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Sunday, July 16, 2006
A Brief Look at the NFL QBs: NFC

NFC East:

New York Giants: Eli Manning has not yet proven he's a quality NFL quarterback. He's shown the necessary progress that gives the team hope, but he's gotta start converting potential into touchdown passes. Tim Hasselbeck is officially the backup, but Rob Johnson is also on the roster, which is stupid.

Dallas Cowboys: Drew Bledsoe is moving rapidly up the career interception list; he's at 198. Incredibly durable; with the exception of 2001 and his rookie year, Bledsoe has started all but three regular season games. Tom Brady definitely caught a bit of luck there. Good ballplayer, but has always had problems with the INTs. Tony Romo is the official backup with Drew Henson now third string.

Washington Redskins: I've always liked Mark Brunell, he's a solid player. He's had incredible success in the playoffs on the road. No Hall of Famer barring some late career magic, but well above average at the QB position for many years. Backup is officially Todd Collins, who last started a game in 1997 for the Buffalo Bills. Patrick Ramsey's still around.

Philadelphia Eagles: Donovan McNabb is a terrific player; his 2-1 TD to interception ratio indicates brilliance as a passer. In the postseason he's won 7 games which isn't historic (yet), but it's definitely in rare territory. Among active players, only Brady and Favre (with 10 each) have won more postseason games as a starter. Backup is Jeff Garcia, still a fine player.

NFC North

Chicago: Rex Grossman has now started 7 NFL games. He appears to have the arm to play in the NFL; does he have the head? Kyle Orton got a lot of attention last year because the Bears won, but he sure does not appear to be a good player.

Minnesota: Daunte's gone, and Brad Johnson sent him packing--didn't it work the other way around years ago? Johnson's added a Super Bowl ring to his trophy room since he left. Official backup is Shaun Hill, who's the Cliff Stoudt of his generation; five years on an NFL roster, no passes thrown.

Detroit: Josh McKown is the starter. He's got a live arm, but, um, always had an acne problem. Jon Kitna can play and probably will.

Green Bay: Favre's been a great player and yet a tremendous disappointment. One of my favorite little things to look at is 30-touchdown seasons. There are not a lot of players who've thrown 30 TDs in an NFL campaign; it is a signature mark of greatness. Bret Favre has thrown for 30 or more touchdowns in a season eight times in his career. His career looks more likely to end with a whimper than a bang at this point.

NFC South

Tampa Bay: Chris Simms seems to be developing into a fine young ballplayer. It may not happen, but he's shown every sign of being a solid quarterback with excellent potential. Tim Rattay's one of those unrecognized gems; kudos to Gruden for picking him up.

Carolina: Jake Delhomme has left no questions unanswered. He's as good a quarterback as there is in the NFC. Chris Weinke, the backup, has nothing but unanswered questions.

Atlanta: Michael Vick's speed and quickness are dazzling, but he just doesn't throw well enough to make it as an NFL starter. I'm not yet sold on Matt Schaub, but he did play extremely well against the Patriots.

New Orleans: Brees is a heckuva pickup if he's really healed. He's a great player if he does what he did in 2004 and 2005. Backup is Todd Bouman, who looks like he can play but is not going to press Brees for the job at age 34.

NFC West

Seattle: There's nothing not to like about Matt Hasselbeck, now that he's started winning playoff games. Seneca Wallace, the backup, is unproven.

St. Louis: Bulger's the starter; he's a pretty good player but not very durable. He's won a playoff game on the road, so his ability to win in the postseason is established. Frerotte's okay in the right situation, but it doesn't look like he's coming into that in St. Louis.

San Francisco: Too early to tell about Alex Smith; he played horribly last year but so did John Elway, Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw their rookie years. Ken Dorsey is the backup, which is a good sign the 49ers still don't know what they're doing. He does not have an NFL arm, not even close to one.

Arizona: Kurt Warner is the starter, and when he's healthy he's one of the best in the league. Unfortunately he hasn't been consistently healthy for awhile. Matt Leinart dropped into the Cardinals' lap in the draft, but he'll probably be manning the clipboard for most of this season.

Rating the starters, top to bottom, based on my assessment of their likely success this year (not their past glory):

1. Jake Delhomme
2. Matt Hasselbeck
3. Donovan McNabb (could easily be #1)
4. Brad Johnson
5. Drew Brees (if healthy he could rank higher)
6. Mark Brunell
7. Kurt Warner
8. Mark Bulger
9. Michael Vick
10. Chris Simms
11. Eli Manning
12. Drew Bledsoe
13. Brett Favre
14. Rex Grossman
15. Josh McKown
16. Alex Smith

Update: One of the young guys (Smith, Grossman, Manning, Simms) will take the big step forward this year and become the talk of the league. If I had to guess I'd say Simms.
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