Christian Ponder can't complete the forward pass for the Minnesota Vikings. Jake Locker makes you cringe with the Tennessee Titans. I've chronicled the follies of Joe Flacco, who has taken an alarming step backward this season for the Baltimore Ravens. But realistically, all three will be back under center for their respective clubs next year, for a variety of reasons.
In this edition of The Schein Nine, I present nine teams that absolutely must be in the quarterback business next year in some way, shape or form, and how they each should address the position.
1) Arizona Cardinals
I don't know if "Kolb-Skelton-Lindley" is a quarterback group or a punch line. This is the single worst trio of quarterbacks I have ever seen.
Failing to find one proved to be a major mistake. Kolb was slow to learn the playbook after the lockout, and he never dazzled his teammates or coaches with leadership or his play.
I wouldn't spend a first-round pick on a quarterback, though. As bad as Arizona's quarterback play is, the offensive line is actually worse. The team also will need to add another backup signal-caller.
2) New York Jets
Sanchez should've been benched after the pick he threw on third-and-goal against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10. Failing that, he should have lost his spot atop the depth chart after third-stringer Greg McElroy replaced him against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, sparking the Jets to a win. Yet, somehow, the clueless Rex Ryan stayed with Sanchez, while McElroy was inactive in Weeks 14 and 15. That's irresponsible.
The Jets guaranteed Sanchez's deal to the tune of $8.25 million next year. Releasing him would reportedly garner a whopping $17 million cap hit. That's irrelevant. He can't ever take another snap for the Jets. His confidence is shot. His play is worse. He is, rightly, the face of underachievement and failure.
The Tim Tebow Experiment flopped miserably. The Jets need a quarterback to come in and beat out Sanchez. The Jets had Drew Stanton signed, but when they added Tebow, Stanton was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. Smith, Cousins and the Seattle Seahawks' Matt Flynn must be explored. Smith, for one, would bring the kind of consistency and leadership ability that Sanchez never will.
3) Kansas City Chiefs
I'm sure the head coach and general manager who eventually replace Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli will look long and hard at prospects Geno Smith and Matt Barkley. I know the knock on USC quarterbacks, and I know Barkley hurt his stock this past season. But there are also NFL executives I truly respect who thought he could play in the NFL and that he would have been a top-five pick one year ago.
Personally, I'd try to trade for Mallett or Cousins.
4) Oakland Raiders
Even if Knapp comes back next season, coach Dennis Allen must cut the cord with Palmer. He's too interception-prone. He's not a winner. Oakland needs a new stopgap (think Stanton, Kyle Orton or, dare I say, Jason Campbell?) and a young quarterback for the future. Depending on who is the offensive coordinator, I would call Seattle to try to make a trade for Flynn.
Allen gave Terrelle Pryor some snaps last week, and he said on the SiriusXM Blitz to expect to see more "Pryor packages" down the stretch. However, Pryor was drafted by the old brass, so there's a realistic chance he's a future ex-Raider.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars
There could eventually be a new general manager in Jacksonville. What happens at this position depends on how that situation shakes out.
But the Jaguars shouldn't fight the obvious. They must bring in Jacksonville's favorite son: Timothy Richard Tebow.
Chances are good that Gabbert, a first-round pick in 2011, won't be eradicated. Henne, meanwhile, is solid. The Jags need a jolt of magic on the field and at the box office. Tebow can run and add energy to a rather defunct and nondescript team.
6) San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers tossed up another clunker on Sunday. With the exception of a stunning Week 14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rivers hasn't looked like a big-time quarterback since 2010.
It's easy, and fair, to blame coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith for everything in San Diego, including the lack of talent at receiver (Vincent Jackson fled via free agency), running back (as did Darren Sproles) and along the offensive line. But watch Rivers' in-game decisions. They are horrible. His throws are awful.
Assuming Kevin Acee's reporting for U-T San Diego is accurate, Jimmy Raye and president Dean Spanos' son (John) will take over the role of picking players. Rivers will get another crack. But the Chargers need to draft a young potential replacement, like Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, in the third round. Charlie "Chuckles" Whitehurst is not the right guy to supplement Rivers.
7) Philadelphia Eagles
I think Vick is done, and he should be. He can't stay healthy, makes too much money and isn't the same player he once was.
8) Buffalo Bills
You can't make this stuff up.
That mega-bucks deal Nix gave Fitzpatrick last year for eight weeks of good football has turned out to be a laughable one. Fitzpatrick will never be an upper-echelon quarterback. He's serviceable, at best.
While I see Buffalo drafting a quarterback to compete with (beat out) Fitzpatrick, Vick would be an interesting name here. Yes, he is a shell of the quarterback he used to be, but he is also the athlete with the strong arm that Chan Gailey craves (assuming, of course, that Gailey and Nix both keep their jobs).
9) Cleveland Browns
It probably isn't fair, but Brandon Weeden is in trouble. He's a 29-year-old rookie. Cleveland has a new owner. During a season dominated by the dazzling play of other rookie quarterbacks, Weeden has had an up-and-down neophyte campaign, and certainly hasn't been good enough to warrant his entrenchment.
Cleveland will likely -- and appropriately -- have a new general manager and head coach this offseason. The Browns will then bring in a veteran quarterback, either to compete with Weeden or start over him.