The playoffs start today, and all eyes will be on the quarterback. This postseason, maybe more than any in recent memory, has QB storylines like crazy- it’s amazing. We’re looking at the possibility that as many as three starting QBs right now, not returning to their team next season; not because of money, or retirement, but just because they feel they have other options.
Imagine that! You guide your team to the playoffs one season, and they don’t want you. Amazing.
Here are the three quarterbacks to watch entering the 2017 NFL Playoffs:
3- Alex Smith, Chiefs
Alex is coming off a career year in which he set personal bests in completions, yards, touchdown passes, and QB rating, and YET…despite that awesome resume, on top of four playoff appearances in five seasons, there’s a very good chance he’s out of Kansas City next season. The Chiefs traded away three draft picks to move up to get Texas Tech gunslinger Patrick Mahomes.
2- Case Keenum, Vikings
Case Keenum has been the definition of a “journeyman QB” in the NFL. He’s played for the Texans, Rams, Texans again, Rams again, and signed a 1-year deal with the Vikings for 2017.
After Sam Bradford was injured, Keenum took over as the starting quarterback, and never looked back. Over 3,500 yards passing, 22 touchdown passes to just 7 interceptions, and a QB rating of 98.3, aided with a boat load of weapons on offense and a tremendous defense, Keenum led the Vikings to 12-3 record that included 8 straight wins. And yet, Keenum might not be back in Minnesota next season, thanks to the return of Teddy “Two Gloves” Bridgewater earlier this year. It will be a decision that the Vikings will have to make following the playoffs- whether they’ve found their QB for the future, and go back to Teddy.
1- Blake Bortles, Jaguars
And then there is Ninja Bortles. Or Bortles Kombat? Whatever it is, Blake Bortles Jaguars career was already on the line this year, until he led them to the playoffs. Or, depending on who you ask, the Jags defense and running game got them to the playoffs inspite of their QB.
The truth might lie somewhere in the middle, but the fact is this- Bortles was drafted to be a franchise QB for the Jags, and he’s done exactly what any owner wants from a 1st-round pick: to guide their team to the playoffs. And yet, despite what Bortles has done, he might be out next season for someone like Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith.
Bortles isn’t a “fantasy football” QB like Rodgers or Brees, but he’s been the man under center since he was drafted in 2014, playing in 62 of 64 possible games.
There has already been playoff talk that if the Jaguars were to go to the Super Bowl, Bortles would be the weakest QB to enter the game since Trent Dilfer. Seriously, I heard that comment made on one of the football talk shows. Funny thing is, Dilfer has a Super Bowl trophy….
Yes, there is going to be questions surrounding Jared Goff’s 1st playoff game, how the old guys do (Brady and Brees), if Matty Ice can rebound from the SB meltdown last season, and of course, if Nick Foles can somehow get Philly past a “One-and-done” postseason, however, none of them compare to the unique storylines that Alex Smith, Case Keenum, or Blake Bortles present.
These are the three quarterbacks to watch in the 2017 NFL Playoffs.