Let’s Talk About RexPosted: September 12, 2011
The journeyman quarterback and NFL dynamics
By Andrew Childs
When I was a senior in high school, a teacher successfully managed to text a student the both brilliant and inspirational phrase, “your boobs look good today.” Needless to say, he was fired for making the genius observation and a substitute teacher was brought in to teach the class. The sub had a pretty standard role: keep the kids under control, teach a standard lesson, and don’t text your students sexually suggestive ideas, I mean, we didn’t expect him to be Mr. Holland…
In 1995 Kerry Collins was drafted by the Carolina Panthers 5th overall, and throughout his first three years had a knack for throwing interceptions (49, actually). After starting off 0-4 in the 1998 season, Collins asked to be traded and got his wish, being picked up off the waiver wire by New Orleans Saints. This started Kerry’s jump from one team to the next, until, most recently coming out of retirement to fill in for Peyton Manning as the Colts new QB. Collins has been on 6 teams throughout his storied career. Along the same lines as Collins, we have current NFL analyst Trent Dilfer. Picked 6th overall in the NFL Draft and played for 5 teams throughout his 13 year career; Vinny Testaverde picked 1st overall in the NFL draft played for 8 teams, etc, etc.
What we have here is an example of a Journeyman QB. This term is used in the NFL to describe a quarterback whose been around the block so to speak, and is coming in to hold down the fort for a team that is in need for a little veteran savvy and leadership. Most importantly, the Journeyman QB is there to give the team with an injured/young/no quarterback a fighting chance for one season. Journeyman quarterbacks are even brought in just to mentor other young quarterbacks and ride the bench for a few games as an insurance policy.
These quarterbacks are an interesting machine in the NFL, and seem to be on track to keep pumping out fellow Journeymen in coming years. One of those future QBs might just as well be current Redskins QB Rex Grossman. Think about it. Rex has nearly the exact same set up as Dilfer, Testaverde, and Collins. He’s a first round fudge-up by the Bears that can serviceably manage a football game and he’s already played for three NFL teams in his career. There you have it; Rex is the substitute teacher in training. He’s watching 5 civil-war movies a day, practicing his one-a-day-gag, and preparing pictures of his trip to Europe 15 years ago, all in order to be a sufficient substitute.
So what does all of this really mean? Why do we care who the next Kerry Collins is? Well, in today’s NFL, the Journeyman QB has an expanding role. More teams are starting to use the quarterbacks as band-aids to cover up poor drafting and decision making in terms of the league’s most important position. Now, in terms of Kerry Collins’ situation we can’t really knock on the Colts because their seemingly indestructible quarterback went down for the first time in his NFL career, and they needed somebody competent to run their offense at the last minute, but teams like the Vikings have an issue, picking up 2 older quarterbacks in the past 3 years to fill the void. Granted, Brett Favre did take the Vikings to the NFC Championship his first year, but he also lost them the championship. They’re putting one substitute teacher in for 2 seasons and replacing him with a different sub for another (Donavon Mcnabb). All at the same time, they address the situation in entirely the wrong way by drafting Christian Ponder a round too early.
Don’t get me wrong the NFL’s Journeyman can be great for a team, but it’s mostly as an insurance policy or to mentor the up-and-comer rookie, not as the sole solution to the team and the league’s most important position. In the past 8 years the Super Bowl has been won by an elite quarterback in their prime (Rogers, Brees, Roethlisberger 2 times, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, and Brady 2 times). Bottom line is that it’s important to have great skill behind center, one that can push your team over the edge with his skill. But teams like the Vikings and the Redskins don’t have this elite factor. Sure, Rex won this past Sunday’s game against the brutally injury ridden Giants, but how long does that streak last when he has to play a stout defense and he has to fight to comeback. None of us expect Rex to be that guy because we’ve seen him before on a great team and he doesn’t get the job done.
Look, a fan’s ultimate goal for their favorite football team is for that team to win the Super Bowl, right? And in today’s NFL it’s of massive importance to find solace in your team’s quarterback, to have an elite guy to give your team a chance to win the championship. Rex Grossman is a good quarterback, a Journeyman, but it shouldn’t be the Redskins’ mission to throw a band-aid over their quarterback spot. It shouldn’t be any teams’ for that matter. Because when it becomes January and your team is in the playoffs, do you really want a sub standing in the front of the class?