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Thank Goodness For Tom Brady
October 2, 2009 - John Whittaker
Every Sunday, I give thanks for the luck that resulted in Tom Brady being a New England Patriot.
And we're not just talking about three-time Super Bowl champion Brady. We're talking about married a supermodel, has had a couple of kids and rehabbing from a knee injury Brady. I'm talking about struggled to break down the Jets defense Brady. I'm talking about made the News Gal want to throw a brick through my TV a couple of weekends ago Brady.
Thirty two general managers had multiple opportunities to take Brady, who couldn't win the starter's job at Michigan and underwhelmed scouts at the NFL Combine. He was too small, too slow and didn't have a good enough arm. Little did we all know the guy who couldn't convince Lloyd Carr to sit Drew Henson on the bench where he belonged would turn into a three-time Super Bowl winner.
A couple of weeks ago, the News Wife and I were watching the Patriots play the Jets. Brady wasn't having a particularly good day. He's still rusty from missing a year. The Jets blitz was wreaking havoc with his timing. His receivers were dropping balls, the running backs weren't picking up enough yardage to make the Jets respect the run and Brady looked a little gun shy.
Still, with Brady under center, the Patriots had a chance to win. There was the chance that he'd pick something up, find something in the Jets defense to key on and maybe pull a game out like he's done so many times before.
At least the Patriots had a chance. Until Brady retires, the Patriots are a threat to win - and I'm fine with that.
It isn't until you look at the quarterbacks other teams fans have to suffer through that you realize how good you have it.
Josh Johnson, who I'm pretty sure had a part on Dawson's Creek and the Cruel Intentions sequel, will start for Tampa Bay on Sunday. JaMarcus Russell would be better off bending over and shooting the football out of his butt than he is just throwing it, and he's still the starter for the Raiders.
By division, here are the quarterbacks who will start this weekend
Tom Brady Division
Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger.
The best of the best. You have to play the game differently when you're playing Manning and Brees, who are gunslingers in the tradition of Marino, Elway and Montana. Brady and Roethlisberger are winners, pure and simple, and you're lucky if you get to watch them play every weekend. These guys give you a chance to win every time you take the field.
Drew Bledsoe Division
Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Brett Favre, Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel.
Much like Bledsoe (before he got hit 6,000 times in his last two years as a starter) these guys can win you a game but are better served when they have a good running game to take the pressure off. You can absolutely win a Super Bowl with any of these quarterbacks, but things have to go just right.
Tony Eason Division
Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Trent Edwards, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford.
Much like the Patriots former number 1 draft pick, these guys have been given starting jobs, but nobody knows how it's all going to turn out. Eason was the starting quarterback in the 1986 Super Bowl, so that's good. He was pulled in favor of Steve Grogan after going 0-6, pooping himself and curling up in the fetal position in the face of the Bears' pass rush, which is bad. These guys have skills, but you have to see how they weather tough times before bumping them up to the Bledsoe division.
Steve Grogan Division
Kyle Orton, David Garrard, Jason Campbell, Kerry Collins, Seneca Wallace
Each of these guys has had a bit of success and shown they can be a quarterback in the NFL. But, there is some flaw (Orton sucks, Garrard can't throw more than 20 times a game without a crippling interception, Campbell (plays for the Redskins), Collins (is too old) and Wallace (after seven years, if he was any good, he'd already be a starter) that prevents them from being a reliable starter. These guys typically settle in as dependable backups, a la Frank Reich, who can come in and win a game or two but whose flaws keep them from being starters.
Marc Wilson Division
Josh Johnson, JaMarcus Russell, Chad Henne, Kyle Boller, Derek Anderson
Much like Wilson, the quarterback during the Patriots 1-15 season in 1990, these guys were good college quarterbacks. They're drafted with the hopes of an NFL team riding on their shoulders, some of them even earn big contracts (Derek Anderson, Jamarcus Russell) only to be terrible quarterbacks. They might have the occasional big game, but their teams stink, and they are a big part of the reason why.
If you have a bad quarterback in the Marc Wilson Division, you're not winning games. Every one of those teams will probably win five or fewer games this season. The Grogan Division will be between 7 and 9 wins. Except for Stafford, the Eason Division quarterbacks are probably in the 8-10 win range. If you're in the Bledsoe/Brady divisions, you're probably winning your division or contending for the Wild Card.
What amazes me is the number of guys who really have no business starting games. Honestly, I think the proliferation of the spread offense and other offensive systems in college is killing quarterbacks at the NFL level. A lot of guys just aren't ready to come into the NFL and be a quarterback.
Boller spent much of his time at Cal in the shotgun, which is markedly different from running an NFL offense. Johnson played at the University of San Diego and threw the ball all over the place, but the WAC is a long, long way from the NFL. Derek Anderson has been given chance after chance, but he can't recapture the form that made the Browns sign him to a big contract. Kerry Collins still has a job. I can't even make a joke for that - he's old, he can't move, he doesn't throw the ball particularly well and can't throw under pressure.
For another few years, I'm lucky.
I have the privilege of watching Tom Brady pick apart defenses and the warm feeling in my belly that my team has a chance to win every weekend.
On to the picks.
Detroit at Chicago: Much like the Double Deuce, the Lions will probably get worse before they get better. Let's not starting Matthew Stafford's popsicles just yet - the Bears are a better team than the Redskins, and you know Lovie Smith will have some special wrinkles ready for the Lions this week. I like Chicago to win this one.
Oakland at Houston: How many times a game does Tom Cable want to hit Jamarcus Russell in the face during a game - 5, 10? Does Russell have an Inspector Gadget arm that has a mind of its own? Could the Bills trade Terrell Owens to the Raiders just to see the first in-game murder in NFL history? Is that too much to ask. Houston should win this game - I can't believe they're as bad as they've shown so far. The clock is ticking, Gary Kubiak. Another 8-8 season and you're going to be looking for offensive coordinator jobs.
Tampa Bay at Washington: This can't be what Daniel Snyder had in mind when he hired Jim Zorn two years ago. Would the Redskins be better off if they just took a knee three times and punted every time they have the ball? Somehow, I can just picture Daniel Snyder pulling a Stewie on Jim Zorn this week. Pick up my poop, Jim. I'm picking Washington to win, though. Seriously, have you seen Tampa Bay? They're terrible. By the way, CAT POOP SALAD GAME OF THE WEEK! The News Cat hopes you enjoy it.
Seattle at Indianapolis: It's time for the Colts to lose a game they have no right losing, and right on cue come the Seahawks to what used to be the RCA Dome. Manning will keep the Colts in it, but Olindo Mare will make Jim Mora eat his words with a last-second, game-winning field goal for the Seahawks.
Giants at Kansas City: How did the Giants get such an easy early schedule? Seriously, who in the league office has Tom Coughlin been shacking up with? They'll feast on Kansas City, who needs to let Matt Cassel throw the ball downfield once in a while to have a snowball's chance in Tahiti of winning games this season.
Baltimore at New England: Bill Belichick loves giving sports reporters crapburgers to eat, and this weekend is another chance. The Ravens are a popular pick, but I think the Patriots will at least keep this game close, and in a close game, I'm trusting Brady over Joe Flacco. I especially like the Patriots if they use the same sort of offensive gameplan as they did last week - use the tight ends, throw the ball quickly, let receivers make plays on short passes and run the ball. With his genius status restored for another week, Belichick will find a way to beat the Ravens.
Cincinnati at Cleveland: The Whitless Wonder feels the need to help Eric Mangini find a new career, since it's pretty obvious he's not a good football coach. Here's what I've come up with so far: garbage man, plumber, Motor Vehicles Department clerk, phone sex operator. Cincinnati should win this game handily.
Tennessee at Jacksonville: I just can't see any way Tennessee loses this game. I think Jeff Fisher will have his team really ready to go knowing that falling to 0-4 ends their season. Jacksonville still hasn't impressed me, and I'm wondering when the lack of support from the team's fans starts affecting the players (see Browns, 1995). Losing another home game on Sunday won't help that.
Buffalo at Miami: Rabbit ears, are we getting to you? The best unreported story of the week has to be Terrell Owen getting into a Twitter war with Rodney Harrison after Harrison blasted Owens on Sunday Night Football. When your star wide receiver is more interested in insulting a studio analyst than he is in developing an actual on-field rapport with his quarterback, well, actually, it's just business as usual for the Bills. Still, I have a hard time picking a rookie quarterback in his first start, so the smart money is on the Bills to win Sunday.
N.Y. Jets at New Orleans: Drew Brees will do what Tom Brady should have against the Jets defense and shred the secondary every time the Jets blitz seven. The Pats didn't have the personnel to throw against the blitz, but the Saints do. And, Mark Sanchez has to have a stinky dog fart of a game sometime - and it's coming this weekend. This game might be a blowout.
Dallas at Denver: Hope you enjoyed those three wins, Denver. The schedule gets a lot tougher now - and two Kyle Orton interceptions tells me you're not undefeated after Sunday's game.
St. Louis at San Francisco: At least Mike Singletary has a week to figure out how to live without Frank Gore with the Rams coming to town. Kyle Boller isn't worth the Charman extra soft he uses to wipe his hiney, and the 49ers are looking like a good bet to win the NFC West.
San Diego at Pittsburgh: Mr. Tomlinson, this is the wall. Nice to meet you. I think Philip Rivers is a good quarterback and a complete jackass, and I don't think he's nearly as good a quarterback when he doesn't have a good running game. Darren Sproles is a nice second running back, but I don't like him as a 25-carry back. In the weather and a sloppy Heinz Field, I'm taking the Steelers.
Green Bay at Minnesota: There's a former Packer playing his former team in this game. Ryan Longwell, come on down! It would be easy to say Minnesota wins because of the F word (you know, Favre), but something tells me the Packers win on Monday with a combination of Favre's nerves, a spirited defensive effort from the Packers and Aaron Rodgers needing to finish winning over Green Bay fans. There's no better way to become an icon in Wisconsin than eating a wheel of cheese and beating Brett Favre.
Last week's record: 10-6
Season Record: 31-16
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