The next star QB has already arrived onto the scene but still has some work to do. As good as Andrew Luck was last season, he still has plenty of room for improvement. For starters, he could take better care of the ball instead of falling back to some immature erratic tendencies. It all comes with playing time, being in those high-pressure situations, and those very moments where you see your capabilities mesh with the speed of the game.
Luck is my pick to win the Most Valuable Player Award this season. I’m not a fan of the guys up front, but I am well aware that Roethlisberger and Rodgers didn’t win their rings with the best O-lines. The Colts are loaded offensively, and although it helps to play in one of the weaker divisions, Luck led Indy to a pair of playoff victories. One of them came against his predecessor, Peyton Manning. Is Luck going to be at his peak in 2015? I still say no, but he will play at a MVP level as he continues to mature and that’s the scary yet special thing about him.
I have Big Ben finishing second in the MVP voting at the end of the season. The guy has always been the 5th elite quarterback in my book, right there with the most mentioned names: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Roethlisberger has the best target in all of football in Antonio Brown. Markus Wheaton may just be another guy, but he could be an elite third receiver in the league when Martavis Bryant returns from suspension. Remember, Bryant was a playmaker as a rookie.
Not to forget Le’Veon Bell’s impact in the passing game, or Heath Miller who continues to be the veteran safety valve. I think we’ll see more consistency from this offense and they’re led by a tough guy that already has some bling. In fact, I have Pittsburgh winning the AFC en route to a Super Bowl appearance. They snagged the AFC North a year ago but that bad taste remains from losing to the rival Ravens in their lone postseason game. It usually feels like he has something to prove, so making a deep playoff run should boost his stature among the elite.
Really, what is Matt Ryan bouncing back from? Julio Jones had a healthy campaign, but you can’t say the same for the offensive line that already lacked in talent to begin with. The running game was non-existent, no offense to Steven Jackson. Roddy White had a good run as a top receiver for awhile, even if he was relatively underrated. LEonard Hankerson was a smart move for Atlanta to insert as not only the third wide out, but perhaps the eventual #2. Ryan had no choice but to steer the offense by throwing for elite yardage and doubling his picks with scores.
Ryan has had a clutch gene since coming into the league, yet he still gets bagged on and isn’t considered a consensus top QB. Before the Falcons came down crashing, they were a postseason mainstay that even clinched a bye. I would be surprised if you could name any of his linemen, or a couple of players on Atlanta’s weak defense. All the holes may not be filled, but they have transformed the backfield into a position of youth while adding a tight end that can actually be a passing option in Jacob Tamme. He is far from the problem and should get a boost by facing the easiest slate of games of any team.
Let me get straight to the point with Ryan Tannehill, he deserved his extension because he’s improved ny the season. It really is simple as that for his situation in Miami. Last season was a career year all across the board. Entering year four, Tannehill is surrounded with the best supporting cast of his young career. Any concerns you may have about his deep ball is valid, but like I said, he has statistically improved and gets my benefit of the doubt based on the eye test. The eye test is just as important and his offensive coaches come from elite NFC teams.
The goal for the Dolphins is to surpass .500 to make a playoff push. If there is any team in the AFC East that could contend with New England, I would choose this team and Tannehill’s progress is crucial to their success. He’s got a lot of options to throw to now, and they all have different roles with different ways to be utilized. Tannehill’s history as a wide receiver explains his mobility and it will forever help him with timing. This is a leap year for him as he has his sights on the first playoff berth of his career, which will naturally, rekindle some memories and premature comparisons to the Dan Marino era.