Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, January 09, 2006

Quarterbacks on my mind

▪▪ I don't often feel bad for professional athletes, but I really felt bad for Carson Palmer after he was hurt in yesterday's Bengals-Steelers playoff game. After a fantastic season in which he threw for almost 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns, helping the long-suffering Bengals back to prosperity, Palmer seemed ready to take his place among the elite of NFL quarterbacks with a good playoff run.

Unfortunately, that all ended for him and the Bengals when Kimo von Oelhoffen tackled him at the knees. Palmer crumpled to the ground with two torn knee ligaments, and Cincinnati's playoff hopes fell with him. Man, wouldn't you have wanted to see how that game turned out if Palmer hadn't been injured? I hope he's able to recover and resume his status as a top-flight NFL quarterback. I'd hate to see such a promising career cut down before achieving its full potential.

▪▪ Another quarterback I feel bad for is Matt Gutierrez. Here's a guy who just never got a chance to realize his potential at Michigan. That's not to say he was treated unfairly. He just got injured at the wrong time, with the wrong guy behind him. Chad Henne's precocious abilities impressed coaches and fans, and once he established himself as a player, he wasn't going to be replaced at quarterback. That's how football works sometimes. Despite the old adage, you actually can lose your job to injury.

I said a couple of times during this past season that Michigan should play Gutierrez at quarterback. Henne was struggling, and I thought the coaches owed it to the rest of the team to see if making a change might have helped. Henne's play eventually improved, but I think one of the underlying questions for Michigan's 2005 season will always be whether or not Gutierrez could have made a difference. Unfortunately, we'll never know. Not just because the 2005 season is over, but because Gutierrez officially ended his Michigan career by transferring to Idaho State, a Division I-AA school. (Here's the Idaho point of view on the story, via MGoBlog.)

▪▪ Can Vince Young do in the NFL what he did in last week's Rose Bowl? Now we get to find out. I have a feeling this could be a disaster if Young isn't handled correctly. Not because his skills can't find a place in the pro game; he just seems too talented not to succeed, doesn't he? But I wonder if a NFL team eager for a fast return on its investment - for instance, a team that drafts him #1 overall - will try to rush him onto the field. And then a coach who hasn't figured out how to use him yet will shoehorn his talents into a conventional pro-style offense, rather than work to tailor a scheme around what he does best. (Can that spread offense work against NFL defenses?)

(Photo by Harry How/ Getty Images)

Young could be something we've never seen before in the NFL. But it'll take time. He's not going to just step onto the field and run through, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers as he did to Michigan and USC in the last two Rose Bowls. If Young is fortunate (and we know he will be financially), he'll need to be drafted by a team that already has a quarterback. Then he can sit back, learn the pro game for a couple of seasons, and maybe be shuttled into the lineup for specialized packages like short-yardage or 3rd-and-long, where his running skills would be an immediate asset that defenses have to watch closely. (Remember how Pittsburgh used Kordell Stewart at the beginning of his career?) But if Young is expected to be "The Franchise" within a year or two, it might not end well.


  • At January 10, 2006 11:06 AM, Blogger Cutthroat Pirates said…

    I tell you what, I play fantasy football and man, the owners that have Carson Palmer are scared on if he still is a keeper. It sucks for him. But I think he will come back strong. If it had to happen it happened at the right time. He gets the offseason to heal. But I won't tell those owners that, maybe they will get rid of him and I could pick him up.

  • At January 10, 2006 11:25 AM, Anonymous Evan said…

    Henne was the right play for sure, regardless of our record. If Henne went through those growing pains again next year because Guitierrez got the playing time this year, we'd just be screwing ourselves.

    Most of our losses couldn't be blamed entirely on Henne, especially the Alamo Bowl, where he played well, and it just seems to me that blowing the kid's confidence heading into next year, when the team should theoretically be stacked given the lack of seniors this year, is bad idea.

    I read in the Free Press today, too, that the Lions were one of two teams that the CFL player of the year, a QB, was interested in. Weird. But intriguing.


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