Tag Archive: Vikings

Fast Fifteen: Quarterbacks

We are introducing a new feature today, the First and Fifteen Fast Fifteen.  It will take in various things as the offseason and (hopefully) subsequent season roll on.  The first series will focus on five teams with the best and worst situations at each position group, plus five that could break either way.  We’ll start off with the games most important position, Quarterback:

The Best:

New England Patriots: How good is their QB situation?  When their incredible starting quarterback (Tom Brady, for those of you just joining us) was injured, their backup quarterback led them to an 11 win season.  So?  That’s what backup quarterbacks are supposed to do.  Except Matt Cassell hadn’t started a game since high school.  The Patriots find talent deep in the draft and make the most of it, and that puts them at the top of this list.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees was supposed to be washed up following a shoulder injury, and the San Diego Chargers, with replacement Phillip Rivers in the fold, let him walk.  Only two teams had any interest in him, and he signed with New Orleans- and the rest is history.  For the first time in a long time (ever?) the Saints aren’t horrible, and much of that is thanks to Drew Brees.

Cleveland Browns: They won’t make many ‘best-of-anything’ lists, but they deserve to be on this one.  Question marks surrounded every quarterback in last years draft, including first overall pick Sam Bradford.  Colt McCoy was no exception, and despite a stellar record at Texas, he slipped to the third round.  When injuries thrust him into the starting job, he showed up despite a lot of lackluster talent around him.  The Browns are on the upswing, and should feel lucky to have gotten McCoy to settle their QB woes.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Their starting quarterback was suspended the first four games of the season, and they went to the Super Bowl.  I think that says it all.

Green Bay Packers: This Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good, in case you hadn’t heard.  However, while he gets them on this list, their backups need work.  They were ok when he missed a game, but because of their defense, not their quarterback.  Prolonged absences from Rodgers could sink them.

The Worst:

Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre is gone, and he wasn’t there this last year anyway.  I said it in the Vikings Draft Needs, but no one on the Vikings roster inspires any kind of confidence moving forward.  It’s full of ‘serviceable’ quarterbacks.  Not to say one of them couldn’t step it up, but right now, it’s a huge mess.

Arizona Cardinals: After the season that just happened, the Cardinals probably deserve their own category.  A mess of veteran journeymen, undrafted free agents and busts sunk their season from the start.  The worst part is that the Cradinals could be back in contention with some stability here (see Warner, Kurt).

Tennessee Titans: Up until late in the past season, they wouldn’t even be close to this list.  The last few years, when one Quarterback has been down, the other has been up, and it has worked for them.  But Kerry Collins is showing his age, and Vince Young is showing his temper.  No solution exists on their roster.

Carolina Panthers: For some reason, headed into last years draft, a lot of people thought Jimmy Clausen could be an NFL quarterback.  That is not the case.   Combined with Matt Moore- who showed some flashes of promise, but no consistency- and the departure of interception machine Jake Delhomme, there’s a reason the Panthers own the top spot in the draft.  Sadly for them, there is no sure-fire QB prospect in this draft.  Expect another year of limping along.

Washington Redskins: I know they belong here, but it’s so hard with the Redskins to know where to assign blame.  The organization as a whole is such a walking disaster, you hate to even begin to put the blame on the individual players.  However, none of that changes the fact that when Rex Grossman started a game, he became the instant favorite to be the 2012 starter.  Yeah, it’s that bad.

Those That Could Go Either Way:

Denver Broncos: This has a lot to do with coaching, but with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton both on the roster, there has to be a fundamental scheme for which one you’re going to use.  If it’s done right, this will be a dangerous team next year, but I’m not counting on it.

Seattle Seahawks: Most people probably see the Seahawks as belonging on the ‘worst’ list, but there is considerable evidence to the contrary: Matt Hasslebeck still has gas in the tank, which he showed in the playoffs, and despite the fact that most people are ready to hang him, the jury is still out on Whitehurst.  He played well at times, and not so well at others, but it was his first chance to start since college.  There is a lot of potential at quarterback for Seattle- for good or disaster.

Jacksonville Jaguars: David Gerrard is good, but he needs to improve if the Jags will be.  They showed promise this year, but the entire future of the team is shaky.  A playoff berth would go a long way to getting fans into the stadium and keeping them in Jacksonville, and that starts with Gerrard.  If he implodes this year, look for a complete rebuild.

Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning is a good as it gets, but he took a beating this year, and for the first time in a long time, the Colts came close to missing the playoffs entirely, and even then, it was an early exit.  With the rest of the AFC South breathing down their necks, the Colts can’t afford another down year.

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis returns, with a new offensive coordinator.  Owens and Ochocinco probably do not.  However, Carson Palmer says he has had enough.  He may be tempted by the chance to play without the distractions of the most petulant and arrest-prone receiving corps in the NFL, but if I am in his shoes, I never want to wear orange and black again ever, no matter what.


Draft Needs: #12 Overall, Minnisota Vikings

Many of the Vikings woes last year can be placed on Favres shoulders.

Season Review: While for many of the teams picking in the top half of the draft, 2010 opened with a lot of hope, the Vikings didn’t make it to week one before cruel, crushing reality set in.  Brett Favre was supposed to repeat his magical 2009 performance, and the team as a whole was expected to get over the crippling interception Favre gift-wrapped to Tracy Porter in the NFC Title game.

As it turns out, getting that far would have been a miracle.  Those expectations began to wither as Favre spent yet another offseason creating drama, away from camps and his teammates.  Other Vikings followed suit, and training camp became a joke as entitlement dominated part of the locker room and alienated the rest, all while Brad Childress stood around and did… nothing.

Then Favre- predictably- came back, and the regular season started and… nothing.  Their only two wins in the first eight week of the season came against equally woeful Detroit and Dallas.  The offense was anemic and the defense porous.  While they were still alive in the playoff race fairly late in the season, and commentators and analysts tried to spin the possibility of a winning streak to close the season, anyone watch knew- it was over.  2011 begins with a new coach, (hopefully) the conclusion of the StarCaps legal battle, the possible retirement of cornerstones of the team, and finally- the end of Brett Favre.

Needs: The biggest is obviously Quarterback.  Their options on the roster are Travaris Jackson, Joe Webb, Patrick Ramsey and Rhett Bromar.  None of those names screams ‘starting NFL quarterback’.  However, they could also be severely depleted along the defensive line- the ‘Williams Wall’ is likely breaking up through a combination of free agency, suspension and retirement, and while Jared Allen and Ray Edwards are certainly a great pair of defensive ends, their production will drop without the Williams clogging up the middle.

However, if you enter the draft in desperate need of a quarterback, you take a quarterback.  Their options at #12 are likely Cam Newton (of Auburn, but you knew that), or Blaine Gabbert of Missouri.  It depends what new head coach Leslie Frazier wants to do, but with receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, not to mention a receiving tight end in Visanthe Shiancoe, and an established running game with Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, they have no need of a scrambling quarterback.  They need someone who can stand in the pocket and evade pressure well enough to get the ball downfield.  Gabbert can do that.  He is somewhat raw, so there will be a transition period for him- but at least there will be a real reason for optimism after 2011.

It’s First and Fifteen…

Hello, all, and welcome to First and Fifteen, a blog about all things football!  The middle of the playoffs might seem like an odd time to get started, but hey, why not?  We’ll be here through the rest of the playoffs and the offseason with observations, analysis and opinions.  Hopefully you enjoy the ride!