When Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, he began by comparing and contrasting. It was the best of times and the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom and the age of foolishness; it was the spring of hope and the winter of despair. His comparisons were always “the good” with “the bad”. Today I want to present a tale of two quarterback situations in the NFL. However, since these words emanate from Curmudgeon Central and not the pen of Charles Dickens, the comparison will be between “The Bad” and “More of the Bad”.
Let me start with the QB situation in Buffalo. When the 2018 training camp began, the Bills were coming off a playoff appearance in 2017; notwithstanding that fact, they let their starting QB, Tyrod Taylor, mosey off to Cleveland and they seemed to be planning to replace him with AJ McCarron (signed as a free agent) on an interim basis plus rookie Josh Allen whom they drafted early in the first round of this year’s draft. Nathan Peterman – the human interception machine – was also on the roster but there was no way that I thought he might be part of the picture there.
At the close of training camp, the Bills shipped off McCarron to the Raiders for a 5th round pick in 2019. That left Allen and Peterman as the QBs for a team that made the playoffs the year before. That was strange enough; Peterman started and demonstrated that if he is “the answer”, the question has to be “what the Hell were you thinking?” Allen took over and looked like a raw rookie with tons of God-given physical ability. So, you would figure that the team would soldier on and try to prop up the wunderkind.
And then, Josh Allen hurt his elbow on this throwing arm. The team has not announced the extent of the injury but there are some reports out there saying that Allen needs Tommy John surgery – something that works very well for baseball pitchers but something that does not have a long track record of success for NFL QBs. Let me stress here that Allen may not need this surgery; the injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm may right itself without surgery. Nonetheless, there are reports that are dire…
The Bills took out some insurance – – a tad late if you ask me – – by signing Derek Anderson as a free agent. If Allen cannot play, the Bills surely need a backup QB; so, a free agent signing is not surprising in the least. Moreover, the Bills must be just a little concerned that the guy now at the top of their QB depth chart seems to be Nathan Peterman. I referred to him as the human interception machine above. Here is why:
- In his brief career in the NFL, Peterman has thrown 82 passes and had 10 of them intercepted. [These numbers include part of a playoff game last season.]
- Nathan Peterman throws INTs at the rate of 12.2%.
I hope you find that figure as stunning as I did when I went to pro-football-reference.com for the numbers. Just to put this in perspective, let me compare that interception percentage to some other QBs:
- Tyrod Taylor – the guy the Bills did not want after last year – is at 1.5%.
- AJ McCarron – the guy the Bills traded away in August – is at 1.9%
- Brett Favre – a “gunslinger” who took a lot of chances – is at 3.3%
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – like Peterman a late-round draft pick – is at 3.4%
The Bills’ QB situation is a bad one – and it sure looks as if it is a self-inflicted wound…
And then, there is another NFL QB situation that is also bad. Last year, the Jags were in the AFC Championship Game; they led the Patriots by 10 points early in the 4th quarter and then lost the game. Losing to the Pats in the playoffs is not outrageous; what is outrageous is not recognizing the weak link on a team built around the defense and that weak link is QB, Blake Bortles. Since I railed on Nathan Peterman above about interception percentage, let me just put Blake Bortles’ comparable info here to start:
- Blake Bortles – picked #3 overall in the draft back in 2014 – is at 2.9%.
Bortles does not suffer from the same ailment as Nathan Peterman, but he is problematic as the starting QB for a team whose defense was good enough to get the team to within 15 minutes of a Super Bowl appearance last January. QB rating systems are not probative when it comes to identifying excellence in QBs; however, QB rating systems can give relative performance ratings in the broadest sense. Now consider these ratings for these QBs all of whom are playing or played in the current gestalt of NFL football:
- Blake Bortles QB rating is 80.2. Comparable ratings belong to Brian Hoyer and Trevor Siemien.
- If you were running the Jags, would you entrust your team – – and commit $18M in salary cap space – – to either Hoyer or Siemien? I doubt it…
Blake Bortles is durable; he has not missed a start since his rookie year in 2014. [Aside: It is left as an exercise for the reader to determine if that is a blessing or a curse.] That seems like a good thing on balance when you consider who the backup is in Jax. No Googling, can you name the #2 QB on the Jags’ depth chart? I had to go and look to determine that it is Cody Kessler and while I was looking I found out that in his 8 career starts at QB, his team has never won the game.
So, there you have it. Two of the six teams that made the AFC playoffs last year have maneuvered themselves into QB situations that are best labeled as “bad” and “also bad”. Circle November 25, 2018 on your calendars for this reason:
- At 1:00 PM (EST) the Jacksonville Jaguars will play the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo. Notwithstanding the fact that this will be a game between two playoff teams from a year ago, there is about a ZERO probability that this game will be flexed to the late afternoon “Game of the Week” slot. It is almost as if the schedule maker saw these QB messes coming…
Finally, Dwight Perry had this observation in the Seattle Times recently about two other QBs neither of whom is embarrassing to their respective franchises:
“Steelers star pass-catcher Antonio Brown says he and QB Ben Roethlisberger operate like Wi-Fi: ‘Sometimes the connection is poor. Sometimes the connection is great. But it’s always connected.’
“Can’t wait to hear what Cooper Kupp has to say about Jared Goff and gigabytes of Ram.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………