QB Controversies - Who Will Keep Their Job?
T.O. Whenham of Doc's Sports Picks
There is nothing more potentially distracting to an NFL team than a quarterback controversy. When a starter has his job threatened by a precocious backup, or loses it altogether, it can divide the team and hurt a whining millionaire's feelings. Ask Trent Green or Rob Johnson if they are sending Christmas cards to Kurt Warner or Doug Flutie.
The quarterbacking is so inconsistent in the league these days that half of the teams have real problems heading into the season, and that's being generous. Beyond the handful of star-caliber players, any quarterback could be a starter in September and unemployed at Thanksgiving. Here's a look at eight teams with the most tenuous starters, and my odds that the player finishes the season with his job:
Dallas Cowboys (3/2) - Stop me if you've heard this before - Drew Bledsoe has a high-potential young QB with no pro experience stuck behind him on the depth chart. The last time this happened some guy named Tom Brady took over after an injury and earned the right to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy while Bledsoe got to polish his resume. The Dallas starter is having a good training camp, and his role isn't in question. However, Tony Romo is playing so well that Bledsoe is destined to end up with an ulcer worrying about what could happen to his job. I hope that Parcells does bench Bledsoe at some point, just because the explosion would be so much fun to watch. Bledsoe wouldn't find his demotion nearly as funny as I would.
Denver Broncos (8/1) - At this point, Jay Cutler apparently walks on water and is on the verge of curing cancer. That shining golden boy will be tempting for Bronco's fans, especially since Jake Plummer is guaranteed to make 3.4 awful plays per game. Cutler, of course, won't be nearly as good under real conditions as he has been in the preseason, but that won't matter to the fans that are booing and crying for the Snake's head. Plummer better win early and win often.
Arizona Cardinals (20/1) - Kurt Warner went from best grocery store clerk in Iowa to the best quarterback in the league. That was a long time ago. The last few years he has been uninspiring. His numbers last year were helped by a freakishly talented receiving corps, and he will be further helped by the addition of Edgerrin James. No amount of offensive strength around him, however, can hide the fact that his spiral looks like a duck with a bullet in its gut. Matt Leinart hurt his case by holding out, but the Cards have a new stadium, which means more than 17 people will be attending their games. When the Cards get off to a typically bad start (and they will - they're the Cards), the pressure will be intense for Leinart to get the ball. The only reason Dennis Green might not make the change is if he's afraid of what Mrs. Warner might do to him.
Chicago Bears (25/1) - There is something in the water in Chicago that blinds coaches to the fact that Rex Grossman is a truly terrible quarterback. He keeps getting named starter -- proving that he definitely has pictures of someone on the coaching staff cheating on his wife -- and he appears to be about to pull it off again. The difference is that this year there is a decent quarterback behind him (apologies to Kyle Orton and Chad Hutchinson) in the form of Brian Griese. Chicago hasn't had a good QB since Jim McMahon tortured us with the Super Bowl Shuffle. Griese is no Jim McMahon, but Grossman isn't a Super Bowl quarterback (although if Jeff Hostetler can win the big one, anyone can), so Griese should be in charge of the offense before the Jets have been eliminated from playoff contention (about October 3). Grossman will probably suffer his annual season-ending injury by then, too.
Green Bay Packers (25/1) - How would the Rolling Stones tell Mick Jagger that his lips are too big to be in the band anymore? The Packers face a similar dilemma. The team is going to be bad, and Favre is going to struggle and get frustrated. However, it is doubtful that there are enough balls in the state of Wisconsin for someone to tell him to shut up, sit down and give Aaron Rodgers the ball. This could get ugly. Really, really ugly.
Buffalo Bills (75/1) - Can you have a quarterback controversy when you don't really have a quarterback? J.P. Losman is the starter, but no one is mistaking him for Jim Kelly in Buffalo. Kelly Holcomb is the backup. He's so good he couldn't even cut it with the quarterbacking powerhouse that is the Cleveland Browns. The only saving grace for the Bills is that they are going to be so bad that no one will notice, or care, who their QB is.
New York Jets (85/1) - You thought the Bills had it bad! Chad Pennington is damaged goods, and he's fragile. Patrick Ramsey is, well, Patrick Ramsey. Kellen Clemens is probably the best of the bunch, but he is raw and a long way away from being ready for the primetime. Pennington is apparently going to start the season, but it doesn't matter, because all three players will take a turn at starting before this nightmare season ends.
Oakland Raiders (900/1) - The fact that Aaron Brooks is still a starting quarterback in the NFL is proof that there isn't enough quarterbacking talent on the planet. It's not good enough to look eerily like Martin Lawrence. Brooks got progressively worse in his last three seasons in New Orleans, and he wasn't exactly standing on top of Mt. Everest when he started this freefall. Oakland is going to be a very bad team, and Brooks certainly won't help the situation. One of his backups will take over, probably right after Randy Moss runs Brooks over in the parking lot. I hope it's Andrew Walter, because Tuiasosopo is way too hard to spell.