Yesterday I touched on how uneven and uninspiring so many teams have been in the NFL has been this year. It’s really striking how large the gap is between the good teams and the not-so-good ones – bigger than usual, I think. As I was thinking about that earlier I was particularly struck by the sad state of quarterbacking in the league. There are always some QB problems, but I’m not sure that there is also this many teams in such a hopeless situation. Here’s a look at the worst offenders:
Oakland – The list really has to start here. JaMarcus Russell is a terrible quarterback who taunts people with momentary flashes of progress, but generally shows no progress or particular aptitude for playing the position. He was so bad in the first half against the Jets last week that he was finally benched, but not for long – the team has already named him starter next week and beyond. Part of the problem there is that BruceGradkowski , the backup, isn’t exactly the next Joe Montana. Very bleak situation, and a hopeless one in the longer term because the team has invested so much in Russell and has no real options.
Cleveland – This is how bad things are in Cleveland – since taking over as starter Derek Anderson has completed less than 44 percent of his passes with seven interceptions and just two touchdowns, yet there seems no urgency at all to go back to Brady Quinn, the supposed QB of the future once upon a time. In fact, Quinn seems to have at least one foot out the door. Again, this team has no real choice but to start over from scratch. The real problem they have is that they also have to start from scratch in about 14 other positions, and they have a complete moron at the helm.
Washington – We’ve been waiting a long time for Jason Campbell to break through. I don’t think he ever will, and that’s sadly not a very controversial opinion. He’s not making any progress, he freezes when he needs to shine, and it certainly isn’t getting better. Their backup, Todd Collins, is a Michigan man, but he’s older than dirt, and he isn’t a starter. They at least have a hint of potential on their roster with Chase Daniel and the now-injured Colt Brennan,but it will take a whole lot of work and luck, and a totally new staff, to turn this thing around.
Carolina – Jake Delhomme has thrown four TDs and 13 interceptions. He threw three picks last week against Buffalo, so it’s not like he is working out the kinks, either. Matt Moore is nothing more than a depth backup, and neither JoshMcCown nor A.J. Feeley are long term answers. This team, like so many others, needs to start over.
Seattle – Matt Hasselbeck is getting old, he’s fragile and constantly injured, and he’s more inconsistent than ever – he followed up a four TD tour de force two weeks ago with a career low QB rating last week. Seneca Wallace is a decent QB, but for whatever reason the team just doesn’t play when he is under center. This team needs to figure out their next step, and they may have left that a little too late.
Tennessee – Their starter is almost 37 and in the midst of a lousy year. Their backup is highly paid and highly touted, but their already messed with his head and destroyed his confidence, and now they don’t even trust him to mop up at the end of games, even though they are inevitably losing them. Again, this is a team with no obvious answer for the future and a burning need for one. The only possible advantage they have over other teams here is that Vince Young could be an asset they could use in a trade to help them address the problem.
There are others we could talk about as well – St. Louis and Kansas City chief among them – but their issues aren’t quite as hopeless as others. To compound the problems these teams face this hasn’t exactly been the year of the quarterback in college football, so there just isn’t going to be enough saviors to go around. In other words, you’d better get used to week QB play because it isn’t going anywhere. That’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s a depressing one. We’re in a quarterback recession, and it’s not going to end any sooner than the other recession.