Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Year of the Quarterback: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The hit heard 'round the world
The 2010 baseball season was deemed as the Year of the Pitcher because of the amount of dominant individual pithching performances that seemingly occured on weekly basis throughout the season.  This year in pro football, the headline stories have been dominated by quarterback play; but not always because of dominant performances.  We have witnessed the entire spectrum: from normally great quarterbacks playing awful to guys flat-out playing out of their minds.  These are the top stories.
Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings.  With Favre almost leading the Vikes to the Super Bowl last season, and in the process having a career year, Vikings fans had plenty of optimism for the 2010 season.   But things started to go sour when Favre's performance wasn't stellar early on (wide receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice missed significant playing time) and then-coach Brad Childress and Favre began to butt heads.  Next thing you know, some chic named Jenn Sterger
Favre couldn't resist. Could you?
comes out talking about dirty text messages Favre sent her and the league taking action.  The 41-year-old took things in stride and continued to play, even with the short-lived experience with the disgruntled Randy Moss, and the subsequent firing of Childress.  But the injuries got too much for the NFL's iron man to handle and his record consecutive games played streak ended at 297.  I'm not counting on Favre retiring just yet, but if he does, he would have to part ways with his career in a year when he had one of the ugliest seasons ever for a pro quarterback.                                                         
Peyton Manning, Indianappolis Colts.  The juggernaut that is the Colts offense, coming off a tough loss in the Super Bowl, was expected to continue rolling with almost every key part returning.  In addition, the oft-injured Bob Sanders would be healthy again and add more talent and depth to the defensive secondary.  But the injury bug came along and guys started dropping like flies.  Sanders got hurt again and to date has not played in any game.  Wide receivers Anthony Gonzalez and Austin Collie have missed significant time, as well as Peyton's favorite target over the years, All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark.  The running game took a hit too with starting back Joseph Addai sidelined with a pinched nerve in his shoulder.  Manning was forced to throw the ball alot with the running game being non-existent and it led to a stretch where he threw 11 interceptions in three games against the Patriots, Chargers, and Cowboys with four of those picks going back for touchdowns.  If not for Peyton rallying the Colts against the Jaguars last week to regain control of the AFC south, he would be graded as ugly.  Because if they hold on and earn a spot in the playoffs any thing can happen and the bad could turn into very good.
VY has issues.
Vince Young, Tennessee Titans.  The Titans were terrible (0-6) last year until Vince Young took over for Kerry Collins as starting quarterback midway through the season.  VY finished out the season with an 8-2 record and almost carrying the team to a playoff berth.  The Sporting News named him 2009 Comeback Player of the Year.  Things were looking up for Vince until he got into an altercation at a Dallas strip club during the offseason.  Bad Start.  The Titans were doing o.k. to start this season until Young injured his thumb in Week 11 against the Redskins and had to come out of the game.  Vince wanted to go back in, but coach Jeff Fisher kept him on the sidelines.  VY responded by throwing a hissy-fit, leading to Fisher placing Young on season-ending IR.  Titans owner Bud Adams still supports having Vince as the starting qb once he's healthy but the feeling is that Fisher has had it with him.  Something's gotta give in this ugly situation.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots.   Brady had a good year last year and was having another good year this year, but things didn't start to turn until Randy Moss was traded to Minnesota, and the Patriots acquired a former Brady favorite, wide receiver Deoin Branch, from the Seattle Seahawks.  All Brady has done this year is lead New England (13-2) as the top scoring team in the NFL, averaging 33 pts per game, and setting the all-time single season record for most pass attempts without an interception (319 and counting).  Even coach Bill Belichik might say that Brady has been pretty good this year (but I wouldn't hold my breath).
Brady vs. Vick - Who ya got fa MVP?
Mike Vick, Philadelphia Eagles.  Vick has come a long way from his days as the #1 overall pick for the Atlanta Falcons coming out of college.  After that prison stint for the dogfighting ring, the Eagles were willing to give Vick a shot last year, but he was basically the 3rd string quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.  After McNabb was traded in the offseason, Vick got moved up to the backup position as coach Andy Reid named Kolb the starter.  When Kolb went down with an injury, Vick finally got his chance to be a starting quarterback in the league again and did he ever take advantage of it.  He played good enough that Reid said even when Kolb was healthy, Vick would remain the guy.  All the guy has done is lead Philly to a 10-4 record, including monster wins over the Redskins and Falcons, and the legendary fourth quarter comeback against the Giants at the new Meadowlands.  I don't think anyone could have imagined Vick coming out of prison and being this good.
Donovan McNabb, Washington Redskins.  The Eagles look pretty smart right now by trading away McNabb when they did.  Not to say that Donovan doesn't still have it in him to be a Pro Bowl type quarterback, but Redskins coach Mike Shanahan atleast sure doesn't think so.  After a disappointing year for McNabb (14TDs, 15 INTs, 77.1 passer rating) his coach utterly disrespected him by benching him for Rex Grossman (37 TDs, 38 INTs, 70.6 passer rating career) and designating John Beck (1 career TD pass) as the backup.  No love for D-Mac in D.C.?  Straight up ugly.

Honorable mention GOOD: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers. Matt Cassell, Kansas City Chiefs. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Honorable mention BADBen Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions. Chad Henne, Miami Dolphins. Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Browns. Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers. Rusty Smith, Tennessee Titans.
Too UGLY to mention:  Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys. Carson Palmer, Cincinatti Bengals. Derek Anderson, Arizona Cardinals. Brian St. Pierre, Matt Moore, and Jimmy Clausen, Carolina Panthers.

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