Inside Football: The Shelf Life of the AFC East and North QBs

Last week I scrolled through the current starting quarterbacks in the NFC, did a little mental carbon dating, and gave each quarterback a shelf life, giving some praise and future accolades and damning others to the fledgling United Football League. This week I look at the AFC East and make some bold and some quite obvious evaluations.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Current Starter: Trent Edwards

Age: 26

Career: 505/824, 5499 Yards, 24 TD/25 INT, 78.0 Rating

Shelf Life: 2-3 Years with a downward spiral from starter to third string in Oakland

Edwards has the arm and has shown flashes of brilliance with the Buffalo Bills, but playing his first three years in a city with a football team still decimated by the four-straight Super Bowl losses in the 1990s has turned this athletic quarterback with a gun for an arm into a mental mess. Add the tutelage of Dick Jauron and the firing of an offensive coordinator just before his third season (perhaps the most pivotal year in a quarterback’s development) and Edwards’ potential has been wasted. The Buffalo Bills will most likely start looking in the draft in a year or two for another quarterback, after Jauron is fired at the end of this season.

Miami Dolphins

Current Starter: Chad Henne?

Age: 24

Career: 117/201, 1232 Yards, 5 TD/4 INT, 76.1 Rating

Shelf Life: 5+ Years as a future starting quarterback for a middle of the road team.

The Miami Dolphins are attached to the Wild Cat formation which does not bode well for Chad Henne. The second year quarterback has been able to deliver pretty average games with a few impressive game-winning drives early on in his career. This is actually quite impressive since he never knows how many snaps he will play. Playing so average in the face of such uncertainty is truly a feat. This is a big quarterback with an arm, and, surprisingly, some touch. He has a future of some sort in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins will likely be that mediocre team he starts for once they begin to move away from the Wild Cat after this losing season.

New England Patriots

Current Starter: Tom Brady

Age: 32

Career: 2534/4005, 29,185 Yards, 216 TD/92 INT, 93.6 Rating

Shelf Life: 5+ Years as an All-Pro quarterback

Sure Tom Brady is already 32, but he has an arm and a quarterback with an arm is like a boxer with a great punch, he always has a chance. The New England Patriots are going to stick with him as long as he wants to play. He has been very good to them and he is such an iconic figure that getting rid of him even after he begins to struggle will be seen as a treacherous act to an area with some of the most loyal sports fans in the country.

New York Jets

Current Starter: Mark Sanchez

Age: 23

Career: 130/244, 1,655 Yards, 9 TD/12 INT, 66.5 Rating

Shelf Life: 5+ Years with several Pro Bowl appearances

Mark Sanchez’ numbers are not great by any means. He quickly fell out of favor with the New York media after throwing a total of eight interceptions in the midst of a three game losing streak from Week 4 to Week 6. Still, what makes this kid so impressive is his ability to put together game-winning drives. He will throw the ball into difficult spots and even run into the middle of the field taking hits from linebackers to win the game in the final two minutes. That is what made him so much fun to watch in the first three weeks of the season. I cannot believe anybody would really care about his rookie numbers. In the long run they will be forgotten. The New York Jets have found their future.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

Current Starter: Joe Flacco

Age: 24

Career: 440/710, 5,015 Yards, 26 TD/19 INT, 84.2 Rating

Shelf Life: 5+ Years with several Pro Bowl appearances

The Baltimore Ravens have found a real game changing quarterback in Joe Flacco and they proved that they knew it when they continued to let him try and make big plays in the playoffs last season. In fact making big plays is his game. In the current offense the Ravens run the football and let Flacco spread the defense with deep bombs. Sound familiar? Yep, that was the Steelers strategy with Roethlisberger and it worked. Flacco is a darling right now, but eventually he will take some flack for all the chances he takes. In the end the Baltimore football fans will be happy they have him under center.

Cincinnati Bengals

Current Starter: Carson Palmer

Age: 29

Career: 1558/2455, 17,640 Yards, 121 TD/74 INT, 88.8 Rating

Shelf Life: 5+ Years as a good quarterback (no Pro Bowl appearances)

Carson Palmer is enjoying a renaissance year in 2009 and a couple of years in which he was hampered by injuries. He is a very good quarterback and will be a thorn in defensive coordinators sides, but he is not going to quite live up to the promise of his third season in the league (2005). Instead, football fanatics will be talking about him in a couple of decades in disgust as the new crop of fans has no clue who he is. The Cincinnati Bengals should keep him since it is even difficult to find a very good quarterback in the NFL.

Cleveland Browns

Current Starter: Brady Quinn

Age: 25

Career: 94/174, 972 Yards, 3 TD/5 INT, 64.1 Rating

Shelf Life: 4 Years with his career ending after finding himself in the third place on depth chart somewhere else in the NFL.

Brady Quinn’s short career has been much more about his football adventures off the field than on it. He entered the draft as one of the top players in the draft but fell to the 22nd pick and appeared visibly upset as he walked onto the stage to accept the Browns jersey. He then followed this with a holdout that cost him the starting job with Cleveland Browns (to Charlie Frye!). He is now a very expensive failing experiment. However, he is still an experiment and at least provides the possibility of hope for a Browns fan base that has little to look forward to every week. Cleveland should probably accept the length of the contract and get busy fixing the defense first, then move onto their offensive issues.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Current Starter: Ben Roethlisberger

Age: 27

Career: 1394/2207, 17,443 Yards, 115 TD/77 INT, 90.5 Rating

Shelf Life: 5+ Years with the Steelers as an occasional Pro Bowl player

I looked at his QB Rating and could not believe it. I knew Ben Roethlisberger has been a very good quarterback in the league, but he has also been left out of the discussion when it comes to the best quarterback or group of quarterbacks. He began his career as a weapon asked to unload his arm every few plays to keep the defense honest and excelled as this gigantic distraction. Now he seems to be easing into the role as the actual focal point of the Pittsburgh Steelers offense. He will stay take chances, but that is the kind of quarterback he is supposed to be. Great quarterbacks take chances. His game is not as clean as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but he definitely gets the job of winning done. He will remain a member of the Steelers and he will continue to have up and down seasons for the next few years before he finally settles down.

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