The NFL regular season goes off in one week. Players who make the cut get a shot at millions of dollars and what goes with it, while their brothers are thrown into the hell of real jobs, dinner at Pizza Hut, lousy apartments, and municipal golf courses.
Of the former group, quarterbacks are the ones fans watch in a train-wreck sort of way. They have the farthest to fall and therefore make the biggest splat. Follows is the QB situation on select teams seven days before the regular season begins.
San Diego: Philip Rivers is number one, nothing new.
New Orleans: Former Chargers quarterback Drew Brees has finished two seasons with the Saints. First year there he made All-Pro, completed 440 passes for an NFL record, also collected team records in passing yards, touchdowns, and completion percentage. Led the Saints to the NFC Championship game. More of the same in 2007. Has started every game since he’s been with the club.
Arizona Cardinals: Nothing official as of Tuesday. Matt Leinart played like a pig against the Raiders. Kurt Warner is an old guy. Arizona won’t make the playoffs behind either man.
Rookie Matt Ryan will be the Atlanta Falcons’ starting quarterback. Poor bastard. The last rookie QB to start Game One was David Carr in 2002. The Houston Texans went 4-12 that year and Carr was beaten senseless, sacked 76 times.
It’s been a rough run for Atlanta. Their former quarterback, Michael Vick, moved to Leavenworth prison. Then, Bill Parcells toyed with the hapless owner, Arthur Blank, dangling the possibility of hiring “Beloved” for the job of kingfish. Unfortunately, “Beloved” rejected Blank at the altar and accepted the same job in Miami.
Atlanta looked like an infant left on the front porch of a crack house. As Jack Nicholson once said, “Whenever I have a problem, the first thing I think is, ‘Will money solve this?’” Falcons owner Arthur Blank signed the number-three player in the 2008 NFL draft, Matt Ryan (Boston College), to a six-year, $72 million contract. The rookie starts Game One at home against Detroit on September 7.
Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning, as long as he breathes.
Washington Redskins: Coming off a bracing 47-3 loss to Carolina, the news is Jason Campbell will start. He started 13 games last year before he dislocated a ligament on his left knee. Washington head coach Jim Zorn is a rookie and has an interesting stat: he’s never called a play in the NFL.
New York Jets: Admit it, you’re curious how Brett Favre will do. Many are curious how he’ll play. Others are hoping for another “yes I will…no I won’t” at the end of the season, made much, much better this time because it will be played out in front of the New York media.
Miami: Chad Pennington was named starter on Monday. The former Jets QB was offloaded after the Jets acquired Bret Favre. The Jets and Dolphins play each other in week one. Might be the last interesting Dolphins game of the year.
Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger, until things change.
San Francisco: This is the jewel of 2008. Ladies and gentleman, presenting John Thomas O’Sullivan. It’s beyond strange that he’s the starting quarterback…in fact, it’s unbelievable. The man has made a pact with the devil.
Get this for a bio: All-everything at Jesuit High School, Carmichael, California. Went to a local college (UC Davis), was a big deal there, broke a lot of records. But, Davis is one click below Division I and a member of the Great West Conference (quick, name one other conference affiliate), so nobody cares if he broke records.
O’Sullivan was a sixth-round New Orleans draft pick in 2002. That’s six human years or 42 NFL years ago. He was the Saints’ third-string quarterback, inactive all season. Ditto for 2003. Played for Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe. Back to New Orleans. Inactive for the first four games of 2004, then traded to Green Bay for chump change. Inactive for 11 games with the Packers, played in final game of the season (took a knee on the last two plays).
Turned up in Chicago in 2005, was on the Bears’ practice squad for the first nine games. Minnesota signed him to their regular squad in November. He was inactive for the rest of the 2005 season. Went to 2006 training camp with Minnesota. Didn’t make the team. Signed by New England to their practice squad on September 5, waived by New England on October 2, signed to Carolina’s practice squad on December 27. Chicago picked him up again in February 2007, waived him before their training camp began. Detroit picked him up on July 10, then San Francisco signed him as an unrestricted free agent in February 2008, gave him a one-year contract at minimum wage ($645,000). Named starting quarterback on August 22.
This is the guy to watch.