Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Here it Comes

Can you believe we're just over a month away from football?

The 2008 NFL season kicks off Sept. 4, when the Washington Redskins take on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. The preseason begins this coming Sunday (Aug. 3), when those same Redskins take on the Indianapolis Colts (sans Peyton Manning) in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Naturally, with the beginning of any football season and the start of training camps, the issue of quarterback competitions and controversies creeps up (even if we're not talking about a certain living legend trying to bust back into Lambeau). As ga-ga as the media and fans get over these manufactured dramas, their emotions hanging on every preseason pass, looking to dissect even the slightest movement in a 7-on-7 no-contact drill, we never stop long enough to see just how much of a farce this "preseason quarterback competition" thing really is.

Thankfully, we have SI.com's Ross Tucker to thank for that. Read his most recent column on the site, which can be found here. He makes a lot of valid points about how training camp and preseason games aren't true barometers for deciding which quarterback gives you the best chance to win.

Let's face it; if preseason play was a true indicator of a quarterback's prowess, Brady Quinn would've been the guy to possibly lead the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs last season, not Derek Anderson. But Anderson proved himself on the field in the regular season, which means the starting job is his coming into this season, unless and until he gives it up, either through poor play or injury.

I'm all for giving the guy who had the best preseason first crack at the starting job, but don't insult our intelligence by telling us his performance in training camp is going to propel him into NFL stardom and the team to the playoffs. Just tell us you think the guy you chose can give you the best chance to win, and leave it at that. If he proves himself, great. If not, you either put in the other guy or lose your job -- maybe both.

That's just how the NFL rolls.

Quality NFL quarterbacks are hard to come by (right, Chicago?), so I can sort of understand everyone's impatience when it comes to finding the guy to run your offense. Like it or not, quarterback is the most important position in football. A team with a good quarterback can go far (New England, Indy, etc.), while a lackluster or unproven quarterback can keep an otherwise solid team from greatness (Ex: 2007 Minnesota Vikings). But are passing drills and preseason snaps against third-team defensive units really the way to properly evaluate your signal-callers?

Then again, if your team's in a position to have to choose a quarterback in the preseason, then your organization's already in trouble. As the old saying goes: if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none.

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