Mike Nadel: QB or not QB? That's NFL's big question
Kyle Orton is competent for seven weeks ... and Chicago newspapers can’t decide whether the Bears’ latest quarterback savior deserves a 50 percent stake in the franchise or merely a $70 million contract.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, Tony Romo breaks his pinkie, and the Cowboys are stinkie.
Kurt Warner shows he has plenty of life left in his right arm, and the Arizona Cardinals have a two-game division lead.
Meanwhile, Brad Childress has cast his lot with Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte, and the Minnesota Vikings coach will be lucky to keep his job.
Aaron Rodgers exceeds expectations as Brett Favre’s successor, and the Green Bay Packers are tied with the Bears atop the NFC North.
Meanwhile, Favre is making more headlines for allegedly spilling secrets about his former team than he is for his on-field exploits, and his New York Jets are mediocre.
Trent Edwards has been superb, and his Buffalo Bills are the AFC’s surprise team. Their only loss this season was the game in which Edwards sustained a concussion.
Meanwhile, former No. 1-overall draft choice Alex Smith couldn’t even beat out career journeyman J.T. O’Sullivan, and the San Francisco 49ers already have changed coaches.
Matt Ryan isn’t playing at all like a rookie, and his Atlanta Falcons are the NFC’s surprise team.
Meanwhile, Derek Anderson is a one-hit wonder, and his Cleveland Browns are more hype than hope.
And so it goes in the NFL.
I know what you’re thinking: “Quarterbacks are important ... that’s some scoop, Professor Football.”
Well, coaches like to believe they can overcome any situation with their sheer genius. But they can’t. It’s rare for teams to be legitimate contenders without healthy, productive QBs running their intricate offenses.
And is it me, or does that seem to be the case now more than ever?
Oh sure, San Diego’s Philip Rivers and New Orleans’ Drew Brees are having fine statistical seasons but their teams are suffering. And Carolina’s Jake Delhomme has been nothing special but his team wins.
Those are exceptions.
I mean, did you see the Romo-less Cowboys get smacked around by the St. Louis Rams last Sunday? Bad news for the Cowboys and their legion of fans: For the next several weeks, the team will continue to throw 40-year-old Brad Johnson out there and pray.
Johnson is so old he was alive when Roger Staubach was a Cowboys rookie. Johnson has jock straps older than Matt Ryan.
Johnson’s Cowboys couldn’t have looked any more lost against the ragtag Rams had Gilligan been steering the ship.
This is the same Dallas team that was 4-0 before the game in which Romo got hurt.
Same talented supporting cast. Different lead actor.
The New England Patriots can empathize, even though they’re hanging in there with Matt Cassel at QB. Still, does anybody really believe they’ll reach the Super Bowl without Tom Brady? Can the Patriots even believe it?
QB or not QB? If that is the question, the Miami Dolphins have their answer: QB. Running the single-wing, with direct snaps to tailback Ronnie Brown, was cute for a while ... but there’s a reason that offense faded away during the leather-helmet era. Defensive coordinators - even the Bears’ Bob Babich - aren’t fooled by gimmicks for long.
A team needs a steady hand at the wheel. Take, for example, undefeated Tennessee. Not until Kerry Collins replaced injured, erratic, emotionally unstable Vince Young did the Titans play well offensively.
The New York Giants have lost only one game: the one in which Eli Manning threw three of his four interceptions this season. His brother, Peyton, obviously is hurting - and so are the Indianapolis Colts.
Even with Carson Palmer, the Cincinnati Bengals are bad. Without him? Crack open the Thesaurus to hunt for synonyms for abysmal.
And on it goes.
Show me a quarterback who is playing great, and I’ll show you a team that at least has a chance to be great.
Show me a team with Dan Orlovsky at QB, and I’ll show you the Detroit Lions.