This list was fun to put together. There's a couple of rules I went by when I put this together. I only considered quarterbacks that played last year (no rookies), and I did take experience in the NFL into account. Finally, if I considered people that started last year and had a chance of starting again in 2012. Basically, I was ranking these guys based on the order I would pick them to be on my team. With that, let's get right to it.
5th worst starting quarterback: Colt McCoy
McCoy had a rough time in Cleveland last year, completing only 57.2% of his passes. While he was able to increase the number of touchdowns he threw compared to his rookie season, there was no discernible step forward for McCoy. The Browns showed their confidence in him by drafting Brandon Weeden in the first round of this year's draft.
4th worst starting quarterback: Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford may have been the biggest disappointment in the NFL in 2011. He only played in 10 games last year, and when he was in the game, he was completely ineffective. I'll acknowledge that he didn't have many solid players around him, but he never showed any of the skill and leadership that he routinely displayed at Oklahoma. Frankly, I'm not sure the Rams have done nearly enough to help him get any better in 2012.
3rd worst starting quarterback: Blaine Gabbert
Statistically, Blaine Gabbert had an awful year, but he did something most of the guys on this list didn't do. He showed progression. Even so, he wasn't a very good quarterback at any point in 2011, but he was also working with the league's worst group of receivers, which may have saved him from this list's top spot. He's another guy that has to show a lot of development to keep his job in 2012.
2nd worst starting quarterback: Christian Ponder
Yes folks, I put Ponder one slot below Gabbert on this list. The reason is that Ponder, unlike Gabbert, appeared to regress as the season wore on. The game looked entirely too big and fast for him, and his offense was unable to help him out. Another factor in putting him one spot behind Gabbert was that he was throwing to more talented receivers. There's no reason Ponder shouldn't have gotten better throughout the season, but he didn't do that.
NFL's worst starting quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson
To wrap up this list, I declare that Tarvaris Jackson is the NFL's worst starting quarterback. Jackson has been in the NFL since 2006, and he was only able to look like a mediocre quarterback at the best of times in 2011. More often than not, he was the cause of costly turnovers that ultimately doomed the Seahawks. With a better option at QB, I think the Seahawks would have pulled out a wildcard playoff spot.
Note on Tim Tebow's exclusion: Most of you that frequent this blog know that I don't think Tim Tebow is a very good quarterback -- at all. Last year, he had the lowest completion percentage in the NFL. He did one thing, however, that I couldn't ignore that kept him off this dubious list. He won games, lots of them. The fact that he was able to get his team to the playoffs (with a lot of help from his defense) and win there saved him.
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