The Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers all believe their rookie quarterbacks have star potential. Here’s how they can help each player reach that goal.
Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert have all flashed big-time ability for their respective teams during the 2020 regular season. The Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers all have every right to believe they have future stars on their hands. That makes it imperative for each front office to surround their young signal-callers with the right talent to succeed in 2021.
Any misstep in the upcoming offseason could derail the promising career of any member of the highly-touted trio. The GMs in charge of each team must continue to give their quarterback more protection and weapons if they want to see them reach their full potential. The task ahead for each team isn’t identical. What’s best for Burrow isn’t necessarily the ideal solution for a problem facing Tagovailoa.
This piece will take stock of what each potential franchise needs to do to set their young quarterback up for maximum success. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick arguably needs the most help of the group.
The Bengals must protect Burrow
Cincinnati knew their offensive line wasn’t perfecting heading into the season, but the group has failed to live up to even those modest expectations. The fact that Burrow has already been sacked 32 times on the campaign makes it clear that an offseason overhaul is necessary.
Jonah Williams hasn’t been good at left tackle, but there’s at least some hope that he can grow into a quality starter. After all, he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. Every other position on the line should be eligible for an offseason upgrade.
Bobby Hart has been a disaster at right tackle. That spot should be the Bengals’ top priority in the offseason. Whether they fill the void via free agency or the draft is a question of value. It’s imperative they find a player capable of replacing Hart in the starting lineup immediately.
Adding at least one upgrade in the interior of the line would also be a welcome addition. The center position might be the biggest need on the inside. That won’t require a premium asset, but it’s still something Cincinnati must address.
The good news for the Bengals is that their skill positions are well-stocked with talent. This offseason might be the right time to replace A.J. Green, but that’s more of a want, rather than a need. Cincinnati’s front office only needs to focus on overhauling the offensive line to give BUrrow what he needs to take a big step forward in year 2.
Tua needs another star
Tagovailoa has been a pleasant surprise for the Dolphins since taking over for Ryan Fitzpatrick. No one really expected him to be undefeated in his first three starts. It’s worth pointing out that Miami isn’t asking him to do too much though. They’ve yet to really take the training wheels off of Tua.
Brian Flores may never sanction a wide-open offense, but even he would like to be a little more adventurous. To do so, he needs more explosive players to work with. DeVante Parker gives the offense one perimeter weapon to work with, but the rest of the receiving group is pretty ordinary.
That’s why Miami’s offseason priority will be to find Tagovailoa a dangerous playmaker to grow up with. Acquiring an explosive player to man the slot position could really accelerate Tagovailoa’s development. Don’t expect the Dolphins to swing a big deal for a star, but using an early pick for a playmaker in the slot would provide the team excellent value.
Justin Herbert needs a new coach
Herbert is only 1-7 as a starter, but he’s still exceeded even the most ambitious expectations the Chargers front office might have had for his rookie campaign. The biggest thing holding his development back is the presence of Anthony Lynn as the team’s head coach.
Lynn seems to have a lot of support inside the locker room, but it’s time for the team’s front office to make the tough decision. He simply isn’t capable of getting this team over the hump. More specifically, his lack of offensive creativity is holding Herbert’s development back.
The Chargers need to arm their young quarterback with an offensive guru to grow up with in the NFL. Once they do that, the team’s ceiling will dramatically increase. It’s likely that Los Angeles will finally pull the trigger this offseason.
That coaching change doesn’t necessarily need to initiate a period of roster upheaval for the Chargers. The team has enough talent to be a playoff contender with a few subtle tweaks. Herbert needs a new scheme to utilize instead of new offensive lineman or wide receivers. He might actually be the quarterback in the best situation heading into 2021 if the Chargers nail their head coaching hire.
The outlook for all three quarterbacks is bright
The good news for fans of good football is that all three signal-callers are experiencing a healthy amount of early success.
Neither Burrow nor Herbert are enjoying any meaningful team success, but they both look like quality quarterbacks in spite of the chaos swirling around them. Tagovailoa is piloting his team to wins, but the Dolphins coaching staff aren’t asking him to shoulder much responsibility right now.
That means the Bengals, Dolphins, and Chargers can all move into the offseason with complete comfort in their future at quarterback. That’s a luxury for each of the three teams. They all have plenty of work to do, but at least they all know they have the most important position in football taken care of. That lowers the degree of difficulty for each franchise moving forward.
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