Which Former Tide QB Will Have the Best 2023 Season?
One of the only criticisms of the early Saban dynasty was that Alabama didn't produce NFL quarterbacks. Teams relied on elite defense and a dominant run game, often employing "game manager" style QBs.
That myth is now old and debunked, as for years now Alabama has churned out NFL starters. Just ask the Patriots, Eagles, and Dolphins. With Bryce Young set to join the league after this season, the three current Tide quarterbacks find themselves in differing circumstances. Which is poised to have the best 2023 campaign though?
Mac Jones has gotten off to one of the better starts a quarterback has had in their rookie season. Landing in perhaps the perfect spot, a Patriots team looking for their next franchise player, expectations were somewhat high. Jones delivered, winning the hearts of the team and fans, putting up very solid numbers along the way. He finished second in offensive rookie of the year voting only to breakout star Jamarr Chase.
With Bill Belichick crafting a gameplan to let the young player develop, Jones showed he has what it takes to grow into the star the Patriots want him to be. A great defense and very solid rushing attack helped take pressure off Jones so he was able to focus on the fundamentals of becoming an NFL starter, at one point seemingly doubtful when he was buried on the depth chart at Alabama. Making the playoffs in his first season is a big accomplishment, and it shouldn't be the last time he does so.
The Patriots receiving core leaves much to be desired. The addition of DeVante Parker should help, but they still have one of the weaker units in the league. Jones will improve with training and experience though, and I'd expect his stats to reflect this.
The Patriots now find themselves fighting in a division with not only a possibly best-in-the-league Bills team, but a stronger Dolphins team. It seems Jones is poised to elevate his game this season, but it might be smart to pump the brakes on this Patriots team as a whole. Record prediction: 9-8.
The Philadelphia Eagles have made it clear this is a make-or-break year for incumbent starting QB Jalen Hurts. They have made smart acquisitions, surrounding him with an overall solid team in about every category. Expect them to contend for an NFC East championship.
Hurts has proven to be a great fantasy football player through his first season and a half as a starter, and expectations are even higher this season. His play as a franchise and playoff QB have left a little to be desired however, and his ceiling might be lower than what the Eagles want.
This is the season they will base either letting him go or signing him for the long haul on. With an improving supporting cast, including stud WR A.J. Brown, I would expect Hurts to deliver and potentially make noise in a weaker NFC. Record prediction: 11-6.
Tua Tagovailoa has been hated on possibly more than any other QB in recent history, and somewhat undeservedly. His play hasn't quite been up to his 5th overall drafting spot, but it hasn't been that bad either. A reluctance to throw the deep ball has given casual NFL fans and haters the green light to label him as having a noodle arm, something that lets others know they obviously never watched him in college.
Having made more strides to come back from an almost career-ending hip injury at Mississippi State, his movement and rotation seems to have improved this offseason. This should hopefully translate to the type of laser guided bombs Alabama fans were used to seeing from him week after week. He'll need all the arm strength he has, as the Dolphins made headlines by acquiring possibly the best deep ball receiver in NFL history, Tyreek Hill. Joining Tagovailoa's college target and fellow deep threat Jaylen Waddle, Miami has one of the best receiver tandems in the league.
A new coach and improved roster has raised expectations for Tagovailoa. With improvements in many position groups, including offensive line, the organization seems to be considering this a make-or-break year for the young quarterback. The timing couldn't be better though, as this looks like it could be Tagovailoa's best year yet, given his experience and health.
A new head coach and play-caller in Mike McDaniel will allow this team to thrive, and maybe surpass expectations. McDaniel proved himself to be one of the top play-callers in the NFL while on the 49ers, and this alone might pay dividends to a team looking to reach playoff success.
The third year quarterback and the rest of this somewhat loaded team deliver, and Tagovailoa quiets the haters this season. The Dolphins are a dark horse team to make a deep playoff run. Record prediction: 12-5.