From a couple of castoffs just hoping to salvage their careers to the man every other franchise regrets passing on, Breakout Live reveals the breakout quarterbacks from the 2019 NFL season.
Tennessee traded Miami for Tannehill in the offseason to back up Marcus Mariota, but Tannehill had to have his eyes on the starting gig. And the thought had to cross the mind of Titans brass as well, knowing of Mariota’s recent struggles as an NFL starting quarterback. Sure enough, Tannehill would replace an ineffective Mariota in the 3rd quarter of a Week 6 game against the Broncos and would assume the starting job the rest of the season. Handed a Titans team that was 2-4, the former Dolphins’ first round pick game managed to lead the Titans to a 7-3 finish and secured Tennessee a Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Ultimately the Titans would fall to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Chiefs in the AFC Championship game, but Tannehill revived a fading NFL career by winning the AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year award along with being named to his first Pro Bowl. He threw for 2782 yards and 22 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions. Tannehill finished in the Top 3 in completion percentage at 70.3 and was PFF’s highest graded quarterback. His 117.5 passer rating was good for tops in the NFL, as well as his insane 140.6 rating on play-action (assist to Derrick Henry). The resurgent Titans quarterback was only on a one-year deal in Tennessee, but it’d be surprising to see the Titans not re-sign the man who had them a game from the Super Bowl in 2019.
It seems like a lifetime ago the Vikings chose the Louisville signal-caller to be their franchise quarterback with the last pick in the first round after a trade with the Seahawks. It seems just as long since Bridgewater almost lost his life during a training camp practice in 2016 when he suffered an injury to his knee on a non-contact injury. After two years of intense rehab, Teddy B. had a chance at rebuilding his career, but it wouldn’t be with the Vikings, who eventually released him.
A fine training camp with the Jets caught the eye of the Saints, who traded a 3rd rounder for Bridgewater to be Drew Brees’ backup and potential heir. Teddy’s redemption and breakout would come in his second year in New Orleans after Drew Brees hit his thumb on Aaron Donald’s helmet in Week 2. Brees would be lost for 5 weeks, and many assumed the Saints season along with it. With the spotlight firmly on Bridgewater, he rattled off five straight wins in Brees’ absence, including road wins at Seattle and Chicago and a home tilt with the Cowboys. A 5-0 record not only saved the Saints season but resurrected a career once filled with promise.
His numbers were solid: 1384 yards, 67.9% completion percentage, 9 TDs to 2 INTs, and a 99.1 passer rating. With Drew Brees’ uncertain future in New Orleans, the 27-year-old free agent’s future is up in the air too. He may just find himself a franchise quarterback again in New Orleans, or elsewhere.
Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen: All Top 10 picks from the 2018 draft taken before Lamar Jackson, who fell to the last pick in the first round. The order of selection would look a bit different if these guys could be redrafted in 2020. Jackson did however come with questions heading into his second season. He’d only thrown for more than 200 yards (204) in one of his seven starts as a rookie.
That changed quickly. Jackson eclipsed the 200-yard passing mark 9 times in 16 games during the 2019 regular season. He only threw for 3,127 yards, but threw a league-best 36 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. He also boosted his passing completion percentage from 58.2 to 66.1 percent while finishing Top 3 in the NFL in passer rating (113.3). The dual-threat Jackson became just the second quarterback in the NFL’s 100-year history to rush for over 1000 yards, breaking the QB rushing record set by Michael Vick in 2006 (1,039), while establishing a gaudy new mark of 1,206. Jackson passed and ran his way all the way to the top seed in the AFC and earned an NFL MVP. As Jackson himself would himself say… not bad for a running back.
The 1st overall pick in the 2019 draft chose football over baseball and may have had second thoughts after being sacked for a league-high 48 times behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. Despite going to a bad team in Arizona with only the ageless wonder Larry Fitzgerald as a legitimate receiving option, Murray acquitted himself quite nicely. He became only the second rookie quarterback (Cam Newton) in NFL history to pass for over 3,500 yards (3,722) and run for over 500 yards (544).
Murray seemingly was running for his life every time he dropped back to pass, making the Cardinals a very fun team to watch offensively under rookie Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s air-raid attack, as Kyler would often make something out of nothing. Murray finished with a very respectable 20-to-12 TD-to-INT ratio, leading the Cards to a 5-10-1 finish. Murray’s season was impressive enough for him to find himself named AP’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year. As Murray and Kingsbury grow into their roles and the Cardinals mature, 2020 holds a lot of intrigue for what Murray might do now that he has a full season under his belt.
There’s not a more polarizing quarterback in the league than Dak Prescott. Opinions of him are all over the map, from superstar to just middling and a product of playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines. One thing that’s clear is Dak finds himself in the former camp as he reportedly turned down a contract extension that would’ve paid him $33 million AAV.
There’s no question Prescott took a major step forward as a thrower of the football in 2019. His breakout is evidenced by his 4,902 passing yards, good for second in the league behind Jameis Winston and over 1,000 more than his previous high of 3,885. With 30 TD passes, Prescott was one of just four quarterbacks to pass for 30 touchdowns or more in 2019. Dak’s 99.7 passer rating also justified him as one of the elites, putting him inside the Top 10 of the league’s signal callers. What’s unclear is how much Jason Garrett held back Dak, and if there’s a higher ceiling for him yet to attain. In 2020, Dak will be under the man many people credit for building Aaron Rodgers: New Cowboys Head Coach Mike McCarthy. So we’ll be keeping a keen eye to see if Dak can trend even higher.