Palmer is the quintessential okay quarterback. You look at his 2014 record with the Cardinals, a team resplendent with talent, and you see that he was 6-0, averaging 270 yards, nearly two touchdowns a game and half an interception along with a 95.6 passer rating. Palmer’s season was cut short due to injury, but if you project those numbers out over a 16-game season, you’re looking at season comparable to that of Matthew Stafford or Ryan Tannehill. Without Palmer, Arizona went 5-5, a stark dropoff, but impressive considering they had a fourth-string quarterback for their final three games.
In contrast, Arizona had the ninth-best defense in yards allowed, and fifth-best in points conceded last season. This was a team that won through phenomenal defense and a passable offense. If Palmer stayed healthy, who knows the damage the Cardinals might have done in the playoffs.
2. MATT RYAN
Calling Ryan okay might be an understatement. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know where his Falcons teammates’ struggles end and his begin. Ryan has shouldered a heavy load in his seven years in Atlanta, and maintained impressive numbers while surrounded by a fairly unimpressive cast.
A knock on Ryan is his propensity to turn the ball over – he threw 14 picks in 2014, tied for eighth most, and 17 in 2013 good for seventh most. Would those interceptions disappear with a run game, receivers, and an offensive line? Probably. Unfortunately, Ryan doesn’t have much in any of those departments to lean on.
3. ANDY DALTON
There is nothing spectacular about Dalton. On one hand, he’s made the playoffs every year he’s been in the league. On the other, he’s lost every playoff game he’s ever played. Such is the existence of Andy Dalton. In the Bengals most recent playoff exit, Dalton passed for 155 yards. That’s not very many yards. But he also didn’t throw an interception, and he was without star receiver A.J. Green.
Dalton doesn’t lose big games, he just doesn’t win them either. Surround him with a talent and he can get them the ball. Rely on him to win football games when it matters, you will probably be disappointed.
4. RAN FITZPATRICK
Yes Ryan Fitzpatrick did go to Harvard. He probably makes more than his classmates ever will just from the decade of playing NFL football he’ll have under his belt. But that still doesn’t make him anymore than ‘ok’. He’s the stereotypical backup QB that fills in for your hurt starter, and then plays the rest of the year, only to be traded to a 6 win team. The the cycle repeats itself. Like who even knew he was on the Jets now? Anyone?
5. JOE FLACCO
Yes, Joe Flacco has won a Super Bowl and makes superstar money. He also has one of the most perfectly marginal stat lines in the NFL. The Ravens Super Bowl run was marked by two staples of the organization: Defense and rushing. Flacco has never been asked to elevate his system, simply maintain it. He does that perfectly, admirably well. It will be fascinating to see how Flacco’s numbers change in 2015 under the play-calling of Marc Trestman, who operated with a pass-first mentality as the coach of the Chicago Bears.