Maybe it's a case of trying to connect too many dots, but I'm starting to believe there's never been a worse time to be a highly drafted quarterback in the NFL. Going in the first or second round may get you paid like you're one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but it sure doesn't guarantee that you'll get to play. At least for long.
As 2006 second-round pick
Last week it was Tennessee turning things over to veteran backup
Even earlier this preseason, Chicago made the same basic choice, benching 2003 first-rounder
And you know what? In most cases, bypassing the high draft pick in favor of the guy without the first or second round label affixed to his name appears to have been the smart call. Is there any doubt that Cleveland's Anderson, Buffalo's Edwards and Jacksonville's Garrard were significant upgrades for their teams last season?
Though it's still early, can't we say things look like they're going a little better with Warner under center in Arizona, Collins taking over in Tennessee, Orton on the job in Chicago, and even O'Sullivan at the helm in San Francisco? And I'd be willing to bet Minnesota won't regret turning to the steadier Frerotte for this week's must-win against Carolina either.
The heralded quarterback Class of 2006 is certainly front and center in the trend toward teams going with their second choice at quarterback, rather than their more celebrated high draft pick. Of the five quarterbacks who went in the first two rounds, only one remains as his team's unquestioned starter: Denver's
Given Young, Leinart and Jackson's recent struggles, you can't help but wonder if some day we'll look back on the Class of 2006 and mention it in the same breath as 2002's disappointing crop of quarterbacks, when
Obviously the recent trend is relative, because Cutler isn't the lone first-round success story league-wide. Nobody's talking about benching
But can anyone recall another time when there were so many young and highly touted quarterbacks who have hit a roadblock in their development as starters? Jackson, Leinart, Young, Smith, Grossman and perhaps even Losman will all be No. 1's once again for some team at some point, and Quinn is still awaiting his first starting shot. But for now they're all watching and waiting while someone else plays the position they were drafted to play.
• I talked
"Any time you get a high profile play like that one was, you're going to have a new round of discussion,'' McKay said. "But what people may not realize, that play has historically been discussed a lot, meaning the ruling of an incomplete pass in what otherwise would be a fumble. The reason that play was not included in the revision where we made down-by-contact reviewable in 2007 had to do with issues relating to player safety and some other implications.
"The play we saw with Cutler, where the quarterback loses control of the ball out of the pocket and in space, was not typically the play you get in this situation. He's usually in the pocket, with a lot of bodies all around him, and in the process of starting the throwing motion. So that's where the rule regarding the throwing motion and the whistle being blown gets complex, due to the concerns over the quarterback's safety in that situation.''
In other words, the league will likely find it difficult to try and balance its desire for player safety at the game's glamour position -- quarterback -- with the ability to rectify every potential eventuality regarding plays that involve the use of replay to settle questions of a fumble versus an incomplete pass.
"That's correct,'' McKay said. "The focus of the plays we've studied in the past is whether the ball was coming forward or not, and whether it was an incomplete pass. So the whistle blows as the ruling of incomplete is made in that case, because now you've got the quarterback somewhat defenseless as everyone's coming close to hitting him. There's just some complexity in this situation that will necessitate some further study.''
Further study, of course, is a staple of the NFL's competition committee.
• As obviously wrong as Hochuli got the call, and as damaging as it was to San Diego, which would have won the game without his mistake, I wasn't the only one surprised by the NFL's decision to let one of its best referees to very publicly twist in the wind this week.
First, there was NFL spokesman
Wow. A not-so-backhanded mention of termination dropped into that rebuke. That was followed by NFL vice president of officiating
And did we mention Hochuli made the mistake? The league didn't add that last zinger, but it might as well have. People within the NFL that I talked to were surprised at just how far the league went to publicly flog Hochuli, one of its most respected referees. The reasoning? Probably making sure that the Chargers and their fans got a little salve for their wounds, given how blatantly wrong the call was, and how bad it looked for the league to not be able to rightfully award the ball to San Diego in that situation.
Folks, never, ever underestimate the NFL's acute attention to all things having to do with getting the public relations angle right.
• Here's all you need to know about how misleading the NFL's quarterback rating formula can be: Last Sunday in the Metrodome, the Vikings'
• Here's our mandatory mention of how statistically difficult it is to make the playoffs after an 0-2 start. As we told you last week, in the 18 seasons since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, just 19 teams have overcome an 0-2 start to reach the postseason. Going back 30 years to 1978, when the NFL went with to a 16-game schedule, only 27 teams starting 0-2 have made the playoffs. And this decade, from 2000 on, only six of 68 teams that began 0-2 rallied to qualify for January's Super Bowl tournament.
Of the 10 teams currently at 0-2 (Houston is 0-1), the only club I see as having a great chance to beat the odds this year is San Diego. Remember, the Chargers were 1-3 last season and still made it all the way to the AFC title game.
• Inversely, there are 10 teams currently at 2-0 (Baltimore is 1-0). Of those, the clubs that I think are the most likely to buck their own set of odds and miss the playoffs: Arizona in the NFC, and Denver in the AFC. The Cardinals haven't made the postseason in 10 years, and the Broncos were also 2-0 last year before finishing 7-9. They also started 5-1 in 2006, but missed the playoffs at 9-7, which is considerably harder than the 2-0 but home for the postseason trick.
• Raise your hand if you had Denver receiver
• Perhaps thoughts that San Diego's
• Giants running back
Do you think
• Last year the offense obviously did all the heavy lifting in New England. But there's bad news for Patriots-haters who at least believe that magic carpet ride ended when
• Think about this: In one recent six-day span, we saw