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NFL General

A Quarterback A Day…

by Matt Wells

Every day in the sports world, we are presented with fascinating stories about who got traded, who called out their coach, who is in the running for an award, and why two players don’t get along.  This NFL season, we have been faced with Terrell Owens sagas, Giants players ripping on each other and their coach, and the Raider and Cardinals, once again, stinking up the league.

Sure, T.O. and LaDanian Tomlinson have made the headlines, despite their seemingly less dramatic positions.  But, the 2006 season has been the year of the quarterback.  Most of the teams have had their quarterbacks make the headlines.Note that not all quarterbacks made the headlines for being bad at what they do or calling out their coaches.  Some have made the headlines for having fantastic seasons.  But, many teams have made the headlines because of their quarterback – whether those headlines be positive or negative.  Out of the 32 teams in the NFL, most have seen their quarterbacks in some sort of spotlight this season:

AFC

New England Patriots: Tom Brady?  Looking human in the headlines?  Showing his vulnerability?  Well, after the Patriots Week 3 loss to the Denver Broncos, Brady made the headlines because of his emotions.  Sure, he was miffed about losing the game; however, it became evident that he was miffed about not having his favorite receiver around – Deion Branch was now in Seattle.  Brady was clearly upset about not having Branch around.  But, look at the Patriots now…

Miami Dolphins: Yep, the Fins made the news early on this season with the signing of the heralded Daunte Culpepper.  He went from being the starter, to sitting on the bench, to being out for the year with an injury.  The other quarterback, Joey Harrington has made the headlines in two ways: 1) he led the Dolphins to four wins in a row before Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars, and 2) he was front-page material when he returned to Detroit on Thanksgiving…a game which he won easily.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A quarterback?  In the headlines?  Yeah, see, there’s this guy named Ben Roethlisberger.  First, he got injured on his motorcycle, and then he had his appendix removed.  He followed that up with subpar play on the field that has helped aid the Steelers to a disappointing record following their World Championship season.

Cleveland Browns: Time to do a little nitpicking.  QB Charlie Frye’s injury this past Sunday opened the door for backup Derek Anderson.  Anderson led the Browns on a game-winning drive in overtime, as the injured Frye looked on.  If the Browns defeat the Steelers Thursday night behind a strong game from Anderson (who looks like he will start), the Browns may find themselves in the headlines regarding their quarterbacks.  Sidenote: Frye has thrown 10 TDs, while tossing 16 INTs.

Tennessee Titans: They started the season with veteran Kerry Collins at quarterback, while rookie Vince Young sat on the sidelines.  Collins was terrible, compiling a QB rating of 42.3 in three games.  Enter Vince Young who, after a slow start, has rallied the troops to two straight late-game victories over two of last year’s playoff teams – the Giants and the Colts.  The Titans now have a QB making the headlines for all of the right reasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Byron Leftwich started the season as Jacksonville’s QB, leading his team to a 3-3 record through the first 6 games.  However, an ankle injury forced backup David Garrard into action.  Garrard has shown himself to be much more mobile than Leftwich and, with Leftwich now on the bench, Garrard has led the Jags to a 4-2 record in the starter position.  The Jags make the headlines because they, like many other teams, have a quarterback quandary.

Kansas City Chiefs: You never like to see a QB lose his starting job over an injury.  Trent Green’s injury in Week 1 opened the door for backup Damon Huard.  Huard, in turn, was fantastic, leading the Chiefs to a 5-4 record in Green’s absence.  The record might not speak volumes, but the stats may: 11 touchdowns, 1 interception, and a QB rating of 97.6.  Ladies and gentlemen, Trent Green will be 37 next year; despite the strong numbers he too has put up this year, retirement is not that far off.  Damon Huard is no spring chicken, either; however, this is a guy that could gain some serious attention come free agency.

Oakland Raiders: The Raiders quarterbacks made the headlines because one got injured (Aaron Brooks) and one took his place (Andrew Walter).  Unfortunately for Raider Nation, neither QB has been good this year; Brooks leads the QB rating battle with a whopping rating of 62.0.  Is any publicity really good publicity?

Denver Broncos: Ahhh, the current epicenter of the quarterback headlines.  Coach Mike Shanahan benched veteran Jake Plummer this past weekend and went with rookie QB Jay Cutler.  Cutler was subpar at best, and threw perhaps the worst pass of the season by a quarterback, which was consequently returned for a score.  Jake Plummer was not dominating; but, wouldn’t you rather have a veteran try to push your team into the playoffs instead of a rookie making his first 5 starts of the year before the season ends?  To the Broncos and their QBs: meet the headlines.

NFC

Philadelphia Eagles: I am not an Eagles fan by any stretch of the imagination.  However, you hate to see Donovan McNabb go down…again.  He is a good quarterback.  Fire up the presses: “The Eagles are done”….”Better luck next year”…”Eagles Season Gone Along with McNabb.”  Right?  Right?  Not quite.  Jeff Garcia’s dominating performance over the Carolina Panthers Monday night gives the Eagles fans some hope.  Yet, the quarterback “controversy” remains: should the Eagles draft a young backup QB as insurance for the oft-injured McNabb?  Should they seek another starter instead, since the D-Man gets banged up too often?  Only time will tell, I suppose.

New York Giants: The pot is boiling in New York (or New Jersey…they do play there, you know).  Eli Manning is on the top of the world after leading the Giants to a 6-2 record and is the media’s darling.  Four straight losses later, and Manning is the focus of the Giants mediocrity.  No, Manning will not be benched.  But, he is being criticized left and right, and the media is all over him like white on rice.  The youngster is showing his age, and the media loves it.

Dallas Cowboys: I go from talking about New York hating Eli Manning to the WORLD loving Tony Romo.  The word “loving” is an understatement.  Coach Bill Parcells decided to bench veteran Drew Bledsoe well after the Cowboys were headed to a 3-3 mark on October 23rd.  Tony Romo was placed in the game.  Since becoming a starter, Romo is 5-1.  On Thanksgiving, he found himself in the national spotlight.  What did he do?  He threw 5 TDs against the Tampa Bay Bucs.  Now, the media is pegging the Cowboys as the top team in the NFC.  He’s in the sports headlines as well as the tabloids.  Romo and Jessica Simpson?  Why can’t that happen to me?  Back off, Romo!

Washington Redskins: Veteran Mark Brunell wasn’t really leading the Redskins anywhere.  They were 3-6 through his first 9 games as starter.  Brunell’s big problem?  He never threw deep.  I can remember screaming at the TV as the aging lefty threw screen pass after screen pass.  Two yard gain here.  One yard gain there.  Three yard gain on third down.  Punt.  Coach Joe Gibbs made the move, going with Jason Campbell in Week 11.  Campbell has not been much of an improvement; however, he’s the guy Gibbs is sticking with.  With a little improvement, Campbell will be successful in Washington.  Mark Brunell’s days are coming to a close in the nation’s capital.

Chicago Bears: Riddle: what team thinks about benching their quarterback, even though he has helped lead his team to a 10-2 record?  Answer: the Chicago Bears.  The oven has been turned up on Rex Grossman, especially after his juicy performance on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.  Stats: 6-for-19, 34 yards, 0 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.  That’s a QB rating of 1.3!  If low was good, Rex Grossman would be on fire.  He’s on fire now, but that’s because he’s on the hot seat.  That pathetic performance followed another pathetic performance the week before in a loss to the New England Patriots.  Some people are calling for Brian Griese.  Coach Lovie Smith refuses to budge.  Stay tuned as this drama unfolds more…

Green Bay Packers: Yes, Brett Favre is still the quarterback.  He made the headlines because he got hurt in Week 11.  With the consecutive games streak in jeopardy, Favre played in Week 12 (loss to Seattle) and Week 13 (loss to the Jets).  Better luck next time, Aaron Rodgers.

Minnesota Vikings: Veteran Brad Johnson has captained the ship (no, not the “Love Cruise”) all season in Minnesota.  The Vikings are playing poorly and are currently 5-7.  Johnson is acting his age (38).  Backup Brooks Bollinger, who played well on Sunday when he replaced Johnson, hurt his non-throwing shoulder.  The third-stringer is Tarvaris Jackson, a second-round pick out of Division I-AA Alabama State.  One guy I don’t want to be: first-year coach Brad Childress.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Youngster Chris Simms was not playing all that well when he went down with an injury in Week 3.  To that point, he had thrown 1 TD and 7 INTs.  Simms made the headlines because his injury was so serious: he had to have his spleen removed after the game.  That’s how much he got beat up by the Carolina Panthers that afternoon.  No-name backup Bruce Gradkowski is now the team’s quarterback until Simms gets healthy enough to play.  Gradkowski’s stats are not eye-popping (9 TDs, 9 INTs); however, he has kept the Bucs close in some games.  Get well soon, Chris.

New Orleans Saints: Nope, no controversy here.  The only reason Drew Brees is making the headlines is because he is up there in the running for the MVP award.  He, along with Deuce McAllister, rookie Reggie Bush, and rookie WR Marcques Colston, have helped the surprising Saints to an 8-4 record.  Brees MVP-type stats: 292-for-441 (66.2%), 20 TDs, 10 INTs, and a QB rating of 97.4.  Dear football: Welcome back to New Orleans.  Signed, Me.

Carolina Panthers: Ever since leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl a few years back, Jake Delhomme has been going downhill.  Now it appears he has gone as low as he can.  Delhomme has been at the wheel of the Panthers train wreck of an inconsistent season.  Lose 2, Win 4, Lose 2, Win 2, Lose 2.  Just when we think the Panthers are on their way to the playoffs, they play like pee-wee children.  The Panthers, aided by Delhomme’s poorly thrown passes late in games, have blown four 4th quarter leads this year, resulting in losses.  Fans are clamoring for Chris Weinke; they may get their wish: Delhomme is questionable for Sunday’s game versus the Giants due to an injury.

Atlanta Falcons: The legs are there for Michael Vick, while the arm comes and goes.  However, the middle fingers on both hands will forever be associated with Vick.  He gave the Falcons fans the “dirty birds” two weeks ago in a loss to the Saints.  Vick’s play has drawn the criticism of Jim Mora, Sr., the coach’s father, who called Vick a “coach killer.”  Vick’s inconsistent play has made some wonder if the Falcons will turn to highly touted backup Matt Schaub.  How long does Vick have in Atlanta if he keeps up his average play and his excitable middle fingers?

Arizona Cardinals: Kurt Warner was the team’s starter until the middle of Week 4’s game at the aforementioned Atlanta Falcons.  Matt Leinart, the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft, has been solid at times, and dreadful at others.  As a starter, Leinart is 2-6; however, he’s won 2 of his last 3 games.  Of those 6 losses, 3 have been by 5 or fewer points.  Leinart is keeping his team close.  If only they had an O-Line for Edgerrin James to run through.  Where art thou, Steve Hutchinson?  Oh yeah…Minnesota.

St. Louis Rams: Quarterback Mark Bulger and the Rams made the headlines the just the other day after Bulger went on a rant, criticizing his offensive players for not playing hard following a loss to the aforementioned Arizona Cardinals.  He absolved some players, and seemingly fingered some of his offensive line.  Welcome to the quarterback headline party, St. Louis.

Seattle Seahawks: Last but not least, I come to the Seahawks.  Franchise QB Matt Hasselbeck went down with an injury in Week 7 against the Vikings.  That was bad timing, for star running back Shaun Alexander was also out.  Backup Seneca Wallace carried the load, leading the Seahawks to a 2-2 record in Hasselbeck’s absence, thus keeping the Seahawks in the running to win the NFC West again.  Wallace put up respectable numbers, throwing more touchdowns (8) than interceptions (7), but the Seahawks are certainly happy to have Hasselbeck back.

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As you can see, we cannot go one day without seeing another quarterback of another team in the headlines.  It’s true what they say: a quarterback a day can’t keep the media away.

As long as we have quarterbacks, we will have controversy.  The other position players are happy to be out of the spotlight during the week, but crave it on Sundays.  The cloud of controversy, however, will always follow the QBs.  Keep adding fuel to the fire, boys, keep adding fuel to the fire.

By Matt Wells

27 years old. From New Jersey. I'm a fan of all four major sports, though I know most about football and baseball. Favorite teams: Sabres (NHL), Yankees (MLB). General fan of baseball and football, as well.

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