Not many backup plans at QB

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Not many backup plans at QB

Postby BirdBrain » Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:44 pm

Another reason why turning down any offers for Schaub (I doubt there were any real offers, according to McKay there weren't), and keeping him at least one more year was in the best interest of the Falcons.Matt will be a restricted FA next year, and i expect at least 6 teams will contact us about him.

Shockley won't be ready for a few more years, and as this article by Lenny P. explains the market is very thin.On the other hand, as i have said all along, if some QB hungry team offers us a #1 and a #3 then you have to take it.Anything less than that , considering Vick's injury history, is taking a huge risk.

By Len Pasquarelli

Over the final 16 weeks of the 2005 season, there were 48 quarterback changes in the NFL, three per week, and nearly half of those were by choice, not attrition.

Twenty-two times in '05, double the average for the previous five seasons, coaches opted to switch starting quarterbacks because of poor performance. The trend began early, with Mark Brunell replacing Patrick Ramsey at halftime of the Washington Redskins' season opener, and it didn't abate, as there was at least one starting quarterback change in 12 of the final 16 weeks of the campaign.

Might this season offer a repeat of the revolving door philosophy that marked 2005? Probably not.

In the first two weeks, only one team, Kansas City, used more than one starter, and that was prompted by the severe concussion sustained by Trent Green in the opener. But there is another reason even some desperate coaches might not display the same quick-hook philosophy of a year ago: Most of them really don't have viable options at the position, with the No. 2 spots on depth charts around the league weaker than they were in 2005.

On Sunday, for instance, rubber-faced Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden twisted up his countenance into a wide range of disgust-driven knots as Bucs starter Chris Simms tossed three interceptions for the second week in a row, and continued to have passes deflected at the line of scrimmage by the Atlanta Falcons' defense. How a quarterback who stands 6-foot-4 could have so many attempts swatted away, as if he were throwing from out of a hole or had the pocket stature of say, Doug Flutie, is a story for another day, since neither Simms nor Gruden could offer an explanation.

The story for Sunday, though, was that Gruden, despite his obvious displeasure with a quarterback who had produced one field goal drive and no touchdowns in two losses, couldn't make a lineup change. Remember, the steady and experienced Brian Griese doesn't live in Tampa anymore, having been released for salary cap considerations in the spring, and signed by the Chicago Bears as an unrestricted free agent and valued insurance policy.

Gruden and the Bucs? Well, they're kind of uninsured right now. The options are veteran Tim Rattay, whom Gruden holds in such regard that he's made him the No. 3 "emergency" quarterback for two straight weeks, and rookie Bruce Gradkowski, a sixth-round pick from Toledo whose moxie is admired by the Bucs' head coach, but who isn't ready to start yet. Gradkowski earned his stripes in camp by not backing down when Gruden got in his face. That doesn't mean he won't blink in the face of a regular-season pass rush.

One can't blame the Bucs for not trying to remedy the situation. When the promising youngster Luke McCown was felled by a knee injury in a spring minicamp, Tampa Bay reacted by signing veteran Jay Fiedler. Alas, Fiedler, still rehabilitating from shoulder surgery, couldn't break a pane of glass from 10 yards away with his best fastball, and was released. So to whom does Gruden turn next if Simms continues to throw picks and have passes volleyed back at him? The media in Tampa might want to watch for the arrival of the retired Rich Gannon, a longtime Gruden favorite.

OK, that was a joke. But the dearth of dependable quarterback alternatives around the league is no laughing matter, especially at a time when some starters might be yanked even at this early juncture of the campaign if their teams had reliable replacements. There are 22 new No. 2 quarterbacks in the league in 2006, double the number of new starters, and in most cases they represent a key position weakened during the offseason.

The result: If last year was the season of the quick hook, this might be the year of the long pause, because a lot of coaches who perhaps want to make changes really have little recourse.

If you are Romeo Crennel in Cleveland, for instance, where second-year veteran Charlie Frye has mounted little offense in two defeats, can you turn to Derek Anderson or Ken Dorsey with any degree of confidence that either of them will provide some impetus? Oakland starter Aaron Brooks was injured on Sunday, but might have been replaced anyway, so shoddy has his play been in two games. But the man who supplanted him, second-year veteran Andrew Walter, a kid with a bright future but a shaky present, struggled as well.

Kerry Collins has been rotten in his two starts in Tennessee. But for coach Jeff Fisher to bench him would mean beginning the Vince Young Era much earlier than anyone in the Titans' organization had planned. In the midst of Daunte Culpepper's struggles, with opposition defenses blitzing him mercilessly, can Miami expect Joey Harrington to offer relief? The fans in Dallas who were screaming for Tony Romo to replace Drew Bledsoe after one game have no idea how the backup might react if suddenly thrust into the starter's role. Thankfully, they won't have to find out for a while, because Bledsoe rebounded well on Sunday night.

Asked about his quarterback situation after Sunday's latest loss and another game with a stagnant offense, Gruden noted that he is not thinking about a change at the position. In truth, chances are that Gruden has probably thought long and hard about it, but isn't inclined to make a move because the options are so poor.

In that regard, he's not alone.

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Postby Pudge » Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:23 pm

It's interesting when you see how other teams QB situations have been shaped by what the Falcons have or have not done in recent years.

We all know that the Falcons tried to sign Billy Volek back in '04. But he took more money and a more comfortable system and remained in Tennessee. See where that has netted him since, a backup position in San Diego, playing behind a QB that was very durable in college, and is only keeping that spot warm until their No. 3 (Whitehurst) is ready.

Volek would be entering the final year of his deal with the Falcons, and be set to hit the market next spring, where he could land a No. 1 gig.

Then the Falcons moved onto Drew Brees. Well Brees had a landmark year in '04, a pretty good year in '05, and now is helping the resurgent Saints. The Brees deal fell through due to a disagreement on compensation. I imagine the Chargers wanted at least a #2, while the Falcons probably only were willing to give up a #3. Well Brees and the Saints definitely benefited from that mistake.

Now we have Matt Schaub, who as you said is an RFA after the season and I'm sure some teams will have interest in his services. Although the figure of 6 seems pretty high to me at this point. I could definitely think of 6 teams that will sniff around at Schaub, but I'm not sure all 6 would bite. Here are the teams IMO that might show interest in Schaub next off-season:

1. Buffalo - Losman is by no means entrenched as the starter. But if the Bills manage to win 7 or so games with him this year (which seems more likely now than it did a month ago), then I think their management won't pull the trigger on a pricey guy like Schaub.
2. Detroit - We know Martz loves this guy. I say they are a strong candidate as they were this past off-season. Kitna and/or McCown would really have to step up their play and show they are on the verge of making the playoffs with either in order for them to not go after a player like Schaub.
3. Green Bay - People are constantly talking about the team's desires to look at other QBs beside Rodgers. But Rodgers had a strong preseason and I'm sure will get opportunities to play this regular season with the way things are going for the Packers now. I would say this is a low chance.
4. Kansas City - The Chiefs used a 3rd round pick on Brodie Croyle, so he'll get a chance. This one right now seems iffy with the long-term futures of Green and Huard being so up in the air. Schaub is a definite possibility here because his style of play is similar to Green, but it really depends on how much the coaching staff likes Croyle.
5. Minnesota - This one seemed likely a few months ago, but now seems doubtful. Johnson is playing great, and Tarvaris Jackson had a good camp. They used a No. 2 on him, and it would seem they are more likely to wait another year before they bring in another guy to replace him as the "future."
6. NY Jets - With the way Pennington is playing and the presence of Kellen Clemens, this looks like a very low possibility at this point. Unless Pennington really falls apart, Ramsey stinks, and Clemens struggles (if he ever manages to play), then I would put this down as doubtful.
7. Oakland - Walter is going to get a chance to show the coaching staff what he can do over the next month. Depending on how he looks will determine if the Raiders look elsewhere. Schaub is not a good fit for Tom Walsh's offense though, so even if the Raiders make this trade/signing, it would be a bad move as long as Walsh is still calling the plays.
8. St. Louis - Linehan has no young QB of his own to groom for the future behind Bulger. Schaub could work in this offense, but it really depends on how the rest of this season pans out with Bulger and/or Fitzpatrick.
9. Tampa Bay - Simms is in his contract year as well and by his play thus far, it would seem the Bucs would be reluctant to extend his deal long-term after the season. Schaub could have some interest here, but it depends on how well Simms manages to finish this season.

So that's 9 possibilities, but in truth when examining their current QB situations, and prognosticating to how it may be 14 weeks from now, I really only see the Lions, Chiefs, and Rams as good possibilities for Schaub's future destination.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.

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