Jacksonville Jaguars: Land a Franchise QB in 2011 (Part 3)
Today, I analyze the NFC East and North. On Monday, I will close out the series by assessing the NFC South and West.
Dallas Cowboys: The quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys will always have high expectations placed upon him. It is the lay of the land when a certain position stirs up memories of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. But, in the last eight drafts, Dallas has only chosen one quarterback – Texas A&M’s Stephen McGee in 2009. For about three and a half seasons, the Cowboys relied upon Quincy Carter, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe. After 10 games into the 2006 season, Romo took the helm. An undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois, Romo has gone 38-17 in the regular season and 1-3 in the playoffs. Romo is the prime example that you don’t have to look towards the draft to land a franchise player.
New York Giants: In 2008 and 2009, the Giants drafted quarterbacks Rhett Bomar and Andre Woodson, respectively. Also, in 2004, New York acquired Eli Manning from the San Diego Chargers in a draft-day trade. Having taken over for the five-year starter Kerry Collins, Manning has delivered a Super Bowl victory and five consecutive seasons of 3,000 passing yards and at least 20 touchdowns. Even though Manning has to live up to his namesake, he is still the Giants’ franchise quarterback. This situation proves that if a team wants a player, then all they have to do is make an offer. At the very least, Eli Manning helped New York win a Super Bowl – over the undefeated New England Patriots, nonetheless.
Philadelphia Eagles: Since 2003, Philadelphia has drafted Mike Kafka [fourth round, 2010], Kevin Kolb [second, 2007] and Andy Hall [sixth, 2004]. Northwestern’s Kafka is currently competing for the Eagles’ third quarterback spot. Kolb, who has only started two regular-season games in his three-year career, has been given the top job. And, Hall makes his home in arena football. Before the arrival of Houston’s Kolb, Donovan McNabb was the face of this franchise. Although he missed parts of six NFL seasons, McNabb, a 1999 first-rounder, led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and seven total playoff appearances. With McNabb, Philadelphia found a very suitable franchise quarterback. Let’s see if Kolb can follow up McNabb’s performance.
Washington Redskins: Head coach Mike Shanahan signed his future quarterback less than two months ago. But, prior to any talk about Donovan McNabb in the nation’s capital, Washington drafted Gibran Hamdan, Jason Campbell, Jordan Palmer and Colt Brennan. In 2003, nearing the end of the Steve Spurrier era, Patrick Ramsey and Tim Hasselbeck, the lesser-known, quarterback-playing Hasselbeck and husband of television’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck, shared quarterbacking duties. Then, for bits of three seasons, former Jacksonville Jaguar Mark Brunell went 15-18 as the primary signal-caller. The last three years Jason Campbell, a 2005 first-round pick, has been the Redskins’ man. However, with new head coaches and general managers, change is only around the corner. Campbell was sent to the Oakland Raiders, and McNabb comes to what he has only known as a division rival.
Overall analysis: Dallas and New York are both set at quarterback. Philadelphia, depending upon the progress of Kevin Kolb, should be okay. The Washington Redskins upgraded from Jason Campbell to Donovan McNabb.
Chicago Bears: An organization only drafts three quarterbacks in three consecutive drafts when there is a problem. That was the issue in Chicago. The Bears chose Rex Grossman [first round, 2003], Craig Krenzel [fifth, 2004] and Kyle Orton [fourth, 2005]. In 2004, for the Bears, Ohio State’s Krenzel saw playing time in six games before finding another home with the Cincinnati Bengals. In Grossman’s first three years, he earned seven NFL starts. Those seasons saw Kordell Stewart, Chris Chandler, Chad Hutchinson and Jonathan Quinn receiving playing time. But, 2006 was the year of Grossman. In what was by far his best NFL season, he started all the games on the way to the Super Bowl, threw for more than 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. After a brief emergence by Brian Griese in 2007, Orton, who started 15 games in his rookie year, took the main gig back in 2008. In April 2009, the Bears traded Orton for the Denver Broncos’ Jay Cutler. After a disappointing first year in the Windy City, the stakes are high for Cutler and the Bears coaching staff. This year’s draft choice Dan LeFevour will be playing for a backup role.
Detroit Lions: From the time when Joey Harrington was chosen in the 2002 draft, the Lions have brought in three quarterbacks via the NFL Draft. The lucky fellows have been Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton and Matthew Stafford. Orlovsky, now the potential backup for the Houston Texans, and Stanton started a combined eight games the last two seasons. In 2009, Stafford, 22, started 10 games while Daunte Culpepper played in five others. With little hope at quarterback since Harrington left in a May 2006 trade to the Miami Dolphins, Stafford is a sign of brighter times in Detroit. For nearly $42 million guaranteed in his rookie contract, Stafford better bring brighter times and consistent quarterback play.
Green Bay Packers: Brett Favre was in Green Bay for an astonishing 16 NFL seasons. With that stability, drafting for quarterback need was never an issue. Four times in the last eight drafts the Packers selected a quarterback. They were Aaron Rodgers, Ingle Martin, Matt Flynn and Brian Brohm. Rodgers and Flynn are the two still left in Green Bay. The 26-year-old Rodgers has the more difficult job of making Packers fans forget about the legendary Favre. In the last two seasons, Rodgers has started all 32 regular-season games and thrown for at least 4,000 passing yards in each year. Drafting Rodgers out of California in 2005 was one of the NFL’s best draft moves in the last six years.
Minnesota Vikings: In three straight NFL drafts, the Vikings selected Tarvaris Jackson, Tyler Thigpen and John David Booty. During four seasons, the inconsistent Jackson, who was chosen in the 2006 second round, started 19 games. Thigpen never played a down for the Vikings. And, Booty, a Southern Cal product, has floated between Minnesota, the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans. After Favre’s one year with the New York Jets, head coach Brad Childress was determined to bring in the future Hall of Famer. Although the Vikings seemed lost at quarterback ever since Daunte Culpepper’s blown-to-shreds knee injury in 2005, Favre has been the answer. Sixteen regular-season starts and a trip to the NFC Championship game reaffirmed the signing of Favre. However, anything less than a return to wearing purple and a trip to the Super Bowl will be a huge disappointment. This is a rare case of signing a player who, at 40-years-old, should be on the decline.
Overall analysis: In my opinion, each team right now in the NFC North has a franchise quarterback. However, Jay Cutler needs to prove himself in Chicago. Matthew Stafford could do with some help in Detroit. Aaron Rodgers plays like there is no tomorrow. And, Brett Favre acts like age is purely a number. But, unless Favre has found the Fountain of Youth, the Vikings will need to find a replacement.
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.