The quarterback position is the most analyzed position in all of the NFL. Quarterbacks are constantly carrying the brunt of the criticism, and they are the one to blame if their team does poorly. Every offseason, there are a handful of quarterbacks who are facing make-or-break seasons.
Here are the five NFL quarterbacks under the most pressure in 2020.
5. Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
In 2019, the Browns were considered to be pre-season Super Bowl contenders. They acquired Odell Beckham, and they had young stars in Nick Chubb and Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was coming off a solid rookie season, and his above-average play at quarterback was something Browns fans had not seen in years.
The Browns got off to a rough start, and they started the season 2-6. A lot of people looked at Baker Mayfield, and cast blame on him for the Browns’ struggles. During his rookie season, he finished with 27 touchdowns playing 13 games. In 2019, he played three more games and finished with five fewer touchdowns.
Mayfield had more weapons at his disposal but still could not find consistency. He played behind a porous offensive line, and turnovers were an issue for the second-year quarterback.
Going into the 2020 season, Mayfield has the same weapons, and then some. The Browns also beefed up the offensive line with the additions of free-agent offensive tackle, Jack Conklin, and first-round pick offensive tackle, Jedrick Wills. The Browns recognized their young quarterback needs more time in the pocket, and this addressed those needs. They also added tight end Austin Hooper to give Mayfield even more weapons.
The Browns are making sure that their young quarterback has no more excuses, and they can see what his true potential is. The 2020 season will determine if Baker Mayfield is the Brown’s future under center.
4. Drew Lock, Denver Broncos
The Broncos made it obvious they were going to stack up their offensive weapons. In free agency, they built up their offensive line and added two-time Pro-Bowl running back, Melvin Gordon. In the draft, they added one of the best receivers in Jerry Jeudy, and they drafted second-round pick K.J. Hamler.
They already had weapons on the offense such as Philip Lindsay and Noah Fant. The Broncos are making it very hard for Lock to have any excuses and is truly trying to see if he can be their franchise play-caller.
Many people in the NFL community recognize the offseason the Broncos had. The pressure will be on Lock to bring them back to being a playoff contender. Lock does not have to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league to have a successful season. But he needs to be good enough to help them win games.
3. Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars
In 2019, Gardner Minshew was thrown into the starting quarterback position when Nick Foles went down with a collarbone injury. The rookie out of Washington State finished with over 3,000 yards passing with 21 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
He seemed to prove his worth as a starting quarterback, but the Jaguars do not seem to think the same. Throughout the entire offseason, they have been linked to almost every free-agent quarterback. As Cam Newton remains on the market, they are one of the favorites to sign him.
If Minshew keeps his job as the starting quarterback for the Jaguars, he will face the constant speculation about whether the Jaguars will tank for star Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. Minshew will have to prove he is the future for the Jaguars or play well enough that he will be a hot commodity on the trade market.
The Jaguars are not helping him to succeed either. Rumors have been constantly flying about them looking to trade their star running back, Leonard Fournette. They also traded away key defensive pieces, as their full tank mode seems underway. If Minshew overcomes all these obstacles, he should prove his worth as a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.
2. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears
History will forever remember the Bears trading up to select Trubisky. They passed up future MVP and Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes, and one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Deshaun Watson.
The trade will forever haunt Bears fans because Trubisky has not met expectations. In 2019, the Bears finished 29th in total offense, only averaging around 205 passing years a game. Trubisky’s poor play and head coach Matt Nagy’s calling has been at the core of all criticism.
The Bears traded for Nick Foles to either put pressure on Trubisky or to take his starting job. The Bears declined Trubisky’s fifth-year option, and this may be the sign of the beginning of the end.
Chicago has one of the best defenses in all of football, and it is looking to win now. If Trubisky can’t help the team do that, then the end may be sooner rather than later.
1. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It seems almost insane to say the greatest quarterback of all time has the most pressure in 2020. It is like saying winning six Super Bowls is not enough to prove your worth. However, Brady put himself in a very interesting situation.
He left the only team he has ever known in his NFL career to join a team that has struggled to find any sort of consistent success. Brady left the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Bruce Arians. Arians is a quarterback whisperer, but he does not need to do much whispering here.
Brady took the gigantic risk of showing the world that he does not need Belichick to be successful. It is a calculated gamble, but it is still a gamble. He joins Pro-Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. One of his favorite targets in New England, Rob Gronkowski, came out of retirement and just adds to a plethora of weapons.
The Bucs also secured the pocket for Brady through the draft, and the stars seem to be aligning for Brady to prove his gamble was well worth it.