Fu­ture of some coaches tied to strug­gling QBs

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Sports - From Mi­ami Herald Wire Ser­vices

When things go sour, an NFL team’s fan base often points to two peo­ple: the guy call­ing plays on the side­line, and the man be­hind cen­ter try­ing to ex­e­cute them.

As we get deeper into the 2018 sched­ule, the fu­tures of some coaches could be tied to how their quar­ter­backs have strug­gled — or out­right flopped.

Doug Mar­rone and Blake Bor­tles in Jack­sonville? Per­haps.

Vance Joseph and Case Keenum in Den­ver? Pos­si­bly.

John Har­baugh and Joe Flacco? Could be.

Then again, each of those coaches could keep their jobs and have new QBs in 2019. And we know Jon Gru­den isn’t go­ing any­where in Oak­land, though Derek Carr might head else­where.

Nor is Pat Shur­mur, de­spite a dis­cour­ag­ing first year in the Jer­sey Mead­ow­lands, likely to leave the

Big Ap­ple. But the sta­tus of a 37-year-old Eli Man­ning is in more doubt.

It would be a sur­prise to see Adam Gase out in Mi­ami. Con­sid­er­ing how much he has been out of the lineup in his seven-year ca­reer, it would not be a stun­ner to see Ryan Tan­nehill de­part the Dol­phins.

Let’s take a look:

NEW YORK

Man­ning is not a washed-up has-been. His arm re­mains strong, his knowl­edge of the game is ir­re­place­able, and he has three en­vi­able op­tions in Odell Beck­ham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Evan En­gram.

What he doesn’t have is any­one who can block with any reg­u­lar­ity. Man­ning is about as mo­bile as Shur­mur, maybe less so, and when he doesn’t get the nec­es­sary time to set him­self, he’s not likely to find a com­fort­able place to throw.

Yes, it’s time for the Gi­ants to look for a re­place­ment, but not nec­es­sar­ily some­one to take over next year. How about fi­nally im­prov­ing per­haps the worst of­fen­sive line in the league and see­ing what Man­ning can do be­hind it?

Oth­er­wise, Carr could wind up an op­tion as Gru­den keeps wheel­ing and deal­ing.

DEN­VER

Keenum has an­other year to go on the deal he par­layed his best ca­reer sea­son (in Min­nesota) to get with QB-des­per­ate Den­ver. Cut­ting him will cost a $10 mil­lion cap hit, so un­less John El­way can work a trade for that pro­hib­i­tive con­tract, Keenum fig­ures to be back with the Bron­cos.

The cup­board is bare be­hind him, es­pe­cially af­ter Chad Kelly got him­self ar­rested and then re­leased. Plus, Keenum once again has had to learn a new of­fense, and he has had some knee is­sues.

El­way could be en­ticed to add a vet­eran who has won a Su­per Bowl, as he did with Pey­ton Man­ning (did some­one say Flacco?), but only if he can deal Keenum.

BAL­TI­MORE

Flacco, who’s had a bet­ter (but not great) sea­son than in re­cent years, is both­ered by a hip in­jury. And his even­tual re­place­ment, La­mar Jack­son, was cho­sen in the first round of April’s draft.

The mas­sive con­tract Flacco earned af­ter win­ning the 2012 cham­pi­onship as Su­per Bowl MVP was ex­tended in 2016 and he is signed through 2021. But the Ravens can open up $10.5 mil­lion in salary cap space by re­leas­ing Flacco, 33, af­ter the sea­son, with a po­ten­tial sav­ings of $18.5 mil­lion if they des­ig­nate him as cut af­ter June 1, which would dam­age his value else­where.

He won’t com­mand the same kind of money on the open mar­ket, but he will com­mand at­ten­tion for his strong arm, solid lead­er­ship, will­ing­ness to play hurt, and, well, a pedi­gree that rarely reaches free agency with a few good years left.

MI­AMI

Brock Osweiler is the 19th starter since Dan Marino ended his Hall of Fame ca­reer. None has been a star, though Chad Pen­ning­ton could have been had his shoul­der not been so brit­tle.

Gase would seem to be tied to Tan­nehill, who has played in five games this year, none last sea­son, be­cause of in­juries. When healthy, Tan­nehill helped get the Dol­phins to the play­offs as a wild card in 2016, Gase’s first year in Mi­ami.

Then he was in­jured for the post­sea­son.

Gase has been some­thing of a QB guru in other stops, so a young guy who can stay in the lineup might be ap­peal­ing. Or maybe a 20-some­thing need­ing a change of scenery such as Jameis Win­ston or Bor­tles.

Gase in Mi­ami cer­tainly would like a QB who can

get on the field reg­u­larly.

TAMPA BAY

Per­haps the most puz­zling case of all be­cause Win­ston, the top pick in the 2015 draft, should be a slam dunk as the fu­ture. He isn’t.

Win­ston is due $20.9 mil­lion next sea­son, the fi­nal year of his rookie deal. That’s way more than he is worth, and though the Bucs picked up his fifthyear op­tion, they could re­lease him in ’19 and not owe him any­thing; 2019 is guar­an­teed only in case of in­jury, which is why some spec­u­late Win­ston may not play again this year.

He comes with lots of tal­ent, but still lacks ma­tu­rity. He has had off-field is­sues and was sus­pended for the first three games this sea­son.

Do the Bucs want to start over at the po­si­tion, know­ing Win­ston’s po­ten­tial re­mains sky high?

JACK­SONVILLE

Con­vinced af­ter com­ing oh-so-close to mak­ing the Su­per Bowl that Bor­tles could be their fran­chise guy, the Jaguars signed him to a three-year, $54 mil­lion con­tract that in- cludes a $16 mil­lion salary in 2019. So there would be $16.5 mil­lion in dead money if he is cut.

And, like Keenum, the num­bers for a trade likely are pro­hib­i­tive.

But folks in Jack­sonville be­lieve, de­spite the cur­rent 3-6 mark, that the Jags are built to win soon. Maybe not with the strug­gling Bor­tles, how­ever.

The his­tory team boss Tom Cough­lin has with Man­ning adds some in­trigue, but a move for a vet­eran to re­place Bor­tles might tar­get some­one younger and more mo­bile.

OAK­LAND

Gru­den has pub­licly backed Carr, but it’s dif­fi­cult to gauge if that sup­port is strong or even real. Given his maneuvers to redo the Raiders, it ap­pears with Gru­den no one is safe.

Gru­den would love to find a Rich Gan­non clone, maybe a Flacco or even a Nick Foles. And cut­ting Carr would cre­ate only $7.5 mil­lion in dead money, hardly pro­hib­i­tive.

Then again, Gru­den has three first-round se­lec­tions in the 2019 draft. Us­ing one on a quar­ter­back makes a lot of sense.

SETH WENIG AP

Eli Man­ning and the New York Gi­ants are strug­gling, but his of­fen­sive line needs an se­ri­ous up­grade.

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