Have you ever seen that episode of "The Simpsons" where Bart gets placed in the remedial class? There’s a very funny scene in which they play musical chairs, but there are far more seats available than players. In essence, every round the same people stayed in the game while simply changing seats. That’s basically how the bottom of the NFL operates with quarterbacks.
We see a pretty similar cast of characters in the remedial quarterback class every year, yet they continue to grab seats in this ridiculous game of musical teams. Arizona, Oakland, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Buffalo, Kansas City and, of course, the New York (Jets, duh) generally find themselves in the same position every single year: overseeing the game without ever pulling their seat away. And thus, the Mark Sanchez era lives on.
A benevolent writer would offer suggestions to these bumbling teams on how to fix this. But, by now you know that I’m far more inclined to sit back and laugh at them while silently hoping you don’t know I root for the Jets. So, let’s take a turn on the bad QB carousel and see if any of these teams have a shot at getting off of the ride next year.
Carson Palmer: Oakland Raiders to Arizona Cardinals
You know how in "Arrested Development" (actually, you probably don’t; if you did, it would still be on the air) George Michael would continuously tell Michael that Ann was his girlfriend, only for him to respond with a confused “her?” That was my initial reaction here; I couldn’t stop myself from thinking “him?”
However, I eventually softened up to the idea because of another "Arrested Development" parallel. In the finale, Michael tries to get George Michael back together with Ann because he’s in love with his cousin, Maeby. If you consider an NFL team family and the quarterback your spouse, Kevin Kolb oddly ends up as the incestual love affair that the Cardinals had to break off.
If you’re looking for a reason to like the Cardinals this year, your best bet is that Bruce Arians looks look a fully bald Jeffrey Tambor, Bill Bidwell is the Lucille Bluth of NFL owners, and new episodes of "Arrested Development" will finally be released this spring. In other words, if I had any sort of confidence in Carson Palmer turning the Cardinals around, I wouldn’t have spent this whole section talking about "Arrested Development."
Kevin Kolb: Arizona Cardinals to Buffalo Bills
Until I started researching for this piece, I didn’t realize just how bad Buffalo’s quarterback situation has been over the past several years. Take a look at the quarterbacks who have started for them since 2005: J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s it? That feels like an incomplete list of guys who have been backups on my Madden teams, certainly not starters on real NFL teams.
Yet for some reason, we talk ourselves into the Bills as a playoff sleeper every year! Here’s how I see the 2013 Bills season playing out:
September: 2-2 start. We might just be in this thing!
October: 1-3 month. OK, not impossible to come back from 3-5.
November: If we go undefeated in December, Kevin could come back by Week 17…
December: Good God, what are you doing Tarvaris?!?!?!?!?
Let me just say what a delight it has been to have the Bills in my division as a Jets fan over this past decade or so. It’s almost like how Florida and Alabama always start their season against Nowhere State, only we get to play them twice.
I envision this season serving as some kind of grand crescendo for the era of crappy Bills quarterbacks. Kevin Kolb will look serviceable for a few weeks before breaking some bone I’ve never heard of, leading all hell to break to loose. He and Tarvaris Jackson will find new ways to lose, C.J. Spiller will find ways to break off big runs against seemingly illegal 13-man fronts, and the Bills will finally bite the bullet and go after one of the top guys in 2014. Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted.
Jason Campbell: Oakland Raiders/Chicago Bears to Cleveland Browns
Do the old stalwarts throw some kind of party when a new inductee enters the ranks of “bad QB carousel member?” I’d like to imagine Campbell got a hearty pat on the back by Palmer and a firm handshake from David Garrard upon accepting his fate as a part of this club.
See, the Raiders being in the title here isn’t a typo, I just refuse to acknowledge Campbell’s year-long dalliance with the Bears. That was the old Campbell, the one who had a bit of class and tried to slowly fade out of the spotlight with some finesse as the backup for a playoff team. But now? He has embraced his role as the ill-fated half starter/half backup for horrible teams. I hope to see Campbell do this for many years to come.
And as for the team he’s signed with? I have to say I was worried. They didn’t jump on the usual suspects at the start of free agency. They didn’t replicate their legendary 2010 free agency splurge of Jake Delhomme AND Seneca Wallace. After a few weeks, there wasn’t even a Jeff Garcia to be found.
And then, when all looked lost, the Browns went out and grabbed Campbell. All I could do was smile and calmly think to myself “yup, there they are. Those are the Browns I know.” I can’t wait to see how this plays out. Brandon Weeden AND Campbell on the same roster? It’s like the bizarro Montana-Young. We might even get a Thad Lewis cameo. This one’s gonna be fun.
Matt Flynn: Seattle Seahawks to Oakland Raiders
Enough snark from me, here’s one I might actually like.
Russell Wilson is somewhere between the sixth and tenth best quarterback in the NFL. Let’s say tenth just to be safe. Therefore, by losing the starting job to Wilson, all Flynn has proven is that he’s not a top-10 quarterback.
What the hell does that prove anymore? Didn’t the Ravens just win the Super Bowl with the 23rd best QB in football (just kidding, but not really). For all we know, Flynn is absolutely a starting caliber QB, he was just sitting behind someone who’s better than him. If you’re a Raiders fan, this is what you want to talk yourself into.
My problem with this move isn’t Flynn, it’s everyone else. The Raiders are awful. I’m only half-joking when I say they would lose to Alabama if the two teams played on a neutral field. Flynn, though mainly in practice, has only played with the Packers and Seahawks. In other words, he has only been a part of actual NFL franchises. Will he be able to succeed with the quadruple-A Raiders? Who knows, but at the very least it’s possible.
David Garrard: Jacksonville Jaguars to New York Jets
David Garrard does have an 85.8 career passer rating…
He doesn’t throw many interceptions…
He’s definitely smarter than Sanchez…
Oh God, I’m talking myself into this, aren’t I? Please stop me. Let’s see.
Despite scientists believing them to be extinct since 2003, Garrard lost his starting job to a McCown in 2011.
He spent all of last year injured.
When Garrard was good, the Jaguars had an elite running game and offensive tackle; the Jets have neither of those things.
Ok, I’m back. Point is, David Garrard is marginally better than Mark Sanchez. Then again, so is an above average black bear or a cardboard cutout of Eli Manning. Don’t expect much out of this.
Matt Cassel: Kansas City Chiefs to Minnesota Vikings
I love the idea of pairing Christian Ponder and the poor man’s Christian Ponder. It’s as if the Vikings weren’t watching their own games last year. First of all, Ponder apparently has a lock on the starting job. This is ridiculous because, you know, he’s Christian Ponder.
Second of all, Matt Cassel is just an older, worse version of Ponder. It’s as if the Vikings went to the carousel, picked out a random rider and handed him their seat. I can’t wait to see how this quarterback battle plays out.
Speaking of Cassel, he lost his job to Brady Quinn. I mean, seriously? Wouldn’t the Vikings have been better off drafting someone in the third round as a hedge on their Ponder bet? Or, if they were going to go the veteran route, why not take a shot at Palmer? If nothing else, he can actually throw the ball downfield if he has time. That actually opens up a new dimension to the offense. Cassel offers nothing to this offense. Or any offense for that matter.
Alex Smith: San Francisco 49ers to Kansas City Chiefs
Ding ding ding! We have a winner! And by that, I mean we have the smallest loser, because that’s all that Smith really offers.
Smith is decent. And by that, I mean Smith is bad, but with a good offensive coach he’s passable. Jim Harbaugh made him just that. I think Andy Reid can do the same. That’s why I have Kansas City as an AFC sleeper.
The Chiefs are going to play an easy schedule, and that’s not even including their laughable AFC West slate. They have just enough playmakers to pull off a Matt Cassel-esque con job of winning 10 games, sucking us in, and then falling apart the next year. I can’t wait to bet against the Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs.
By: Sam Quinn