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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

23 Sep 2010

Walkthrough: Benched

by Mike Tanier

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of pit bulls cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

I think everyone in America, or at least Philadelphia, has come down with that disorder (anterograde amnesia) from the movie Memento. We can only remember things that happened in the last 10 minutes. We all have "Mike V." tattooed on our arms, but we don't know what it means. There are also tattoos of birthday cakes, a water bottle, a map of Mexico, angry dogs, and an unopened Falcons playbook. How obscure.

Press me, and I'll admit that Michael Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to Win. Right. Now. As in Sunday. He may even have the best chance to lead the Eagles to a 10-6 record and lose in the first round of the playoffs. I can think of a quarterback who gives my team a better chance. No, wait, I can't remember him.

The next three segments take an in-depth look at three other quarterback controversies throughout the league. If you are an Eagles fan, read about the Bills, Titans, and Raiders (past and present) and wonder: Is this where we will be in three or four years? If you are a Colts, Patriots, or Saints fan, or root for any team that knows who will start at quarterback this week, and the next, and the next, read this and cherish these times.

The Benching of Trent Edwards

J.P. Losman threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns in a thrilling 24-20 Bills victory over the Texans on November 19, 2006. He threw two 83-yard passes to Lee Evans early in the game, a feat in itself, then threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Peerless Price to win the game in the fourth quarter. It was an exciting game. It was also the last time a Bills quarterback threw for more than 300 yards.

Losman threw for 295 yards in a win over the Bengals in 2007, but he was already swapping the starting job back and forth with Trent Edwards. Edwards' career high is 289 yards in a 2008 loss to the Jets. He has started 32 games without reaching the 300-yard milestone, and now it looks like he never will.

Now, 2006 was a long time ago. Justin Bieber was 12 years old the last time the Bills had a 300-yard passing game. He still is, but that's not a problem we need to wrestle with here. Peerless Price still existed back then. There have already been nine 300-yard passing performances this year, and there were 104 last year. As milestones go, 300 passing yards is a pretty easy one to achieve. But not for the Bills.

You probably know that Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and their ilk throw for 300-yards regularly. Instead of focusing on them, I went back through the last four seasons to find the worst quarterbacks to throw for 300 yards during the Bills drought. It was a tough task. Brady Quinn had a few 300-yard games. Various McCown brothers achieved the feat. But drilling even deeper, I found the worst of the worst. As a bonus, I determined their current whereabouts.

Chris Weinke: Weinke completed 34-of-61 passes for 423 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions for the Panthers in a December loss to the Giants in 2006. His performance was a little better than the numbers suggest in the 27-13 loss, as the Panthers' passing DVOA in the game was -0.7%, just a bit below average. Drew Carter led the Panthers in receiving that day. Keyshawn Johnson caught five passes. It was a long time ago.

By the way, Weinke threw 63 passes in a 2001 game, meaning he had two 60-attempt games in his career. Tom Brady has never thrown more than 55 passes in a game. Any playbook with 60 Weinke passes in it must also have a pentagram on the front. Weinke, now 73 years old, runs the IMG John Madden Football Academy, which trains players to be better football players, not video gamers.

Quinn Gray: Gray threw for 354 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions in a Jaguars loss to the Saints in November 2007, then threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to the Texans in 2007 season finale. Quinn had many of us convinced that he could be a successful NFL quarterback before he threw six preseason interceptions while trying to win the Colts' backup job in 2008. He's currently a high school coach in Florida. His team won its season opener.

Cleo Lemon: Lemon threw for 315 yards and a touchdown in a 22-16 win over the Ravens in December 2007; it was the Dolphins' lone victory that year. The Dolphins' passing DVOA that day was 28.8%. It was a heck of a game, best known for Greg Camarillo's overtime touchdown reception. Lemon's Toronto Argonauts are 6-5.

Charlie Frye: Frye threw for 333 yards and three interceptions in a Raiders loss to the Browns last December. For Browns fans, it was a reminder that things could always be worse. Zach Miller caught nine passes in that game. I get the impression that the Raiders could hire a street performer who shoots ping pong balls out of his nostrils to play quarterback, and Miller would still catch at least half a dozen ping pong balls. Frye is out for the season with a wrist injury, which means the Raiders quarterback job is in the hands of ...

Bruce Gradkowski: Gradkowski threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns in a Raiders victory over the Steelers a few weeks before Frye's effort against the Browns. The Raiders passing DVOA for Gradkowski was 78.9%. Frye's was -57.3%.

Gradkowski is back in the news because of the Raiders quarterback controversy; he'll pop up a little later in Walkthrough. Gradkowski is the greatest awful quarterback ever. There's nothing NFL about him, but he's got the spunk-moxie-swagger thing down cold, and in 10 years he will still be jumping from bad team to bad team, earning a start or two based on how hard he practices and the snappiness of his salute on the parade grounds.

Come to think of it, he should really go to Buffalo next. He's just as unlikely to throw for 300 yards as any of the guys they have now.

(Correction: Weinke is actually 37).

The Benching of Vince Young

Jeff Fisher benched Vince Young with the Titans trailing 13-3 in the second half against the Steelers. At the time, Young was 7-of-10 for 66 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles (one lost). Our own Tom Gower broke Young's game down, but I wanted to look at the game myself and see how much blame Young deserved for the Titans' poor offensive showing.

I believe Young made some big mistakes, but Mike Heimerdinger should have put him in a better position to succeed.

Figure 1: VY Looks for Receivers

I'm not going to diagram Young's two interceptions, because they were shown on all the replay programs and broken down by several experts on television. They were bad reads, bad decisions, and bad throws. Young was having a poor game by the midpoint of the second quarter. After the second interception, though, the Titans coaches lost confidence in him. They called four running plays in one series, including the Chris Johnson touchdown that was nullified by holding. They opened their two-minute drill with a handoff to Johnson, who fumbled. They clearly wanted the ball out of Young's hands.

In the third quarter, the Titans opened with two straight running plays, plus a penalty, which left them in a second-and-18 situation. It was at this point that Heimerdinger gave up any efforts at creativity. Figure 1 shows the call. Three receivers run deep routes. I can't tell the exact patterns from the television footage, but all three are running long, slow-developing routes. The Steelers appear to be playing quarters coverage, with the cornerbacks well off the line. Johnson sets to block before running a bench route; someone named Craig Stevens (88) runs a slow crossing route. They are easily picked up in underneath coverage. Young cannot find a receiver and is forced to scramble for six yards, fumbling out of bounds at the end.

Figure 2: VY on Third-and-12

Figure 2 shows the third-and-12 call on the next snap. Again, we see three deep routes, with Nate Washington (85) running a comeback along the right sideline. Troy Polamalu spots the route combination and buzzes in front of Washington. Young looks to Kenny Britt (18), and it's hard to tell from the tape how well Britt is covered, but he has a cornerback running with him at the snap. Again, Young scrambles for a short gain, and the Titans must punt.

Young's final two series are more of the same. Whenever he drops to pass, the Titans send three receivers on deep routes and Johnson underneath. Young doesn't like what he sees, then tries to run, dumps the ball to Johnson, or takes a sack. Enter Kerry Collins, and guess what? The Titans keep running the same offense. Figure 3 shows Collins' interception, and the play looks like a mirror image of the one in Figure 2. The only difference is that Collins tried to force a throw to Washington.

Now, put yourself in Heimerdinger's shoes for a moment. Your three receivers are Washington (not very good), Britt (talented but immature) and Justin Gage (hello, UFL). Your tight ends are Bo Scaife and Stevens, who runs like a lineman. Johnson, for all his gifts, doesn't run the underneath route very well; he has a hard time sifting through the line of scrimmage and finding his level. In other words, you lack receiving weapons, and you are playing the Steelers, who like to put their corners in deep coverage and then blitz your face off. But here's the good news: The Steelers can't score, because they just promoted their equipment manager to quarterback. What do you do?

You could run your option plays. Maybe try a few reverses to catch the Steelers over-pursuing Johnson. You can run some smash and hitch routes in front of the deep coverage. How about a wide receiver screen or two to get Britt the ball and help Young find his rhythm? Maybe flood one side of the field with three receivers running picks and wipes. Oh, and if you do face third-and-long, you could send some receivers on crossing routes before the sticks, because a few yards of field position could matter in a punt-and-pin game.

It seems to me that the worst thing you could do was send your mediocre receivers into deep coverage, one up each sideline and one up the seam, play after play, making life easy for the defense and hard for your already rattled quarterback. That's what the Titans did, and they kept doing it with Collins in the game, which is why Collins fumbled twice, threw an interception, and committed intentional grounding on his first three possessions.

Figure 3: Kerry Collins, Same Problems

Collins eventually led a ridiculous 17-play, 85-yard touchdown drive, and after the Titans recovered an onside kick and nearly won, there was a lot of talk about Collins "rallying" the team. Collins played just as poorly as Young until the Steelers had a two-score lead with 4:51 to play. The Titans offense played poorly, not just Young, and I believe that Heimerdinger deserves a share of the blame. Unfortunately, Young gets to be the lightning rod.

Did Young "deserve" to be benched? I don't know, but I believe he deserved a chance to throw some shorter passes to his wide receivers, or execute some rollouts, or try some other adjustment to get the offense moving before he got the hook. And Collins deserved the same thing when he entered the game. Heimerdinger is a good coordinator, and Jeff Fisher certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt, but coaches have bad games, just like quarterbacks. Except they don't have America questioning their character and maturity when they are benched.

The Benching of Jim Plunkett Junior

When I read in August that Al Davis compared Jason Campbell to Jim Plunkett, I chuckled, but not for the same reasons everyone else did. Most people just scoffed at Crazy Al for comparing a Redskins castoff to a two-time Super Bowl winner. I scoffed at Crazy Al for his selective memory.

Jim Plunkett? If you are trying to compare a young quarterback to an established starter who brought stability to the team, there aren't many worse examples than Plunkett, who was involved in quarterback controversies during his entire Raiders career.

Plunkett was the first player taken in the 1971 draft, and he won the Rookie of the Year award, throwing 19 touchdowns for the Patriots. The Patriots were an awful organization in the early 1970s, and Plunkett spent four seasons with them, mostly getting hammered in the pocket, before the 49ers traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to acquire him in 1976. Bad organizations had a habit of throwing away first-round picks in that era, usually to avoid paying rookie salaries, so the Plunkett deal wasn't too unusual. Anyway, after two mediocre seasons in San Francisco, Plunkett was released. The Raiders signed him, and he spent one season as the third-stringer behind Ken Stabler and David Humm, then a second season behind Stabler.

In 1980, Davis traded Stabler for Dan Pastorini, the Oilers quarterback who existed in the second between the snap and the handoff to Earl Campbell. Pastorini threw a nice deep ball and could punt but was truly out of place in 1980s football. Of course, the Raiders weren't going to play 1980s football, so it didn't matter. Plunkett and Pastorini had been high school rivals, and Pastorini was selected two spots after Plunkett in the 1971 draft. Davis also drafted Marc Wilson in the first round, who put up amazing numbers for the time (3,720 yards, 29 touchdowns) at Brigham Young. Plunkett saw a no-win situation and wanted out of Oakland, but Davis refused to let him go.

Pastorini broke his leg four games into the season. Plunkett threw five interceptions in his first start, then led the Raiders on a hot streak, throwing seven touchdowns and no picks in a three-game stretch in which the Raiders scored 38, 45, and 33 points. The Raiders won a Wild Card berth, and though Plunkett was erratic early in the postseason (8-of-23 against the Oilers, two interceptions against the Browns), he threw two touchdown passes to lead the Raiders past the Chargers, then threw three touchdown passes to beat the Eagles in the Super Bowl.

Plunkett entered the 1981 season as the Raiders starter, though he had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder in the offseason. After a few early wins, the Raiders were shut out in three straight games. Wilson replaced Plunkett in the fourth quarters of the last two shutouts, playing terribly (he was 1-of-8 in one game, 2-of-11 with two interceptions in the other), but Tom Flores benched Plunkett for Wilson after the third shutout anyway. "The way he was playing we felt we should sit him down a few weeks to let him get his timing back to that precision he had last year," Flores said. Wilson threw seven interceptions in his first two starts and was wildly inconsistent, but the Raiders went 5-4 down the stretch with him at quarterback.

In the first training camp drill of the next season, Flores separated the Raiders starters and reserves onto two different fields but didn't tell Plunkett and Wilson where to go. "Plunkett looked at Wilson and Wilson looked at Plunkett. Neither moved," according to one story. The starters began calling for their preferred quarterback, some for Plunkett, some for Wilson. Wilson finally suggested that Plunkett join the starters. Plunkett did, and remained the starter throughout training camp and the regular season. It sounds like one of those motivational speeches in which the presenter waves a $20 bill and asks, "Who wants it?", then gives it to the first person bold enough to walk up and grab it. It makes the presentation more dramatic, but it may not be the best way to make personnel decisions.

Plunkett was shaky at the start of camp in 1983, and he took several hard sacks in preseason games. Several players suggested that it was time to switch to Wilson, but Plunkett retained the starting job and played well to start the season. Soon, the sacks and turnovers mounted. In one loss to the Seahawks, Plunkett threw three interceptions, fumbled twice, and was sacked eight times. Wilson replaced him and played well for two games before injuring his shoulder. Back came Plunkett, once again playing well after a benching. "I feel more rested now and less beaten up," he said. "The first part of the season was pretty rough on me from that standpoint." Plunkett again led a great Raiders team to the Super Bowl.

Plunkett entered the 1984 season as the starter, and he retained the job despite a slow start that included one four-interception game. Plunkett tore a stomach muscle early in a game against the Seahawks, and Wilson replaced him, throwing for two touchdowns. Two weeks later, Wilson threw for five touchdowns to beat the Chargers, and the Plunkett era finally seemed to be over. But Flores chose Plunkett to start in place of Wilson in the Wild Card playoff game. Plunkett threw for 184 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in a 13-7 loss.

By the 1985 preseason, Raiders fans booed Wilson whenever he entered the game. Plunkett held the starting job throughout camp but injured his left shoulder in Week 3. Wilson replaced him for the remainder of the season but was terrible. By 1986, Rusty Hilger was in the quarterback mix, and Flores declared it a three-man race in the preseason. Wilson won the starting job, played well in the season opener against the Broncos, and promptly separated his shoulder after throwing three interceptions against the Redskins. Plunkett started the third game but had a hard time moving the ball in a 14-9 loss to the Giants. The pair played hot potato with the starting job for the rest of the season. Plunkett finally retired at season's end.

Having read all of that, do you really want to compare a new quarterback to Plunkett? The surface similarity is apparent: He's another team's former top pick, and Davis wants him to come to Oakland and win two Super Bowls. Upon further review, though, we see that Plunkett was ...

  • Essentially roster fodder at the start of his first Super Bowl season. He was David Carr until Pastorini broke his leg.
  • Benched twice in his career, once the year after a Super Bowl season, once during a Super Bowl season.
  • Forced to earn his starting job, or at least play a guessing game, several times during training camps.
  • Locked in an endless quarterback controversy with an inferior competitor for his entire tenure with the team.

Davis and Flores really wanted Wilson to develop and win the starting job, but Wilson was streaky, erratic, and didn't inspire confidence. Plunkett was usually Plan B, reliable but rickety. He didn't so much provide a spark as hold down the fort so Marcus Allen and the defense could do their jobs, and at times he couldn't even do that.

Come to think of it, the Campbell-Plunkett comparison makes more sense now than it did in August. Bruce Gradowski can play Wilson. He'll get a few starts, then get hurt or play so poorly that Campbell will ride to the rescue. They can keep doing it for five years, though the Raiders will now be battling to go 5-11 instead of 11-5. And instead of turning against Wilson, the fans will probably turn against Campbell. But Campbell shouldn't despair -- Plunkett didn't turn things around until he was 33 and on this third team. There's still time.

There's an even better Plunkett-to-Wilson comparison in the NFL now, and it's in this very Walkthrough. Collins and Young. The knock-around veteran and the kid you don't quite have faith in. Young is much better than Wilson, and Plunkett accomplished more than Collins, but story is very similar. It echoes across history, for better or worse.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 23 Sep 2010

58 comments, Last at 25 Sep 2010, 5:46pm by Shattenjager

Comments

2
by tally :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:11am

First.

We can all be like Guy Pierce's character in Memento and only read the last post of the thread, so everyone's first.

And I thought there was a McNabb moratorium on Walkthrough. Oh wait, you never mentioned his...I forget who we were talking about.

EDIT: Wow, eerie. Because I edited my post, Theo did actually come in and be first after me.

4
by Theo :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:28am

A: it's not a contest
B: you manage to lose even in a non-contest
C: your edit contains of the mention that after the edit you're not first anymore? Wow.

15
by tally :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:15pm

I didn't consider it a contest. I was making a Memento reference that apparently went completely over your head because confrontation and insult seem to be your first priority.

18
by Theo :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:26pm

I'll watch the movie then. I must say it's easy to confuse your post with a "first!" post.

17
by billsfan :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:20pm

Eleventh!

EDIT: eighteenth!

(I also like the Eagles)

1
by Theo :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:09am

"Young doesn't like what he sees, then tries to run, dumps the ball to Johnson, or takes a sack."

Here you can see what kind of sack:
http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=57805&page=2

Maybe the coaches would rather see Collins get killed than VY.

10
by The Other Ben Johnson (not verified) :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:34am
23
by The Hypno-Toad :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 2:23pm

Jeeeesus Christ, that looks painful. I haven't gasped at a tackle in a while.

26
by Led :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 6:44pm

How is that not a penalty? It's a pile driver. If you're going to have a penalty for tackling a QB too rough (which I'm not sure makes sense, but for the sake of argument), then that's got to qualify.

29
by tuluse :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 6:50pm

Because it's Vince Young and not Brady/Manning/Brees/etc.

35
by Admore :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 2:12am

Evidently. If you do that to Brady it's a lifetime ban.

34
by Jerry :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:04pm

If it makes you feel any better, it was a $5,000 fine.

3
by narticus :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:17am

Vince Young threw his first pick to into an area with Polamalu lurking nearby - never a good idea - and his second went directly to a zone defender. Yes, there was some subterfuge on the second pick; the defender pretended to blitz before dropping, but it's Pittsburgh, and such things shouldn't be a surprise.

Collins, however, threw to a receiver with only one defender, a defender not named Polamalu, in the area. The timing was clearly off, since the ball got there before Washington finished his cut. If Collins delivers the ball half a second later or Washington is a single step quicker, then that pick doesn't happen. Considering Collins' hasn't been taking first-team reps in a while, that pick doesn't seem to be about poor decision-making.

The intentional grouding penalty, however, was just plain awful on Collins' part.

52
by Shawn Smith (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 1:30pm

Yeah, true on those two VY picks...but why was Polamalu in that area? Dinger (the O-coordinator) had Scaife (TE) run a go route down the seam and Washington (WR) ran a deep in route. Both receivers ended up in the same area so that's why Polamalu was in the area. If the routes were designed better then Scaife should have ran a quick out or an arrow out to the sideline to pull Polamalu out of the middle of the field. It was a poorly designed play...should VY have thrown that ball? Absolutely not. Should that play have been designed in that manner and called? Absolutely not.

5
by zlionsfan :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:08am

My team's current starting QB couldn't beat out Alex Smith. The backup should probably have his career put out of its misery.

I see nothing to cherish here.

16
by ammek :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:19pm

I like the fact that the Lions officially do not have anyone to play left guard.

21
by Jerry :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 1:49pm

They do now, apparently, but I see that Stefan Logan is listed as a starting WR. One reason the Steelers cut Logan was his alleged inability to play a position beyond kick returner.

22
by drobviousso :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 2:19pm

My team is starting a QB that was cut by the Lions (we love him anyway).

6
by johonny (not verified) :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:09am

The late 80s era was an odd time when you really didn't need a good QB to make the Super Bowl. You had the 1979 Rams with Haden-Ferragamo, 1980 Raiders with Plunkett-Pastorini, the 1982 Dolphins with Woodley-Strock and 1983 Raiders with Plunkett-Wilson. It was a magic era in quarterbacking.

7
by K (not verified) :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:13am

As compared to the 2000s when Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, Jake Delhomme, and Rex Grossman all started a Superbowl?

12
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:53am

Delhomme was non-terrible in 2003, and Brad Johnson was actually good in 2002. The other two... no comment.

31
by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 9:57pm

The year the Ravens won the SB Dilfer wasn't terrible. He was about 60% passing, 12 TDs, 11 INTs, 1500~ yards passing. Only started 8 games. His job was basically "don't screw it up", and he didn't. Collins' SB year was actually pretty good. So, really, I'd say a comparison of both to Delhomme seems fair. Johnson I've always had a soft spot for (I liked him even before the Bucs' SB win), and he's really without question the most solid of those four. I'd call him a solid QB over pretty much his entire career.

33
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:59pm

I completely agree about Brad Johnson. For some reason, he seems to be remembered as being much worse than he was.

38
by The Ninjalectual :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 5:31am

Ravens QBs in 2000:
Trent Dilfer: 59% comp, 12 TDs, 11 INTs, -24.6% DVOA and -217 DYAR.
Tony Banks: 55% comp, 8 TDs, 7 INTs, -18.3% DVOA, -124 DYAR.

Saying that Dilfer "wasn't terrible" is pretty generous. The team won despite their QBs, not because they somehow managed to "not screw it up."

Buccaneers QBs in 2002:
Brad Johnson: 63% comp, 22TDs, 6 INTs, 13.4% DVOA, 745 DYAR.
Rob Johnson (in 107 passes): 65% comp, 1 TD, 2 INTs, -25.1% DVOA, -95 DYAR

Johnson's numbers are more what I would call "not terrible" for a game manager.

I can't wait until FO gets the data for 1991 so we can see what Mark Rypien's year looked like!

40
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 8:43am

"Johnson's numbers are more what I would call "not terrible" for a game manager."

Which Johnson are you saying was "not terrible"? If it's Brad, your bar is a lot higher than mine. If it's Rob, your bar is a lot lower than mine.

47
by Shattenjager :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 11:32am

I just want to say that I would not have said that Dilfer wasn't terrible. His numbers that year actually are better than I would have thought, but still terrible.

43
by Independent George :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 9:55am

People remember him in Dallas when Romo got hurt, and think that's what he was like for his entire career; it's like judging Mark Brunell on his Washington years. I remember him being pretty good in Minnesota - not great physically, but he made good, quick decisions and was pretty accurate (though having Chris Carter helped).

37
by Theo :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 3:49am

Maybe in comparison to the QBs who played in the Super Bowl in the 90s, they weren't earth savers.
But yeah, B Johnson was pretty good, Delhome had a good year and some others just 'didn't screw up'.

14
by ammek :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:12pm

You forgot Kerry Collins.

48
by justanothersteve :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 12:23pm

Joe Kapp. There have been mediocre SB QBs since the earliest 70's.

20
by SteveGarvin :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 1:36pm

Two things: You mean early 80s.

Plunkett was not a bad QB. He wasn't a great QB, but he wasn't Trent Dilfer level chaff. He was inconsistent. Mike's career review underplays him into journeyman status, which I think is unfair (having lived that era as a Raiders' fan). He was, for the time, a mid-level NFL QB.

Also less-than-elite QBs have gotten teams to the Super Bowl throughout NFL history - as someone else has noted.

27
by troycapitated p... :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 6:45pm

Perhaps we have different interpretations of journeyman, but wouldn't a guy who had a relatively long career as a mid-level guy be considered a journeyman? A journeyman is someone who has gained experience enough to no longer be an apprentice, while not yet achieving the rank of a master. If you are less than a mid-level player, I don't think you deserve to be called a journeyman, and, in most cases, probably don't stick around long enough anyway?

36
by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 2:49am

Other medicore QBs in Superbowl campaigns - Jay Schroeder/Doug Williams (87), Mark Rypien (91), Stan Humphries (95), Neil O'Donnel (96), Chris Chandler (99). None of those had better careers than Plunkett.
(I am also facetiously going to throw in Troy Aikman..)

Whereas Dan Fouts never made it to one, and Dan Marino managed just one. Not that QBs contribution to Championship teams are over-rated or anything.....

39
by billsfan :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 8:38am

Jeff Hostetler (90)

I was going to facetiously throw in Tom Brady (01)...

(I also like the Eagles)

57
by PatsFan :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 10:41pm

How about Tony Eason/Steve Grogan in 1985?

8
by Nathan :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:21am

Nice opening line?

9
by Theo :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:29am

Found:
by Joe M. (not verified) :: Tue, 09/21/2010 - 6:07pm
I felt a great disturbance in the League, as if millions of fantasy owners suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly crushed. I fear something idiotic has happened.

11
by Nathan :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 11:41am

That's the one.

13
by Mike Tanier :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:07pm

Oddly enough, I tweeted the opening line as a joke at precisely 6:21 on Tuesday. Apparenly, many of us are attuned to the same Force.

28
by Led :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 6:47pm

It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the NFL together.

30
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 7:41pm

Oddly enough, when you have a congregation of geeks like FO, Star Wars references come to many, many minds immediately.

19
by mawbrew :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 12:48pm

One of the worst things that can happen for a organization is for a bad young quarterback to have a really good game (300 yard passing) early. The team convinces itself that the QB has the talent otherwise he couldn't have had that big game. He just needs more time, patience and he'll start having these types of games consistently. This is especially true for high draft choice QBs. So teams stick with these guys for much longer than they otherwise would.

That's assuming, of course, they haven't taken over 60 throws to get there.

24
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 3:57pm

Agreed, but I'm not sure why you didn't just come out and say "Kevin Kolb". I kid...

One of my pet theories is a corrolary of this -- that the worst thing that can happen to a young QB is to make a really stupid/risky decision and get away with it. The medical term for this is Aaron Brooks Syndrome, and it frequently leads to "just being a kid out there". It can be overcome by the supremely talented, but for most, it's a career death sentence.

25
by drobviousso :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 4:16pm

So what you are saying is good coaching and talent evaluation are good for developing a QB? *ducks* (I kid. I acknowledge the fact that it turning generalizations into useful rules/observations is valuable.)

41
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 8:49am

I don't mean "get away with it" in the sense of the coach not yelling at him about it. I mean it in the sense of chucking the ball into triple coverage, but somehow the WR comes down with it and it becomes a 50 yard TD pass. Getting away with it once leads to trying it more.

32
by CornerBlitz :: Thu, 09/23/2010 - 10:33pm

This is a fantastic article and a memory of why I come to FO in the first place. Great stuff.

However, I think there's some merit to the idea that the Titans accepted a certain fact: whomever was under center, they were going to take a beating (psychologically and physically). The Titans weren't ready for the Steel Curtain. It was probably beneficial to pull VY and put Collins in based on the fact that the Titans have more of their future invested in Young. I don't personally believe that Vince Young is or ever will be a great QB, but I do think sitting him was the right call.

http://www.draftdebacled.com/DeBlogled/DeBlogled.aspx

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by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 9:04am

Interesting theory, but I think if Young really is the long-term QB solution for the Titans, he should be past the point of needing to be protected. Young is in his 5th year at this point, and the coaching staff isn't always going to cook up a winning game plan. Sometimes it's just going to be a long day at the office, and all you can do is handle it as best as you can. See this past week's Giants/Colts game for a comparison. If anything, that game was far less competitive than Titans/Steelers, but Eli was still out there. Especially with the past history of Young and Collins, if they want Young to be their QB of the future, they really need to stop playing musical quarterbacks and stick with Young through the rough patches.

So, based on that, I think it's less likely they were protecting Young than that they still aren't sold on him.

44
by HoleInZone :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 10:42am

Credit to FO for this year's articles so far.

Tanier is in mid-season form, as we'd expect, but the Cover 2/3 columns and Word of Muth have been fantastic reading.

It's exactly this kind of unique content on which this site built its reputation so it is great to see after perhaps a slight lull last year as the guys adapted to having their additional mainstream projects.

45
by MCS :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 10:51am

Doesn't Young have the ability to audible? As the guy on the front line he should be able to recognize what works and what doesn't work. If he is being set-up to fail by a poor game plan, he should change things.

If he gets benched for disagreeing with the coaches, so be it. At least he isn't getting killed and the team may actually be scoring points.

46
by RichC (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 11:21am

I know that last year they weren't allowing him to Audible. At this point, hes in his 5th year, and thats kind of ridiculous.

49
by jimbohead :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 12:32pm

Well, some offenses just don't audible. IIRC, that's how Martz' offense runs. Instead of audibles, each play just has a set of reads like 10 deep that receivers, QBs and RBs each have to make simultaneously, and adjust play accordingly as they go. I have no idea if that's how the Titan's offense runs, but it's possible that they take this approach.

53
by Shawn Smith (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 1:40pm

You typically don't see the Titans audible much...I think the coaches just like having control on what play is being ran.

I don't think this article was trying to move all of the blame on the Titans poor offensive outing from VY to the coaches. This article just wanted to show that it wasn't all VY's fault. It was a lot of poor game planning and adaptation in the game. VY was 7-for-10 with 2 picks and 2 sacks so he executed the game plan well on >50% of the plays. But the plays that were being called were not to his strength (as was stated in the article).

50
by tunesmith :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 12:51pm

Quinn had many of us convinced that he could be a successful NFL quarterback before he threw six preseason interceptions while trying to win the Colts' backup job in 2008.

Shouldn't this have meant he would have played at an All-Pro level in the regular season? These Colts forget who they are.

51
by prs130 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 1:19pm

Woe to the Eagles. Vick makes bad defenses look bad, and good defenses look good. The first time I ever placed a bet was against Vick in the 2003 playoffs - Falcons @ Eagles. I've never been so confident in a bet, before or since. The irony.

54
by BGNoMore (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 7:41pm

I'm still trying to grasp the notion that Brady Quinn had a 300-yard game. None of the other names surprise. Brad...? Wow.

Ok, boys and girls, its time for your reading comprehension quiz. The quarterback who was:

* Essentially roster fodder at the start of his first Super Bowl season;
* Benched several times throughout his career;
* Forced to earn his starting job, or at least play a guessing game, several times during training camps;
* During his few good seasons, was the beneficiary of playing with the best WR tandem in the league;

is whom?

a) Jim Plunkett
b) Kurt Warner
c) both a) and b)

(hint: an aging Cliff Branch and Malcolm Barnwell were not considered the best WR tandem in the league)

55
by tuluse :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 8:19pm

I believe it was against the Lions if that makes it any more believable.

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by BGNoMore (not verified) :: Fri, 09/24/2010 - 8:20pm

Tanier mentions, but does not emphasize, something astonishing. Plunkett was third string behind David Humm! David Humm is, by all accounts I've seen, a likable guy, and was a three-year starter at Nebraska, from 1972 to 1974. Now, lets picture Nebraska football in the early Seventies. It involves a lot of four-man backfields and triple option and a handful of passing attempts. This is akin to being behind Tommy Frazier on an NFL depth chart. Jim Plunkett was so far in the weeds a military satellite couldn't find him. The resurrection of his career, ragged as it was (and Tanier might be overly kind describing it), is a remarkable story.