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saintswhodi 07-06-2005 03:24 PM

ESPN Insider Article on QBs who need to step up

Harrington, Boller must step upScouts Inc.

The quarterback position remains the most important in the NFL. A great signal caller can take a team to the next level. Unfortunately, a mediocre quarterback also can prevent a team from maximizing its potential.

Let's take a look at young quarterbacks who are already under pressure to take their teams and their own personal games to another level.

Joey Harrington, Detroit Lions
With an improved offensive line, a solid running attack and outstanding weapons in the perimeter passing game, there are no more excuses for Harrington. With Jeff Garcia, a guy who knows the offense and has a history with head coach Steve Mariucci, waiting in the wings, Harrington also has pressure to produce early.

Not only has Harrington's decision making come into question but he also has displayed inconsistent mechanics and flaws in his fundamentals. His footwork is up and down, and when he doesn't square up before his throw, his accuracy suffers and his ball hangs.

With some three-WR sets and a running attack that can set up great play-action opportunities, Harrington must walk the fine line between taking sure shots in the vertical passing game when he sees single man-to-man coverage and trying to force the ball when the play is not there.

The biggest challenge in training camp for Harrington is to read his progressions and make quicker decisions. If he doesn't, look for Garcia to step in. Garcia has great toughness and is calm under pressure. He has a huddle presence you don't always see with Harrington. This is a great battle to watch.

Aaron Brooks, New Orleans Saints
He might be the biggest enigma in the NFL. When you look at his numbers and physical skills, you would think he was headed to the Hall of Fame, but when you break him down on film, there is something missing, and he always seems to come up a little short.

Brooks has great arm strength and mobility, and he can create a lot of big plays -- both in the pocket and on the move. However, he seems to regress when he has too much to do before the ball is snapped. The Saints' coaching staff is simplifying his reads at the line of scrimmage in 2005, curtailing a lot of checkoffs and formation shifts in an effort to let him relax and not force bad decisions.

With the Saints giving the football to running back Deuce McAllister to set up play action, and utilizing a lot of single reads to the receivers, there is no excuse for Brooks not to flourish in 2005. He has had a good offseason, and seems to be making a conscious effort to be a more vocal leader, rather than the laid-back, nonchalant guy we have seen on the sideline after a mistake.

Kyle Boller, Baltimore Ravens
Boller is another young quarterback who has run out of excuses. The Ravens have finally surrounded him with quality offensive weapons. Unlike with Joey Harrington, the Ravens' stellar defense affords Boller the luxury of not having to be great, just consistent.

With a strong running game and three quality weapons in the passing game -- wide receiver Derrick Mason, rookie receiver Mark Clayton and tight end Todd Heap -- Baltimore can spread the field and exploit single man-to-man matchups. However, Boller's biggest weakness so far in his young NFL career has been his decision making. He tends to lock on to his primary receiver, and his inconsistency at reading his progressions has left many big plays on the field.

He has some big targets on the perimeter who will go and get the "jump ball," and he is surrounded by an all-star coaching staff of offensive minds -- head coach Brian Billick, offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and new QB coach Rick Neuheisel. With a stud defense, a power run game and more than enough weapons in the Ravens' passing game, this is Boller's make-or-break year.

David Carr, Houston Texans
Although Carr's job isn't really in jeopardy, you get the feeling he hasn't progressed quite as quickly as the Texans would like. Although his numbers are respectable, he's not producing enough of the game-changing plays he is capable of making.

Most of Carr's problems are not of his own doing. He plays behind a mediocre offensive line that gave up 49 sacks a year ago, and although he has good pocket presence and mobility, he doesn't have the speed to outrun pressure. As a result, Carr takes a lot of hits, and it seems to affect all parts of his game. His throwing mechanics are not consistent, and he forces too many balls into coverage while anticipating the hit.

However, Carr is a tough guy and doesn't throw the ball up for grabs because he's skittish but rather because he's competitive and just wants to make a play. The Texans' coaching staff has vowed to make the offense a little more QB-friendly in 2005  there will be fewer pre-snap reads and possibly more max-protection blocking schemes.

The only thing David Carr needs is an offensive line that gives him enough protection in seven-step drops to utilize the play-action package and throw the deep ball, both areas of strengths for the young signal caller.

Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals
Based on the numbers he put up at the end of the 2004 season, Palmer already has started to take his game to the next level. Palmer must continue his accelerated learning curve for a Bengals team with playoff aspirations in 2005.

He has dropped more than 20 pounds in the offseason so he's not such a sitting duck in the pocket. The Bengals also will run the ball more than they did a year ago with running back Rudi Johnson. This will take some pressure off Palmer and give him favorable matchups on the perimeter in the passing game off the play-action package.

It is imperative that he cut down on his interceptions and not force passes into coverage. With a quality three-receiver package featuring Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Peter Warrick, he should be able to spread the field and complete a lot of safe throws.

Jake Plummer, Denver Broncos
Plummer no longer can be classified as a young, developmental quarterback after nine years in the NFL, but there's a feeling that he still hasn't reached his potential for success. Although he put up huge numbers in 2004, with more than 4,000 yards passing and 27 touchdowns, he also threw 20 interceptions and seemed to thwart drive after drive with key mistakes.

His biggest assets -- his ability to make plays on the move and creativity under duress -- are also his biggest drawbacks. Despite his experience, Plummer will make confounding throws into coverage, especially downfield. Although one has to like Plummer's gambling style and competitive nature, he must learn to play within the system -- without giving up his movement skills.

Above all, he has to trust his other offensive weapons and not try to do everything by himself. For some reason, a lot of Plummer's interceptions came from tipped passes downfield and deflections at the line of scrimmage. The Broncos will work their patented cut-blocking schemes in training camp to give Plummer better throwing lanes.

This organization thinks it has a playoff roster, but a lot of the projected success in 2005 is contingent on Plummer. He doesn't have to win every game; he just can't make the one or two critical mistakes that lose a game.

4saintspirit 07-06-2005 03:45 PM

What an accurate statement about Brooks -- I guess they are saying that just because he has great stats doesn't translate into being a great QB -- what many of us have been ridiculed for saying --

RDOX 07-06-2005 03:45 PM

When you look at his numbers and physical skills, you would think he was headed to the Hall of Fame, but when you break him down on film, there is something missing, and he always seems to come up a little short.

Yes, what comes up short and what is missing is heart and brains.

RockyMountainSaint 07-06-2005 04:52 PM

AB step up?

All he ever seems to do is back pedal then do his retarded spin move like he is a contestant on "Dancing With the Stars" with the occaisional backwards pass for a change of pace. :roll:

AllSaints 07-06-2005 11:08 PM

Brooks laughs after an interception........ I HATE THAT !!!!! he brought us to the playoffs in 2000. If he would play SMART !!!!!! I mean its not all brooks fault but most of the time yesss it all points to brooks !!!!!

saintz08 07-07-2005 12:09 AM

All right who is going to be the first poster to Carte Blanche Brooks and blame the defense ????

Where is Saintfan ??? Did the fact Jake Delhomme threw for more yards and touchdowns this year then Brooks , just fry his brain after he swore it would never happen all those years ???

WhoDat 07-07-2005 09:33 AM

Why do you think he's never around anymore 08? Hiding in shame.

Oh, and just for you - how can you blame Brooks!?!?! Maybe you missed it, but our defense was dead freakin' last in 2004!!!

saintfan 07-07-2005 09:59 AM


Originally Posted by WhoDat
Maybe you missed it, but our defense was dead freakin' last in 2004!!!

Much as it pains me, credit where credit is due Whodat. You just typed the single most meaningful sentence in this thread.

For the 8 millionth time, if you single out Brooks you're being shortsighted in my humble opinion, but I've been there and done that and own the t-shirt. Carry on fellas. This little poo flinging party looks fun, but I'm too busy right now. I'll be here when the season starts tho, to either take my medicine or administer it.

Here's to hoping Brooks can be perfect since it seems that's what it'll take. I'm also hoping the o-line can figure a way to block for AB and McAllister. I'm hoping the WR's catch more than they drop. I'm hoping Deuce rebounds. I'm hoping our defense shows up too. Short of asking for Brooks to be perfect, I don't think that's too much to ask. :wink:

WhoDat 07-07-2005 10:33 AM

LMAO - lord SF returns just in time to put up the shields and deflect the attacks. Good thing you were here. :)

Euphoria 07-07-2005 10:52 AM

We so need to bring in a run-stuffer QB.

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