For now, without further ado…here is a team by team breakdown and an assessment of whether it’s an upgrade or a downgrade for the team:
-Arizona Cardinals. Starting Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick. Backups: John Skelton and John Beck. Gilbert, Arizona native Ryan Fitzpatrick returns home to helm the Cardinals. John Skelton (of nearby El Paso, Texas) is one of our five who play for their home team already. Skelton’s brother Steve is a Tight End on the Arizona practice squad. Remember Skelton’s competition last year: Max Hall? Hall is a ‘Zona native who is currently unemployed. I think Fitzpatrick is a slight upgrade on Kevin Kolb, but only based on 2011 play. So far this year, Kolb has leapfrogged Skelton and Fitz is slumping. However, Arizona QBs get injured a lot, and John Beck is pretty good for a third stringer. Upgrade.
–Atlanta Falcons. Starting Quarterback: Cam Newton. Backups: T.J. Yates and Tarvaris Jackson. The Georgians move home. Cam Newton is a player that just about every team would want. The Falcons already have what looks like an elite QB in Matt Ryan, but they would be lucky to have Newton if they couldn’t have Matty Ice. Downgrade.
-Baltimore Ravens. Starting Quarterback: Pat Devlin. Backup: Byron Leftwich. This was a challenging one. There are no active quarterbacks who hail from the Baltimore area or even the state of Maryland. Pat Devlin grew up in Downington, Pennsylvania; which is closer to Philadelphia than Baltimore, but not by much. Devlin also played at Delaware University, and let’s be honest: Delaware is just a part of Maryland. Devlin was a college standout, but has yet to prove his mettle in the NFL, where is buried as the third QB on the underachieving Miami Dolphins. The guy has upside, though, and the Ravens need a territorial quarterback so they give Pat a try. Downgrade.
-Buffalo Bills. Starting Quarterback: Brad Smith. Yeesh. Here was another toughie. Like I said before, no QBs from Buffalo or upstate New York. Brad Smith is from Youngstown, Ohio; which is closer to both Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but not all that far from Buffalo. Mainly, I chose him because the Bills needed someone, and Brad Smith is already a Bill. The Wildcat specialist carries a franchise by himself. Downgrade.
-Carolina Panthers. Starting Quarterback: Tyler Thigpen. Thigpen is from South Carolina, and is the only QB from closer to Charlotte than anywhere else. The Panthers certainly miss Cam Newton, but this isn’t as bad as it sounds. Thiggy showed flashes of brilliance with the Chiefs a few years ago, but he seems to have been in the wrong places at the wrong times since then. Here’s a fresh chance. Downgrade.
-Chicago Bears. Starting Quarterback: Tony Romo. Backup: Scott Tolzien. Romo is from Burlington, Wisconsin; which is significantly closer to Chicago than Green Bay. The Bears get a good starting QB and Scott Tolzien may be able to transfer some of his college competence to the NFL as a backup. Romo isn’t as exciting as Cutler, but has a similar success rate. Downgrade.
-Cincinnati Bengals. Starting Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger. The pride (shame?) of Lima, Ohio brings his rings to Cincy. He’s getting a little long in the tooth, but he is a proven winner. I’d rather have Andy Dalton, but Big Ben is likely a future hall-of-famer. Upgrade.
-Cleveland Browns. Starting Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi. Backup: Brady Quinn. Ricky Stanzi? Has he even played a snap in the pros? If he ever gets that chance, I think he could have significant upside. If these were actually the Browns’ quarterbacks, local boy Quinn would get the nod. In our fantasy Ricky gets the number. Colt McCoy should be starting over Brandon Weeden now, and is a better QB than most give him credit for. Because of McCoy, I’m giving this a…Downgrade.
-Dallas Cowboys. Starting Quarterback: Robert Griffin III. Backups: Christian Ponder and Matt Flynn. There were 13 quarterbacks who could lay legitimate claim to Dallas. Matthew Stafford could’ve been on the Cowboys or the Buccaneers, so I chose to spread the wealth a little. I’m sure Cowboys fans would be stoked to have RGIII with a few fully capable backups. Dallas sent seven quarterbacks to the “waiver wire.” We’ll list this at the end. Upgrade
-Denver Broncos. Starting Quarterback: Colt McCoy. Backup: Brock Osweiler. Colorado is something of a no-man’s-land for NFL quarterbacking. Colt McCoy went to high school in Texas, but he grew up in Hobbs, New Mexico; with Colorado as a neighbor to the North. Current Bronco rookie Brock Osweiler is from Montana. Technically, he’s closest to Seattle, but out West, there’s no point in being particular. We’ll keep him on the Broncos. Downgrade.
-Detroit Lions. Starting Quarterback: Kirk Cousins. Backup: Drew Stanton. Michigan State standout Kirk Cousins gets his chance to shine in his home state. He could turn out to have some skills, but you can bet that the Lions would miss Stafford. Downgrade.
-Green Bay Packers. Starting Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick. Backup: Charlie Whitehurst. We gave Tony Romo to the Bears, so the Pack get Milwaukee’s best: Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was drafted as heir apparent to the struggling Alex Smith, though it must’ve been enough motivation to get Smith performing and since then Kaepernick has only been able to show his skills in the preseason. He looks good, but he’s no A-Rodge. Charlie Whitehurst was born in Green Bay because his father was playing for the Packers at the time. Downgrade.
-Houston Texans. Starting Quarterback: Drew Brees. Backups: Andy Dalton and Kevin Kolb. Texas is a hotbed for signal callers, and Austin native Drew Brees comes home to put the Texans over the top. The backups are very strong, and Houston even sent one promising youngster (Nick Foles) to the waiver wire. Schaub who? Upgrade.
-Indianapolis Colts. Starting Quarterback: Jay Cutler. Backups: Rex Grossman and Chandler Harnish. The pride (?) of Santa Claus, Indiana reportedly grew up a Bears fan, but he also grew up closer to Indianapolis than Chicago. Third stringer Chandler Harnish was drafted as Andrew Luck’s backup, but who knew he was a local boy? Cutler is good when he’s good, though would you take him over Andrew Luck? To soon to tell. Push.
-Jacksonville Jaguars. Starting Quarterback: Tim Tebow. Backup: Rusty Smith. Considering that the state is a football mecca, there is a surprising lack of quarterbacks from Florida. Luckily for the Jags, they have a mediocre (but playoff winning) face of the franchise waiting in the wings. He’ll be a cash cow if nothing else, and may be competent enough to keep the Jaguars out of LA. Upgrade.
-Kansas City Chiefs. Starting Quarterback: Sam Bradford. Backups: Josh Freeman and Shaun Hill. This is a toss-up between Freeman and Bradford, but Sam is currently performing a tick better. Bradford is from Oklahoma City, which is technically closer to Dallas. At one point, the Chiefs claimed Oklahoma as their market, and of course: “everything’s up to date in Kansas City.” Another Okie, Brandon Weeden, is on waivers from Dallas and KC. At this point, I would rather have the solid Shaun Hill as a third man. Upgrade.
-Miami Dolphins. Starting Quarterback: Thaddeus Lewis. Yep. Sam Bradford’s bench warmer Thaddeus Lewis and no backups. Did I mention that few QBs come from Florida? Downgrade.
-Minnesota Vikings. Starting Quarterback: Kyle Orton. Orton is from Des Moines, Iowa; which is closest to Kansas City of all the pro teams. However, it’s in a no-man’s land and is almost as close to the Twin Cities. Without Orton, the Vikings would be empty handed, so let’s ship him North. Christian Ponder is a promising youngster, but Orton is better than many people give him credit for. Push.
-New England Patriots. Starting Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck. Backup: Dan Orlovsky. New Englanders Hasselbeck and Orlovsky return to the Northeast to fill the void left by Tom Brady. Pats fans are not happy. Downgrade.
-New Orleans Saints. Starting Quarterback: Peyton Manning. Backups: Eli Manning and Jason Campbell. Former Saint Archie Manning’s boys return home to the Big Easy to duke it out for the starting role. Despite his rings, Eli will never be Peyton. Jason Campbell, the pride of Laurel, Mississippi, is a solid third-stringer. Brees will be missed, but the depth takes the edge. Upgrade.
-New York Giants. Starting Quarterback: David Garrard. This is the one quarterback that we pick up off the street due to the fact that there are basically no quarterbacks from New York. I expect Garrard to picked up by some NFL team this year once injuries start piling up, so it’s not too much of a stretch to suit the East Orange, New Jersey boy up in Giant Blue. Downgrade.
-New York Jets. Starting Quarterback: Joe Flacco. This one took some finagling. Joe Flacco, from Audubon, New Jersey, grew up in the shadow of Philly’s skyline. That said, New Jersey is still largely Jets territory, so Flacco goes green. Upgrade.
-Oakland Raiders. Starting Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers. Backup: Kellen Clemens. Raiders rejoice to realize that Chico, California is slightly closer to Oakland than Frisco. The Raiders get their first franchise quarterback since….uh…Jim Plunkett? Upgrade.
-Philadelphia Eagles. Starting Quarterback: Matt Ryan. Backups: Matt Schaub, Chad Henne. Pennsylvania is pretty quarterback rich, and guys like Joe Flacco and Pat Devlin could’ve also been Eagles. Philly fanatics should be happy to see Matty Ice and some capable backups take the place of the aging and oft-injured Michael Vick. Upgrade.
-Pittsburgh Steelers. Starting Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski. Backups: Charlie Batch and Terrelle Pryor. Gradkowski has looked solid in his limited opportunities, but he’s probably better as a backup. Charlie Batch and Terrelle Pryor are both questionable as NFL players, but for very different reasons. Downgrade.
-San Diego Chargers. Starting Quarterback: Matt Cassel. Backups: Carson Palmer and Mark Sanchez. SoCal is the epicenter of mediocre quarterbacks galore. Out of ten possibilities, Matt Cassel gets the starting nod? I guess he’s interchangeable with Carson Palmer. There was such a glut that we sent guys like Matt Leinart and Matt Moore to the bench; with apologies for treating them like door-Matts. Moore could’ve made the starting three, but I love the idea of top Dolphins Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore on waivers, while third-stringer Pat Devlin is a starter and Miami has Thaddeus Lewis. Make sure to check the waiver list at the end of this post to see who missed the cut. Despite the wide pool, it’s still a Downgrade.
-San Francisco 49ers. Starting Quarterback: Tom Brady. Backups: Trent Edwards and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Niners fans can’t be too upset that the Raiders got Aaron Rodgers, considering that they barely lock down San Mateo native Tom Brady. Upgrade.
-Seattle Seahawks. Starting Quarterback: Alex Smith. Backups: Jake Locker and Derek Anderson. Alex Smith was born in Seattle but raised in Southern California. The ‘Hawks could use more help than the Chargers, so we return him to this birthplace. Even so, I would consider starting promising youngster Jake Locker, but Alex Smith has been pretty solid so far this year. Upgrade.
-St. Louis Rams. Starting Quarterback: Blaine Gabbert. Backup: Ryan Mallett. The pride of Mizzou mediocrity comes back to the Gateway City. If he slumps, he’ll be replaced by Ryan Mallett, the moron with an upside. Mallett is from Arkansas and Texas, so could’ve gone to a few different teams. Gabbert needed a backup, though. Downgrade.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Starting Quarterback: Matthew Stafford. Backup: Dominique Davis. Stafford would look more natural in Cowboys silver, but the pewter people benefit from Tampa being his birthplace. They need somebody other than rare Florida QB Dominique Davis, who played his college ball at East Carolina. From a Pirate to a Buc. Arrr. Upgrade.
Tennessee Titans. Starting Quarterback: Philip Rivers. Backups: Joe Webb and Austin Davis. Philip Rivers of Decatur, Alabama can choose between Atlanta and Tennessee. Instead, we choose for him and send him north on Highway 65 to the Music City. Webb and Davis are currently number 2 and 3 quarterbacks, so they fill out the depth quite nicely. Jake Locker is promising, but Rivers is a star. Upgrade.
Washington Redskins. Starting Quarterback: Andrew Luck. Backups: Michael Vick and Russell Wilson. Andrew Luck should probably be with Houston, but Texas has all the luck. Andrew was born in DC, spent the first part of his life there, and lives out a vision of Washington winning the suck for Luck campaign of 2011. Michael Vick and Russell Wilson are current starters who provide very solid depth. Upgrade.
So. What have we learned?
Teams that upgraded the most are obviously the teams that were able to land the top franchise quarterbacks: Drew Brees (Houston), Aaron Rodgers (Oakland), and Tom Brady (San Francisco). Honorable mention goes to Tampa Bay (Stafford), Tennessee (Rivers), and Philadelphia (Ryan). Teams like Atlanta and New Orleans only traded one great quarterback for another.
Biggest Upgrade: Oakland. Rodgers would lift that beleaguered franchise off the infield and into contention.
The Ravens, Bills, Panthers, Broncos, Lions, Packers, Patriots, Giants, Steelers, and Patriots were all victims of cruel geography. I should give the Chargers the worst grade, because despite having ten quarterbacks to choose from, the best they could muster is Matt Cassel, Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, or Matt Moore. Take your pick.
Biggest Downgrade: Baltimore. Trading a proven Delaware alum for an unproven one seems a tad risky.
Lands of Feast
Texas accounts for a whopping 20% of NFL quarterbacks. Wow. Southern California cranks out the mediocre signal callers like there’s no tomorrow, whereas NorCal is all about quality over quantity. Virginia and Georgia are the hot spots in the South, and Pennsylvania carries the Northeast. Ohio is the stronghold of the Midwest.
Lands of Famine
Naturally, the Mountain time zone has big gaping holes and the same goes for the breadbasket and Upper Midwest. The biggest surprises are New York and Florida. They must have the lowest per capita NFL QB ratio.
Waiver Wire. Here are the 16 active roster quarterbacks who did not make the cut:
Chase Daniel (Dallas), Brandon Weeden (Dallas/Kansas City), Caleb Hanie(Dallas), Graham Harrell (Dallas), Ryan Tannehill (Dallas), Luke McCown (Dallas), Nick Foles (Houston), Greg McElroy (San Diego, Dallas), Ryan Lindley (San Diego), Jimmy Clausen (San Diego), David Carr (San Diego), Matt Leinart (San Diego), Matt Moore (San Diego), Kellen Moore (Seattle), Byron Leftwich (Washington), Tyrod Taylor (Washington).
I think that’s about all there is to say about this topic. Keep looking for more NFL posts. Here’s a link to the NFL page here on Sport Change.
Thanks for reading. Leave comments, get upset, and stay posted.