Why AFC West Quarterbacks Are Under the Most Pressure to Perform in 2012
Elias Trejo – May 15, 2012
There is no question about it. The four quarterbacks in the AFC West are all under the most pressure to perform in 2012 for various reasons. Let's start with the fact that the AFC West has the longest Super Bowl drought in the NFL. The last AFC West team to make it to the Super Bowl was the Oakland Raiders almost ten years ago. In fact, in the last four Super Bowls every division has been represented except the AFC West.
Three of the four quarterbacks were acquired via trade and the other one was most likely the biggest free agent signing in NFL History. Let's take a look at each quarterback's situation in the AFC West.
The Oakland Raiders traded away a 1st and 2nd round pick to the Bengals for Carson Palmer last season. Palmer recently appeared on the Dan Patrick Show and said this about the trade. “I think in the years to come both organizations will look back and say this thing was the best thing to happen." For the Raider Nation's sake let's hope Palmer is right.
This year Palmer will have a full offseason and plenty of time to get himself ready for the season. The former No. 1 overall pick will be under a lot of pressure to perform. Last year he was somewhat let off the hook because he was retired and joined the team in the middle of the season with no offseason to work with them. This year Palmer will have to show that he was worth the trade. Leading the Raiders to an AFC West title would be a great first step in making sure this was a good trade for both sides.
The Chargers chose to let Drew Brees sign with the Saints, because Rivers was going to be the man in San Diego. Five years later the Saints and Brees have a Super Bowl ring and Bounty Gate, while the Chargers and Rivers have nothing. Rivers is a top ten quarterback in the NFL, but had a down year last season. There are a lot of jobs riding on Rivers's shoulder in 2012. If he cannot lead his team back into the playoffs, odds are Norv Turner and many others will lose their jobs. He lost his favorite target in Vincent Jackson, but the team has added a plethora of wide receivers.
The time for the Chargers to win is now. Rivers may have many years left in San Diego, but if he doesn't win now then he'll have to go through a coaching staff overhaul. He can't afford to have another down year in 2012.
The Chiefs could easily be the favorites to win the AFC West. They are loaded with plenty of young talent on both sides of the ball. Their defense appeared to get stronger, and their offense has plenty of weapons. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, they have the least talented quarterback in the AFC West. Cassel missed the final part of the 2012 season due to injury, but wasn't having a very impressive season. He averaged about 1 TD and 1 INT per game while he was healthy and completed under 60% of his passes.
Brady Quinn is his new back up and he is ready for a starting opportunity. Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel traded up to draft Quinn when he was the coach of the Browns. Cassel could lose his starting job if he is unable to help lead the team to a successful early start.
I'm not sure if everyone has heard, but Peyton Manning decided to sign wih the Broncos this offseason. He joins the defending AFC West champions who last season had a quarterback who couldn't pass very well. Now with the addition of Manning the Broncos are ready to make a Super Bowl appearance. Winning the division and a playoff game is a must for the Broncos in 2012. If they did it with Tim Tebow, then they should be able to do it with Manning under center.
Manning may be in a no win situation. He is expected to bring a title back to Denver, but his team may not be ready to make the run. It could be fair to say that the Broncos have the least talented offense in the AFC West. Manning's health will be a big question mark in 2012, but it won't lower the teams expectations.
Regardless of what is being said in the media, the AFC West is wide open in 2012. The play of each quarterback will decide who wins the division, but winning the division alone shouldn't be enough. It will be 10 years since the last AFC West team went to the Super Bowl and 13 since the last AFC West team won a Super Bowl. It's time for someone to step up and end this drought in 2012. Any takers?
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