Jacksonville Jaguars: Land a Franchise QB in 2011
Let’s face it the Jacksonville Jaguars need a franchise quarterback. I am all about enjoying the product on the field now. But, to have a true shot at taking this organization to the next level – more than one victory in the playoffs, Jacksonville has to look towards the future. The last time the Jaguars drafted the quarterback position was head coach Jack Del Rio’s first season in 2003. We all remember with the No. 7 overall pick that year it was Marshall’s Byron Leftwich thundering into Jacksonville. I will argue, debate, state – whatever verb you want to use – that the quarterback is the most important position in team sports. Here’s a team-by-team look at drafting quarterback since 2003.
This is the first in a four-part series. In each one, I will review two divisions. First off, it’s the AFC East and North. On Monday, I’ll have the AFC South and West. You get the pattern.
Buffalo Bills: In a perpetual state of we-need-somebody, the Bills have selected Levi Brown [seventh round, 2010], Trent Edwards [third, 2007] and J.P. Losman [first, 2004] since 2003. Edwards and Losman, two California boys, have 63 starts between the two of them. Losman won the UFL Championship with the Las Vegas Locomotives in 2009, and then signed with the Oakland Raiders in December. Edwards was benched in favor of Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick last season. Both Edwards and Losman will probably be remembered more for their hairstyles than play on the field in Buffalo. The 23-year-old Brown has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants to win the four-quarterback competition including Edwards, Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm.
Miami Dolphins: From 2007 to 2009, Miami chose three QBs in the second round – Pat White, Chad Henne and John Beck. It was Chad Pennington’s team in 2008 when it should have been the rookie Henne’s. At 33, Pennington’s best days are well behind him. Pat White, who excelled at West Virginia, will always be that Wildcat player – he threw five passes in 2009 and completed zero of them. Beck was drafted during the year of Cam Cameron in 2007. After having started four games that season when Trent Green went down and Cleo Lemon struggled, Beck dropped behind Pennington and Henne on the depth chart in 2008. Beck now calls Baltimore home. At least the Dolphins landed franchise quarterback Henne.
New England Patriots: When a team has Tom Brady, one of the game’s all-time greats, drafting a quarterback is almost unnecessary – unless it’s a backup for Mr. Gisele. The Pats have selected four QBs in the last eight years – Zac Robinson, Kevin O’Connell, Matt Cassel and Kliff Kingsbury. Cassel, now with the Kansas City Chiefs, is the only one with NFL starting experience. He has 30 starts primarily thanks to a knee injury sustained by Brady at the start of 2008. The Patriots equal Brady and vice versa. That’s all you need to know. That, five Pro Bowl selections, three Super Bowl wins and two SB MVPs.
New York Jets: This organization had an issue with drafting three quarterbacks with non-traditional first names and strange spellings – Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge. Between Bollinger and Clemens, they have played in 36 games for the Jets with only 12 touchdown passes. Ainge is still trying to spell his name with a “c.” However, landing Mark Sanchez in the 2009 NFL Draft changed everything. With mediocre passing stats in 15 starts, the Southern Cal product helped lead New York to the AFC Championship Game as a wild card. In three less seasons, Sanchez has started two fewer NFL games and thrown two fewer touchdowns than former SC QB Matt Leinart. Looks like the 23-year-old Sanchez not only has the former Heisman Trophy winner one-upped for now, but will be the face of the Jets for years to come.
Overall analysis: From my point of view, each team in the AFC East – except the Bills – has a franchise quarterback. Bills fans, I don’t think C.J. Spiller has much experience in the shotgun or underneath center. The Dolphins and Jets are set for the future. The Pats might need an upgrade or replacement for Brady in the next three or four years – maybe sooner.
Baltimore Ravens: In the last eight years, the Ravens have drafted five quarterbacks. After four misses, the organization was fortunate enough to land franchise quarterback Joe Flacco in 2008. Before the strong-armed Flacco, Baltimore took Kyle Boller, Josh Harris, Derek Anderson and Troy Smith. During five seasons of play with the Ravens, Boller started 42 games, but never seemed to settle in as the primary signal-caller. He is currently on the Oakland Raiders roster and is engaged to former Miss California Carrie Prejean. Harris is out of the league. Having never played a down in Baltimore, Anderson was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Browns where he started 15 games in 2007 and was selected to the Pro Bowl that year. He’s now in Arizona trying to pry the starting job away from Matt Leinart. Troy Smith will just be known as the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner. Before Joe Flacco, the now-deceased Steve McNair helped the Ravens transition into this new era of good fortune and stronger quarterback play.
Cincinnati Bengals: The days of Jon Kitna in Cincinnati seem like forever ago. Since 2004, this has been Carson Palmer’s team. He did not play in 2003 so he could learn the system behind Kitna and through head coach Marvin Lewis. Other than drafting Palmer in 2003, the Bengals have chosen one other quarterback since then – Wyoming’s Casey Bramlet in 2004. With a franchise quarterback like Palmer, there is no need to draft a quarterback. In six seasons, he has missed 15 games – mainly in 2008 when he was out for 12 games with a sore elbow, which later needed Tommy John surgery. Palmer is the man here for another few seasons at least.
Cleveland Browns: At some point, even casual football fans feel bad for the Browns’ lack of finding a solid quarterback. Since the 2003 draft and prior to 2010, Cleveland selected Luke McCown, Charlie Frye and Brady Quinn. Between the three draftees, they started in 35 games and passed for 28 touchdowns while in Cleveland. Each has a new home in the NFL – McCown (Jacksonville), Frye (Oakland) and Quinn (Denver). In the 2010 draft, the Browns took Texas’ Colt McCoy. He could provide some relief in a few years, but it could come down to Jake Delhomme’s interception total or Seneca Wallace’s comfort in the pocket in 2010. This is a perfect example of what not to do when attempting to draft a quarterback for the future.
Pittsburgh Steelers: It’s pretty simple when Ben Roethlisberger is your quarterback – forgetting everything that has happened off the field recently. Former head coach Bill Cowher was dead-on when he called Big Ben their franchise quarterback in 2004. Although he will very rarely wow you statistically, Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings and the pocket presence of a statue. For good reason, the Steelers have drafted only two other quarterbacks since 2003 – Dennis Dixon [fifth round, 2008] and Omar Jacobs [fifth, 2006]. With a four- to six-game suspension lingering, Pittsburgh has former Jaguar Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch and Dixon battling for the starting gig. Unless Roethlisberger finds more trouble, the Steelers are set at quarterback for some time.
Overall analysis: In my opinion, three out of four teams in the AFC North have franchise quarterbacks. Cleveland is the only organization that needs one desperately. Palmer and Roethlisberger seem to be on the downturn of their careers. But, for now, the Bengals and Steelers should feel fortunate.
Monday it is the AFC South and West.
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio.
Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville and 103.7 FM at the Jacksonville Beaches at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show. Richard also hosts Inside the Game every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on WBOB.
Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
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