The QB Ghosts of Florida
Lean in and I’ll tell you not one, but three ghost stories this Halloween. These harrowing tales of NFL “franchise quarterbacks” gone awry and mediocre management are sure to make you gasp with shock and tremble in fright (or, at the very least, ponder, rub your chin, and let out a pensive “hmm.”) These accounts are not for the faint of heart, and may hit a bit too close to home if you’re a fan of any of these three NFL franchises in Florida. So before you continue, don’t say you weren’t warned. For those who aren’t fans of any of the Florida franchises, sit back, pop some leftover Halloween candy, and enjoy the haunting ride.
Upon being drafted with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, “Famous Jameis” Winston was supposed to be the savior the Bucs needed at the quarterback position. He was expected to improve each year and lead Tampa to playoff contention. Instead, his tenure has brought about contention and unmet expectations. While his numbers largely stayed steady from 2015-2017, this season, he has been humbled. With just 6 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, “Famous Jameis” is remaining famous for all the wrong reasons. Winston has only himself to blame for missing the first three games of the season. With all of his disturbing off-the-field baggage, it’s a wonder he’s still plugging away as an NFL QB. On the field, Jameis is officially becoming a ghost – Ryan Fitzpatrick will start for the Bucs in this week’s game against the Carolina Panthers. The memory of Winston’s subpar starts will linger and haunt fans in Tampa until they reach the heights of playoff contention again, whenever that may be.
Oh how fans of the Miami Dolphins must yearn for the days of Dan Marino. Since his retirement in 1999, the Dolphins have started a number of quarterbacks who were unable to match his glossy statistics or playoff acumen (I get that he never won “The Big One,” but hey, at least he made it there.) From Jay Fiedler to Matt Moore and beyond, nothing has seemed to work. This is a franchise that hasn’t made it out of the divisional round of the postseason since 1992. At 4-4, the Dolphins postseason hopes for this season aren’t dead yet. But, when will they find a reliable, statistically sound signal caller to drag them from the dark depths of mediocrity? Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler are workable QBs, but they are not Marino. This is an ongoing ghost tale that will be fascinating to watch unfold.
In Florida, one has to beware the jaws of alligators. The way this year’s Jaguars are playing, the Florida Gators probably believe they can challenge and chomp this unit. For a team that made it all the way to the AFC Championship game last season, 2018’s Jaguar squad is off to a bumpy start. At 3-5, the Jaguars’ playoff chances are already on life support. The ever-outspoken Jalen Ramsey has been silent and their injury prognosis is grim. Lest they become offseason zombies without a playoff berth, the Jaguars must take inventory and assess their quarterback position. Statistically, Blake Bortles is arguably having his worst season since his rookie year in 2014. With 10 TDs to 8 INTs, his reliability appears to be in question. The Jags are still pinning much of their hopes on Leonard Fournette coming back and frustrating opposing defenses, but they need Bortles to be effective and relatively error free to truly contend for a Super Bowl. If Landry Jones takes the place of Bortles due to injury, does anyone really think he is the one who will lead Jacksonville to their first Super Bowl appearance? Stranger things have happened. Kurt Warner went from grocery stocking to Super Bowl MVP. A sixth-round man named Brady became the GOAT. But would I bet on Jones (or Bortles, for that matter) to elevate their team to similar heights? I’m ‘afraid’ not.
Which ‘cursed’ Florida team do you think will find the fastest success at the quarterback position? Fellow ghost hunters: contemplate and comment your perspective. Happy Halloween!