The Great Quarterback Conundrum

The quarterback is the perennial figure of all clubs. Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Roger Staubach; regardless of their era or number of Super Bowl wins they are all names that will forever linger in the history of the NFL. You live and die by the quarterback. To win a game you rely on him. Lose a game, you blame him. They are quite simply the most recognisable player of all clubs.

[quote_box]The Super Bowl is like a movie and the quarterback the leading man. Leigh Steinberg.[/quote_box]

This has already been a season of turmoil for quarterbacks- and we’re not even half through the season yet! Two time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning has looked a fraud; his New York Giants stood at 0-6 before eventually defeating the Vikings this week. Manning already has as many interceptions (17) this season as he had for the total of last. Fellow NFC East quarterback Tony Romo’s performances are forever under the microscope. The internet creaks with Romo ‘choker’ memes under every Cowboy related search. Romo had without question the game of his life against the Denver Broncos in week 5; however a last quarter interception handed victory to Peyton Manning’s Broncos. There’s no doubting that rightly or wrongly Manning and Romo are the franchise quarterbacks of their said clubs- something that can’t be said for all 32 NFL teams.

Whilst the Jets and Raiders may finally have found their franchise guys in Geno Smith and Terrelle Pryor, the Rams have been dealt a hefty blow with the loss of Sam Bradford for the year. When it comes to back up quarterbacks very few clubs boast those with significant NFL game experience. In fact only the Jets, Colts and Titans have quarterbacks within their roster who have experienced 5 years or more with at least 10 games at the position. But should those teams respective quarterbacks be ruled out would they really throw the likes of David Garrard, Matt Hasslebeck or Ryan Fitzpatrick into the fold? Do you go with a has been or a could be?

The experience last year which saw 49ers quarterback Alex Smith injured and consequently replaced permanently by his stand in Colin Kaepernick is unique. As things stand St Louis Rams will be looking to backup Kellen Clemens to take over the reins from Bradford; but with Brady Quinn and Austin Davis added to the roster the pressure will be on. Clemens is expected to start in their week 8 match up against the Seahawks. He’s the advantage of having worked with the Rams for 3 years thus knowing their playbook and fellow players. That would leave Davis or Quinn to back up Clemens until presumably a replacement starter is bought in. The fact Davis was on the practice squad over the summer perhaps indicates he’s the edge over Quinn.

[quote_box]The only source of knowledge is experience. Albert Einstein.[/quote_box]

With injuries sweeping the NFL at present it’s clear there’s not enough elite quarterbacks to pack onto rosters. Some are even struggling to fill their starter’s role; look at the Vikings who’ve already started Christian Ponder, Matt Cassell and Josh Freeman this year yet still look desperately short at the position.

In the last 24 hours the rumour mill has been in full force with strong indications that the Rams had approached hall of famer Brett Favre (who is 44 years old and 3 years retired nonetheless)! Favre has rejected the opportunity to dip his toe in the NFL waters one last time, and despite some suggesting he could regret giving the league one last run I personally feel he made the right decision. Why tarnish the legacy he already has?

There’s still one name yet to be mentioned though. A former Heisman trophy winner would sound like a shoe in right? Not if you’re called Tim Tebow. With an NFL record of 8-6 you clearly can’t rule him out of hand. However 14 starts is hardly a significant number, you could even question whether he deserves to be referred to as a NFL quarterback at all. When the club you helped to a playoff win lets you go, then you fail to overturn Mark Sanchez as a Jet (whose pass completion rate was par 50% at the time) you have to question whether you’ve longevity or a career at all is possible at the position. More recently Tebow failed to impress during preseason with the New England Patriots. Here he worked alongside Coach Josh McDaniels for the second time of his career; if you can’t produce your best alongside a coach who knows how to get the best from you, then when will you? The fact that the Rams opted to approach Favre rather than Tebow arguably closes his NFL dreams altogether.

[quote_box]You never really know about a quarterback until he plays in a real game. Mike Singletary.[/quote_box]

As a soccer fan I find myself likening the loss of a quarterback to that of your twenty goal a season striker. Teams will have backups ready to come in, but more often than not these aren’t the guys you would intend to start week in week out. Some soccer clubs will opt to go with bright young things; West Brom and Everton have both reaped the benefits from 20 year old Romano Lukaku. Equally clubs often prefer to go with the more experienced if not slower players; Crystal Palace have 40 year old Kevin Phillips on their books, a man who has played for 9 clubs scoring 280 goals. So do the Rams go down the route with the inexperienced wildcard such as Clemmens or pursue old timers like Favre?

With the Rams currently standing at 3-4 and games against Colts, Bears, 49ers and Saints to follow, the rest of the year will be a deep learning curve for all involved. I for one wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see another Kaepernick type break through. Could it happen? Watch this space.

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