Quarterback Carousel in Seattle and Kansas City?
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: October 02, 2012
Rex Ryan isn’t the only head coach faced with a woefully underperforming quarterback. Both Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel have defended their current starters in Russell Wilson and Matt Cassel, respectively.
Crennel’s hands are a bit tied in the face of Cassel’s struggles, as his alternatives are far from proven entities, and he seems to know it. He’s maintained that Cassel is his starter, but that struggles like Sunday’s three-interception first half may result in play time for his backups, giving Cassel the opportunity to collect himself and regroup on the sideline. But what might his backups bring to the table?
Second string quarterback Brady Quinn hasn’t seen the field since his tenure at Cleveland in 2009 (where Crennel was head coach at the time). Cassel has been lackluster in four 2012 starts, throwing seven interceptions to just five touchdowns, but Quinn’s career numbers aren’t particularly reassuring. With ten touchdowns to nine interceptions and three lost fumbles in fourteen career games, he doesn’t appear to have the makings of a franchise quarterback. Undrafted second year quarterback Ricky Stanzi likely isn’t the answer either; his unimpressive preseason performance failed to secure him the backup spot.
Cassel is by no means in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks (he’s currently 29th in passer rating), but he is in his fourth year with the Chiefs. He has a rapport with Kansas City’s receivers and familiarity with the offense. Despite his early season proclivity for turning the ball over, Cassel remains the Chief’s best option at quarterback. Quinn is undoubtedly anxious to get a shot at the position, but history suggests he wouldn’t make much of the opportunity.
Wilson has been much more serviceable for his team, adequately managing each game and keeping the Seahawks in the lead or within striking distance each week, until his three interceptions in Week 4. Seattle ended up losing by just three points to St. Louis, but questions have already begun to surface with the beginnings of a Russell Wilson-Matt Flynn debate.
Flynn was acquired this offseason as a free agent from Green Bay, where he had served as Aaron Rodgers’ backup for four seasons. Rodgers has remained mostly healthy since assuming the starting role, limiting Flynn to just two career starts, but Flynn dazzled in both opportunities. He’s averaged 365.5 yards and thrown for nine touchdowns with two interceptions, yielding an average passer rating of 118.3. Pete Carroll addressed the possibility of Flynn taking the reins from Wilson, but wasn’t entirely transparent. He first said Flynn wasn’t healthy enough to start (he suffered an elbow injury in preseason that paved the way for Wilson’s ascent), then clarified that Flynn is physically able to play if (or when) the time comes, intimating that such a time will not be Week 5.
At this point, Wilson is the more experienced quarterback, with twice as many career starts. Despite Carroll’s assertion that “he's working his tail off to get it right”, Wilson’s physical limitations may begin to surface more steadily in coming weeks. At just 5’10, he lacks the size of his fellow rookies (all of whom register between 6’2 and 6’4), and he’s failed to demonstrate speed or technique enough to establish himself as a dual threat in the vein of RGIII. It’s early for Seattle to jump the Wilson ship; the rookie has earned the starting role with his first three performances, but his time as starter should be finite. The team is ready to win now, with an elite defense and rushing attack, while Flynn is too talented and earning too much money ($10 million guaranteed on a three-year, $19.5 million deal) to languish on the bench for a full season.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @arahomik
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