ANALYSIS: What do you do with a young benched starting QB?


As things have worked out so far, the 2006 draft was not exactly the fountain of NFL quarterbacking excellence it was thought to be. That isn’t unusual. It is virtually impossible to judge a draft until 3 years have passed. Jay Cutler was taken by the Broncos and has done well enough to start. But even he was considered trade bait by new HC Josh McDaniels. So let’s take a look at 4 QB’s drafted in 06 that were supposed to be the future of the teams that picked them.

Vince Young TN #3-06 Earlier this off season, Young said he was not happy about being told he would back up Kerry Collins again in 2009. Now he has told The Sporting News and anyone else that will listen that he wants to start for Tennessee or be traded to a team that will start him.

In Young’s first year he started the last 13 games. The team went 8-5 over that stretch but it had very little to do with Young’s passing. His 51.5% competition rate and passer rating of 66.7 didn’t get it done. In 07, he started all but 1 game and had increased his competition rate to 62.3% but the 9 TDs were overshadowed by his 17 interceptions. Again, a 71.1 passer rating is not good enough.

When he was drafted there was talk about he and Mike Vick being the new bread of QBs in the NFL. Not so much. Both were victims of the learning curve in at the pro level and the transition from the college spread offense to the NFL under center passing game. They have taken somewhat related paths since then—Vick in prison for dog fighting and Young in the dog house of the coaching staff of the Titans.

Analysis: Vince—here is the problem. You are fundamentally unsound. Your mechanics are horrible. Your competition rate is inconsistent and you have never mastered the playbook. Until you are able to be consistent and execute the playbook effectively, expect to be riding the aluminum and carrying the clipboard for whatever team you end up with. Even if Collins gets hurt, I am not convinced that Young will get the call to replace him for any length of time.

I do not believe that Young will ever succeed at QB. The best he will ever achieve is a very good wild cat style QB. Young can not read defenses. He can not learn the playbook. He can not seem to get his mechanics straightened out.

Matt Leinart AZ #10-06 Like Vince Young, Leinart was a can’t miss prospect. He was shocked that he fell to the 10th overall pick. He was smart. He came from the pro style offense of USC and he was a winner. He was allowed to start from the 5th game on due to an injury to Kurt Warner from a totally inept line. Leinart did OK but his 74.0 passer rating wasn’t good enough to guarantee him the job in 07. With a new coaching staff, Leinart lost the QB competition to Warner in many minds but was still named the starter. In game 3, Warner was put in to try to pull the game out in the second half. Warner went 15 for 20 2 TDs and a QB rating of 150 against the Ravens. That was the beginning of the end for Leinart starting.

In 08 there was little doubt that Warner would be the starter. There was a preseason competition, but Warner started and led the team to the NFC West title and the Super Bowl.

Analysis: Leinart is probably the QB of the future for the Cards. The only question is when will the future get here. He clearly has not progressed along with the rest of the team. His 2.25 million salary cap is friendly enough to keep him around. Warner will play another couple of years most likely. Then, maybe, it will be Leinart time.

Kellen Clemens NJ #49-06 A second round QB does not have the pressure that a early first round pick carries into camp. He started most of the games in the second half of 2007 taking over for an injured Chad Pennington. His 52% competition rate and 60.9 QB rating was less than impressive. Even so, he went into the 08 season with a chance to win the starting QB position from Pennington. But when the owner decided he wanted to grab the back page of the Post by signing Bret Favre, Clemens was second string and Pennington was history.

Analysis: This season, the Jets traded up to get Mark Sanchez with the 5th pick. Clemens will be a reserve or elsewhere in 09.

Tarvaris Jackson MN #64-06 Jackson has been the designated starter for the Vikes since the end of the 06 season. In 07 he started 12 games but was hurt badly enough to miss 4 others. He amassed a 70.8 passer rating and 58.2 competition percentage. The team depended on the running of Adrian Peterson. When the opponent put 87 guys on the line of scrimmage, the Vikes offense stalled because Jackson was too inaccurate to take advantage of the situation.

Analysis: It is looking more and more like Jackson will get “Favred” like Pennington and Clemens did last year. Expect Favre to come if he can lift a football above his shoulder and maybe even if he can’t. Jackson is not going to be the future QB of the Vikes. After a second Favre disaster in 2 years for 2 teams, the Vikes will make other arrangements.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits He has also published several novels on and edits .

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1 thought on “ANALYSIS: What do you do with a young benched starting QB?”

  1. Also, Pat Williams went on Sirius NFL Radio and ripped Jackson for his poor work ethic. That’s hardly a vote of confidence. I think that’s what all of these QB’s have in common – poor work ethic.

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