CBS Sports NFL analyst Steve Beuerlein dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss several tenuous quarterback situations from around the league, starting in Denver.
Mark Sanchez, in theory, should have a hammerlock on the position given that his chief competition is Trevor Siemian, but Sanchez can’t get out of his own way. He’s thrown numerous pick-sixes in practice, which have drawn the ire of head coach Gary Kubiak.
If Sanchez, 29, can’t win the starting job in Denver, he might not win it anywhere.
“Let’s be honest: This is the best opportunity he could ever hope for,” Beuerlein said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “If you’re a quarterback in the league, you would rank being quarterback of the Denver Broncos in that offense – and with that defense they’ve got around them – every quarterback in the league would rank that as one of their top-three choices. I guarantee you. And most would probably say (it’s their first choice) – because they know the pressure is not going to be on them to put up the huge numbers and carry the ball club every week. Mark Sanchez better learn real quick that that is going to end his opportunity very, very quickly if he doesn’t get (the turnovers) under control.”
Blaine Gabbert, meanwhile, appears to have taken the reins in San Francisco, but Colin Kaepernick remains a tantalizing possibility in Chip Kelly’s offense.
“I think they’re both actually pretty good fits for the system as far as what they do and what their style of play is,” Beuerlein said. “Obviously Kaepernick is a superior athlete and maybe not as developed as a passer, and I think Gabbert has the skills to be a pretty solid passer and he’s a good athlete to be able to run some of that read-option as well. But to be honest with you, I don’t think that either one of those guys is a guy that really is allowing Chip Kelly to sleep easy at night. You got two guys that are complete question marks in my opinion. If you’re counting on Blaine Gabbert to be your quarterback on a pretty average football team all the way around, you’re very, very uneasy about that prospect.
“You need a great quarterback to make an average team a competitive team down the stretch at the end of the season,” Beuerlein continued. “Kaepernick, I think, has that ability, but his confidence is shot right now. He’s got to have success if he’s going to be the guy, and I think that he should be the guy. He was one play away from winning a Super Bowl, so he’s shown he can do it at a very high level. The question is can he get himself back in the state of mind with the confidence he needs to play at that level? I don’t know if he has the ability to do that.”
Beuerlein sees several similarities between Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, who hopes that a change of scenery will resurrect his career.
“Both of these guys came out and had tremendous success their first year as a starting quarterback in the league,” Beuerlein said. “The problem – if there’s not a maturity that you find in a lot of great quarterbacks – (is you have) to understand that you never really have this game figured out. (Even if) you have one great year, you need to come back the next year and work even harder to step your game up to the next level. I think RG3 and Colin Kaepernick fell into that trap of feeling like they had it all figured out and they didn’t have to work so hard anymore. They came in that second year and teams were more prepared for them and what they like to do. They took away the things they were comfortable with, and all of a sudden they’re getting punched in the mouth and they start losing that confidence a little bit and we see what happens.”
Still, Beuerlein believes that RG3 is primed for a successful season in Cleveland.
“I think this is an absolutely perfect scenario for him,” he said. “With Hue Jackson (hired as head coach), sitting out last year and going through what he went through and reestablishing his own focus and priorities, I really expect him to come out and play well this year.”