The Starting the Back Up Quarterback Debate – Leinart Is Ready To Leave the Nest

November 25, 2009

Read the arguments from Bleacher Fan and Loyal Homer about which NFL backup quarterback SHOULD be starting for their team right now.

Matt Leinart should be starting at quarterback in the NFL this season… at least, somewhere. Since Leinart was drafted as the tenth overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, a series of unfortunate events (i.e. a broken collarbone, a horrendous preseason, Paris Hilton) derailed Leinart from the fast track to superstardom. Now, during just his fourth season in the NFL, he finds himself blocked on the depth charts by a surprisingly resurgent fossil – I mean, quarterback – Kurt Warner. Leinart deserves a shot at a starting gig, if not in Arizona then somewhere.

Leinart has demonstrated immense talent. His college accolades are a testament to that, but he also has NFL experience. Leinart displayed flashes of brilliance his first season in the league throwing for 11 touchdowns and rushing for two more. In just 11 starts during the 2006 season, Leinart amassed 2,547 passing yards proving that he is more than capable of starting in the NFL, but he has not been given the opportunity to develop further. Leinart’s critics will point to his 12 interceptions that season and claim it was a sign of problems to come. Those critics should remember that a young Peyton Manning threw 26 touchdowns and a league leading 28 interception across four more starts than Leinart during his first season, and he turned out okay.

Serviceable quarterbacks are in high demand in the NFL in 2009. Numerous teams are looking to resolve QB questions in the upcoming 2010 draft, but Leinart serves as a unique and much better alternative. Leinart provides experience and affordability. The top two quarterbacks in last year’s draft received massive contracts, including $41.7 million (Matthew Stafford) and $28 million (Mark Sanchez) in guaranteed money. Leinart is currently in the fourth year of his six year deal, and his salary breaks down to an average around $6.75 million a year. His contract allows the team that acquires him a relatively cheap test drive. If they like him, they could sign him long term. If they find him a poor fit then they could part ways following the 2011 season. That is like offering a guy on a moped a $25 a month lease on a sports car. Who could turn that down?

You may be thinking, “Babe Ruthless, you are CRAZY! There is no way the Cardinals could afford to let Leinart go because Kurt Warner is way too old.” Let me assure you that I am crazy… crazy like a fox. You see, trading Matt Leinart is the right deal for both Leinart and the Cardinals. Warner has some gas left in the tank and many think he will remain the starter for the next two seasons. This creates a situation for Leinart not unlike what Aaron Rodgers faced just two seasons ago. Rodgers was blocked from the role of starter by living legend, Brett Farve, but the Packers waited till it was too late to make the most of both quarterbacks value. I suggest that the Cardinals strike while the iron is hot and trade Leinart for players that can make a difference now. The Cardinals could trade Leinart to a team in need of a new quarterback and get an upgrade that pays immediate dividends. I would bet that the Bills, Panthers, and more teams could find suitable trades that would benefit both teams. The Cardinals could get a trade that brings in a game-changing pass rusher like Julius Peppers or Aaron Schobel. Such a trade could bring the missing piece of the puzzle the Cardinals need to return to and win the Super Bowl, and allow Leinart to prove he has what it takes to lead a team.

Leinart must start somewhere, and soon. He is capable and ready to shine. If the Cardinals are not ready to give him the reigns, then the team should use him as trade bait to improve a team that is bordering on the cusp of greatness.

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The Starting the Back Up Quarterback Debate – Third Try is a Charm!

November 25, 2009

Read Babe Ruthless’ argument and Loyal Homer’s argument about which NFL backup quarterback SHOULD be starting for their team right now.

One game does not a season make!

Desperation can make people do funny things. While many fans from Cleveland are complaining about the embarrassing manner in which the Browns lost to the Detroit Lions last Sunday, there are just as many folks who cannot seem to stop talking about Brady Quinn’s performance. Many fans around the city of Cleveland are allowing the pleasant memory of a single, solid performance by Quinn to overshadow the HORRIBLE performances by Quinn and fellow Browns quarterback Derek Anderson from the first eight games of the season. With the same delusional hope that every Browns fan feels during the preseason – that “this is FINALLY the year that it will all turn around…” – many of the Cleveland faithful appear ready to hand over the Browns’ offense, the keys to the city, and their first-born children to Brady Quinn.

I hate to be the rain cloud on this fools parade on the banks of Lake Erie, but the excitement will be short-lived.

I will give Quinn the credit deserved for that one game against the Lions. His performance of 304 passing yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions was impressive, there is no doubt about it. That does not mean, however, that all of the Browns’ problems have been solved. In the interest of “keeping it real” I feel obliged to remind everyone that this performance, albeit impressive, did come against the worst passing defense in the league. The Detroit Lions have given up more passing yardage than any other team in the league, the Lions are tied for the fewest interceptions in the league, and Detroit has allowed the most points. I will say it again – Quinn’s result from last Sunday were impressive, but it MUST be taken with a grain of salt.

In reality, the Cleveland Browns are no better off after Quinn’s performance than before it. The team has some SERIOUS offensive issues that have yet to be addressed. The Browns traded away the two best pass-catchers on the team – Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, Jr. – this season and the right side of the offensive line is about as effective at protection as a bullet-proof vest made out of toilet paper. The current receiving corps is comprised of one pseudo-established receiver (Chansi Stuckey) two rookies (Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie), a kick returner (Josh Cribbs), and a part-time defensive back (Mike Furrey). For the running game the Browns are relying on Jamal Lewis, who announced three weeks ago that he will be retiring at the end of this season.

I know that it is tempting to view Quinn’s performance from last Sunday and argue it as proof that Quinn should be starting, but I want to propose another option – why not give current third string quarterback Brett Ratliff a try?

Derek Anderson has proven that he cannot successfully lead the Cleveland Browns offense any more. This season, Anderson has a passer rating of 36.2 and has thrown only two touchdowns against nine interceptions on the year. Quinn’s results (including his inflated stats from the game last weekend against the worst defense in the NFL) are not much better. Thanks to the charity game in Detroit, Quinn’s quarterback rating has SKYROCKETED to 70.4, and he was able to draw his touchdown total even with his interception total at five apiece. Before he had stepped onto Ford Field, he had thrown only one touchdown against five interceptions on the season.

Although Ratliff has not taken a professional snap yet, his performance at college in Utah was very impressive. During his final season with the Utes Ratliff passed for 2,796 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only nine interceptions. He successfully led Utah to an eight-win season in 2006, a season capped off by a victory in the Armed Forces Bowl.

I am not saying that Ratliff will be any better than Quinn or Anderson. It is obvious, though, that Browns head coach Eric Mangini has been reluctant to rely on Quinn. This is proven by the fact that Mangini benched Quinn after only three games and allowed Anderson to consistently fail for the next FIVE games before going back to Quinn, only because it would have likely cost Mangini his job if he had stuck with Anderson any longer. The team is clearly not in playoff contention; and, with the lack of any truly reliable personnel around the quarterback position, it is safe to assume that Quinn (despite one week of success) will likely continue to struggle throughout the rest of the season. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, why not at least give Ratliff a shot?! Let’s be honest, with the poor pass-blocking ability of the right side of the Browns’ offensive line, Ratliff will be playing by the end of the year anyway due to the inevitable injuries that will come as a result of the repeated hits absorbed by whomever takes the snaps in Cleveland.

After Quinn’s performance last Sunday I understand that it would be foolish not to start him against the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend. WHEN Quinn begins to struggle again or WHEN he gets hurt (whichever comes first), Mangini should look to Brett Ratliff, not Derek Anderson, as the next quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.

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The Starting the Back Up Quarterback Debate – Kolb is The Future… and the Present

November 25, 2009

Read the arguments from Babe Ruthless and Bleacher Fan about which current NFL back up quarterback should be the starter.

It is always said that the most popular guy in town is the backup quarterback. I certainly hear it everywhere. I even hear it at the high school level. We all hear it often at the collegiate level (this has been going on in Athens, Georgia for much of the season with the 6-5 Georgia Bulldogs). Of course we hear it at the professional level. Backups often get to play due to injuries to the starting quarterback, as was the case this week in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers having to go to Charlie Batch after an injury to Ben Roethlisberger (Editor’s note: Now Batch is out for six weeks). Matt Leinart also took over for Kurt Warner out in Arizona after Warner took a blow to the head. There were other injuries, too. The point is that backups are very valuable and there are some backup quarterbacks who deserve a shot at starting. This is evident in the city of Brotherly Love with current backup quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Remember the stink that was made when Kolb was drafted with the 36th pick by the Eagles? I sure do. I was one of the ones making the stink. I thought it was too high to draft a backup quarterback and one who many experts were not as familiar with, for the most part. Plus, I was not sure it sent the right message to Donavan McNabb. Fast forward two years later… I have changed my mind.

Kolb, in his third season, deserves the chance to start. It is hard to say McNabb needs to be benched at this point, especially after a comeback win over the Bears last Sunday night. Kolb made his first start earlier this season in week two against the Saints, due to an injury to McNabb. Yeah, the Saints won big 48-22, but Kolb still threw for 391 yards and completed 31 passes. He followed that up by throwing for 327 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-14 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week two. Kolb is the only guy in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards in his first two career starts. He has since been confined to the bench as McNabb has remained healthy and effective. But in his time as a starter he proved he has what it takes to be successful in the NFL.

Benching McNabb is not the answer. But, can you imagine Kolb’s gun slinging arm with the exciting duo of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. That would be quite a show. As it is, that possibility may not happen. But, I compare Kolb to Matt Schuab who sat on the bench behind Michael Vick with the Falcons for three years before finally being traded to the Texans. He has since, quietly, established himself a capable quarterback, when healthy.

Kevin Kolb deserves a shot. He has too good of an arm to be sitting on the cold bench in Philadelphia. Hey NFL teams, please give him a shot soon!!!

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