Welcome to the 2017 First and Fan QB Roundup of the AFC West. Football season is drawing ever so close, and what better way to prep than a comprehensive review and preview of some of the NFL’s elite quarterback corp. Comment with your own takes and share with friends!
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs:
The jury has been out on Alex Smith for the better part of a decade now. He’s definitely proven himself to be reliable and effective, but he still hasn’t taken that next step and become the clutch QB Kansas City needs. Last year’s AFC divisional round loss to Pittsburgh (18-16) emphasized this fact. Smith posted his lowest passer rate of the season and couldn’t find a sustainable rhythm in the pocket.
I’m not saying Pittsburgh’s relentless pass rush that game wasn’t a root cause of Smith’s lack of performance, but this was the fifth straight divisional round playoff loss for the Chiefs (four of those at home). When you have weapons like Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill at your disposal, there has to be some payoff when January comes around.
While he is still the likely starter for their season opener at New England, Smith may soon find himself on the hot seat. It won’t be enough to just make the playoffs, as it is for most of the NFC. The Chiefs need to make a post season run in 2017, and Smith needs to be leading the charge. Otherwise deciding what kind of barbeque sauce to use for lunch won’t be the only tough decision Andy Reid will need to make.
Philip Rivers, San Diego LA Chargers:
Rivers is one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the league year in and year out. He’s maintained a completion rate above 60% his entire career as a starter since 2006. Consistency is arguably the most valuable attribute for any player, especially at signal caller. It does not however guarantee success as showcased by the Charger’s 5-12 record.
Rivers has been hailed as an impeccable quarterback both in play and preparation. There is no doubt that he’ll continue to bring it on the field, but sadly Charger’s fans (or what is left of them since the move to LA) shouldn’t expect anything greater than .500 in 2017. First time head coach, Anthony Lynn will take the helm this season, which brings some hope for Charger success in the long term, but with Rivers now entering his 14th season at 35 years old, the clock is ticking for this proven talent to leave his mark on the game. Expect Rivers to take an even greater leadership than years past, as Lynn settles into his new role, and the city of Los Angeles decides whether the “Bolts” are even worth the price of admission.
Trevor Siemian, Denver Broncos:
Truthfully, I’ve never seen a scenario where a quarterback has been called one of the worst QB’s in the NFL and then compared to John Elway in the same sentence. What is weirder is that I sort of agree. I can’t get a read on whether Siemian is good or not, but I can empathize with his situation. The Broncos franchise is clearly shell shocked. They had just won a Super Bowl in 2016 and expected a 25-year-old 2nd year rookie to fill Peyton Manning’s shoes.
While he has shown flashes of promise, 18 total TD aren’t exactly going to meet those expectations. Development is going to be key for Siemian. Getting him more comfortable in the pocket and avoiding those desperation sling passes to an open back will do wonders for his QBR. If the Broncos can maintain any semblance of their Super Bowl defense, they should be able to negate any offensive growing pains.
Derek Carr, Oakland Las Vegas Raiders
The NFL’s resident wonder boy. 2016 was Derek’s coming out year. Since being drafted in the second round in 2014, Carr has quickly taken the reigns of the Raiders’ offense and seems to have resurrected the franchise legacy. A completion percentage of 63.8% for a total of 3,937 yards and 28 TD propelled the Raiders to claiming the AFC West and a first-round bye. It took a broken leg late in the season against the Colts to halt the Raiders unprecedented 2016 campaign.
Carr is back healthy and practicing this offseason looking to build on last year’s success. He’s also working to the tune of a $125 million salary. This newly signed 5-year contract extension makes Carr the highest paid player in the league and guarantees $70 million.
While the money is well-deserved given his growth and incredible performance on the field, this deal will bring its own set of challenges. In a statement to the media regarding his continued commitment to the organization in the wake of signing the extension, Carr referred to himself as a “team guy” through and through. It doesn’t take a genius to see that saying you’re a team guy while absorbing all the salary cap space of said team is going to be blown up by the media. This deal will make Carr the target of both praise and scrutiny, as he joins an elite class of NFL talent. His ability to deal with the increased spotlight will dictate how the next stage of his career will pan out. That and steering clear casinos.
With targets like Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree returning coupled with the infamous comeback of Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders can still run the table in the AFC West and pick up where they left off last season.