2014 Stat Predictions for All 32 Starting Quarterbacks in the NFL
Quarterbacks are everything in the NFL.
Of course, it's a team game, but quarterbacks get the lion's share of the glory or the blame. A new season brings new chances to succeed or fail, and there will be plenty of statistics to go around.
Click through for statistical projections for each starting quarterback. These projections do not account for injuries—they are unpredictable, after all—though some do predict a midseason change at the position.
Arizona Cardinals—Carson Palmer
The Arizona Cardinals upgraded their offensive line in a big way this offseason, signing Jared Veldheer to take over at left tackle. That will be a huge relief to quarterback Carson Palmer, who was sacked 41 times last season.
Palmer also gets his left guard back once Jonathan Cooper is fully recovered from the broken left leg that ruined his rookie season, which will completely reshape and reinforce that left side. Better pass protection should lead to better results in the passing game.
Meanwhile, Palmer's rapport with his receivers is growing, particularly with third-year wideout Michael Floyd. The young wide receiver went for more than 1,000 yards receiving on the wings of a nice second half last year, and he is primed to explode in 2014.
Larry Fitzgerald starts opposite of Floyd, and the veteran is still among the best in the game at his position. He and Floyd constitute a great one-two punch for Palmer and the Cardinals at receiver.
All in all, things are looking up for the offense in Arizona.
Passing Projection: 63 percent completion, 4,425 yards, 28 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 15 carries, 25 yards
Atlanta Falcons—Matt Ryan
Last season was a lost one for quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Preseason Super Bowl hype fizzled as the defense faltered and Ryan fell on his back all too often.
The five-year veteran was sacked 44 times thanks to shoddy offensive line play that was adversely affected by injury. Drafting Jake Matthews and getting Sam Baker back from said injury should be a big boost to that unit.
Even so, it wasn't a terrible season from a statistical standpoint. Despite losing his top two receivers for extended periods of time, Ryan finished with 4,515 passing yards and 26 touchdowns. His efficiency took a huge hit—he went from 7.7 yards per attempt in 2012 to 6.9 last season—but that is unsurprising given his circumstances.
Passing Projection: 66 percent completion, 4,600 yards, 31 touchdowns, 14 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 20 carries, 75 yards
Baltimore Ravens—Joe Flacco
When was the last time Joe Flacco had an outstanding regular season?
The Baltimore Ravens quarterback has done a fine job of piloting his team to the postseason early and often in his career, but he has hardly been a nightmare for opposing defenses throughout his career.
Flacco parlayed one torrid playoff run into a huge payoff for which the Ravens might be paying on the field. He has completed just 60 percent of his passes for a measly 6.9 yards per attempt throughout his career, though a lackluster arsenal for much of that time is partially to blame.
The Ravens didn't exactly go out and get him Calvin Johnson. Steve Smith is a nice addition, but the 35-year-old is in the twilight of his career.
Hopefully, a healthy Dennis Pitta and newcomer Owen Daniels will be a boon for Flacco at tight end, but don't expect a Peytonesque performance out of Flacco in 2014. Or ever, really.
Passing Projection: 61 percent completion, 3,875 yards, 22 touchdowns, 16 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 25 carries, 115 yards, 1 touchdown
Buffalo Bills—EJ Manuel
It was a rough rookie season for EJ Manuel in Buffalo last year.
The former Florida State starter was the only quarterback taken in the first round of the 2013 draft, and his rookie performance was telling.
Injuries hampered his debut, but he completed just 58.8 percent of his passes and averaged a measly 6.4 yards per attempt in his 10 starts.
The Bills made a bold move during the draft to get him a dynamic weapon in Sammy Watkins, who replaces Stevie Johnson. Robert Woods, Mike Williams and speedster Marquise Goodwin round out a wide receiver corps that has nice depth but won't scare many defenses in 2014.
Manuel should see progression in his second season, but projecting a big year just isn't in the cards yet for the young quarterback.
Passing Projection: 59 percent completion, 3,450 yards, 19 touchdowns, 16 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 60 carries, 225 yards, 1 touchdown
Carolina Panthers—Cam Newton
It has been a bit of a rough offseason for the Carolina Panthers offense.
Cap space was limited, so general manager David Gettleman was forced to make some difficult roster decisions. Namely, longtime starting receiver Steve Smith was sent packing despite a relatively modest impact on the cap.
Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. were also allowed to walk, leaving the wide receiver corps thinner than the deteriorating polar ice cap. The Panthers relied on bargain bin free agents and the NFL draft to fill the void, signing Jerricho Cotchery and selecting Kelvin Benjamin in the first round.
Cotchery scored 10 touchdowns last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that was more than double his touchdown count for his previous three seasons combined.
Benjamin is a massive target at 6'5" and 243 pounds, but he was widely considered an overrated receiver coming out of college thanks to relatively lackluster production and lapses in concentration.
Outside of problems at skill positions, Newton also lost his starting left tackle, Jordan Gross, to retirement. Despite being 34 years old, Gross was rated the third-best offensive tackle in the league by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) last season.
The Panthers did nothing to replace him during the offseason, instead leaving the position open for competition among the current offensive linemen on the team. That figures to be unproven Nate Chandler.
He won't have an awful season, but Newton's production will suffer given the offense got worse around him.
Passing Projection: 61 percent completion, 3,750 yards, 22 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 125 carries, 550 yards, 7 touchdowns
Chicago Bears—Jay Cutler
Head coach Marc Trestman is known for being a quarterback guru. That proved true in his first season at the helm of the Chicago Bears, particularly in getting journeyman Josh McCown to look like a starting-caliber quarterback at 34 years of age.
McCown is gone, going back to his old coach Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay.
Jay Cutler remains, and he's still a polarizing figure in the NFL. He has always had the tools to become a great franchise quarterback, but a gunslinger mentality and injury woes have held him back. Trestman can help with one of those.
It started last season, though it was hidden in the shadow of McCown's breakout. Cutler still threw 12 interceptions in 11 starts, but his completion percentage spiked 4.3 points from the previous season to 63.1 percent.
Part of the reason for the improvement was better pass protection, something Cutler hadn't enjoyed in Chicago before Trestman's arrival. Cutler was sacked just 19 times in his 11 starts, a dramatic improvement from the 38 he suffered in 15 games a year before.
That is not to say there isn't room for improvement there—despite fewer sacks, the offensive line was among the worst in pass-blocking efficiency in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Outside of pass protection, Cutler couldn't ask for much more in terms of weaponry. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery might just be the best duo in the league at wide receiver, and Matt Forte is a fantastic chip out of the backfield. Martellus Bennett makes for a fine tight end, to boot.
If he can stay healthy—and that is a big "if" considering Cutler hasn't played through a full season since 2009—Cutler is in for a nice year.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 4,150 yards, 25 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 35 carries, 155 yards, 1 touchdown
Cincinnati Bengals—Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton is a curious case.
On the one hand, Dalton has led his team to a playoff berth while improving his statistical output in each of his first three seasons in the league. On the other hand, he has developed a reputation for disappearing in big spots, for weeks at a time in some instances.
Unlike Stafford, though, Dalton possesses an average arm. That hasn't affected him too much at this level thanks to Jay Gruden's West Coast offense, but Hue Jackson is the new offensive coordinator for the Bengals.
Jackson might actually be an upgrade, but it will be interesting to see how the new offense will affect Dalton's production. Jackson has already indicated the offense will feature a power running game, per NFL.com's Kevin Patra, and bigger demands on Dalton could backfire given his limitations.
Passing Projection: 63 percent completion, 3,975 yards, 27 touchdowns, 17 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 50 carries, 125 yards, 1 touchdown
Cleveland Browns—Johnny Manziel
Who will be the starter in Cleveland?
Right now it's Brian Hoyer heading into training camp. Hoyer rose to starter status last season after coming over from the New England Patriots and Brandon Weeden's thumb injury opened the door. He played well in three starts, passing for 615 yards and five touchdowns in three victories before tearing his ACL.
He is on the mend and on track to re-assume the starting mantle in Cleveland. How long will he keep the job, however? The Browns drafted Johnny Manziel in the first round, after all.
Perhaps Hoyer will perform well after all despite a gutted wide receiver corps. But my money is on Manziel to take over at some point.
Not having Josh Gordon—assuming his yearlong suspension sticks—will be brutal to whoever lines up under center. Good thing Manziel can make defenses pay with his legs.
Of course he will have to wrest the job from Hoyer first, which may not come until midseason. That is why his projection below is a tad on the low side.
Passing Projection: 60 percent completion, 2,600 yards, 13 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 60 carries, 375 yards, 5 touchdowns
Dallas Cowboys—Tony Romo
A stream of criticism and mockery is nothing new for Tony Romo.
The embattled quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys has been through the wringer on an annual basis. His shortcomings have far outweighed his achievements, and the mediocrity surrounding him has dragged his name through the mud.
Consider that Romo has been among the best quarterbacks in the league over the past several years, at least as statistics are concerned. He is eighth in passing yards, seventh in touchdowns and sixth in passer rating since 2008.
Nevertheless, a few late-game failures have defined his career.
This season may be no different for Romo, whose team saw little improvement on paper during the offseason. The Cowboys were unable to spend in free agency, leaving holes all over the roster to be filled by bargain-bin free agents, rookies and underwhelming performers already on the roster.
The good news for Romo is that his top receiver has had an entire offseason to recover from nagging injuries. Dez Bryant played through pain in 2013, and hopefully he won't have to this season. He is also in a contract year, which amplifies the stakes a bit as far as his performance goes.
It will be interesting to see if Terrance Williams can step into the No. 2 role comfortably in his second season with Miles Austin gone, though Austin was hardly there thanks to injuries in recent years.
Romo also has a pretty good offensive line protecting him, starting with Tyron Smith, who was among the best-rated offensive tackles in the league over at Pro Football Focus.
Romo will have to avoid late-game blunders to even begin clearing his name, but another solid season is in store for the Cowboys quarterback.
Passing Projection: 65 percent completion, 4,100 yards, 29 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 30 carries, 45 yards
Denver Broncos—Peyton Manning
How do you follow up a historic season?
If you're Peyton Manning, it's likely another great year is in store. But it would be foolish to predict the kind of numbers he put up last season. Record-breaking seasons aren't commonplace, after all.
Regression is coming, but Manning won't be slipping too far. With an arsenal featuring Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker and even Montee Ball and a strong offensive line once Ryan Clady rejoins it after injury, Manning will be just fine.
Manning is in a league of his own, even at age 38. The reigning MVP should contend to retain his crown, barring injury.
Passing Projection: 67 percent completion, 4,850 yards, 47 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 15 carries, 30 yards
Detroit Lions—Matthew Stafford
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has the best arm talent in the league. Too bad his head hasn't caught up.
Thus far in his career Stafford has been the beneficiary of throwing the ball to the best wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson. The rest of his receivers have been a different story—Kris Durham was the second-most targeted receiver in Detroit last season, for example.
The Lions finally got Megatron some help this offseason, signing Golden Tate—Seattle's top receiver—to a five-year deal to be his sidekick. They also drafted Eric Ebron in the first round, giving Stafford a nice complement of pass-catchers.
That is not to mention Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, two great pass-catchers out of the backfield.
Hopefully, a new coaching staff can get Stafford to worry about his mechanics more. His gunslinger mentality has gotten him into trouble on many occasions, and his career 59.5 completion percentage is the smoking gun.
Improved personnel around Stafford should help regardless, however.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 4,750 yards, 34 touchdowns, 18 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 40 carries, 150 yards, 1 touchdown
Green Bay Packers—Aaron Rodgers
When healthy, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the league.
Peyton Manning napalmed the league last year, but he relied on superior intellect and guile. Rodgers is smart and savvy as well and has youth on his side—relatively speaking at 30 years of age, anyway.
He also has a healthy arm and incredible accuracy, which he uses to great effect. Rodgers has the highest passer rating in the league since he took over the starting job in Green Bay. He also has the second-most touchdowns, third-best completion percentage and fourth-most passing yards in that span.
Rodgers is still in his prime, and he has a pretty good offense around him. Jordy Nelson is a perennially underrated No. 1 receiver, and Randall Cobb is a nice Swiss Army knife. James Jones might be gone, but Davante Adams might be better, even as a rookie.
Having a solid running game behind reigning Rookie of the Year Eddie Lacy will keep opposing defenses honest, too.
Passing Projection: 69 percent completion, 4,800 yards, 44 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 35 carries, 115 yards, 1 touchdown
Houston Texans—Ryan Fitzpatrick
Somehow, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps getting work in the NFL.
The 31-year-old journeyman has a career 27-49-1 record while completing 59.8 percent of his passes and averaging 6.5 yards per attempt.
He is the best Houston has right now unless the Texans want to throw fourth-round rookie Tom Savage into the fire. Savage might have gotten some late hype during predraft season, but he is a developmental player.
Fitzpatrick is going to find himself turning around and handing the ball off to running backs Arian Foster and Andre Brown plenty this season, but the Texans are going to need to move the ball through the air, too. It can't get much worse than what Matt Schaub and Co. gave them last year, can it?
Passing Projection: 61 percent completion, 3,550 yards, 17 touchdowns, 18 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 30 carries, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
Indianapolis Colts—Andrew Luck
Andrew Luck is an interesting case study.
On the one hand, he is very much the driving source behind Indianapolis' playoff appearances over the past two seasons. On the other hand, his statistical output hasn't quite matched perception that he is among the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Luck has only completed 57 percent of his passes and averaged 6.8 yards per attempt thus far in his career. Of course, the Colts put a lot more on Luck's shoulders than a typical first- or second-year player, having him throw the ball nearly 1,200 times over the past two seasons.
The Colts went out and got Hakeem Nicks to bolster the wide receiver corps, though he might be simply filling a hole if Reggie Wayne can't get back to form after a torn ACL. Tight end Dwayne Allen is also coming back from injury.
If Wayne can bounce back from injury and Nicks from career decline—along with big-play threat T.Y. Hilton—Luck will have a nice little arsenal in Indianapolis. His statistical trajectory should take him to lofty heights in 2014.
Passing Projection: 63 percent completion, 4,350 yards, 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 50 carries, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns
Jacksonville Jaguars—Chad Henne
Blaine Gabbert has finally been exiled from Jacksonville after a horribly disappointing tenure with the Jaguars.
Rookie Blake Bortles took his place on the roster after being selected No. 3 overall, but he isn't slated to start this season. Incumbent backup-turned-starter Chad Henne will helm the offense, perhaps for the whole season if all goes according to plan.
Henne is a stopgap as the Jaguars groom Bortles for the future, to be sure. Jacksonville is in the second year of a major rebuild and is in no rush to get Bortles in there.
Henne might not be a quality starter, but he will be operating an improved offense, at least. Cecil Shorts III and his big-play ability will be back—assuming he can stay healthy—and he is joined by rookies Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson.
Of course, the Jaguars could pound the rock with Toby Gerhart, Jordan Todman and Storm Johnson to minimize Henne's impact on games.
Passing Projection: 60 percent completion, 3,400 yards, 19 touchdowns, 21 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 20 carries, 30 yards
Kansas City Chiefs—Alex Smith
For years it seemed like Alex Smith was destined to be a first-round bust. The light turned on a couple of years ago for the then-49ers quarterback, and he has been pretty good ever since.
Smith was traded to Kansas City last year, and he turned in a nice inaugural season for the Chiefs.
He is the king of the checkdown, and he has arguably the best pass-catching running back in the league as a safety blanket. Jamaal Charles should reprise his role as the do-it-all running back for Smith and that offense next season.
The biggest issue for Smith is a downgraded offensive line. Cap-space limitations forced the Chiefs to watch starters Branden Albert and Jon Asamoah go, along with quality guard Geoff Schwartz.
Last year's No. 1 pick Eric Fisher will take over for Albert at left tackle, but he was a big disappointment as a rookie, even if he was playing out of position. Hopefully, he will be more comfortable on the left side.
Passing Projection: 63 percent completion, 3,600 yards, 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 55 carries, 325 yards, 2 touchdowns
Miami Dolphins—Ryan Tannehill
It's tough to be a quality passer when you're running for your life as often as Ryan Tannehill did last season.
The Miami Dolphins quarterback was sacked a whopping 58 times, a team record for pass-blocking futility. His offensive line was a flaming shanty town.
Miami's biggest priority this offseason was fixing that line, and the team has done that on paper. Branden Albert was given a big contract to lock down the left tackle position, Shelly Smith and Jason Fox bring depth and experience, and the Dolphins drafted Ja'Wuan James and Billy Turner.
Perhaps a bigger improvement comes in the coaching staff, where Bill Lazor replaces Mike Sherman at offensive coordinator. Lazor was the quarterback coach for Nick Foles in Philadelphia last season, and we all saw how Foles broke out for the Eagles.
Tannehill needs to make a leap this season. The vultures are beginning to circle in Miami, and failing to deliver a solid season will turn a few into a kettle.
A dramatically improved offensive line should get him across the abyss.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 4,050 yards, 26 touchdowns, 14 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 50 carries, 225 yards, 2 touchdowns
Minnesota Vikings—Matt Cassel
The Minnesota Vikings are hitting the reset button at quarterback this season. Again.
Just three years ago they picked Christian Ponder at No. 12 overall in the NFL draft. He has been a disappointment thus far, and the Vikings wound up moving back into the tail end of the first round to select Teddy Bridgewater.
The Louisville product may not be the starter as a rookie, though, especially if Matt Cassel plays well enough to win the job and keep it.
Whoever starts will have some nice talent around him. Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph make a nice set of pass-catchers, and Adrian Peterson is still going to command a ton of attention from opposing defenses.
Despite any bold predictions that Bridgewater will be the Week 1 starter by yours truly, odds are Cassel keeps the starting job this season. Barring injury or a trip through the gutter, it should stay that way.
Passing Projection: 60 percent completion, 3,525 yards, 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 40 carries, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
New England Patriots—Tom Brady
Much has been made this offseason about whether quarterback Tom Brady is still among the NFL's elite.
There is no question that Brady is still a great quarterback, but last season's statistical decline was a bit alarming. He did have a ton of turnover and injuries to deal with at his skill positions, but Brady missed plenty of passes and opportunities he used to hit, too.
Given the level of criticism he has seen this offseason, it's probable that we will see an epic bounce-back season from the future Hall of Famer. The question is whether his teammates will cooperate.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski should be ready to roll at the beginning of the season, but his injury woes are a huge concern for Brady and the Patriots. If he is back to form and stays healthy, Brady's numbers will be significantly better.
Gronk is simply that good.
Outside of the big tight end, Brady has some question marks. Last year's Wes Welker replacement should be good to go again in 2014 since Julian Edelman signed an extension. He might be a pass-catching machine, but he is hardly a vertical or red-zone threat.
Hopefully, one or more of Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins or Josh Boyce will step up on the outside. The Patriots brought in Brandon LaFell via free agency, who could be a sneaky good addition for Brady and that offense.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 4,350 yards, 32 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 25 carries, 25 yards
New Orleans Saints—Drew Brees
In terms of statistics, no quarterback has been better over the past half decade than Drew Brees.
Head coach Sean Payton's offense has been perfect for the diminutive quarterback, and he has been consistently great. Were it not for transcendent seasons from Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning, Brees might have won an MVP award or two.
Simply put, Brees is the most accurate quarterback in the league save, perhaps, Rodgers. He has the best pass-catching tight end in the league in Jimmy Graham, and Marques Colston, Kenny Stills and rookie Brandin Cooks make for a nice wide receiver corps.
There is really no reason to believe he won't have another huge season.
Passing Projection: 68 percent completion, 4,900 yards, 42 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 30 carries, 50 yards, 2 touchdowns
New York Giants—Eli Manning
What a nightmare 2013 was for quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
They got off to a 0-6 start as Manning was a turnover machine, completely falling off a cliff just two seasons after winning it all. He led the league in interceptions—for the third time in his career—while posting recent-year lows in yards per average, touchdowns, completion percentage and more.
Did the elder Manning steal Eli's youth, or will the latter bounce back like Philip Rivers?
For starters, Manning doesn't have a new head coach who happens to be a quarterback guru. Tom Coughlin is still in town.
He does have Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. at wide receiver, although having talented skill players didn't do much for him last year.
Hopefully, Manning has exorcised the 2013 season; otherwise the Giants are in for another long season.
Passing Projection: 61 percent completion, 3,950 yards, 22 touchdowns, 20 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 25 carries, 30 yards
New York Jets—Geno Smith
Geno Smith's rookie season was a bit of a roller coaster, one that had more lows than highs. One week he would lead his team to an improbable come-from-behind victory, and the next he would throw three interceptions.
Smith wound up throwing just 12 touchdowns to 21 interceptions while completing 55.7 percent of his passes. He did do some damage on the ground, though, rushing for 366 yards and six touchdowns.
His lackluster rookie season led the New York Jets to buy some insurance, signing Michael Vick away from the Philadelphia Eagles. Should Smith stumble, Vick will be there to poach the starting gig.
The good news is that Smith shouldn't stumble. Why? Because he actually has someone to throw to this season, for starters.
The Jets were devoid of any serious weaponry on offense last year. Jeremy Kerley led all receivers with 523 yards. Enough said?
Enter Eric Decker, whom the Jets signed to a five-year, $35 million deal this offseason. The 6'3" receiver is a huge upgrade, even if he isn't quite a No. 1 receiver in the Calvin Johnson or even Jordy Nelson mold.
Jace Amaro was a nice addition in the draft at tight end too, giving Smith two big weapons that will be a big boost for the second-year quarterback.
Passing Projection: 59 percent completion, 3,550 yards, 19 touchdowns, 16 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 80 carries, 350 yards, 3 touchdowns
Oakland Raiders—Matt Schaub
Matt Schaub gets a bad rap, perhaps a bit unfairly.
Sure, he threw pick-sixes as though he meant to with the Houston Texans last season, but this is a quarterback with a career 89.8 passer rating who is two years removed from a 4,000-yard season on a run-heavy team.
Granted, Schaub's ceiling was never near the elite zone, but he is more than capable when he isn't injured or playing on the Titanic.
The Oakland Raiders look quite different from a year ago. Having cap space finally allowed general manager Reggie McKenzie to retool the roster, and that included a trade for Schaub.
Perhaps a change of scenery will help Schaub re-establish himself as a middle-tier NFL quarterback in 2014.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 3,725 yards, 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 20 carries, 30 yards
Philadelphia Eagles—Nick Foles
Where did Nick Foles come from?
Well, he came from Arizona, but how did he go from project quarterback to lethal starter so quickly? The answer lies in his coaching.
Head coach Chip Kelly came over from Oregon last year and revamped the Philadelphia Eagles offense in a big way, setting Foles up for success in the process. He developed the offense to take advantage of its strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
That meant plenty of LeSean McCoy and intelligent use of personnel and formations to create mismatches.
Foles' leading receiver is gone after the Eagles cut DeSean Jackson, so it will be interesting to see if the offense can plug and play his replacement, rookie Jordan Matthews, with similar success.
The Philadelphia quarterback also benefits from great offensive line play anchored by left tackle Jason Peters.
Passing Projection: 63 percent completion, 4,100 yards, 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 75 carries, 250 yards, 2 touchdowns
Pittsburgh Steelers—Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger has never been known to be a statistical monster at quarterback, but he quietly put up nice numbers last season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cotchery is gone—as is Emmanuel Sanders—but hopefully second-year receiver Markus Wheaton and rookie Martavis Bryant can pick up the slack.
Passing Projection: 63 percent completion, 4,150 yards, 27 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 20 carries, 50 yards, 1 touchdown
San Diego Chargers—Philip Rivers
The Renaissance hit San Diego last season as quarterback Philip Rivers pulled out of a career tailspin and quickly regained form.
Rivers led the league with a 69.5 completion percentage last season en route to an improbable postseason appearance. He can probably thank his resurgence to head coach Mike McCoy, who has been a bit of a quarterback guru in the NFL.
Rivers can also thank receiver Keenan Allen, who proved to be a valuable third-round pick who caught more than 70 percent of his targets as a rookie.
Little has changed on offense for the Chargers this offseason, and Rivers should have another nice season if he is truly back to form.
Passing Projection: 67 percent completion, 4,250 yards, 29 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 30 carries, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
San Francisco 49ers—Colin Kaepernick
If tattoos were detrimental to quarterbacking, Colin Kaepernick would be in big trouble. Thankfully for him, tattoos have nothing to do with it.
The fourth-year quarterback hasn't been an outstanding or consistent passer—he completed just 58.4 percent of passes in his first full season as a starter—but he has done a nice job for the 49ers since taking over the starting gig in 2012.
An improved arsenal should be a huge help, though. Tight end Vernon Davis was the only big threat Kaepernick had in the passing game for a while last season.
Michael Crabtree is healthy heading into training camp, and hopefully it will stay that way. The 49ers also added Stevie Johnson via trade and drafted Bruce Ellington.
Kaepernick is, of course, rather dangerous as a runner, and he will continue to terrorize defenses in 2014. The 49ers seemed to pick and choose when they were going to unleash their dynamic quarterback, whom opposing defenses were actively trying to stop on the ground.
He still ran the ball 93 times for 524 yards and four touchdowns, and he had some flashes of brilliance in the passing game.
The 49ers run the ball plenty, and they might have a four-headed monster at running back. That means Kaepernick's passing numbers might not be terribly gaudy, but a few big games are in store against unwitting defenses.
Passing Projection: 61 percent completion, 3,550 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 85 carries, 475 yards, 5 touchdowns
Seattle Seahawks—Russell Wilson
What does Russell Wilson have to do to gain respect?
Despite leading his team to a Super Bowl victory—albeit with plenty of help—Wilson is still branded as a glorified game manager by some. Never mind that he was incredibly efficient last season, throwing 26 touchdowns to nine interceptions while averaging 8.2 yards per attempt.
That marks two consecutive seasons of a highly efficient game from Wilson, even if his volume statistics aren't on the gaudy side.
He might not have lit up the league for 4,500 passing yards and 40 touchdowns, but that's more because he didn't have to than because he couldn't. The Seahawks won plenty without resorting to airing it out in high-scoring affairs.
Not much has changed for Wilson heading into the 2014 season. His offensive line is intact, his wide receiver corps is plug-and-play, and the running game should be as good as ever.
Sure, he lost his top receiver when Golden Tate took the money and ran to Detroit, but a healthy Percy Harvin should more than offset that loss. Doug Baldwin has been a fine No. 2 receiver, and adding a deep threat like Paul Richardson in the draft could result in a handful of "bingo" plays.
It should be another great season for Wilson.
Passing Projection: 64 percent completion, 3,650 yards, 28 touchdowns, 9 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 70 carries, 425 yards, 3 touchdowns
St. Louis Rams—Sam Bradford
It's a wonder that Sam Bradford still has a starting job.
The former top overall pick has had plenty of opportunity in St. Louis, but he has failed to deliver on his promise during his four years with the team. Entering the final season of his contract—one that pays him nearly $13 million—he had better come out with guns blazing.
Bradford was actually on his way to a fine season in 2013 before injury struck. The Rams starter was posting career highs all over the place, including completion percentage, touchdown rate, yards per game and passer rating before going down for the count in Week 7.
If he can get back to that form after recovering from his torn ACL, Bradford might finally give St. Louis a return on investment.
The Rams have done their part, supplying Bradford with adequate protection. They drafted Greg Robinson No. 3 overall, while Jake Long is recovering from his own torn ACL. They also gave the quarterback myriad weapons, though some of the receivers they have drafted haven't panned out just yet.
St. Louis figures to feature the run game behind Zac Stacy and rookie Tre Mason, but Bradford needs to stay on the field and be productive if the Rams are to have any shot of getting out of the treacherous NFC West.
Passing Projection: 61 percent completion, 3,875 yards, 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 20 carries, 50 yards, 1 touchdown
Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Josh McCown
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a quarterback battle on their hands this preseason, and the winner may not play out the entire season as the starter.
Josh McCown was imported from Chicago, where new head coach Lovie Smith used to be his coach. The former Bear had a fantastic run as Jay Cutler's replacement last season, throwing 13 touchdowns to just one interception while posting a 109.0 passer rating in his five starts.
The problem? McCown is a 35-year-old journeyman with zero history of success before last season's breakout. Even Rich Gannon had 90 career starts before Marc Trestman got ahold of him in 2001 and molded him into an MVP with the Oakland Raiders.
McCown has 38 starts under his belt to date.
Mike Glennon, meanwhile, enters his second season after a decent rookie year. That was under a different regime, but he should get a fair shake under Smith and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford.
It's likely that McCown enters the season as the starter and plays the majority of games, but it would be entirely unsurprising if Glennon overtook him at some point. Given McCown should start the majority of games, though—barring injury of course—his statistical projection wins out.
Passing Projection: 60 percent completion, 2,650 yards, 11 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 10 carries, 40 yards
Tennessee Titans—Jake Locker
Jake Locker has taken his share of criticism since the Tennessee Titans took him No. 8 overall in the 2011 draft.
He wasn't particularly effective during his first two years in the league, and injuries have plagued him throughout his first three seasons.
Locker got off to a promising start in 2013, though. He threw for 1,256 yards and eight touchdowns through six-plus games before an injury cost him the rest of the season. His accuracy improved to 60.7 percent, up over four points from the previous season.
The good news is his offensive line is among the best in the league on paper. Rookie offensive tackle Taylor Lewan should be a nice bookend along with Michael Roos, and Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack make a great pair of guards.
This is a make-or-break season for Locker, who needs to build on his development and stay healthy. The latter is out of his hands, for the most part. Hopefully, his offensive line can keep him upright, and his body doesn't betray him.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 3,250 yards, 19 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 60 carries, 375 yards, 3 touchdowns
Washington—Robert Griffin III
It has been a manic-depressive existence for Robert Griffin III thus far in the NFL.
He was hailed as a franchise savior when Washington traded up to snag him in the 2012 draft, and he immediately delivered on that promise with an improbable postseason run. Injuries dogged him that season before his knee gave out completely, however, and his sophomore season was a big letdown.
Griffin will be under a new coaching staff in a new offense this season with Jay Gruden in town. His West Coast offense will be a big difference for Griffin, who ran a pistol-based offense that utilized the zone read.
The third-year quarterback already had a nice No. 1 receiver in Pierre Garcon, but Washington gave him another weapon when DeSean Jackson defected from the rival Philadelphia Eagles after being cut.
Passing Projection: 62 percent completion, 3,675 yards, 23 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Rushing Projection: 65 carries, 405 yards, 4 touchdowns