A couple of days ago I looked at the quarterback situation for the 16 teams in the AFC. Today I'll briefly look at how things are looking in the NFC. While compiling the list of quarterbacks in the NFC two things became readily apparent. The first is it would seem in the NFC less is more. Half the teams are carrying only 2 quarterbacks on their active roster. The second is the impact rookies could have this year. A total of 8 rookie quarterbacks made the active roster in the NFC with two of them named starters for the Redskins and Seahawks, and a possible three more have a good chance of starting at least one game through a combination of injuries or poor play from those in front of them in Arizona, St Louis, and Philadelphia. Well, the poor play in Arizona is a given while the injuries in St Louis and Philadelphia are not necessarily set in stone.
John Skelton will get the starting nod for week one but ever since proto-Tebow Kurt Warner retired, the Cardinals change their starting QB about as often as a politician changes their stance on the issues (Yes, all of them, they all stink). They even had undrafted rookie Max Hall start some games for them a few years back and he's not even in the NFL anymore. Their search for a quality starter reminds me of the poem from Where the Sidewalk Ends in which there's a headless man looking everywhere for his head. After a while he gives up and decides to sit down on a large rock. You then see a picture of a headless man sitting on his head. I already know how this will play out. Skelton will start for a few games, then they'll put Kolb out there, eventually they'll decide to go with rookie Lindley, before finishing off the season with either Skelton or Kolb (probably Skelton). You know I hear Mike (I'm not a beetle) Kafka is available.
The rest of the NFC after the jump...
The Rams decided to cut Kellen Clemens and go with only two quarterbacks despite Bradford's history of injuries in both college and the NFL. In his rookie year Bradford definitely looked like he had the ability to be an elite QB as he led the Rams to a 7-9 record, falling just one win away from the playoffs. But he regressed some last year and missed a lot of time due to injury. Considering the Rams offensive line provides about as much protection as a speedo in a hail storm Bradford has spent a lot of time examining the underside of the Edward Jones Dome and is just one big hit away from handing the starting job over to rookie Austin Davis. You know I hear Mike (if you make one more beetle reference I'll slap you) Kafka is available.
Matt Flynn played in only 2 games during his four year stint in Green Bay but his second game was a doozy (do people still use that word?). Flynn completed 31 of his 44 passes for 480 yards and 6 touchdowns, more than Bart Starr, Brett Favre, or Aaron Rodgers had ever thrown in a game. Sure it was against a horrible Lions secondary but still, 6 touchdowns are 6 touchdowns. So now instead of being the backup in Green Bay he gets to be the backup in Seattle where the weather isn't as cold and the coffee's better. He also gets a guaranteed $10 million. Meanwhile Wilson came in as a 3rd round draft pick and simply outplayed Flynn in practice and the preseason. It's a bold move but when you haven't had a winning record since before the Obama administration sometimes bold moves are what are needed. And if it doesn't work out you know you have a guy waitning in the wings who can pick apart a horrible secondary.
You should already know.
This is a make or break year for Freeman. He looked like he was moving into the second tier elite status in 2010 when the wheels suddenly came off in 2011. His biggest problem is he went from throwing only 6 interceptions in 2010 to throwing 22 last year. They have a new coach in Tampa and the Bucs hope he can get Freeman back on track. They've also improved his offensive line and given him more weapons to work with. But Bucs fans can rest easy knowing that if Freeman doesn't improve or if he somehow gets injured they have Orlovsky ready to take over with his 2-19 record as a starting QB. Actually, I think there's some sort of unwritten rule that says having Orlovsky as your backup means you'll be fighting not to go winless on the season.
Matt Ryan doesn't need to prove he can win. He's already led the Falcons to 4 consecutive winning seasons which is the longest such streak in team history. Actually, it's the only such streak in team history since they'd never had back-to-back winning seasons before then. No, what Ryan needs to prove is that he can win in the playoffs. They've been to the playoffs 3 times in the last 4 years and have yet to win a playoff game. McCown gives the Falcons and experienced backup since Davis is a rookie but his experience consists of mostly playing poorly. But for the Falcons it really comes down to Ryan. In a way he's like a younger Philip Rivers or Tony Romo and I'm not sure those are two quarterbacks anyone wants to be compared to unless you're Dan Orlovsky.
In our where are they now segment of the story, where are Derek Anderson and Jimmy Clausen? Turns out Anderson is now with the Panthers and Clausen is, well, he's still with the Panthers. Who knew? But this is Cam's team. What he was able to do last year both with his arm and legs almost defied belief. His unbelievable play is one of the reasons the Panthers are many people's pick as this year's dark horse. It's hard to make a defensive game plan against a QB that can both pass and run the ball, just ask any defensive coordinator who had to game plan against Steve Young (and no, I'm not going to mention Vick because he's had only one good passing year). It was Newton's unbelievable play as a rookie that inspired the Redskins to trade away all their first round picks for the remainder of the century to move up 4 spots. Newton actually still needs to improve as a passer but if he can make those strides he could be a constant source of headaches for every defensive coordinator he faces for years to come.
I'm not sure what the Saints were thinking in messing around in a protracted contract dispute with the one player on the team they absolutely had to keep happy. The problem then got compounded with all their defensive shenanigans. That's right, shenanigans. Brees is still Brees and their offense will still be a juggernaut, but unless some serious changes are made the team won't reach the high water mark they reached in their Super Bowl run a couple of years ago.
When Jay Cutler went down with an injury last season the Bears watched their playoff hopes fade as their various backup quarterbacks flounder and lost down the stretch. Now they have Jason Campbell so if Cutler is lost to an injury again at least they'll have a QB who can at least look competent as he loses. Actually, I believe the Raiders would have made the playoffs last year if Campbell hadn't been injured and at the very least they would have those draft picks they gave away. Cutler has to be happy he's been reunited with Brandon Marshall, and not having Mike Martz's slow developing 7-step drop offensive plays should help him stay upright, but Cutler is still very much an enigma. Will Marshall help Cutler reach his potential or have the Bears simply doubled their headaches?
Last season was the first time in his career Stafford was able to stay healthy for all 16 games and we saw what he was capable of doing. Stafford's health is really the key for the Lions. Shaun Hill (yes, that Shaun Hill) is a competent backup so even if Stafford misses a few games it shouldn't ruin their season, but anything longer than that just might, especially with the unproven and undrafted rookie Kellen Moore as Hill's primary backup. You like to think injuries won't be a problem and the Lions will be back in the playoffs but who are we kidding. These are the Lions, of course something bad will happen. Besides, wasn't it bad enough they already had to deal with the curse of Bobby Layne? Why did they want to add the Madden curse on top of it as well?
Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell
When your starting quarterback is Rodgers it doesn't matter who your backup QB is. Unless you just want to showcase him for one game so you can fleece teams out of players and draft picks like the Eagles always seem to do with their backup QB. That was the mistake the Packers made. They were supposed to let Flynn play while he still had a year left on his contract. Who knows what the Seahawks would have given up to trade for Flynn.
They say the QB is the most important position in football, but what if that QB is surrounded by mediocre to horrible players and the one star player on the team, Adrian Peterson, is recovering from an ACL injury? I'm not sure it really matters at that point how good you are. Not that I'm convinced Ponder is the second coming of Fran Tarkenton. He may not even be the best QB on the team as Webb might give them a better shot at winning right now. But they're committed to Ponder so they'll let him develop and struggle as he gets leveled time, after time, after time, after time, after time, after...well, you get the idea.
Quarterbacks: Tony Romo, Kyle Orton
I almost had to laugh after I wrote those two names. Especially since Orton is a lot like Romo only with less talent. It still surprises me with the huge numbers Romo can put up that he's won only one playoff game in his entire career. Of course he should have won two but for some inexplicable reason he was eating Popeye's Chicken right before the most important FG of the game against the Seahawks so the snap slipped right through his greasy fingers. That last story is just a rumor but I read it in the National Enquirer so it must be true.
It was supposed to be straight forward. Vick was the starter and Kafka was the backup. Then Kafka got injured, rookie QB Foles got the playing time, Foles looked amazing, and Kafka got cut, all while no one told Kafka anything and he had no idea what his crime was (one too many Franz Kafka references?). The Eagles brought in Edwards to provide an experienced backup but don't be surprised if Foles is the one eventually playing if Vick gets injured, a very real possibility. The real question is which Vick will we see. Will it be the one who looked unbelievable in 2010 or the one that looked downright pedestrian in 2011? I'm going to split the difference and say it will be something in between, and yes, that was a copout.
Manning is claiming he's an elite QB and he has two Super Bowl rings to back him up. But Manning's not elite, although he is good. He's just incredibly lucky. Honestly, look at his two Super Bowl runs and find me any other QB who had a longer streak of luck in both runs than Manning. If I believed in Karma I would say he must be a really nice caring guy. If he were religious and I believed in that I would say God was helping him. As it is I just think he was really, really, really, lucky. As I said before their loss to the Cowboys, the Giants won't even make the playoffs this year, but that might just be my bitterness coming through.
The Redskins have pushed all their chips into the middle of the table and are all in on RG3. Unlike others I've never been sold on him, and even if I were I would never agree with giving up everything the Redskins did to get him. I guess we'll know more at the end of the season, but what's really bothering me is this. How in the hell is Rex Grossman still playing in the NFL?! Do teams enjoy having a guaranteed two turnovers every time he plays? Then again this is the Redskins we're talking about so who can really say what they're thinking.