NFL Week 6: QBs Who May Have Lost Their Starting Jobs

By Amber Lee
Cam Newton played like a man with something to lose.
Cam Newton played like a man with something to lose.

The starting jobs of several NFL quarterbacks were on the line going into Week 6. Of them, the only one who actively did anything to silence his detractors was Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers.

Actively being the distinction in that two of the other four may have lost their jobs while watching from the sidelines, having been forced out by injury.

Newton was phenomenal against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, going 20-of-26 passing for 242 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 143 in what was by far his best performance of the season.

It’s hard to tell if Newton will be with the Panthers long-term, as they seem to be heading toward major changes after this season. That being said, there’s no question that he’s their best option at the position through the rest of the season.

And if they don’t want Newton in Carolina next season, he won’t have any trouble finding a job with a team that will actually appreciate him and provide him with some real offensive weapons. Steve Smith does not a receiving corps make.

Matt Cassel played like a loser.
Matt Cassel played like a loser.

If Cam Newton played like a man intent on keeping his job, Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel played like a man who was eager to see what Josh Freeman—who they signed last week—could do with Minnesota’s struggling offense.

Initial reports suggested Freeman wouldn’t start for at least 2-3 weeks, giving him some time to get comfortable with the playbook. But if they’re going to lose anyway, you have to think Freeman might be in for some on-the-job training.

Cassel’s stats weren’t horrendous in the 35-10 loss, having gone 32-of-44 passing for 241 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Unfortunately the Vikings went down early against the Panthers, forcing them to play from behind the entire game.

They were down by 14 in the second quarter and down 28 by the third, which seriously limited touches by Minnesota’s superstar running back Adrian Peterson, who was playing despite the tragic loss of his son late last week.

Peterson had just 10 carries for 62 yards, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Cassel averaged just 5.5 yards per pass. There’s obviously a chance he’ll start one more week, but it’s safe to say the Vikings have seen enough of Cassel to know they’ve seen too much.

Blaine Gabbert didn't even play and he still ended up looking bad.
Blaine Gabbert didn’t even play and he still ended up looking bad.

Despite going into their game against the Denver Broncos as the biggest dog in NFL history, the Jacksonville Jaguars managed to make things interesting well into the third quarter. They still lost 35-19, but it was 12 points closer than the point spread suggested.

The fact that it was even competitive at halftime is a moral victory for the 0-6 Jags—the only victory they’ve had this season to date. And it wasn’t the beleaguered Blaine Gabbert, who’s out with a hamstring injury, behind center against the undefeated Broncos, it was the always underwhelming Chad Henne.

As expected, Henne wasn’t particularly impressive, going 27-for-42 passing for 303 yards, zero touchdowns and a couple of interceptions. But with Gabbert averaging 160 yards in his three starts this season, it could be more than enough to earn him the job.

For awhile, at least. By next season both of these guys could be off the roster.

Michael Vick has played well this year, Nick Foles played better on Sunday.
Michael Vick has played well this year, Nick Foles played better on Sunday.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick is the only guy on this list who hasn’t actively played himself (potentially) out of a job at some point this season. Aside from a poor performance against the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3, he had been very solid prior to injuring a hamstring early on against the New York Giants last week.

Going into the season there was some question as to who would be the starter in first-year coach Chip Kelly’s offense, Vick or former Arizona quarterback Nick Foles, who was selected by the Eagles No. 88 overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Despite losing six out of seven starts as a rookie, Foles had shown some promise in what was otherwise the Titanic of seasons in Philadelphia. He’s 2-0 in 2013 and had the best game of his short career against the Buccaneers, winning convincingly 31-20.

Foles was 22-of-31 passing for 296 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He was sacked just once, averaged 9.5 yards per pass and finished with a quarterback ratting of 133.

The Eagles need to see what they have in the 24-year-old Foles, who is potentially the future of the franchise, as opposed to the 33-year-old Vick, who hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2006. His two victories have come against winless teams, which is why you can bet he’ll get the start against the division rival Dallas Cowboys next week.

If Foles falls on his face against the Cowboys, Vick could find his way back to the field. If he impresses, the job is likely his moving forward.

Matt Schaub had a particularly ugly exit against the Rams.
Matt Schaub had a particularly ugly exit against the Rams.

The situation for Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub has been deteriorating for weeks now, going into the game against the St. Louis Rams having thrown an interception returned for a touchdown for an NFL record four consecutive weeks.

After a lopsided loss against the San Francisco 49ers last week, fans had gone from burning Schaub jerseys outside the stadium to showing up at his house to personally berate him. Of course, there was only one fan at his house, but it was indicative of the growing disdain.

Schaub wasn’t picked off in another lopsided loss to the Rams—this one 38-13—but he didn’t throw any touchdowns and was sacked three times. On the third sack he sustained an injury to his right foot, which forced him out of the game.

Texans fans who cheered Schaub’s injury as he was laying on the field got exactly what they deserved when backup T.J. Yates entered the game late in the third quarter and promptly threw an interception returned for a touchdown.

Right now the severity of Schaub’s injury is unknown, but considering the circumstances, he may be inclined to take his time recovering.

Be careful what you wish for Texans fans, you might just get it.