It wouldn’t be the NFL if there weren’t plenty of surprise performances, especially from the quarterback position. No position receives more critiquing, and so when a quarterback surpasses expectations, it’s clear to everyone. Here are the five quarterbacks we think will surpass preseason expectations during the 2020 season.
Joe Burrow, Bengals
While he was the first overall pick in the draft, expectations should be a little tempered for Burrow, who joins a 2-14 team. However, the team around Burrow is a lot more impressive than the one around Andy Dalton last year. A.J. Green is back from injury, shifting Tyler Boyd back to the no. 2 receiver position.
If John Ross can stay healthy, he showed flashes of being a difference-maker last season. The Bengals also drafted Tee Higgins. With Joe Mixon in the backfield, Burrow has an excellent set of skill players around him that could help him succeed right off the bat.
Teddy Bridgwater, Panthers
It’s awfully difficult to know what to make of Bridgewater, who hasn’t been a full-time starter since 2015, which was before his devastating knee injury. But he was solid in five starts when Drew Brees was hurt last year, throwing nine touchdowns to just two interceptions.
Meanwhile, expectations in Carolina are super-low with both Brees and Tom Brady in the NFC South. That being said, Bridgewater will be able to lean on Christian McCaffrey a lot. Also, DJ Moore is a blossoming star and Robby Anderson was an overlooked acquisition. Bridgewater is in a better position than people realize to have a good season and at least give the Panthers a chance to go 8-8.
Derek Carr, Raiders
Carr wasn’t that bad last season, especially considering the supporting cast around him. He threw for a career-high in yards and yards per attempt while also competing over 70% of his passes. The Raiders have a running back in Josh Jacobs who can take off some of the pressure.
Las Vegas also added Nelson Agholor and rookies Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. Carr has a lot more tools than he’s had in past years. He also proved early in his career that he can be a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback. He’ll have a chance to return to that level in 2020.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
Nobody is talking about Stafford and the Lions as a threat in the NFC North, but that could be a mistake. If he’s healthy after last year’s back injury, he’s a great candidate to win Comeback Player of the Year for the second time.
Before he was sidelined last season, Stafford had 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions. With Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola, the Lions have a nice group of receivers around him. It’s more than enough for Stafford to put together a great season if he’s healthy.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans
Yes, Tannehill is overrated based on his salary. But he’s also more than just the guy who hands the ball to Derrick Henry. He completed 70% of his passes and averaged 9.6 yards per pass over his 10 starts during the regular season in 2019.
Tannehill can be efficient and hurt teams when they focus too much on stopping Henry. He won’t live up to his new contract, but he’ll come a little closer than you might think.