Aaron Rodgers is clearly one of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL, but the Green Bay Packers’ overall quarterback situation didn’t make the top eight in the league because Rodgers might not play for the team this upcoming season.
That is a very good reminder that the quality of a starting quarterback and the condition of a team’s quarterback situation, while strongly related to each other, are not the exact same thing. Some of the quarterbacks in this top eight aren’t among the best eight quarterbacks in the league, but they have better situations than some of the quarterbacks placed in the 9-to-16 range.
We now give you the eight best quarterback situations in the NFL.
No. 8: Dallas Cowboys
The injury to Dak Prescott last season was horrible, but now that Dak is healthy, he has a chance to really take ownership of the NFC East. Carson Wentz is out of Philadelphia. The Washington Football Team tried to pick their quarterback of the future, but Dwayne Haskins turned out to be a complete bust. Daniel Jones is not working out with the New York Giants.
Prescott has seen other teams in his division crumble. If he can stay healthy the next several seasons, the Cowboys could win several consecutive division titles. That means home games in the playoffs and a real chance to advance deep into the postseason. The NFC East is clearly the worst division in the NFL, and Prescott has a chance to dominate not just in 2021 but for several years.
No. 7: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have a strong offensive line, two really good running backs who can share carries and not get too worn down individually, and lots of great receivers. They were so deep and balanced on offense in 2020 that they made the divisional round and played the Kansas City Chiefs close without Odell Beckham Jr. Now Beckham returns from injury, giving Cleveland a truly legitimate belief that it can make the Super Bowl for the first time.
Baker Mayfield is a good quarterback, but his situation is several notches better than his own actual quality. Mayfield has the offensive line Russell Wilson lacks with the Seattle Seahawks. He has the stability the Packers lack with Aaron Rodgers. He has the quality receivers Dak Prescott has with the Cowboys. This is a very balanced, highly resourced situation. The Browns have so many good ingredients to help Mayfield, including coach Kevin Stefanski, who seems like a star in the making.
No. 6: Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals keep loading up for Kyler Murray. He got wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last offseason. Now he has A.J. Green. The Cardinals drafted electric playmaker Rondale Moore out of Purdue. They gave Murray a new center, Rodney Hudson, from the Oakland Raiders. The Cardinals’ defense also got better with the signing of J.J. Watt. Murray has so much more to work with this year than he did last season. The Cardinals have a very good chance of winning at least 10 games, despite playing in the rugged and ruthless NFC West.
No. 5: Tennessee Titans
Ryan Tannehill has a strong offensive line and a battering-ram running back in Derrick Henry. What more could a quarterback want? Not very much. It is true that Tannehill lost offensive coordinator Arthur Smith to the Atlanta Falcons, but with Henry in the backfield, Tannehill has the elite running game which makes his passing game so much more effective.
Tannehill has found an ideal situation, a place where he can excel and yet not have to carry the full burden of his team’s offense. When Tannehill played for the Miami Dolphins, he lacked the elite running back who could take pressure off him and give him a much more balanced attack. The Titans can run the ball, set up play-action, put defenses in very difficult conditions and give Tannehill the ability to make plays with very little, if any, pass rush in his face.
No. 4: Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams — with a great defense spearheaded by Aaron Donald — just needed the quarterback to be very good. You may have seen the blockbuster NFL news earlier in the offseason. Now they have that with Matthew Stafford coming over from the Detroit Lions.
Stafford did not have a running game in Detroit. He did not have a powerful offensive line. He did not have high-level offensive head coaching. He now gets all of those things in Los Angeles. The Rams made the divisional round of the playoffs last season, often in spite of Jared Goff, not because of him. Goff overthrew some relatively easy passes that cost the Rams a higher NFC seed and a division title. Stafford should be able to make those plays. He instantly inherits a great quarterback situation. He also has a great chance to make the Rams NFC champions for the second time in four years.
No. 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Not much needs to be said here. Tom Brady came to a Buccaneers’ team who had not made the playoffs in several years and instantly took them all the way to the Super Bowl. Brady’s skills are still there. He was not washed up, despite the ugly way in which his New England Patriots tenure ended. His leadership ability, combined with his talent and fiery competitive drive, helped the Buccaneers overcome a lack of playoff inexperience. Brady showed the Bucs how it’s done, guiding this team to its second Super Bowl championship and its first in 18 years. Brady won his seventh Super Bowl and managed to win a championship in both the NFC and AFC.
No. 2: Buffalo Bills
The meteoric rise of Josh Allen gives the Buffalo Bills a glowing long-term future. Allen should certainly help the Bills in the here and now, but what makes this such a good quarterback situation is that the fun is only just beginning. Buffalo is in position to have a decade of prosperity under Allen. This is what a good draft can truly do for a team.
No. 1: Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in football and he is still young. He has a lot of years left. He is in his prime. He has reached three straight AFC Championship Games. He has made two straight Super Bowls, winning one. The Chiefs addressed their offensive line problems in the offseason, so Mahomes once again has a full complement of resources at his disposal.