Thursday, October 14, 2010

NFL Quarterback Inefficiency

Last Sunday Max Hall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, Todd Collins, Caleb Hanie and Jake Delhomme saw significant action behind center in the National Football League. These guys are bad. Really bad. Clausen, Hall, and Hanie are the only ones that might have a shot to be decent. Those other four have played enough (and in a couple cases, too much) that their suckitude is definitive.

The quarterback position defines NFL football. It's bothersome when the star player gets all the exposure, credit, and blame. But in the NFL, putting it all on the quarterback is often pretty accurate. There is no other position in team sports nearly as critical. The quarterback handles the ball on almost every offensive play. Though his success is based somewhat on the quality of his teammates, the success of his teammates is more dependent on him. His wide receivers are almost entirely dependent on him. How many touchdowns did Randy Moss score for the Raiders? How many career catches would Austin Collie have if he played for the Raiders? It's frightening to think what teams like the Chargers, Colts, Patriots, and Saints would look like without their starting QBs. Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees might be worth six wins a season. Peyton Manning might be worth nine or ten.

Conversely, teams like the Cardinals and Panthers might be in the playoff hunt with a serviceable player behind center. (I understand the Cardinals are 3-2 and could actually make the playoffs, but no sane football watcher ranks them in the top three quarters of the league). Both are starting rookies not selected in the first round. Hall wasn't even drafted. The jury is still out on these two rookies, but we can assume they won't be studs this season. A legitimate quarterback could win games with Arizona's defense, throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. A legitimate quarterback could provide just enough of a threat to the defense to spring DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart for the sort of monster gains we saw in 2008 before Delhomme self-combusted.

It's unfortunate that we have to watch guys like Fitzpatrick and Moore slinging the ball around on Sunday. It's unfortunate because there are better options available. There are very few elite quarterbacks, but there are viable alternatives to Jake Delhomme and Todd Collins. Here are sixteen quarterbacks who likely won't take a meaningful snap this season but deserve to see the field more than many of the stinkers currently taking snaps.

16. Chase Daniel (Saints backup)
Daniel wasn't selected in the 2009 NFL draft because he is short and lacks arm strength. Yet eighteen months later he is backing up one of the league's best QBs. I understand the NFL plays differently than the Big XII, that coordinators want players who can throw with velocity, that the sick numbers Daniel put up in Missouri's spread wouldn't translate to the NFL. But did you watch this guy play in college? Daniel is extremely accurate, doesn't make bad decisions, and has done nothing but win games his entire career - sort of like the guy ahead of him on the depth chart in New Orleans.

15. Kerry Collins (Titans backup)
You know what you're getting with Collins - nice long balls, quality short throws, and zero playmaking. You can't tell me the Bears wouldn't rather have this Collins, or that the Panthers wouldn't be starting Kerry right now.

14. Matt Leinart (Texans 3rd string)
Leinart isn't that bad. He just isn't. Having watched half a dozen Leinart games and a couple dozen Derek Anderson games - a couple dozen too many - I can confidently tell you Leinart is the better quarterback. We can only assume that what Leinart said about his situation in Arizona, that he and head coach Ken Whisenhunt had problems off the field, contributed to his release shortly before this season more than that of his play or Anderson's.

13. Dan Orlovsky (Texans backup)
Orlovsky is best known for this hilarious safety, the defining play of Detroit's winless 2008 season. But Orlovsky actually played pretty decent football for that horrendous team; they probably would have won a game or two if he had played the whole season.

12. Troy Smith (49ers 3rd string)
Smith won the Heisman trophy in 2006 and was slated to start for Baltimore in 2008 before tonsillitis sidelined him. Joe Flacco took over that and was the last we heard from Smith.

11. David Carr (49ers backup)
"We want Carr" chants are still ringing in Alex Smith's ears. It would be interesting to see how Carr would play with a decent offensive line.

10. Billy Volek (Chargers backup)
Volek is the rarest of backup QBs, a gunslinger who prefers chucking the rock to "managing the game." In 2004 Volek became the fourth quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 400 yards in consecutive games.

9. Charlie Whitehurst (Seahawks backup)
Nobody knows anything about Whitehurst other than he looks really good holding a clipboard. He is regarded highly enough that Seattle traded San Diego a third round pick for him during this year's draft then paid him $10 million for two seasons. Considering Matt Hasselbeck's health history, there's a good chance we'll get to see Whitehurst in action later this season.

8. Sage Rosenfels (Giants backup)
Rosenfels gets a bad name because he choked away a few games for the Texans in Matt Schaub's absence - games the Texans were winning because Rosenfels had played so well in the first three quarters.

7. Byron Leftwich
6. Charlie Batch
5. Dennis Dixon (Steelers backups)
Pittsburgh's fourth-string quarterback is better than most second-strings and several starters.

4. Tarvaris Jackson (Vikings backup)
Tarvaris was a project. Remember, that was the plan. He has the physical tools. Just as he was turning the corner (a 95.4 QB rating in 2008) the Vikes brought in Brett Favre. I wouldn't be surprised if this project is now a better quarterback than the hobbling, mistake-prone, multi-injured, team-sacrificing, Wrangler-wearing, penis-messaging 41-year-old douchebag who starts for the Vikings. Perhaps we will find out later this season.

3. Josh Johnson (Bucs backup)

This is what I wrote about Johnson about a year ago:

Josh Johnson could be the closest thing we have to Michael Vick in today's NFL - closer, even, than Michael Vick. I'm not sure how Johnson dropped to the fifth round - his talents are immense. His feet are as quick as a running back's. His arm is huge. From what I can tell, his accuracy is good too. There's a reason Johnson made the team and Luke McCown did not. I know last year I said Dante Rosario was "the most athletic tight end to enter the league since Antonio Gates" so take it with a grain of salt when I tell you that Josh Johnson is going to be a star quarterback in the National Football League.

There are several things he needs before that happens 1. Practice 2. Film study 3. A better running game 4. An offensive coordinator 5. Practice with the first team 6. A holster 7. A defense 8. Receivers who catch the ball 9. More playing time 10. Practice

It breaks my heart that Johnson is stuck behind Josh Freeman (who I was initally cool on but am starting to like) because he needs to play.

2. Tyler Thigpen (Dolphins 3rd string)
Thigpen is the biggest crush I ever developed on a little-known player while studying the games the last three seasons. In 2008 he played for an abysmal Chiefs team without an offensive line, defense, head coach, or wide receivers. He threw for eighteen TDs, ran for three, and even caught a touchdown pass in his eleven starts. The quarterbacks who preceded and followed Thigpen in Kansas City have had far less success. Thigpen is an athletic 26-year-old QB oozing with skill and upside. And yes Tyler, I'm sorry I benched you in the 2008 fantasy championship for Matt Schaub, costing me the title.

1. Chad Pennington (Dolphins backup)
I've said this before and I'll say it again: Chad Pennington has the 11th highest passer rating in the history of the NFL.

Week Six Picks:

Also like:

NINERS -6.5 over Raiders
Colts -3 over REDSKINS

If forced to choose:

BEARS -6.5 over Seahawks
RAMS +9 over Chargers
Browns +13.5 over STEELERS
BUCS +4.5 over Saints
Lions +10 over GIANTS
TEXANS -4.5 over Chiefs
Falcons +2.5 over EAGLES
JAGUARS +3 over Titans
PATRIOTS -3 over Ravens
Cowboys +2.5 over VIKINGS
Jets -3 over BRONCOS

Lock season record: 1-0
Really like season record: 2-1
Also like season record: 15-7-1
If forced to choose season record: 25-24
All games season record: 43-32-1


Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

"I wouldn't be surprised if this project is now a better quarterback than the hobbling, mistake-prone, multi-injured, team-sacrificing, Wrangler-wearing, penis-messaging 41-year-old douchebag who starts for the Vikings."

Very well said, Moon.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Dolphins +3.5 over Packers I assume?

12:38 AM  
Blogger Brad said...

I like this summary and I only disagree with one name. Byron Leftwich. The guy has had a chance to start for maybe 6 different teams and can't ever do it.

9:31 AM  
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