Analyzing Quarterbacks: AFC

Analyzing NFL Quarterbacks: AFC Edition

The fates of the AFC's teams will rest on these men.

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The AFC looks to be lopsided for the 2018 NFL season as it usually is, largely in part to the conference's quarterbacks. There is simply not as much parity in this conference as there is in the NFC. Regardless, there is a lot of variety here, from the seemingly ageless Tom Brady to greenhorns like Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. In addition, there are a few quarterbacks from injuries that rendered them unable to play last year like Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck. They will have the most to prove this year. How will the AFC's signal-callers fare this upcoming season?

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

The rookie out of Wyoming possesses a cannon for an arm, but there are concerns about his accuracy. Buffalo drafted Allen to improve its lackluster passing attack, so their fate this season will likely fall on him.

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Another rookie QB, Darnold was a flashy prospect at USC and clearly possesses incredible talent. He was turnover-happy in his final season in college, but if he can figure everything out, Darnold could be something special.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots

Considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time, Brady is still consistently great entering age 41. New England's offense has an abundance of question marks this season, but Brady has faced this situation before and will likely conquer it again.

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

This will be a make-or-break year for Tannehill. Coming off a torn ACL, the seventh-year veteran must prove that he can be a formidable QB with new pieces around him.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

This season is crucial for Flacco. Baltimore has missed the playoffs for the past three years and the team drafted Louisville star Lamar Jackson to be his possible heir apparent. This may be Flacco's last chance to prove himself not just to the Ravens, but to the NFL.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

Roethlisberger can still sling the ball in his mid-30s and has perhaps the most talented roster of skill players around him. He has stated that he wishes to play for at least three more years, and he can have a few more prosperous seasons as long as father time eludes him.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

Dalton has never been an elite QB, but he pulled off a miracle last season that allowed Buffalo to clinch their first playoff berth in 18 years. Still a major question mark for this season.

Tyrod Taylor/Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Taylor can be an effective, albeit inconsistent dual-threat QB, and this year's first overall pick Mayfield can develop behind him. Mayfield could possibly become the starter if Taylor struggles.

Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Watson dazzled everyone in his rookie season before a torn ACL put him out of commission. Houston looks to have a very bright future if Watson continues lighting up defenses like he did last year.

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Bortles is perhaps the most maligned quarterback in the NFL. He has not been very impressive throwing the ball, although he has seen success in the short-passing game and running the ball himself.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans

This is Mariota's most important year yet. After an unspectacular 2017, the talented yet inconsistent Mariota must prove that he can develop into a solid, consistent passer to lead the Titans for years to come.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

After rehabilitating his injured shoulder, Luck looks to return to form to bring Indianapolis back to relevance. Can he pick up where he left off?

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes has a strong arm and can scramble when needed. Time will tell if he pans out as a pro, but he has a stacked supporting cast to get him started.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

The 36-year-old Rivers can still play ball, but father time may be creeping up on him. Now is the time for Rivers to strike.

Case Keenum, Denver Broncos

The surprise story of 2017, Keenum has developed from a journeyman to an efficient starter when given the help he needs. Can he flourish with a different cast around him in Denver?

Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Carr experienced significant regression last season and looks to recapture his dominant 2016 form this year. He still has talent, but he must regain his confidence.

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A Thank You Letter To The Best Teammate I've Ever Had

There's no "I" in team.
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We all have those amazing memories when it comes to sports. Sometimes it is from winning tough games, but most of the amazing memories that we have come from the teammates that we shared those wins with. Teammates are the people who you spend so much time with that you eventually become a family. Teammates do more than help just win a game; they can be there through everything. There's always that one teammate that stands out from the rest, and this letter is for you.

Thank you for being selfless.

Looking back, I remember a lot of teammates. Some were great and some were not that great. I've had teammates who have only cared about their playing time. I've had teammates that have only cared about if they score more goals or more points than anyone else. You did not care about that. If the coach told you to play a position that you did not want to play, you still played it without a complaint. If I was tired at a certain position and wanted to switch you, you did it. You never complained about where you were playing or how many goals you had; you just wanted the team to win.

Thank you for having my back.

The best kinds of teammates are the ones that support you no matter what you do. I got a red card? That referee is stupid. I got into a fist fight during a game? You were the first one next to me swinging. Some girl makes fun of me on social media for messing up in a game? You were roasting her in her mentions. Even if I was right or wrong, you always supported me no matter what I did.

Thank you for seeing me at my worst and building me back up.

There are always times in an athlete's life where we run to the point to where we need to throw up. There are times where we go through games and miss too many shots. There are times where we get a little too mad at our coaches and feel as if we cannot deal with it anymore. You were the one that got me through it. When I was in the middle of a run and my lungs were burning, you stayed right next to me and reminded me that there wasn't much longer to go, even if there was. You always reminded me how capable I was by yelling at me and telling me to go score. You've seen me tired, sweaty, crying, screaming and throwing up. After all that, you still went out of your way to build me back up and I cannot thank you enough for that.

Thank you for making me love the game.

Without people like you, I would have had a very rough ride through my sports career. I have had teammates that have made me go home crying because they were so mean and rude. I have had teammates who have only cared about themselves. Without you, I would've forgotten what a good teammate is. Looking back, all I remember is the celebrations, the screaming random songs in cars and us hating each other's exes automatically... Then talking about all these things at practice. Thanks for being a leader with me. Without you and the rest of the team, I would not have loved the sport that I played.

Cover Image Credit: Cheap Seats Photography

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The First Time My Mistakes No Longer Controlled My Life

Mistakes suck, and though I've conquered a few, I'm still learning.

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The whistle blows as the team cheers on.

My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent or I will fail. Fear.

In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously stated, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Such a statement proves powerful to the matured minds of society; however, in the minds of some adolescents, this declaration appears somewhat foolish, as numerous "threats" ignite fear, thus causing teens to grow anxious.

A major cause for fear in the rising generation takes form in failure. In the eyes of these people, making a simple mistake paves the way towards absolute failure; therefore, perfectionists constantly walk on eggshells attempting to do the impossible: avoid human error. This mentality gives way to constant stress and overall disappointment, as perfection does not apply to human beings. If one can come to the realization that not one person can attain perfection, they can choose to live life in ease, for they no longer have to apply constant pressure upon themselves to master excellence. The fear of failure will no longer encumber their existence, and they can overcome situations that initially brought great anxiety. I too once put great pressure on myself to maintain perfection, and as a result, felt constantly burdened by my mistakes. However, when I realized the inevitability of those mistakes, it opened the door for great opportunities. The first time I recognized that failure serves as a tool for growth allowed me to no longer fear my mistakes, and instead utilize them for my own personal growth.

The whistle blows as the team cheers on. My heart pounds as if it will burst out of my chest at any given moment, and I taste the salty sweat trickling down my face. I must serve over the net, I must get it in, I must ace my opponent. As hard as I try, I fail; as the ball flies straight into the net and thuds obnoxiously onto the gym floor, so does my confidence. I feel utter defeat, as I know my fate. My eyes water as my coach immediately pulls me from the game, sits me on the bench, and tells me to "get my head into the game" instead of dwindling on past errors. From then on I rarely step foot on the court, and instead, ride the bench for the remainder of the season. I feel defeated. However, life does not end, and much to my surprise, this mistake does not cause failure in every aspect of my life. Over time, I gradually realize that life does not end just because of failure. Instead, mistakes and failure pave the way toward emotional development and allows one to build character. In recognizing that simple slip-ups do not lead to utter failure, I gain perspective: one's single mistake does not cause their final downfall. Thus, this epiphany allowed for my mental growth and led me to overcome once challenging obstacles.

Instead of viewing mistakes as burdens, one should utilize them as motivation for future endeavors. The lesson proves simple: all can learn from their mistakes. However, it is a matter of choosing to learn from these mistakes that decide one's future growth. Instead of pushing faults away, I now acknowledge them in order to progress. Before coming to such a realization, I constantly "played it safe" in sports, fearing that giving my best effort would lead to greater error. I did not try, and as a result, I rarely failed.

Although such a mentality brought forth limited loss in terms of overall team success, it also brought forth limited, individual success. Today, fear of failure no longer controls life on the court. I use my mistakes as motivation to get better; instead of dwindling on an error made five minutes prior, I focus on the form needed to correct it. As a result, skills will constantly improve, instead of regress. Thus, errors serve as blessings, as it is through these errors in which one can possess the motivation to better themselves.

For some, fear acts as an ever-present force that controls every aspect of life. In particular, the fear of failure encumbers perfectionists, as the mere thought of failing causes great anxieties. In the past, I have fell victim to the fear of committing a mistake, and as a result, could not go through life without feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat. However, in a moment of what appeared to be a great failure, I finally recognized that life does not end due to one mistake, let alone one million. Instead, mistakes pave the way toward personal development and provide essential motivation to succeed in everyday life. Without mistakes, it proves difficult to grow in character. One must first learn to accept their faults before they can appreciate their best qualities. Thus, the fear of failure inhibits the growth of an individual; therefore, all must come to the realization that essentialness of mistakes, as they allow for the further development of overall character.

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