QB depth vital to collecting at window

Nov 22, 2005 1:05 AM

Has there even been a pro football season with so many quarterbacks getting injured?

Depth is an essential ingredient to success. Coaches and general managers actually anticipate these injuries, stockpiling depth.

Two years ago the Patriots lost top offensive lineman (Damian Woody) to free agency. Backups Russ Hochstein and Steve Neal step in. Defensive run stuffers Ted Washington and veteran Bobby Hamilton depart after the 2004 Super Bowl victory. Doesn’t matter. The Patriots draft NT Vince Wilfork, pick up Keith Traylor for one year and end up with another Super Bowl title.

The Jets have stumbled through a train wreck season, starting 2-8 SU and 3-7 ATS. Losing starting QB Chad Pennington was a blow, but the Jets prepared by signing Jay Fiedler because Pennington was off shoulder surgery. In the same game Pennington and Fiedler were lost! That forced young Brooks Bollinger into the fire and the return of a washed up Vinny Testaverde

Baltimore’s Kyle Boller got hurt and Anthony Wright was forced to step in for several games. In Buffalo, kid QB J.P. Losman wasn’t ready, so the Bills had to turn to veteran backup Kelly Holcomb. The Chicago Bears lost QB Rex Grossman in preseason and were forced to go with rookie QB Kyle Orton. It’s no wonder coach Lovie Smith prefers to run the ball and play tough defense. The Bears are 18-8 "under" the total since Smith became head coach.

The Steelers have had QB Ben Roethlisberger sustain minor knee surgery a few weeks ago, and have used Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch.

The big story last week was Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb getting hit on Monday night against Dallas. The Eagles turned to backup quarterback Mike McMahon, who played well against the Giants.

Quarterback is easily the most important position. He has to be a team leader and even change the plays at the line of scrimmage when the situation dictates.

Experience under pressure, as well, is key. You don’t often see quarterbacks starting as rookies and doing very well. It took San Diego QB Drew Brees several poor seasons of play before he busted out. Indianapolis Pro Bowl QB Peyton Manning started 16 games as a rookie, throwing 26 TDs and 28 INTs! Learning to play QB takes time.

In the NFC, Michael Vick missed some games and backup QB Matt Schaub impressed with his touch. Minnesota’s Daunte Culpepper is out for the season, but Brad Johnson is a capable backup. In Tampa Bay, starter Brian Griese is also gone for the year, so they have turned to young Chris Simms. The Lions want Jeff Garcia as the starter, but injuries have Joey Harrington starting.

No team has been on the QB merry-go-round more than San Francisco. Tim Rattay, rookie Alex Smith, Cody Pickett and Ken Dorsey have all started games. It’s clear their biggest hindrance is getting a reliable QB.