NFL Quarterback Carousel -- Assessing the Changes
It's a hard-knock life.
It goes without saying that, other than "best player on NBA team regardless of position," quarterback of an NFL team is the single most influential individual position impacting results in a team sport.
So imagine if one-sixth of the teams in the NBA decided to bench their best player within a week. That would be a big story, right? Hey, I understand football is a different deal. Bigger rosters, more specialization. Still, it's fairly noteworthy that five teams have made major decisions at the quarterback position in the last week or so, either by choice or by necessity/injury. That's a lot.
So, let's give a barely educated assessment of each team's course of action, shall we?
Three Teams Pulling The Plug
WASHINGTON REDSKINS Original Starter: Rex Grossman Replacement: John Beck Change Trigger Event: Before the season, Grossman boldly predicted that the Redskins would win the NFC East, and at the quarter pole of the season with the Redskins sitting at 3-1, the Sex Cannon was looking like a genius. But alas, much like Grossman's genius status, his status as "competent system quarterback" expired as well with a four-interception game against the Eagles on Sunday. And the funny thing is, with Grossman, you just know that his meltdown is coming eventually, it's just a question of when. As quarterbacks go, he's like Shooter from Hoosiers -- he stays sober and straight for a while, but you know it won't last. The Philly game was Sexy Rexy's "show up an hour late for the game and stumble onto the floor hammered" moment. Team W-L Record At Replacement: 3-2 Projected Final W-L Record: 6-10 Comment: The Redskins are the one team who changed quarterbacks this week where it actually feels like an immediate upgrade.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS Original Starter: Donovan McNabb Replacement: Christian Ponder Change Trigger Event: In a game where ironically McNabb put up his best stats of the year (19 of 24, 177 yards), he was on the business end of a 39-10 ass-kicking at the hands of the Chicago Bears. Add that to the first three games of the season where the Vikings held double-digit leads in the second half and lost all three games with McNabb going limp in the second half, and it was time for the Vikes to determine what exactly they drafted in 2011 12th-overall pick Christian Ponder. Team W-L Record At Replacement: 1-5 Projected Final W-L Record: 4-12 Comment: Ponder actually looked somewhat competent in his brief stint in mop-up time against the Bears. The interesting thing to watch with the Vikings will be how stud running back Adrian Peterson reacts to having several hundred carries' worth of his running-back odometer consumed while breaking in a young quarterback. At least he'll get paid.
DENVER BRONCOS Original Starter: Kyle Orton Replacement: Tim Tebow Change Trigger Event: Trailing the Chargers 26-10 in the third quarter last Sunday, and with Orton sitting on a 6 of 13, 34-yard afternoon, Denver head coach John Fox finally fulfilled whatever passage of scripture it is that says Tim Tebow will be the Broncos quarterback in 2011 (book of Timothy, no doubt). Tebow gave the Broncos a spark, and (possibly out of fear of being smitten down by the Lord) Fox decided Tebow would be the Broncos new starter for the foreseeable future. Team W-L Record At Replacement: 1-4 Projected Final W-L Record: 3-13 Comment: Tebow is probably good enough to win a couple games, but it would be fascinating to see the Broncos end up with the first overall pick. They would almost have to take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, which would then make Tebow expendable, which means we would then find out the true open market value on a quarterback who a) has questionable NFL skills, b) has a throwing motion that takes roughly four minutes to complete, and c) would sell a shitload of jerseys. (Prediction: Third round pick, which is where he should have been drafted in 2010.)
Two Teams Forced Into Change By Injury
MIAMI DOLPHINS Original Starter: Chad Henne Replacement: Matt Moore Change Trigger Event: After being tackled on a busted play (an appropriate metaphor for his Dolphin career) in the first quarter of a game against the San Diego Chargers in Week 4, Henne left the field and never came back. He had shoulder surgery the following week and his career as a Dolphin is likely over. Matt Moore immediately takes the belt from Curtis Painter for "Worst Non-Rookie Starting QB in the NFL," the fastest title change since Diesel beat Bob Backlund in 6 seconds in 1994 for the WWF belt.
Team W-L Record At Replacement: 0-4 Projected Final W-L Record: 1-15 Comment: Dolphins are now firmly in pole position for Luck.
OAKLAND RAIDERS Original Starter: Jason Campbell Replacement: Carson Palmer Change Trigger Event: In the Week 6 game against Cleveland, Campbell went down with a broken clavicle. The Raiders then made the decision a couple days later to completely empty their draft-pick bank account for 2012 and go get Palmer. (I shared my extensive thoughts on this deal yesterday.) Team W-L Record At Replacement: 4-2 Projected Final W-L Record: 7-9 Comment: Carson Palmer was barely a decent starter at the end of his time in Cincinnati. I'm sure the combination of no training camp, minimal playbook knowledge and a dysfunctional organization will agree just fine with him. Sure it will. In all honesty, it should actually feel very similar to his time with the Bengals.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on Yahoo! Sports Radio and 1560 The Game weekdays noon to 3 p.m., and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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