Will The Saints Look To The Future With Griffin?
By Greg Barber
Training camp is a few days away and so far we have examined just about every position on both offense and defense. But now it is time for perhaps one of the biggest questions of all: Who will serve as backup to All-Pro QB Drew Brees?
When searching for an answer to this heavily-weighted inquiry, there are three main candidates. QBs Seneca Wallace, Luke McCown and Ryan Griffin are each looking to be the guy called upon should Brees fall to injury in 2013. It is a dilemma head coaches and front offices all over the league face on a yearly basis: does the team rely on a veteran quarterback to serve as the backup and be counted on to save the season should the starter suffer an injury, or does it look to the future and go with a young backup at the risk of having a bad season?
Wallace has thrown for 4,808 passing yards and 31 touchdowns while completing 59 percent of his career passes and owns a 6-15 record as a starting quarterback. McCown has 2,035 career passing yards with nine TDs. He completed 58 percent of his throws and is just 2-7 as a starter. Both Wallace and McCown are veterans of 10 NFL seasons and the fact that neither has ever shown enough potential to hold on to a starting quarterback job should be cause for some concern.
With that being said, there are a few reasons that make sense to consider going with the youngster Griffin as the main backup for Brees.
Reason 1: It's Time To Look To The Future
Drew Brees is 34 years old and will not play forever. He is in the second year of a five-year contract that escalates as each year passes, possibly progressing to the point where the Saints can no longer keep him unless they can come to a mutual agreement. It would make sense for New Orleans to look for its next front man now in order to provide Griffin ample time to learn and prepare for the position in the future.
Setting up this situation in a Favre-Rogers scenario will work out for the Saints in the long run because it heads off a possible drought in quarterback talent that may arise out of college in the future.
Reason 2: He Has The Measurables
Ryan Griffin is a prototypical NFL quarterback, standing 6-5 and weighing 206 pounds. He was a four-year starter at Tulane and threw for 9,026 yards and 79 touchdowns during his collegiate career. In his senior year, Griffin also rocked a 62.2 percent completion percentage, which made him an honorable mention All-Conference USA selection.
The most important point in Griffin's favor is that he spent a year with Curtis Johnson learning some of the Saints offense, which gives him a definite advantage over Wallace and McCown.
Reason 3: Franchise Quarterbacks Do Not Grow On Trees
No one is saying that Griffin is a future franchise quarterback, but how often do players of that caliber come out of college? How many quarterbacks in NFL right now can truly be classified as a franchise quarterback and how many more will surface in the next few years?
At best, 16 of the 32 starting quarterbacks in NFL could be considered franchise players. The main reason why half of these quarterbacks are considered to be failing at being a starting NFL quarterback is because many of these players are not developed at a pace that properly fits them.
Some quarterbacks are able to learn the position under fire and others need time to sit and develop. It is up to the coaches to figure that part out.
All the more reason to give Griffin two or three seasons to sit and learn behind Brees so that he can be extremely prepared for the day when he gets to take over. While true that Griffin may be a quick study who can learn the playbook and know where everyone is supposed to be, there is more than that to being a quarterback in this league. He will also still need to learn how to read defenses, and a couple of years on the bench will give him time to learn how opposing coaches and players think as he slowly transitions into a leadership position.
The bottom line here is that no matter which option the Saints name as the backup to Brees, fans will be hoping and praying they do not have to see him starting this year.