Richard Martin

So Many Crummy Passers, So Little Time

Created on Oct. 30, 2013 4:04 AM EST

It’s hard to see a genuine quarterback controversy – a situation where two guys are pretty good and either one could start. But there are sure as hell are some quarterback messes, teams where nobody deserves to start, Moe’s in charge and has to choose between Curly and Larry.

In fact, some Vikings fan sites are depicting the team’s brain trust as the Three Stooges, and showing photos of attendees wearing bags on their heads. The Minnesota situation is plenty messed up.

Christian Ponder started the season and alternated between good, middling and poor moments in the first three games, all losses. (In fairness, though, the Vikings should’ve beaten the Bears and Browns.)

Ponder was injured (at least officially) and Matt Cassel played well in London as the Vikings beat the Steelers. (Too many Guinnesses for the men in black?) But then he played horribly against the Panthers in Minnesota in a terrible 35-10 loss.

Next up: Josh Freeman. Oh, heavens. Freeman was 20-of-53, with his errant tosses landing in multiple area codes, in perhaps the most inept offensive performance in team history.

Now Freeman’s hurt, with a concussion. You sure? Oh yeah, of course. Anyway, bring back Ponder.

He was awful against the Packers, and Green Bay rolls. Forget the final score; that was a mugging.

So let’s see what we have here. One team, three bad quarterbacks.

Who’s next? Fran Tarkenton? The guy looks good. Wade Wilson? He’s getting yelled at by Dez Bryant on the Cowboys sideline, maybe he’s ready for a change. Tommy Kramer? Norm Van Brocklin? Dead. OK, forget that idea. Joe Kapp? Hey, he can throw a punch anyway.

Leslie Frazier will lose his job at the end of the year, along with inept assistants Alan Williams (defense) and Bill Musgrave (a very offensive offense). But whoever chose to draft Ponder in the first round should be accountable. You can just bet no one wants to take “credit” for that.

Then there’s Philadelphia. That’s a bit more forgivable, since Michael Vick’s been hurt. He played with a hamstring injury, and finally went down for good Sunday. Nick Foles is hurt, too. Uh oh.

So the team turned to Matt Barkley. Last week, he gained some yards against the Cowboys, but he pressed, and threw three interceptions. Against the Giants in a winnable game Sunday, the Eagles were driving, and Barkley couldn’t find a receiver. He was tackled, stripped of the ball. End of threat with Giants recovery. So he turned the ball over in his first four possessions as an Eagle.

Sure, plenty of fans were booing, but look at the bright side. It’s too warm for fans to throw snowballs.

Then there’s Tampa Bay. The Yuckaneers are 0-7 after being blown out by the Panthers. Mike Glennon won’t remind anyone of Steve Young or Doug Williams. But where do they go? They dumped Josh Freeman for a song and had no one else. Coach Greg Schiano is a lame duck. They couldn’t even beat the Falcons, one of the few teams at their level, and the Vikings aren’t on their schedule.

What do you make of the Jets? Before the season I thought the Vikings were the ultimate Jekyll-and-Hyde team, but it’s obvious the dark side of the personality took over in the North Woods. You could argue that the Jets are now another team that can’t decide whether they’re good or bad.

Hyde was the dominant self Sunday in a game against a much better Bengals team.  Or you could just forget the classical allusion and say the team stunk up the joint.

Geno Smith did a great impression of Mark Sanchez, throwing two pick-sixes before being replaced. You wonder what Sanchez thought on the sideline. You have to say he looks great holding a clipboard.  Has he found his niche? (Hey, I’d do that, and date hotties at night, for a few mil a year.)

But the Jets have nowhere else to go. Matt Simms came in, and it’s a good thing his dad was announcing the Patriots-Dolphins game. Ouch. Of course, the Jets’ offense is a few gears short of being a juggernaut, but 3-for-7 for 17 yards won’t impress anyone. Least of all his dad.

The strangest QB situation is in Cleveland, a team that has some talent among backups and a hurt starter, Brandon Weeden, who’s also terrible.

But, unlike Minnesota, the Browns have had capable backups. Brian Hoyer was great (against a putrid Minnesota defense). And then Jason Campbell played quite well against the Chiefs in a tough loss. I don’t quite know why Campbell has gotten such disrespect. He’s better than plenty of starters.

A year ago the Browns and Bengals both had trouble at the quarterback position. Now watch out for Cincinnati: Andy Dalton’s on a hot streak, and the team has a good divisional lead. Dalton threw five touchdown passes Sunday against a good Jets defense.

Here’s one of the most meaningful statistics to come out of Sunday’s games: the Jets’ Smith joined the Texans’ Matt Schaub, the Jags’ Chad Henne, the Vikes’ Ponder, the Browns’ Weeden and Eli Manning as the only quarterbacks to throw multiple interceptions on throws of five or fewer yards downfield.


It just makes you think this: Aging quarterbacks are like rock stars. If they stay in shape, they can last forever. Brian Sipe, you out there? Kenny Stabler? Fran Tarkenton? And Broadway Joe? Come on down.

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