Quarterback is the single most important position in all of team sports. It is a line thrown out there by sports talk radio hosts and analysts throughout every National Football League year, and 2015 has not been any different. The NFL becomes more of a passing league with every season, thanks largely to a list of rules that makes it easier to put points on the scoreboard. Even quarterbacks who are not working with a lot of offensive firepower are able to be fantasy football heroes, some on a weekly basis. It is almost as if the NFL is attempting to cater directly to fantasy football players.
The 2015 campaign has been memorable for those who are the prolific quarterbacks in the game today. Tom Brady of the New England Patriots continues to cement his legacy and make an argument for being known as the greatest to ever play the position. Veteran Carson Palmer could be having a Most Valuable Player season as he attempts to guide the Arizona Cardinals to Super Bowl glory. Palmer will probably, however, fall just shy of Cam Newton in the MVP voting. Regardless of how the Carolina Panthers finish off the regular season and the playoffs, Newton seems to be well on his way to winning at least that award.
At the other end of the spectrum, however, have been the quarterbacks who have either been letdowns or who have only established their reputations for being lackluster signal callers who likely would not have been in the NFL during a prior era. Several of those men were forced into action during 2015 because starters were sidelined because of injuries or, in one case, because of a different (and silly) reason. The man who sits atop the list of the worst NFL quarterbacks for 2015 had better send Christmas cards to everybody on the coaching staff of his current league employer. That quarterback may not be long for the NFL once 2016 comes around.
All stats courtesy of Yahoo Sports
10. Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
It took only two months for Matt Ryan to descend so much that he deserves to kick off the list of the worst NFL quarterbacks for 2015 and for the Atlanta Falcons to completely fall apart. From October 11 up through December 13, Ryan tossed a total of 12 interceptions. Only one quarterback has thrown more total picks in 2015 than Matty Ice had (14) after Week 13. The Falcons, meanwhile, were losers of six straight and seven out of eight as of the posting of this piece. Things have gotten so bad, as pointed out by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, that the Falcons could consider trading Ryan in 2016.
9. Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
Are you a Miami Dolphins fan who wants to point out that the stats may be doing a disservice to Ryan Tannehill? That’s fine, but be prepared to hear additional arguments to show that Tannehill has been a disappointment in 2015. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald stated in December that Tannehill has, “according to the number-crunchers and film-watchers who go beyond the top stat lines,” regressed. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports called Tannehill a “third-tier quarterback” during a radio interview. Will the Dolphins regret giving $45 million in guaranteed money to Tannehill? We shall see.
8. Peyton Manning – Denver Broncos
It gives us no joy to put Peyton Manning on this list. We would be lying to ourselves and to smart football fans everywhere, however, if we did not point out that Manning was a liability for the offense of the Denver Broncos even before he was sidelined because of an injury. The future Hall-of-Fame quarterback led the NFL in interceptions (17) heading into Week 15 of the regular season. That stat is made even more dubious by the knowledge that Manning threw those picks in only nine contests. Brock Osweiler may not be the guy for Denver, but Osweiler will have to do if the Manning of old is now just old.
7. Mark Sanchez – Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia sports fans can be cruel. With that said, even those who would consider themselves diehard supporters of the Philadelphia Eagles probably enjoyed at least a chuckle when it was suggested in post on The 700 Level blog that the Eagles should consider replacing Mark Sanchez with an ostrich. Sanchez had, before the post saw the light of day, tossed a costly interception in what became a Philadelphia loss to the Miami Dolphins. The man once referred to as “The Sanchize” responded by tossing a trio of interceptions when the Eagles were blown out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Ouch.
6. Brandon Weeden – Dallas Cowboys
Is there any knowledgeable football fan out there, personal feelings about the Dallas Cowboys aside, who is still taking Tony Romo for granted? Despite some ridiculous comments that Jerry Jones made about Romo’s replacement back in September, it did not take long to see that Brandon Weeden was not going to be able to be the quarterback that Dallas needed until Romo returned. Weeden matched a pair of touchdowns with a pair of interceptions before the Cowboys went with the next man on the team’s depth chart. That quarterback, believe it or not, may have been even worse than Weeden.
5. Matt Cassel – Dallas Cowboys
Here is a humorous suggestion that fans of the Cleveland Browns who have followed that team’s search for a franchise quarterback over the past several years may enjoy: Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News dared to suggest in the middle of December that the Cowboys would have been better off sticking with Brandon Weeden rather than starting Mass Cassel after Tony Romo was lost for the remainder of the regular season. That is about as harsh a criticism as one will read about any NFL quarterback who took the field in 2015. The reality of the situation is that neither Cassel, who had thrown six interceptions in 2015 as of December 14, nor Weeden should be the top man for any NFL offense.
4. Nick Foles – St. Louis Rams
Nick Foles was replaced on the depth chart of the St. Louis Rams by Case Keenum. Take a moment and truly think about what that says about the man who was, only a couple of years ago, looking like the next big thing at the quarterback position while with the Philadelphia Eagles. It is easy to understand why St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher decided that Foles had to take a seat. The former Philadelphia starter had, as of the posting of this piece, completed under 57 percent (56.4) of his passes. One cannot say with any certainty what the future holds for Foles, but it does not seem as if his long-term future will be with the Rams regardless of where that club calls home down the road.
3. Colin Kaepernick – San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick entered the 2015 NFL regular season knowing that his spot on the roster of the San Francisco 49ers was in doubt. Kaepernick, unfortunately for him, folded as critics expected that he might. The 49ers went in a different direction when the club started Blaine Gabbert – yes, that Blaine Gabbert – ahead of Kaepernick. Salt in the open wound for Kaep is that Gabbert did not look all that awful until he and the San Francisco offense were thoroughly dismantled when away to the Cleveland Browns on December 13. The 49ers can, per the terms of the contract, part ways with Kaepernick before April 2016 without suffering too much of a loss. It’s been real, Colin.
2. Ryan Mallett – Houston Texans
It was one of the worst kept secrets all the way back in January 2014 among those who cover the NFL that Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was interested in acquiring Ryan Mallett. O’Brien got his man via a trade that occurred before the start of the ’14 NFL regular season, and it seemed as if Mallett was on his way to being the starter for the Texans when he replaced Brian Hoyer early on in the 2015 campaign. Mallett was so awful on the field during his final appearances with Houston – matching three interceptions with only a single touchdown – and such a headache off of it that O’Brien and company parted ways with Mallett. Mallett may get a chance to fill in for the injured Joe Flacco with the Baltimore Ravens before the current season ends; not that it matters all that much.
1. Austin Davis – Cleveland Browns
Let’s be honest about things as it pertains to Austin Davis being an NFL quarterback. Davis, who twice fell out of favor with the St. Louis Rams, might not have even been on a league roster today if Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine did not feel the need to remind Johnny Manziel that the former “Johnny Football” could be grounded (benched) for off-the-field actions. Davis received an opportunity to shine after Manziel landed in Pettine’s doghouse in early December. The Browns lost 37-3 to the Cincinnati Bengals in Davis’ one and only start before Pettine, happily or not, had to turn back to Manziel. Best of luck in your future endeavors, Mr. Davis.