Sage Rosenfels is a streak shooter with a knack for big games off the bench. In 2005, he threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Dolphins to a 24-23 win over the Bills. In 2007, he threw for four touchdowns (and three interceptions) in a 38-36 Texans loss to the Titans. The Giants didn’t sign Rosenfels until September 3, and you have to worry about a quarterback who couldn’t beat Tarvaris Jackson for the backup job in Minnesota. Still, history shows that when he takes the reins of an offense, he makes something interesting happen.
Trent Edwards was terrible in his lone start for the Jaguars, throwing for two interceptions and no touchdowns. In fairness, he was barely off the plane from Buffalo when the Jaguars handed him the football. Luke McCown has two seasons of experience with the Jaguars but can’t get through a relief appearance without getting injured. The Jaguars rank this high because their offense is so run-oriented. They can survive a game without David Garrard, but if Maurice Jones-Drew gets hurt, they are toast.
The Dolphins were shut out in Tyler Thigpen’s lone start this season, but Thigpen is a good decision maker with some mobility, the kind who can spark a win or two in limited action. If Thigpen gets another start, the Dolphins may call more Wildcat plays and designed scrambles to make better use of his speed: their game plan against the Bears was oddly uncreative.
11. Any NFC West team
There isn’t much separation between the best starter in the NFC West and the worst backup. Whichever 7-9 team staggers out of this division as the champion will at least be able to absorb a quarterback injury without sacrificing (chortle) quality.
Josh Johnson has Michael Vick-caliber speed, giving him an edge over some of the more experienced quarterbacks below him on this list. When Johnson started a few games in 2009, he ran around the pocket long enough to give the Redskins and Eagles some headaches. If his 11-of-13 performances in spot duty this year is any indication, he has developed into a little more than a Wildcat player.
Who's in, who's out, who's in contention, and the AFC and NFC matchups if the postseason started today.
The football equivalent of a young junk-ball pitcher, Matt Flynn lacks the velocity to throw into tight spots over the middle. In a run-based offense, he might survive, but the Packers want to spread the field and blast the ball to receivers in traffic. Flynn’s lack of mobility is also a liability; Rodgers has rushed for 309 yards and four touchdowns this season, compensating for the Packers’ poor running game.
Caleb Hanie dropped back to pass nine times this year and was sacked twice. Todd Collins, who is so old that he backed up Jim Kelly for two years, has five interceptions in 27 attempts this season. Some defense-first teams, like the Jets and Steelers, can play run-and-punt if they have to survive a stretch without their quarterback. The Bears don’t run much, so their survival plan would look more like “get sacked and fumble.”
Curtis Painter looked famously shaky in meaningless action last year, going 8-of-28 for two interceptions during Peyton Manning’s annual December Gatorade taste test. Even if the Colts were at full strength, they would be crippled by the loss of Peyton Manning. The Jacob Tamme-Blair White-Javarris James Colts might just as well switch to badminton if Painter sees meaningful snaps.
Brodie Croyle is now 0-10 as a starter. He is a hustling, hard-working guy who will make a great coach or announcer for SEC games when his career ends, which will be soon.
Drew Brees speaks very highly of Chase Daniel, and Sean Payton is a Grand Exalted Guru of Quarterback Development. But Daniel looked like a smaller, less-experienced Matt Flynn in college. Like the Colts, the Saints are highly quarterback dependant, and won’t win any games with running and defense if Daniel needs time to get up to speed.
Conference Championships action
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