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The Cumulative Age Rule of Backup QBs

Ok maybe not that young

Football is a sport of continuity, teams maintain the same core players from season to season, even after bad years, and the teams that do not have a succession plan at each position risk that continuity. Just plugging in players does not always work, see also Adam Archuleta and every pathetic attempt the Redskins made last season to find a third receiver (Keenan McCardell no wait Reche Caldwell no let's try Anthony Mix).

And no one can doubt that among all football positions, quarterback may be first among equals when it comes to continuity. QB has so many competing priorities and complicating factors that it can be difficult for a team manage them with only three roster spots. You need your starting guy, you need your cool hand off the bench, you need the guy of the future, you need the diamond in the rough to be developed etc etc and so on and so forth.

Watching the Redskins last season I was struck by something with the quarterbacks. While starter Jason Campbell was a spry 25, backup Todd Collins was 35 and backup Mark Brunell was a creaky 36. That's 71 years between the two of them.

And while Mark was never needed and Todd came through when the team needed him, the Redskins made no progress at the quarterback position with respect to the future. Yes they drafted a guy, seventh round pick Jordan Palmer, in last year's draft, Jordan was so bad in his only preseason action that he was cut two days later. They also cycled through Casey Bramlet again (op. cit.), a guy good enough to be the WLAF's NFL Europa's World Bowl 15 MVP but not good enough to make the Redskins roster.

Three roster spots for QBs. You got your starter, he is exempt from all age requirements. But the backups, together they are supposed to represent the present AND future at the position. Whether a team chooses to put their young gun at number two (like Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre) or a cagey veteran ready for a four game stretch (like our own Todd Collins) at number two, there should always be a youngster in the mix, a player that can be developed for the long term and possibly elevated to starter when the time comes.

This is not to say there is not a place for veteran quarterbacks, that is not what I am saying at all. What I am saying is that a team is not caring for the future when its two backups total 71 years of age.

And this is not about Jason Campbell either. As much as I love the guy, it was still a very open question as to whether Jason could run and be successful in a Joe Gibbs / Al Saunders style of offense, one suited to Jason's natual abilities and physique. Those questions will hold over this season and become more pointed if Jason does not look like he can run Jim Zorn's offense from day one.

So I am proposing a rule. The combined age of the Redskins' two backup quarterbacks should never tally more than 60 years of age. Update by Ben, perhaps 60 is too low, see comments below.

Likely configurations would break down this way:

  1. Cagey older veteran at number two, ready for limited action but likely not an option for a full season much less the future, with young gun at number three, the guy to be groomed for the future.
  2. Established young number two, waiting in the wings to take over while the wizened veteran QB coaches and helps the number two mature from the number three spot.
  3. Two guys in mid career, fighting it out for position, or in a defined hierarchy.

With last season's backups, the Redskins were out of compliance with the rule. Keeping Todd Collins at number two and bringing in Colt Brennan at number three would satisfy condition number one above. With undrafted rookie Matt Moore stepping in for Jake Delhomme in Carolina and Vinny Testaverde at number three, the Panthers last season conformed to condition number two. The Bills, with 27 year old JP Losman at number two and and 27 year old Gibran Hamdan (himself a former Redskin) at number three would fit condition three.

New coach, new outlook, time to start stewarding the QB position into the future.

David Sills, the 11 year old phenom quarterback:  Mark Owens from here.

[Note by Skin Patrol, 07/09/08 7:26 PM EDT ] Ben, you've been missed brother. Reader(s) are encouraged to enjoy other posts by this author at The Curly R, in particular his current running series Redskins Now AND Later (in its 6th edition). I'm tagging this thing up.