We hear it all the time, the quarterback gets all the glory when a team wins, and all the blame when a team loses. Why? Because its true. Don't believe me? I've got two words for you, Ron Mexico. That guy and his dog fighting sank the Falcons quicker than the iceberg sank the Titanic.
Sure, there are exceptions to the rule, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson did win Superbowls, but for the most part, an NFL team needs to be rock solid at the quarterback position to have a chance to still be playing in January. In true idiot fashion, I decided to evaluate every NFL team's quarterback situation and give them one of three ratings. Solid, Rolling the Dice, and Screwed. The teams are graded not only on their starter, but how prepared they are should the lead guy go down.
I put this together because I always thought being a third string quarterback in the NFL is the greatest gig ever. You run the scout team for a few plays in practice and never get hit, pull down a nice salary and you get to wear cool baseball hats and hang on the sideline every Sunday. As such, I'm always curious as to who is riding the pine, it's important to keep tabs on people who make you jealous. Today we will look at the NFC, the AFC will follow shortly. Let's get to the ratings.
The Dallas Cowboys
1 - Tony Romo
2 - Brad Johnson
3/4 - Richard Bartell/Jeff Terrell
In 2 seasons Mr. Jessica Simpson has established himself as the real deal, he will be tormenting the other teams in the NFC for years to come. Brad Johnson is 200 years old, but he knows the game and can still be counted on hold down the fort should Romo go down. I've never heard of the 3 and 4 guys, and probably never will. There are rumors Chris Simms could eventually end up as the number 2 guy here.
Grade - Solid.
The Philadelphia Eagles
1 - Donovan McNabb
2 - Kevin Kolb
3 - AJ Feeley
I'm an Eagles fan and horribly biased, but you don't have to tell me about McNabb's injury history. When he's healthy, he's still one of the best in the league, sadly he hasn't been healthy enough. No one knows what Kolb can do, but he's a second round pick who started every game he played in college and now has a year of experience under his belt, and is getting fairly good reviews in camp.
If the Eagles are having a strong season and McNabb goes down halfway through, I have a feeling Andy Reid would turn to Feeley, who has proven he can be effective in the short term in the NFL - even though he throws way too many interceptions.
Grade - Solid.
The New York Giants
1 - Eli Manning
2. David Carr
3. Anthony Wright
4. Andre Woodson
They won the Superbowl with Cooper Manning's brother at the controls and Eli always seems to make plays against the Eagles, so there's not much bad you can say about the guy right now. I think I'm crazy, but I actually like Anthony Wright if they need to go to someone in a pinch, I'd pick him over over David Carr, who SUCKS. To use a Greg Robinson term, Wright has shown flashes of potential in his previous stops. You'll never want to start him, but he's good enough to bring off the bench in a pinch. Carr on the other hand was beyond terrible in Carolina last year, and very well could go down ultimately as a huge bust. He is now trying to regain his confidence in NY.
They also have Andre Woodson on the roster. The rookie from Kentucky who saw his draft stock drop after some poor performances in the second half of last year, but he certainly has some potential. Overall, the Giants are in good shape at the QB spot.
Grade - Solid
The Washington Redskins
1 - Jason Campbell
2 - Todd Collins
3 - Colt Brennan
4 - Derek Devine
I don't love Jason Campbell as much as Peter King, then again King has been predicting a break out year from Jon Kitna for most of this century, so take that for what it's worth. Campbell is developing and has all the tools to have a long career, but he's not there yet. Redskin fans will be looking for him to breakout this year and if he does, the NFC East will be even tougher than it already is, great.
Last year Collins came out of nowhere to prove that he's not dead and can pinch hit if called on. Brennan looks to lock down the number 3 spot over Derek Devine, a guy from Marshall.
Grade - Solid
1. Sexy Rexy Grossman/Kyle 'Neck Beard' Orton
3. Caleb Haney
Honestly, do I have to say anything here? In terms of quarterbacks, the Bears must consult Matt Millen before making any moves. Both Orton and Grossman have proven they aren't very good, although I always thought Orton showed more potential than Grossman, who's been brittle and mistake prone.
Personally I think Orton gives them a better shot at winning and he appears to be leading the competition, but that's like saying a driving a Toyota Corrolla gives you a better shot at impressing women than driving a Chevy Cobalt. As far as the third string guy, it's rookie Caleb Hanie, his team was 3-9 last year -- in the Mountain West Conference.
Grade - SCREWED - completely, hopelessly porn-star screwed.
The Detroit Lions
1 - Jon Kitna
2 - Dan Orlovsky
3 - Drew Stanton
Jon Kitna has started a ton of games in the NFL, but he's never been good enough to be a true number one QB. It's a big part of the reason why you've never seen him doing a "I'm going to Disney World" commercial. Orlovsky played at UConn and has some physical tools, but is untested. They drafted Stanton in the second round out of Michigan State last year and he has some potential, but then again, John Beck was drafted ahead of him, so we'll see. If you're a lion fan, you can't feel good - ever.
Grade - Screwed - when Jon Kitna's the best you've got, you're always screwed
The Green Bay Packers
1 - Aaron Rodgers
2 - Brian Brohm
3 - Matt Flynn
Anyone heard anything about the Packers QB situation this year? Rodgers is a risk, although he looked good in the one game he played in last year. We'll know more about him soon enough, I have a feeling people will be watching. The two guys behind him, Brohm and Flynn had good, not great, college careers at Louisville and LSU respectively, but rookie QBs aren't ready to play in the NFL - these guys are no exceptions.
Grade - Rolling the Dice, and if Rodgers isn't any good, they are completely screwed.
The Minnesota Vikings
1- Tarvaris Jackson
2 - Gus Frerotte
3 - John David Booty/Brooks Bollinger
Jackson made some nice strides at the end of last year, but he's got a long way to go. Obviously Favre would have helped here. In terms of the rest of the lot, it's a scary bunch. I didn't know Head Butt Frerotte was still in the league, and Booty and Bollinger are nothing more the career clip board holders. It's a good thing they have purple jesus in the back field.
Grade - Rolling the Dice - and this grade is generous
The Atlanta Falcons
1 - Chris Redman
2 - Joey Harrington
3 - Matt Ryan
4 - DJ Shockley
This order most likely isn't right, but it's not like it matters. It's amazing how quickly things change, 18 months ago people thought Michael Vick blossom under head coach Bobby Petrino's tutelage and would be the starting quarterback in Altanta for the next 10 years - now, Petrino's in Arkansas, Vick is some guy's girlfriend and Atlanta might start a former insurance salesman.
They drafted Matt Ryan number one this year and time will tell how he pans out, but in the short term, they are left with either Chris Redman, or Joey Harrington, a guy who has had too many chances to prove himself - and blown every one of them.
Grade - Screwed - at least for this year.
The Carolina Panthers
1 - Jake Delhomme
2 - Matt Moore
3 - Brett Basanez
4 - Richard Lester
Jake Delhomme got the Panthers to the Superbowl a few years ago, but it's been downhill ever since. Now coming off Tommy John surgery, the question is, can he bounce back? The answer - I don't know. I do know he shouldn't piss Steve Smith off if he values his health. For a team that thinks it can make a move this year, they are rather unprotected if things go poorly for Delhomme. I think Matt Moore has some potential and I liked what he did after taking over for David Carr last year, but I'm not sure if it's because Moore might be OK or if it was just the fact that anyone would look good following Carr. Brett Basanez and Richard Lester are young, untested guys who aren't ready to contribute this year.
Grade - Rolling the Dice
The New Orleans Saints
1. Drew Brees
2. Mark Brunell
3. Tyler Palko
Everyone knows Drew Brees can play and even though the Saints took a step back last year, Brees had his best year statistically, so they are obviously in good shape. I like the pick up of Brunell, at this point I think I might have a better arm than him, but he's a crafty veteran who can play in a pinch and not be flustered in a big situation. He's an excellent insurance policy, signing him was a smart move by the Saints. Palko has a strong arm and played at Pitt, he's a bit of a project, but Brunell can help bring him along.
Grade - SOLID
1. Jeff Garcia
2. Luke McCow
3. Brian Griese
4. Josh Johnson
5. Chris Simms
Jon Gruden loves quarterbacks, he just doesn't love good quarterbacks apparently. This team has a ton of questions at this position - how much does Garcia have left? Is it possible to distinguish Luke and Josh McCown and do we want to? Will Brian Griese hurt himself in his driveway? Where will Chris Simms eventually end up?
What they lack in quality they make up for in quantity. Simms will immediately improve some team's depth at the position once he's let go - to me he's a guy you'd want as your number 2.
Grade - Rolling the Dice - a million of them.
1 - Matt Leinart
2 - Kurt Warner
3 - Brian St. Pierre
Call me crazy and I don't have any real proof, but I think this is the year Leinart makes the leap and becomes a good NFL quarterback. Warner proved last year that when his old body isn't broken, he can play in their offense and is an excellent security blanket if Leinart decides to quit and focus solely on doing beer bongs. St. Pierre is a guy that played at BC and has hung around the league as a number 3 for a few years.
Grade - Solid
St. Louis Rams
1 - Marc Bulger
2 - Trent Green
3 - Bruce Gradkowski/Brock Berlin
Bulger is talented when healthy, but I'm pretty sure that an MRI last year proved he is actually made out of paper mache. I thought Trent Green was retired, apparently he's not, although he should be, all he needs is one fly to crash into his helmet and his career is over. Gradkowski has a great name for a plumber and Brock Berlin sounds like he should be a 1960s movie star. Neither will likely ever develop into a number one guy.
Grade - Rolling the Dice - there's a lot of talent and and abundance of fragility. Good luck with that Ram fans.
The Seattle Seahawks
1 - Matt Hasselback
2 - Seneca Wallace
3 - Charlie Frye
4 - Dalton Bell
Hasselback has proven to be a durable, solid, very good NFL quarterback and the Seahawks are in good hands with him at the controls. Should he go down, you have to be nervous about Wallace and Frye, two guys who haven't shown much in the limited opportunities they've received. That being said, Hasselback is durable durable and both back ups have had enough time on NFL rosters to at least know the system.
Grade - Solid
The San Francisco 49ers
1. Alex Smith/Shaun Hill/ J.T. O'Sullivan
4. Kyle Wright
Probably the worst collection of QBs in the league, they right up there with the Bears. It appears that O'Sullivan may win the job, but it's still officially open right now. The fact of the matter is that when you've got 3 guys listed as your umber one QB, you don' have one. Shaun Hill outplayed Alex Smith last year and Smith has been mostly terrible so far in his NFL career. Kyle Wright wasn't any good at Miami, he's not going to get any better now.
Mike Nolan has to be awfully concerned heading into the season because when a 28 year old journeyman on his 6th team is your leading QB candidate, well, you're screwed.
Grade - SCREWED