Five NFL QBs on the verge of a breakout season
In the last three seasons, there has been a quarterback that has broken out for an MVP-caliber season few envisioned. Cam Newton had a surprise MVP season in 2015, then it was Matt Ryan in 2016 and Carson Wentz was putting on a show before having injury end his 2017 campaign.
Wentz, despite not earning the hardware, has the other two beat because his team was the only one out of the three to win the Super Bowl. As for the upcoming 2018 NFL season, there are five QBs who have the right amount of talent and good weapons around them to enjoy a breakout season.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Pat Mahomes will be one of the most hyped QBs heading into the NFL season. In last year’s NFL Draft, Kansas City traded up to select Mahomes out of Texas Tech because of of his high ceiling. It was only a matter of time until Alex Smith was shipped out so Mahomes could take over the starting job. Mahomes will be in a unique NFL offense under Andy Reid that ought to tailor to his skills perfectly.
The Chiefs run a West Coast “spread” offense that Mahomes played in at Texas Tech. The scheme jibes with Mahomes’ strengths — and he will also have weapons in the passing game like Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, not to mention running back Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs even added deep-threat Sammy Watkins this offseason to make them even more dangerous. This will be Mahomes’ first full season as a starter, so there will be growing pains — but the situation sets up nicely for a potential breakout season.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
Out of the five QBs listed here, Goff arguably has the best chance to win both the MVP award and a Super Bowl. Goff is coming off a season in which he threw for 3804 yards, 28 touchdowns and only seven interceptions while winning 11 games for the Rams. Goff came out of nowhere last year after having a terrible rookie season under Jeff Fisher.
Under coach Sean McVay, Goff thrived and looked like a franchise quarterback. Now that Goff has settled in under McVay — it is now clear the Rams have their focus set on a Super Bowl run after acquiring players like Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks and Aqib Talib. As it stands, the Rams have a very winnable division consisting of the young San Francisco 49ers, average Arizona Cardinals and the now-rebuilding Seattle Seahawks.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
This upcoming season for Kirk Cousins has flashes of what 2016 was to Matt Ryan. Both QBs were always looked at as high-yardage passers with a lot of talent that struggled to close games out in the 4th quarter. The two also played for teams that lacked talent, especially on defense. This upcoming year is shaping up to be Cousins’ “prove it” year as he now has one of the best defenses in football, a potentially dominant running game with the return of Dalvin Cook, and elite receivers like Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.
Cousins threw for 4,093 yards and 27 touchdowns with the Washington Redskins last season. The Redskins ended up finishing 3rd in the NFC East sporting a 7-9 record. Known Cousins targets like Robert Kelley and Jamison Crowder really struggled last season and Cousins’ best target, Jordan Reed, only played in six total games. Washington was also 21st in yards allowed on defense in 2017-18, making it difficult for Cousins to lead Washington to the playoffs.
DeShaun Watson, Houston Texans
Last season, we saw flashes of how good DeShaun Watson could be. Watson started his rookie campaign with 19 touchdowns through his first seven games in the NFL. Watson also completed nearly 62% of his passes in those seven games with 269 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground.
Watson’s rookie season was cut short due to an ACL tear during practice in early November. The Texans will return all of their similar weapons Watson had last season and add deep-threat receiver Sammie Coates for depth. It was reported that Watson is “ahead of schedule” on his rehab and should be completely healthy for the start of the 2018-19 season.
Tyrod Taylor, Cleveland Browns
After recent years, it is quite odd that a Cleveland Browns quarterback could be considered on the verge of a breakout season. Despite the Browns drafting Baker Mayfield first overall, head coach Hue Jackson is reportedly sticking by Tyrod Taylor as the Browns’ starting QB and states he is “not going to back off” that position. In 2017 with the Buffalo Bills, Taylor threw for 2,799 yards, 14 touchdowns with only four interceptions while completing nearly 63% of his passes.
Despite being benched for a part of the season, Taylor proved to be statistically productive despite a shortage of weapons. Taylor now takes over a Browns team that has Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, promising TE David Njoku and new running back Carlos Hyde. This is the first time in Taylor’s career that he will have an offense full of weapons that is tailored to him. If things go smoothly, and players stay healthy — Taylor could put up a Pro Bowl-worthy season.