In the NFL, having a strong quarterback is everything.
It’s hard to succeed without a solid play-maker under center.
Whether you land that quarterback through the draft or free agency, every NFL franchise is looking for a franchise cornerstone.
But not every quarterback is built the same.
These three teams enter the 2021 NFL season with the worst starting quarterbacks in the league.
That doesn’t necessarily mean they will fail.
But these quarterbacks will need to step up for their team to succeed this season.
3. Andy Dalton
The Chicago Bears quarterback situation comes with a bit of a caveat.
While Andy Dalton enters the year as the starter, No. 11 overall pick Justin Fields waits in the wings.
It would be shocking if Fields didn’t overtake Dalton as the Bears’ starter at some point in the regular season.
However, entering Week 1, head coach Matt Nagy has insisted Dalton is Chicago’s starter.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 16, 2021
And for that reason, Dalton finds himself on this list.
Dalton has been in the NFL since 2011, playing nine years with the Cincinnati Bengals before playing with the Dallas Cowboys last season.
During his time in the league, Dalton has completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 33,764 yards and a 218/126 TD/INT ratio.
While he has been named to three Pro Bowls, Dalton has never led his team to overwhelming success.
He holds a 74-66-2 regular season record.
But Dalton is 0-4 in the playoffs.
He hasn’t been to the postseason since 2014.
Going on his age-34 season, it seems unlikely that Dalton will ever become a stud quarterback in the NFL.
He won’t necessarily lose you a game, but he isn’t going to win you one either.
Time will tell when Fields gets his start.
But Dalton will need to elevate his play immensely to hold onto his starting role.
2. Drew Lock
Drew Lock enters his third season in the league with his NFL future already in question.
Through his first two seasons with the Denver Broncos, Lock has completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,953 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.
Denver has gone 8-10 over his 18 career starts.
Last season, Lock threw 15 picks, which despite playing in just 13 games, were tied for the most in the NFL.
The Broncos are clearly wary of Lock as their starting quarterback as they traded a sixth-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for Teddy Bridgewater this offseason.
Both quarterbacks have been in a heated battle all offseason with no clear favorite at this time.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 14, 2021
Lock did impress in the Broncos’ Week 1, 33-6 preseason win over the Minnesota Vikings, completing five-of-seven passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
He had an 80-yard touchdown pass to KJ Hamler.
Drew Lock connects from LONG RANGE with KJ Hamler 😳
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) August 14, 2021
On the other hand, Bridgewater looked solid as well, completing seven-of-eight passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.
Lock is entering just his third season in the NFL, but his time as a starting quarterback might be over.
He will first need to hold off Bridgewater for the role.
If he gets it, he must make better decisions and limit mistakes.
If Lock continues to throw interceptions, it’s fair to wonder how long he will be in the NFL let alone just a starting quarterback.
1. Sam Darnold
His career thus far hasn’t lived up to the others.
In his three years with the New York Jets, Darnold completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 8,097 yards and a 45/39 TD/INT ratio.
The Jets went just 13-25 during his three years with the team.
Outside of just statistically, Darnold looked lost in New York, stating he was “seeing ghosts” during a matchup against the New England Patriots.
Sam Darnold is mic’d up and he came to the sidelines and said, “I’m seeing ghosts.”
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) October 22, 2019
It was evident that Darnold wasn’t the quarterback of the future for the Jets.
New York traded him to the Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick.
Now, Darnold has a second chance to be a starting quarterback with Carolina.
He didn’t play in the team’s Week 1 preseason 21-18 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Darnold has failed to live up to expectations after going third overall in 2018.
He has an opportunity to change the narrative surrounding his career with the Panthers.
However, Darnold needs to make drastic improvements for the Panthers to succeed in 2021.
If he struggles, how he has for the first three years of his career, it’s fair to wonder if Darnold could ever be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.