Inside the NFL (cont.)
Posted: Thursday November 8, 2007 12:21PM; Updated: Thursday November 8, 2007 12:38PM
As the Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn question continues to deepen and get more interesting in Cleveland, it has the potential to be an echo of the situation Washington found itself in with Heath Shuler and Gus Frerotte in 1994.
That year, the Redskins chose Shuler third overall out of Tennessee, and then selected Frerotte as a seventh-round afterthought, 197th overall out of Tulsa. Shuler held out during training camp, which allowed Frerotte to get a lot of preseason snaps he otherwise probably wouldn't have gotten. Frerotte not only made the regular-season roster, he went on to beat out Shuler for the starting job, holding the No. 1 post until Trent Green replaced him in 1998. Shuler's ill-fated Redskins tenure was over in two years.
This year in Cleveland, Quinn went 22nd overall, but held out of camp while Anderson and Charlie Frye split snaps. Once Frye was shipped off to Seattle after the Browns' opening-day home loss to Pittsburgh, Anderson (a sixth-round pick of Baltimore's in 2005) emerged as the No. 1, and his surprisingly strong play has kept Quinn on the sidelines throughout the first half of his rookie season.
In both cases, a training camp holdout designed to squeeze a little more money out of the team's coffers could wind up having very unintended consequences for a big-name, big-money, first-round quarterback. Interestingly, both Shuler and Quinn had the same agent: Tom Condon, one of the more experienced names in the business and frequent representative of first-round QBs.
It's still early, but Anderson could wind up making the AFC Pro-Bowl roster as the conference's third quarterback, behind guys named Brady and Manning. What if he does become an all-star, or even better, leads the Browns to the playoffs for the first time since 2002? As far as the future in Cleveland, it could be a Frerotte over Shuler situation all over again.
The moral of a story that's still unfolding? Training camp holdouts might produce another zero or two on the signing bonus, but they can also contribute to turning a quarterback of the future into a quarterback whose best opportunity may have passed him by.
What in the name of Marty Schottenheimer is going on out west? Why is it so hard for anyone to win in the west in today's NFL? Got me.
Of the eight teams in the league's two West divisions, three of them are at .500 and the other five are losers at midseason. Seattle in NFC, and Kansas City and San Diego in the AFC "lead'' the way at 4-4. Denver and Arizona are 3-5, while the Bay Area contingent of Oakland and San Francisco are a pitiful 2-6. The beleaguered Rams are in a class of their own at 0-8.
All six of the NFL's other divisions have at least one winning team, and some have as many as three. Combined, the two West divisions are 22-42, a woeful winning percentage of .344. The Seahawks, Chargers and Chiefs all made the playoffs last year, but the Cardinals haven't reached the postseason since 1998, and San Francisco and Oakland last qualified in 2002. The Rams are bound for a third consecutive non-playoff season, and the Broncos are in jeopardy of missing the dance in consecutive years for the first time since 2001-2002.
Raise your hand if this offseason you had Terrell Owens in Dallas and Randy Moss in New England qualifying for team player of the year in their respective conferences. It helps, of course, that the Cowboys and Patriots are a combined 16-1, with the only loss being produced by their head-to-head encounter.
A rematch in Super Bowl XLII -- and two weeks worth of T.O. vs. Moss hype -- is looking more likely all the time.
Seems to me the four most questionable quarterback decisions of last offseason have all come back to bite the teams that made them:
-- The Dolphins decided to trade for veteran Trent Green rather than take Brady Quinn in the draft.
-- The Falcons opted to trade Matt Schaub to Houston and bank on Michael Vick upgrading his play under new head coach Bobby Petrino.
-- The Bears chose to stand pat with the wildly inconsistent Rex Grossman, believing another vote of confidence was in order.
-- And the Vikings didn't seem concerned at all with the notion they were putting their 2007 season into the hands of the inexperienced Tarvaris Jackson.
Miami's 0-8. Atlanta is 2-6. Chicago and Minnesota are 3-5. All are in last place in their divisions.
Donovan McNabb is dead right that his struggles are not the whole reason the Eagles are 3-5 and last in the NFC East. But c'mon, No. 5. You know how the game works by now. You've been in the NFL for nine years and that's plenty long enough to realize the starting quarterback gets most of the glory when things are good and most of the blame when things are tanking.
If you accepted that equation when Philly was making its perennial playoff trips, you have to accept the downside of it, too. How many starting quarterbacks could rightfully point out that they're not the entire problem? Only every one of them who lose more than they win.
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