Quarterback injuries can derail any team’s chance of success, and in the 2019 NFL season plenty of teams have experienced an unwanted change of signal callers. From unheralded rookies taking over, to seasoned vets stepping in, teams all around the NFL have experienced their fair share of turmoil. Read on for analysis of every team with a quarterback change, including why it happened, who the backup is, and what the expectations should be behind the new signal caller.
During the first game of the season, big name free agent acquisition and Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles went down with a broken collar bone. In stepped sixth round rookie Gardner Minshew, immediately proceeded to have statistically the best debut of a rookie quarterback, only throwing three incompletions through the remainder of the game. Since then, Minshew is top five in quarterback rating and top ten in passing touchdowns, as well as being 2-2 as a starter.
The future: If Minshew continues playing the way he is, don’t be surprised if Foles gets shipped off to a QB-needy team for a mid-round pick. Minshew has been playing at a level rivaling Dak Prescott’s Rookie of the Year performance in 2016. Many teams would go young without a question asked, but the Jaguars did drop big bucks on expected starter Nick Foles. When Foles returns this season, it should be a very interesting situation to watch. In my personal opinion, I believe you should always ride the hot hand, and I think Gardner Minshew is the future of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
During the last week of the preseason All-Pro quarterback Andrew Luck surprisingly retired, citing constant injuries and loss of love of the game as reasons behind his controversial decision. Luck’s retirement sent shock waves throughout the NFL and definitely surprised a playoff-ready team looking to make another run. Luckily enough for the Colts, they happened to have a guy who was regarded as one of the best backups in the NFL. The Colts quickly handed Jacoby Brissett a two year extension to be their “guy” for the near future and help round Indy back into the playoff picture.
The future: So far Brissett is doing well and playing at an exactly average level while Indy has switched identity to a run-first team. I don’t believe Brissett is a long term answer for this team, and I see the Colts drafting a young quarterback in the next couple years to learn behind Brissett and eventually take over. Brissett is a good quarterback but not good enough to put this franchise on his shoulders for the long haul.
The Steelers have a future Hall of Fame signal caller in Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has a canon of an arm and was slinging it around the field until he tragically went down… well, not really. Big Ben started off really slow this year getting absolutely throttled by the Patriots in his first game, then exiting the game in week two against the Seahawks after doing a whole lot of nothing. His backup, second year quarterback Mason Rudolph entered the game and won Steelers’ fans hearts pretty quickly with above average play against Seattle. However, in following weeks, Rudolph’s play dropped off significantly, so much, in fact, that in Week 3 he did not complete a pass past the line of scrimmage. Rudolph appears to be, at the moment, an average to below average game manger with big potential in his future if he can figure out how to use his weapons.
The future: The Steelers don’t need to rush this quarterback situation just yet, as 38-year-old Big Ben wants to come back for another season. What I see the Steelers doing is watching Rudolph’s progress this year and continuing to analyze his performance and gauge whether he can be their future, while knowing if it doesn’t pan out the way they hope, Big Ben is still coming back for another year. If Rudolph develops well, they can use the draft and free agency to get a good young core around him. If he disappoints, they can use the draft to find Big Ben’s real successor. The Steelers find themselves in a pretty good setep as far as quarterback drama goes for now.
New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and the NFL passing yardage leader, so when he went down with a broken throwing hand, he left big shoes to fill. His backup, Teddy Bridgewater, has a lot to prove and so far has done well so far. Bridgewater recovered from a potentially career ending injury a few seasons ago and is looking to bounce back and finally got his chance. So far, he hasn’t done anything incredible, but he’s been reliable with short passes and good mobility in the pocket. The Saints should be fine with him under center for the time being.
Bridgewater is a young quarterback with a lot of potential who has proven he has what it takes to start in this league; however, he doesn’t have the highest of ceilings, so there still is a good chance the Saints move on from him sooner rather than later. Drew Brees’ retirement is coming soon, and the Saints need to start preparing for the future. Bridgewater could be that answer, but more likely than not, they will look to the draft in upcoming years for the new future face of the franchise.
Mitch Trubisky was supposed to be the leader of the franchise, and after an abysmal rookie year, he pulled off a Pro Bowl sophomore season. Then his third year rolled around, and Trubisky was down right awful, ranking bottom three in all major statistical passing categories. On Sunday afternoon in week four against the Vikings, after only three passes, he suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Details on the injury have not been disclosed; however, it’s only expected to keep him out a couple weeks. Trubisky’s back up, Chase Daniel, filled in admirably showing veteran poise and winning the game.
The future: Chase Daniel is 33 and is not the future of this franchise. Tru-bear-sky is still not playing at a high level and could be moved on from sooner rather than later. I could easily see the Bears drafting a quarterback in 2021 if Trubisky flops.
Cam Newton has suffered numerous injuries throughout the past couple of years, from knees to foot fractures to shoulder tears. Newton has been beaten up. Technically it’s a foot injury sidelining him right now, but he hasn’t thrown the ball the same since his shoulder surgery last offseason. Second year undrafted free agent Kyle Allen balled out in his debut, but he took a noticeable step back in his second game.
The future: There is actually a chance Kyle Allen could be the future of the Carolina Panthers, or it could be Cam again, or Will Grier, this year’s third round pick. It’s safe to say the Panthers are clueless about their QB situation beyond the next few games. I imagine it’s going to be a straight out QB battle between Allen and Newton this year, and next year Grier will be fighting for his reps. It’ll be an intriguing situation to watch in Carolina.
Ryan Kirby is the junior editor of The Rambler. He is a member of the Class of 2021. Ryan is also a member of the football team and involved with campus ministry, student government, ITS, mission club, chess club and the theater program.