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Friday, 19 December 2014

Not All Quarterbacks Are Dry-Clean Only!

Having a serviceable backup quarterback in the NFL is imperative.  The 2nd in command signal caller has a resumé that ranges from a winner past their prime, to the rookie Bill Belichick deems worthy of carrying Tom Brady's luggage.  Often times, the clipboard captain is the guy who hasn't had the chance to make his mark.  In many instances a team's backup QB is considered to be washed up.  America loves a good comeback story and The NFL does provide.  This season many coaches have called upon their pine pony quarterbacks to win games and thus 2014 I have dubbed this year to be "The year of the Laundromat."

Below are this year's finalists for for the annual "Baggie Award" presented by Kurt Warner.  


The news this week of Jimmy Clausen getting the start over The $126 million dollar man, Jay Cutler is the latest example of a career backup who has a chance to redeem himself.  He was drafted by the Panthers in 2010 and started 10 games.  In those 10 games he had 9 fumbles, 33 sacks and threw for 3 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.   Perhaps Jimmy's lack of production led to the infamous Gatorade incident.  During a game, Clausen allegedly threw Gatorade on Steve Smith.  The media (me) now refers to this incident at "Gator-Gate."  The color of the Gatorade was never determined and no charges were filed but the damage had been done.  Since his rookie year, Clausen has not started a game.  Last week he got his chance and relieved Cutler during a blowout game against the Saints.  Jimmy finished last week's game 104.2 passer rating. He had 1 completion for 9 yards.  Marc Trestman obviously liked what he saw and decided to give his backup QB another spin through the rinse cycle.

Jimmy Clausen, pictured here after auditioning for Sum41


Sometimes, when a team has an injury at quarterback, there is a fresh faced rookie waiting in the wings.  The 2012 NFL Draft had some potential gun-slingers the debate rages on about how to handle new quarterbacks.  Coaches decide whether to redshirt the player, like Aaron Rogers or throw him to the dogs, like Peyton Manning.  In some cases the coach will cut the player.  The Jets drafted Matt Simms in 2012 as insurance for Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy.  Rex Ryan then cancelled their insurance policy within 3 months.  If they manage to stay on the team, backups can earn playing time by showing off their skills in practice or even earn a chance to start when their predecessor becomes the laughing stock of The NFL.  Enter: The Butt Fumble.  

Mark Sanchez was thought to be a franchise quarterback at one point.  Like his fellow USC alum Matt 'hot tub' Leinart, Sanchez turned his college accolades into a first round selection.  He had a bit of a rocky career with the New York Jets but unless you're Vinny Testaverde, who doesn't?  Sanchez started 62 games, had an even touchdown to interception ratio, won barely over 50% of his starts and amassed one butt fumble.  Sanchez got hurt in 2013 and The Jets brain trust handed over the keys to Geno Smith.  In 2014, Sanchez signed a backup deal this year with the Eagles and was setting out the lawn chairs and sunscreen when *SPOILER ALERT* a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was injured.  Chip Kelly had to make the Sophie's choice of football.  He could either play an overrated college quarterback from a upstart university who was blonde or he could go with an overrated college quarterback from a upstart university who was some kind of Spanish.  Chip decided to hang Sanchez out to dry on the clothesline.  #dirtylaundrypuns  Sanchez responded with one of the best game of his career.  There may even be a QB controversy in the future regarding Sanchez.  This time the discussion will be sans Tim Tebow. Thankfully this means that ESPN will have no interest in covering it.

Mark Sanchez, pictured here wondering how many Super Bowl victories he is going to need before people forget about this moment.

Historically, it is tough on a football player to enjoy NFL Draft day if their name is called by the Detroit Lions.  My fantasy is to somehow end up being drafted in 2015.  As The Lions and Hot Roger are summoning me to the podium, I am going to grab the random dude sitting next to me pull off a full blown Michael Sam. (no pun)  I will even take it one step further and by wearing a Liberace/Lady Gaga feathered pork chop outfit.  Actually, I have no problems with Detroit.  I really just want an excuse to piss off Skip Bayless.  Oh yeah, Drew Stanton was drafted by the Lions in 2007.  Apparently he was a choir boy and all those Jesus tasting crackers and blood wine paid off because the Gods were clearly smiling upon him.  His career in The Motor City was marred by injuries and an 0-16 season but The Lord was testing him.  Stanton stayed faithful while providing backup for Matthew Stafford, The Motor City Miracle Man.  Suddenly he vanished for about 3 years but was eventually found wandering the Arizona desert.  In 2014, The Cardinal's starting quarterback, Carson Palmer was placed on the injured reserve.  It was horrible timing because the team was in the middle of a rare playoff push.   Drew Stanton, having been prepared for this moment from birth, traded in his fleece jacket and baseball cap for a football helmet.  Since the injury to Palmer, Drew has managed to lead The Cardinals to multiple victories despite injuries of his own.  In all honesty, I think it is a bit unlikely the story of Stanton is one of redemption and glory.  Arizona could put Jeff George under center next week and win.   

Jeff George, pictured here not knowing where he is and if Drew Stanton is the name of the guy who sells him Oxycontin.

The 2014 Buffalo Bills began the season with EJenoSmithanual at quarterback.  This name combining is a courtesy for the early 2000's supermarket tabloid readers.  EJenoSmithanual is the NFL's answer to Brangelina.  These type of names are reserved for two people, being as unimportant as they are bland, who put out a mediocre product and collect millions of dollars for their effort.  While the 2013 NFL quarterback class has the potential to be next generation of backup footballers and their redemption stories, only time will tell.  The last domino to fall will be unraveling of Russell Wilson's career.  I am already looking forward to ESPN's 30 for 30: "The Last Option You'll Ever Read."  In an M. Night Shyamalan like twist, it turns out that Kyle Orton is the catalyst of the story.  Orton began 2014 as the back up for a another backup named EJ Something.  Although Kyle Orton has been a starter for a good part of his career, he has also been a sideline dweller since 2010.  When the news came out about him taking over huddle in Buffalo indefinitely it seemed like a lateral move.  To my dismay, the team is now 8-6 and in the playoff hunt.  I can see one of two things happening in Kyle Orton's future.  At worst, (for him) he will find himself back to being a backup next year.  At worst (for the Bills) he could catch lightening in a bottle and be the next Ryan Fit$patrick.  Speaking of...  

Kyle Orton pictured here after a very long "Bye Week" in the south side of Chicago.

I love using antiquated references from my childhood.   May I have your attention please?  Will the real Ryan Fitzpatrick please stand up?  Mr. FitzMagic was drafted out of Harvard in the 7th round by St. Louis.  Football coaches, as we all know, ain't much for book learnin' and he got first chance to be a starter a few years later in Cincinnati after Carson Palmer got hurt in 2008.  At the end of his contract Fitzpatrick put that college degree to use, parlaying his uninspiring quarterback statistics into a complex math equation and possibly a line graph thus convincing the Buffalo Bills to bring him in as the backup for Trent Edwards and the hedge fund manager for Dick Jauron.  After bouncing back and forth from the bench to the field, Fitzpatrick developed a severe case of Matt Flynn Syndrome.  Ryan threw touchdowns like they were going out of style.  Ironically touchdowns were not going out of style and became easier to come by after the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement which effectively banned contact with an opposing player.  Fitzpatrick was unstoppable in Buffalo to the tune of $59 million dollars.  Unfortunately, 'Fitzsanity' faded just as quickly as 'Linsanity'.  Ryan was unceremoniously released by the Bills.  To randomly quote Denny Green "He [is] who we thought he [was]"  "If Tennessee wants to crown him, crown him."  So crown him, they did but not for long.  In 2014 Bill O'Brien made him the leader of the Houston offense before demoting him just as quickly.  Strangely enough Ryan got another start a few weeks later, passing for over 300 yards and a franchise record 6 touchdowns.  He was about to sign another $60 million dollar contract when he broke his tibia thus proving God hates science.     

Ryan Fitzpatrick pictured here proving to all the cool kids that he isn't a nerd.

It's a great day in the world of sports when topics like "back and forth back up quarterbacks most likely to end up back on top" can be examined without bias.  The votes have been counted and the results are in for the winner of the 1st Annual Baggie Award.  The winner is JIMMY CLAUSEN!  He obtained the landslide victory because the picture of him at the top of the page makes him look like the Anti-Christ to Tim Tebow's Jesus Christ.  It's time to bring some punk rock into football.  Sorry Nicki Manaj you have been booted from the Super Bowl Halftime Show in favor of that obscure Euro-Femenist Band "Pussy Riot." 


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