Scouting the Vikings schedule: Quarterbacks

From facing the top-rated quarterback of 2014 to one of the lowest rated, the Vikings will face a wildly divergent list of quarterbacks in 2015. We take a look at the 2014 performances of the quarterbacks the Vikings will face in 2015.

Chicago Bears: Home and Away
Jay Cutler
Last season was not a good one for Cutler, who struggled with turnovers and was even benched at one point in favor of backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Cutler recorded 370 completions on 561 attempts for 3,812 yards and 28 touchdowns. Those numbers alone would usually make for a good season, but it was the turnovers that really hurt Cutler’s season. In 2014 he threw 18 interceptions and also lost nine fumbles. Pro Football Focus gave Cutler a -17.0 rating, which made him one of the lowest rated quarterbacks in the NFL. Last offseason, the Bears gave Cutler a big contract, which will make it almost impossible for them to move him, so it appears they will be stuck with him for a few more years.

Detroit Lions: Home and Away
Matthew Stafford
After the first week of the season it appeared as though Stafford was finally going to take the next step in his development and become an elite quarterback. Things didn’t pan out that way, though, as he struggled in far more games than he played well in throughout the regular season. He recorded 363 completions on 602 attempts for 4,257 yards and 22 touchdowns. Even though he threw for more than 4,000 yards for the third season in a row, he turned the ball over more than a star quarterback should. He totaled 12 interceptions and also lost six fumbles – the most of his career in a single season. At the end of his sixth regular season, PFF gave Stafford a -7.1 rating, which put him in the bottom half of the league.

Green Bay Packers: Home and Away
Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers continued to improve his Hall of Fame résumé during the 2014 regular season, as he recorded 341 completions on 520 attempts for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns. He was also able to minimize the mistakes, throwing only five interceptions and losing seven fumbles. He received a 40.4 rating from PFF, which made him the top-rated quarterback in the NFL. Since taking over as the starting quarterback in Green Bay, Rodgers has been able to produce at a high level and nothing should change that in the coming years. One thing that could hurt his play some is that he might lose one of his starting wide receivers – Randall Cobb is a free agent this offseason, but Rodgers has dealt with that problem before and has always been able to overcome it.

Seattle Seahawks: Home
Russell Wilson
For the second year in a row, Wilson was able to lead his team to the Super Bowl. He might not have been the best passer over the course of the regular season, as he recorded 285 completions on 452 attempts for 3,475 yards and 20 touchdowns, but where he really made an impact was in his ability to scramble. During the regular season Wilson ran the ball 118 times for 849 yards and six touchdowns. Another strength of Wilson’s since he first entered the league has been his decision-making and ability to avoid turnovers, despite his costly Super Bowl interception. During the regular season, he threw just seven interceptions and lost six fumbles.

Arizona Cardinals: Away
Carson Palmer
The Cardinals were forced to shuffle around quarterbacks throughout the entire 2014 regular season. A big part for that is because Palmer was only able to play in 426 offensive snaps throughout the course of the regular season because of recurring injuries. After being forced to miss Weeks 2-5, Palmer attempted to come back but was injured once again in Week 11 and was forced to miss the remainder of the Cardinals’ games. He recorded 141 completions on 224 attempts for 1,626 yards and 11 touchdowns, adding three interceptions and lost one fumble. At the age of 35, Palmer may not have too many years left to play, but he should be good to go in 2015 as long as he can remain healthy.

St. Louis Rams: Home
Sam Bradford
Since Bradford entered the NFL as the first overall draft pick in 2010, but he has had to deal with injuries. In his five seasons as the Rams’ starter, he only played in all 16 games twice, and last year was forced to sit out the entire regular season when he injured his knee before the season even began. Bradford is expected to make $16.58 million, and the Rams are hoping to renegotiate and bring him back for cheaper. Not only will the Rams have to make big decisions on Bradford and his contract, but also in regards to his backups as both Austin Davis and Shaun Hill are up for free agency this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers: Away
Colin Kaepernick
Since Kaepernick first took over the starting job as the 49ers quarterback in 2012, he has proven to be one of the NFL’s most dynamic quarterbacks. He has the ability to beat his opponents with both his legs and his arm, but he has suffered from inconsistent play. Last season he was given a positive rating by PFF in eight games, but was also given a negative rating in the other eight games. At the end of the season he received a -10.2 overall rating, which put him in the bottom half of the NFL quarterbacks. Kaepernick is still a young player, only 27 years old, and if he can figure out a way to play more consistently he will cause his opponents headaches week in and week out.

Kansas City Chiefs: Home
Alex Smith
Smith first entered the league as the first overall draft pick by the 49ers in the 2005 draft, and after he struggled the first few years of his career he was ultimately able to turn things around. Now he is one of the more consistent quarterbacks in the NFL, even if he is not considered to be elite. In his second season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, he recorded 303 completions on 464 attempts for 3,265 yards and 18 touchdowns. Through the course of the season he turned the ball over nine times – six interceptions and three fumbles.

Denver Broncos: Away
Peyton Manning
Last year was Manning’s 17th season in the NFL and there aren’t many players who get to play in the league for that long. This offseason, there has been a lot of speculation on whether or not Manning will retire, but as things go he seems to be leaning on returning. The decision that Manning makes could affect the decisions of other players, too, on whether or not they wish to return to the team. In 2014, Manning recorded 395 completions on 597 for 4,727 yards and 39 touchdowns while also turning the ball over 17 times – 15 interceptions and two fumbles, lead to a 10.1 overall rating from PFF. After the first half of the season it seemed as though that number was going to be higher, but he struggled late in the season.

San Diego Chargers: Home
Philip Rivers
Rivers was quite possibly the best quarterback in the first half of the season, but struggled more down the stretch. He recorded 379 completions on 570 attempts for 4,286 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also had 22 turnovers – 18 interceptions and four fumbles. Through the first seven games of the season Rivers had thrown just three interceptions, but after that he threw at least one interception in eight of the final nine games. PFF gave Rivers a 13.7 rating, which made him the seventh-rated quarterback in the NFL. At the age of 33, Rivers is in the second half of his career but still should have multiple years left where he can perform at a high level.

Oakland Raiders: Away
Derek Carr
The Raiders drafted Carr out of Fresno State in the second round. Even though there were three quarterbacks drafted before him, he was still the first one to play when he earned the starting job for Week 1. He recorded 348 completions on 599 attempts for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also recorded 16 turnovers – 12 interceptions and four fumbles. PFF gave Carr a -32.6 rating, which was the second lowest among quarterbacks in the NFL. As Carr continues to gain more experience, his performance should continue to improve and he would be greatly helped if the Raiders were to bring in more offensive weapons for him during the offseason.

New York Giants: Home
Eli Manning
Manning played in 1,136 offensive snaps during the course of the 2014 regular season, which was the second-most played by any quarterback – Drew Brees played in 1,158 offensive snaps. His 11th season in the NFL was an inconsistent one to say the least. He registered 379 completions on 601 attempts for 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also recorded 21 turnovers – 14 interceptions and seven fumbles. Manning will be 35 years old during the 2015 season and questions on how much longer he can produce at a high level will likely begin to surface. If he is anything like his brother Peyton, though, he should still be able to play for a few more years.

Atlanta Falcons: Away
Matt Ryan
Since Ryan first entered the NFL when the Falcons selected him out of Boston College in the first round of the 2008 draft, he has been considered one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. He recorded 415 completions on 628 attempts for 4,694 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2014, but also had 14 interceptions and four fumbles. It was the fourth year in a row that Ryan threw for over 4,000 yards. PFF gave Ryan a rating of 20.3, which made him the fifth-rated quarterback in the NFL by those grading standards.

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