Is it that time of year again? You’re damn right it is! Time for my favorite NFL column of the year: the bad quarterback carousel. What is the bad QB carousel you might ask? Well, consider an old episode of The Simpsons. In it, the Simpson family has moved to a new town, where Bart is placed in a remedial class. In that class, the kids play a game of musical chairs. Seems pretty standard, right?
Well, there are more chairs than kids, and none of the chairs are ever removed. In other words, the kids just move from one seat to another, an exercise in futility that the NFL manages to match every year. Have you ever noticed that the same few bad quarterbacks tend to rotate throughout the same few bad teams every year? They share the sort of incestuous relationship that, not surprisingly, leads to them continuing to fall under the category of “bad teams.” So, who’s riding this year’s bad quarterback carousel? Hop on and let’s find out.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Tennessee Titans to Houston Texans
Ryan Fitzpatrick is the substitute teacher of NFL quarterbacks. Nobody ever PLANS to start him, yet by around Week 6, the intended starter has called in sick and, sure enough, the coach has no choice but to hand the ball to Fitzpatrick. It happened in St. Louis, it happened in Buffalo, it happened in Tennessee, and now, it’s happening in Houston.
Only there’s something special about Fitzpatrick’s latest foray onto the bad quarterback carousel. This time, he might actually end up as the intended starter, which is inevitably going to lead to some fantastic hi-jinks. Look at the talent on that Houston roster. The Texans are LOADED.
Sticking with the teaching metaphor, imagine taking a group of 50 honors students and telling them, “This is Mr. Fitzpatrick, your new college counselor. He’s been fired from his last three jobs and just has a general lack of knowledge relating to his field. I’m sure you’ll get along great!” Sure, a few kids are going to get into good colleges by random chance, but most of them are ending up at Southwest Wisconsin State and on the whole you’ll be disappointed with where the group ends up.
On the bright side, we officially have a great new nickname for Fitzpatrick: the guidance counselor!
Jason Campbell: Cleveland Browns to Cincinnati Bengals
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, Jason! No one on the bad quarterback carousel gets past me. You think you’ve fooled me by signing with a team that has an established starter, but nuh-uh, I’m not buying it. Andy Dalton is terrible. You’re expecting him to screw up so you can play for this awesome Bengals team, aren’t you?
Well I caught you Jason Campbell. We get one of you every year. Matt Cassel did it in Minnesota last year. Jeff Garcia made a career out of doing it. This is by no means original, even if it is slightly clever. This could easily be the year everyone slowly realizes that, again, Andy Dalton is terrible, and you start hearing quotes like, “I’ve got 15 yards of space every time! I’m the best receiver in football! I can leap tall buildings in a single bound! How do I not score 25 touchdowns every year?” out of “anonymous” receivers.
Andy Dalton is at his most replaceable. The problem? You’re Jason Campbell. You’re ALWAYS at your most replaceable. So sorry, Jason, you’re still just another cog in the bad quarterback machine.
Josh McCown: Chicago Bears to Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Let’s hear it for the McCownassaince! Despite all scientific evidence pointing to their extinction, in the last three years both McCowns have managed to win starting jobs (Luke with Jacksonville, Josh with Tampa Bay) AND I recently bought a Cade McNown (a similar species) jersey at a thrift store for $5. The McCowns are back baby!
Nothing makes me happier than a bad coach taking over a bad team and deciding he’d rather move forward with one of the bad quarterbacks from another team than a potentially good quarterback from someone else’s team.
We know Josh McCown isn’t good. We have literally a decade of evidence to prove it. Yet Lovie is willing to bank his entire Tampa Bay tenure on half a McCown season in which he played with Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, Martellus Bennett and Marc Trestman, one of the best quarterback coaches in the league? Really? I’m setting 2-to-1 odds that three years from now I’ll be writing the first ever bad coach carousel and leading it off with Lovie going from Tampa Bay to Oakland. I just know it.
Matt Schaub: Houston Texans to Oakland Raiders
You know how, when your dog dies, you tell your kids that he moved to a farm upstate? I imagine playing for the Raiders is the NFL equivalent of that. Somewhere, in a locker room somewhere, someone is asking, “Hey man, what ever happened to Justin Tuck?” And, sure enough, the answer is he’s playing for the Raiders. It’s the polite way of saying your career is dead.
So basically, the chances of Matt Schaub doing well in Oakland are about the same of him ever getting into Doggy Heaven.
Charlie Whitehurst: San Diego Chargers to Tennessee Titans
Here’s how you know your career as a professional quarterback isn’t exactly panning out: Charlie Whitehurst can’t even stay on the bad QB carousel. Seriously, he started out as a run of the mill backup, then got traded to Seahawks and officially earned carousel status, then he failed miserably and went back to being a lowly backup (again with the Chargers), and now he’s back on the carousel as this year’s token “guy who will replace Jake Locker midway through Week 5.” Seriously Charlie, get your act together and go play for the Raiders or something.
Mark Sanchez and Michael Vick: New York Jets to Philadelphia Eagles and vice versa
Has there ever been a more depressing quarterback swap? I can’t remember one. Didn’t Tarvaris Jackson swap spots with one of the Seattle quarterbacks a few years ago? A better writer would investigate. I’m just going to say that this one sucks for everybody involved.
I know that there’s no chance of Mark Sanchez actually starting, and I know that there’s no chance of Michael Vick actually starting past his annual Week 3 broken rib, but as a Jets fan I think I can speak for all of us and say we don’t want Michael Vick clogging up a roster spot on our team.
I can imagine Eagles fans feel the same way. What’s the plan here guys? Is Nick Foles going to go down only for Sanchez to lead you to a Super Bowl? Because that’s a really crappy plan. Notice how the smart teams never bring in veteran backups, they groom their own. There’s something to be learned there, gentlemen.
Christian Ponder: Minnesota Vikings to ???
Hey Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit and the rest of the gang, there’s still a prospective carousel rider looking for a seat! No, really, Christian Ponder could be yours RIGHT NOW! Come on Jacksonville, you know you want him. Arizona? Washington? Come on guys, he’s just sitting there waiting to be plucked out of the Minnesota doldrums. HE COULD GET YOU TO 5-11!
Before we conclude, I’d like to offer my condolences to the House of Gabbert. Blaine has officially made the transition from starter to practice squad, skipping the carousel entirely in a move we just never see. You’ll be missed Princess Gabbert, you’ll be missed.
Similarly, I’d like to express my regret of Brandon Weeden never making it onto the carousel either. He was drafted as a 28-year-old. He was MADE for the carousel. He seriously couldn’t have gotten it together enough for the Bills to sign him? Really? Disappointing.
And finally, I’d like to tell Chad Henne, Thad Lewis, Matt Cassel, Mike Glennon, and Matt Moore to keep your heads held high. Sure, you might be lame ducks or backups now, but in a year you’ll all be free agents or trade bait with every manner of horrible team begging you to take their seat on the carousel. Could one of you end up as the next in a long line of Raiders carousel quarterbacks? Could one of you blow a potential upset to Tom Brady for the Bills? Only if you believe in yourselves gentlemen, only if you believe in yourselves.