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One pressing quarterback question for each of the 32 NFL teams entering the 2021 season

One pressing quarterback question for each of the 32 NFL teams entering the 2021 season

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With training camp and the preseason in the books, clarity has come to many teams’ quarterback situations. Now, the focus turns to the regular season, which kicks off next week.

However, there are a good deal of unknowns, even for teams with some of the most proven quarterbacks.

From the seemingly most stable situation in Tampa all the way down to the most shaky of the turmoil-filled Houston Texans, here’s a look at the pressing question hanging over every quarterback situation in the league.

OPINION: Ryan Fitzpatrick signing among NFL offseason’s biggest potential mistakes

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  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady and his entire supporting cast of starters return in Tampa Bay. But Father Time remains undefeated. Can the GOAT, now 44, remain on top and pull off the second title repeat of his career?

  • Kansas City Chiefs According to Next Gen Stats, Patrick Mahomes ran for nearly 500 yards behind the line of scrimmage while trying to evade pass rushers in Kansas City’s Super Bowl defeat in February. After a busy offseason in which the team remade its offensive line, have the Chiefs given him adequate enough protection to again contend for the Lombardi Trophy?

  • Green Bay PackersCan Aaron Rodgers block out the tumult thoroughly enough to lead the Packers to a Super Bowl in what could be his final season in Green Bay?

  • Baltimore RavensWhat kind of a leap will Lamar Jackson make as a passer after Baltimore upgraded its receiving corps this offseason? And will a slow start to camp caused by his COVID-19 quarantine come back to haunt him?

  • San Francisco 49ers — How will Kyle Shanahan handle a timeshare quarterback situation with Jimmy Garoppolo and promising rookie Trey Lance?

  • Buffalo Bills — Josh Allen led Buffalo to its first playoff win since 1995 and then got paid handsomely with a six-year, $258 million contract extension. Now can he build on last year’s MVP runner-up campaign and take the Bills further?

  • Seattle Seahawks — Will a new offense equip Russell Wilson for greater success and help resolve his dissatisfaction with the franchise?

  • Cleveland Browns — Can Baker Mayfield join the ranks of the elite after serving primarily as an up-and-down game manager for the bulk of his career? Can he and the Browns handle the weight of expectations following their first playoff victory in 26 years?

  • Los Angeles Rams — Can Matthew Stafford deliver as the difference-making upgrade over Jared Goff that Sean McVay is counting on him to be?

  • Tennessee Titans Ryan Tannehill has a new offensive coordinator and an additional weapon in Julio Jones. But can he put the Titans over the top in the playoffs, and will he get the defensive help required to do so?

  • Pittsburgh Steelers After an 11-0 start, Ben Roethlisberger hit the wall last season. Does he have enough left in the tank to make the Steelers legitimate contenders once more?

  • Los Angeles Chargers — Can Justin Herbert build on an impressive rookie season despite having to start over with a new coach and offensive coordinator?

  • Dallas Cowboys — Can Dak Prescott stay healthy enough to prove he’s the elite and winning quarterback he claimed to be leading up to the signing of his $160 million deal?

  • Arizona Cardinals — Can Kyler Murray be effective enough to make the Cardinals a factor in a very competitive NFC West?

  • Miami Dolphins — Can Tua Tagovailoa respond in this high-pressure situation and dispel doubts over whether he can be the guy?

  • Washington Football Team — Can Ryan Fitzpatrick deliver a full high-level season, or will he fall off after a hot start, which has been customary for the soon-to-be 39-year-old, and force Ron Rivera to turn to Taylor Heinicke to keep Washington’s playoff hopes alive?

  • Las Vegas Raiders — Derek Carr’s numbers have steadily improved in each of his three seasons under Jon Gruden. He’s playing with improved confidence, the Raiders say. But is he capable of at last leading the Raiders to the playoffs in what could be a make-or-break year?

  • Indianapolis Colts — Can Carson Wentz shake off the foot injury and whatever else ailed him in Philadelphia to resurrect his career and help Frank Reich and the Colts challenge for the division?

  • New England Patriots — Can Mac Jones do his best young Brady impersonation and help the Patriots return to the playoffs?

  • New Orleans Saints — Can Jameis Winston cure his interception-prone woes and give the Saints a chance to remain competitive with Drew Brees now retired?

  • Minnesota Vikings — Kirk Cousins’ clutch moments have been few and far between. Can he finally deliver on the promise the Vikings saw in him when they gave him a fully guaranteed deal three years ago?

  • Chicago Bears — Can Andy Dalton play well enough to keep Justin Fields on the bench, or will a stumble out of the gates prompt hot-seat coach Matt Nagy to turn to the rookie in an attempt to save his job?

  • Atlanta Falcons — Can creative rookie head coach Arthur Smith and rookie tight end Kyle Pitts help rejuvenate Matt Ryan and the downtrodden Falcons?

  • Denver Broncos — Many believe the Broncos are a quarterback away from contending. Is Teddy Bridgewater the answer or simply yet another bridge option for a team on its fifth different Week 1 starting signal-caller in as many years?

  • Carolina Panthers — Will a change of scenery and more competent coaching staff help Sam Darnold live up to his potential after three forgettable years in New York?

  • Philadelphia Eagles — Is Jalen Hurts a high-level starter? The Eagles had more confidence in the second-year pro’s potential than they did in Carson Wentz’s ability to set things right. Now first-year head coach Nick Sirianni and the Eagles brass are about to find out if they were right. If not, they have Gardner Minshew on standby and potentially three first-round picks in 2022 to use on a franchise passer.

  • Detroit Lions — Can Jared Goff prove that the Rams got it wrong and give the rebooting Lions some of the same play-making abilities he displayed in 2018 while helping L.A. reach the Super Bowl?

  • Jacksonville Jaguars — Trevor Lawrence appears to have all the tools, but is Urban Meyer knowledgeable enough about the pro game to position the first overall pick for success?

  • New York Jets — Leading up to the draft, Zach Wilson was billed as a player with an Aaron Rodgers-like skillset. Can he live up to expectations as the Jets hit the reset button once again?

  • Cincinnati Bengals — As Joe Burrow returns from last year’s season-ending knee injury, will Zac Taylor do a better job of protecting his prized franchise quarterback?

  • New York Giants — Will the healthy return of Saquon Barkley lighten Daniel Jones’ load and help the third-year quarterback cut down on his turnover woes and inconsistencies and develop into a quality starter?

  • Houston Texans — How much longer is the Deshaun Watson mess going to hang over this franchise? In the meantime, can Tyrod Taylor lead this team toward respectability amid David Culley and Nick Caserio’s efforts?

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