In the NFL, where the franchise quarterback label has been bestowed entirely too liberally this decade, I can't recall a year in which more hope has been invested in more would-be quarterback saviors than exists as we approach the dawn of the 2009 season.
And I'm talking franchises with some long-standing quarterback searches of historic proportions and epic failure. Not just your run of the mill instances of a team drafting a
If you know your NFL history, you know the Lions have been looking for their next great quarterback since trading
In New York, where the Jets perennially loom in the shadow of the more successful Giants, rookie first-round pick
And then there's Kansas City, where fresh hope abounds after last year's 2-14 debacle. Much of it centers on $63 million man
All in all, it should make for some fascinating Monday morning quarterbacking this season in those four tradition-laden pockets of the NFL map. There are certainly other QB dramas to keep track of as well -- the Vikings, Browns, 49ers and Bucs leap to mind -- but if 2009 is remembered as the year in which the Lions, Bears, Jets and Chiefs all found their franchise quarterbacks, after decades of trial and mostly error, what a story it would be.
Cassel, Cutler, Sanchez and Stafford. Their sagas are bound together by the hope they represent, and their potential to break their franchise's cycle of mediocrity with greatness. Odds are they won't all be the one, the guy who ends the long wait at quarterback. But any day now, we get to start finding out which of them really deserves the franchise quarterback label they have been given, and which are temporary occupants to the throne.
Based primarily on the situations those four step into this season, here's how I rate their chances of first-year success with their new teams. One season, of course, will only offer us an opening snapshot: