it doesn't seem like it's working at all since Cutler was brought in, save for one playoff run in 2010).

But either way, it doesn't seem like there's a plausible scenario where Marc Trestman doesn't try to find his franchise guy in the draft this year, unless the Bears somehow win the North and then pull off a few playoff upsets with Cutler or McCown under center. I think it's safe to say that at this moment, everyone is happy with McCown, but making a long-term decision based on a small sample size, like the last few games, is how teams like Chicago keep looking for QBs every decade.

Buccaneers - QuarterBack

Mike Glennon, Dan Orlovsky

It seems like the Jags unbelievable run has overshadowed the fact that Tampa Bay has also won four of their last five games and dropped from possibly picking first to ninth, and who knows how much further down the order they could fall. It usually seems like Tampa blows it late, not the other way around.

The run is enough to make you think that Greg Schiano is going to keep his job now that most of Florida is focusing on Richie Incognito, the Jaguars and the Seminoles. Remember the media storm surrounding the Bucs at the beginning of the year? Neither does anybody else.

Glennon has played about as well as most recent rookie QBs, and you'd also want to take notice of the fact that he's faced the secondaries of Arizona, Seattle, Carolina, Miami and Buffalo. That's their guy.

Vikings - QuarterLack

Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, Christian Ponder

Who wasn't their guy? The same guy that's making $3 million to also not be the guy for Minnesota.

Why wouldn't Leslie Frazier at least find out what he has with Josh Freeman? Probably because he doesn't feel very secure that he'll be the one coaching Freeman, or any other Vikings player, in 2014. Not unless he wins the rest of his games, and that's not looking:

A) Likely

B) That it will matter

Minnesota will pick in the top five and almost certainly pick a quarterback.

Cardinals - QuarterLack

Carson Palmer, Ryan Lindley, Drew Stanton

Palmer is on fire lately and giving Arizona a reason to believe. He's also the fifth-oldest quarterback in the league. The the four older quarterbacks: Matt Hasselbeck is a hassle backup and David Garrard is just technically in the NFL … while the Patriots have Ryan Mallet to develop behind Tom Brady and the Broncos have Brock Osweiler to learn from Peyton Manning.

What do the Cards have?

With an offensive-minded, quarterback-driven head coach like Bruce Arians, it seems unlikely that he'd avoid taking a QB in the next draft to develop behind Palmer, even if they do decide to sign him to an extension.

Rams - QuarterBack

Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens

The trickiest situation of all might rest with the St. Louis Rams. They are 5-8 but played decent ball even with Clemens under center. While Clemens is no kind of answer, and there's always going to be injury concern with Bradford, is that enough of a reason for them to draft a QB now?

More importantly, if the Rams get the number one pick in the draft from the Redskins, is it really going to be that easy to pass on literally any player available? Including Teddy Bridgewater? Or what about picking second and seeing Derek Carr, Manziel, or any other player you might want, depending on who you rate the highest? And trust me, it's not like St. Louis is going to completely ignore their scouting of the top QBs available. It's something they will need to consider.

Because the difference between having a generational QB and not having a generational QB could be the difference of two or three Super Bowl rings. Nobody is saying that's what Bridgwater definitely is or what Bradford definitely isn't, but what will revisionist history say about the decision to pass on him, if they do? What will revisionist history say about what St. Louis did with those those picks from the Redskins instead of having Griffin?

Instead, they'll likely trade down and possibly gain some more future first round picks -- that may or may not make them have to do this all over again.

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