Archive for February, 2012

So I know that I generally do not comment on larger, worldly issues on this blog, but something at the end of last week really got to me. I do not follow the NBA that closely but, like most of the nation, I got a little wrapped up in Jeremy Lin and his rise to stardom with the New York Knicks. For a guy I had never heard of, his numbers were looking so good that he immediately became a candidate for MVP. Starting with his first game on February 4th, Lin won 7 straight games and averaged over 20 PPG. With Carmelo Anthony back from injury, he may not be able to keep the numbers up but has certainly gotten the attention of the league.

What got me steamed was an analyst with ESPN and the web developer who thought it was okay to use a racial slur for their headline story after the Knicks lost to the Hornets. The article was up for about 30 minutes before other news organizations caught the issue, reported on it and ESPN finally took it down. While the first comments were that ESPN was going to discover what happened and discipline the involved individuals, the reality is that more than a retraction and a discipling needed to happen. ESPN would rather not draw too much attention to the mistake/misjudgment, but either the sports organization or other news organizations need to use this issue as a teaching moment for the general public. There is some disagreement about the intentions of the writer and the issue of political correctness, but it sounded inappropriate (and my opinion is that it was WRONG). News organizations do less useful education and more sensationalized storytelling, but this was a prime opportunity to take positive step toward social and community development.

Let’s hope that ESPN and other commentators use more appropriate wording for their future headlines and stories and that people actually learn from this mistake/misjudgment about the real issues with discriminatory commentary.

This also occurred on the air…

A lot of criticism is out there about individual who spend time playing video games. Certainly a sedentary lifestyle is not a healthy one, but there is more value to many games that button mashing. Unlike State of Emergency, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, most games have some sort of purpose or meaningful storytelling element.

First to highlight the purposeful concept, each genre of games serves as a simulation or escape from the ordinary. Most sports games allow individuals to either experience the success of the real athletes or play out a season to their liking. Games like LittleBigPlanet allow anyone to take their imagination and make it appear on-screen, tapping into one’s creativity. The craze involving rhythm games may not have been perfect translations of real instruments, but Guitar Hero encouraged a large portion of young people to take up learning guitar and some instruments (mainly the drums) actually simulated the real thing. Even most shooting games and action/adventure games include deep, engaging stories that let the player escape into an entirely new universe. With the more recent additions by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft, all of the major consoles include motion gaming that allows players to move with the game, including hitting a tennis ball or swinging a sword.

As mentioned with action/adventure games, roleplaying games contain the most engaging and immersive stories. One of the best series in existence (and still running strong) it the Final Fantasy series. With the exception of two sequel games, each of the main games exists in completely original environments with unique sets of characters. The general themes carry over between  games, but each one sucks you in and including dozens of hours of gameplay. To exhibit some of the engagement element of the stories, let me provide a sample from the games I have played (some more than once)…

Final Fantasy VI: Suffering from a bout of amnesia, a young woman named Terra is saved by some of the local residents of the mountain town of Narshe and a young thief name Locke. With Emperor Gestahl’s troops hot on their trail, Locke takes Terra to meet his friend, King Edgar. When Edgar and Locke learn about Terra’s mysterious magical abilities, they go on a journey to discover the mystery of her powers and her history. As the story unfolds, the band of misfits continues to grow and they learn about a devious mage named Kefka who is working with Gestahl to weaponize the magic in mysterious beings called Espers. The further that Kefka pursues his magical dominance, the closer he pushes the world into apocalyptic destruction.

The best aspects of this game are the depth of the individual character stories and the cliffhanger-like element at the midpoint of the game. The main character, Terra, starts with a bout of amnesia but discovers her connection with the Espers. She dominates the first half of the game as the heroes seek to understand the influence of magic in the growing imperial threat. Edgar and his brother Sabin are brothers with diverging lives. On a gamble, they flipped a coin to determine who would rule the land, but Sabin’s loss led him to flee and life a free, peaceful life. The arrival of Locke and Terra served as an opportunity to reconnect and reestablish their family bond. Even a minor character like Gau has his own story. As a wild child living off of the land, he was abandoned by his father. Later in the story, he gets his chance to reconnect but ultimately cannot live up to his father’s expectations.

The cliffhanger element comes up when Kefka successfully is able to access the statues that hold magic in check and have the ability to reshape the world if rearranged. While Terra and the others seem to reach him in time, he manages to double-cross Gestahl and reshape the entire face of the world. While the heroes make it back to their airship, the catastrophic changes cause it to crash and scatter the heroes across the globe. When Celes wakes up, she is stranded on a small island with Cid as her only companion. Living in quiet existence has been detrimental to Cid’s health, forcing Celes to find a way to get off the island and search for other survivors. Gradually, she comes across her friends and the group deems it necessary to find a way to get to Kefka and neutralize his power.

Final Fantasy VII: A former member of the Shinra Corporation, Cloud Strife has defected and joined a group called Avalanche. Along with Barrett and Tifa, they eventually agree on a need to bring down Shinra in a Robin Hood-like way. After one of their missions, Cloud meets a quiet florist named Aeris, who is actually a target for Shinra’s experiments. When their efforts lead them deep into Shinra headquarters, they learn more about the corporation’s plot to eliminate the slums and their residents. In the wake of their battle, Cloud and the Avalanche members are able to escape the pursuit of Shinra and recollect themselves in the town of Kalm. As the group seeks to understand the legendary SOLDIER Sephiroth’s plans, they discover more about Cloud’s mysterious past and Aeris’s importance to Shinra and the Jenova project.

The interesting element of this game is the twists and turns of the story involving Cloud and Sephiroth. Cloud originally believes that he was ex-SOLDIER but also recognizes how his memory is fuzzy. He remembers his mother and the fire in his hometown, as well as his time in SOLDIER with Sephiroth. As Avalanche continues their quest to understand both Shinra’s and Sephiroth’s plans, the story unfolds to reveal that Cloud’s memories were actually the experiences of a close friend, Zack. Cloud never made it into SOLDIER and simply served as a Shinra guard. As they uncover his story, Aeris falls victim to Sephiroth’s destructive tendency, which pushes Cloud to seek vengeance against the seemingly indestructible villain.

Final Fantasy X: Tidus, a star in the sport of blitzball, lives in a city called Zanarkand. When a massive evil creature named Sin attacks the city, Tidus is consumed by the beast but wakes up just off of an island called Besaid. Meeting up with three guardians (Kimahri, Lulu and Wakka) and their summoner (Yuna), he slowly discovers that he has passed through time and wound up in a world which seemed foreign to him. In an attempt to learn about his situation and adapt to his new existence, he chooses to volunteer himself to join Yuna on her quest. Tidus learns that Yuna’s quest will take her throughout the world to gather the assistance of creatures called aeons to battle and defeat Sin. Meanwhile, a part-human, part-Guado prince named Seymour has his eyes set on Yuna to become his bride, but seems to have ulterior desires for the future of the world.

Similar to FFVI, the character depth is the most intriguing part of the game. Tidus’s arrival in Besaid is believed to be his travel through time, but his reality is that he perished during the Sin attack in Zanarkand. His existence is being maintained by the Fayths, beings that provide the ability to access the aeons. The Fayths hope to support Tidus and his crew in the destruction of Sin, but their victory will lead to his existence fading into memory. Auron, who serves as Tidus’s guide, existed back in Tidus’s time but actually fell to a similar fate and is only a corporal memory attempting to support the defeat of Sin. Yuna, daughter of the great summoner Braska, is trying to follow in his footsteps and bring calm to the land through the defeat of Sin. She also understands the truth about the end of her journey, which involves sacrificing her life to the final aeon to subdue Sin. Wakka, a blitzball player like Tidus, has been unable to succeed at the sport but found purpose through his relationship with Yuna. Lulu, who lost her love to the war against Sin, seeks to avenge his death. Even the villain Seymour has a deep story, involving the marriage of a Guado with his human mother. He became enraged by a difficult childhood and believed that destroying the world would help people get their release from misery and suffering. To accomplish this, he looks to defeat and become Sin itself to accomplish his goal.

Refocusing on Tidus, his subplot involves the abusive relationship of his father, who was also a blitzball player in his time. Jecht was often found drunk and went missing during a training at sea. Though he was transported to the future, he too had died and his corporal existence landed him in Braska’s journey as a guardian. While Yuna had the best impressions of Jecht and Auron periodically defended him, Tidus rejected any positive change based on his childhood memories. When Tidus learns that Jecht sacrificed himself to defeat Sin and had become the creature, his hate intensified. The further Tidus traveled on the journey, the more he began to understand Jecht’s situation and hope he could find a way to release him from his misery as the creature.

FFX also became the first game to lead into a sequel, which focused on Yuna’s quest to find what happened to Tidus. She stays connected with Rikku and adds in a new character, Payne, on her journey discover a way to resurrect her lost love. The chaos of Seymour’s and Yu Yevon’s plots from FFX left the world divided in their beliefs about progressing forward. The three groups (New Yevon, Youth League and Machine Faction) now struggle to rise as the new leadership for Spira.

While video games are not for everyone, it is difficult to ignore how many people become engrossed with the complexity of the stories.

I am following a number of political stories at the moment, including the Republican primary and the hot mess of the candidates, but the recent development of the NBC Sports network spawned a program that caught my attention. Bob Costas, in a effort to start promoting this new network, was involved in a town hall-like meeting in Indianapolis to bring together a collection of players, coaches and owners to discuss a number of aspects of the NFL. It was like the State of the Union but for professional football. What was truly intriguing about this venue was the openness that some of the guests provided to truly state their opinions on some of the most significant stories of the time.

I thought I might reflect on the comments of the panelists and add a little of my own flair to the conversation…

Safety: As one of the most significant conversations of the evening, safety (particularly related to concussions) was an ongoing discussion point. Multiple panels were brought on stage to discuss this specific issue. One of the conflicting points that was significant in the player discussions was in the hard hits being an acceptable factor of the game and the need to focus more on protecting the longterm health of the players. Rodney Harrison, who was most vocal during the short online portion of the program, used Peyton Manning’s current situation to discuss the need to know when to walk away. In reference to Manning, he highlighted the future media career would be more enjoyable if he were choose health over pushing his way back into the game. Speaking from his own experience, he discussed how his concussions have left with with ongoing soreness, headaches and nausea that will continue to plague him for the remainder of his life.

I certainly would have the agree with the players who sided with wanting to truly promote safety because I feel horrible about the quality of life some of these men experience after retirement (even with the millions of dollars they have stored away). Jerry Jones talked about how the reunion of players at his alma mater looked like a collection of injured war veterans. While the game is physical and the risks are known, there has to be a balance between maintaining the purity of the game and keeping the players from destroying their careers and the remainder of their lives. Helmet to helmet hits need to be examined across all positions, as well as defenseless tackles. Certainly a monster tackle can excite the fans, but some of them are completely unnecessary and do more damage than benefit toward a team’s goals.

It was quite interesting that there were players like Jamal Lewis and Jeff Saturday who were more than willing to step up and promote the need for better protections, but others like Philip Rivers who defended the defensive players and simply called the hits a part of the game. It is important for the players to find themselves on more of the same page so that they can be active and effective members at the bargaining table and negotiate the changes to preserve the energy, excitement and safety elements of the game.

HGH: While the conversation about this diminished in comparison with the lockout and the potential change with the length of the NFL season, this is an issue that deserves to be concluded in the very near future. Controversy has been associated with the attempts to test the players because of the possible destruction of a player’s career if discovered positive. Roger Goodell and some of the players were all for the completion of the discussions and start of the testing, but the conversation also proved inconclusive and avoidant with the concern that the test is accurate ONLY 99.99% of the time. Jeff Saturday actually said that he would love for players on the drug to be removed immediately and all of the panelists admitted that there are players currently using it, though no names were highlighted. The game is already high energy and high impact without the use of drugs to enhance players’ physical abilities.

Effects of Violence Beyond NFL: Costas spent a bit of time on the connections between the actions and comments in the NFL regarding defensive players and the desire to lay the big hit to knock out players. Connected with the concussion discussion, Rivers and John Harbaugh actually defended the defensive players by saying the comments were only words and not representative of their intentions on the field. The problem that Costas highlighted and was supported through several of the panelists was the effect on the college, high school and little league programs. Kids emulate the actions and comments of the professional players. They also play the game with less protective equipment and oversight. In order to make the game for younger generations safer to play, the NFL does need to continue to look at the message the current state of the NFL is sending to young people.

Personal Mistakes: While not one of the more serious conversation points, the players and coaches were asked about some of the mistake made during their careers. For Rodney Harrison, he was certainly poked at for the David Tyree catch during the Superbowl. Tony Dungy recalled his own Superbowl mistake when he allowed his special teams the opportunity to return a kick for a touchdown only 13 seconds into the game. The conversation was greatest with the coaches as they were challenged on the expectations of fans and the play-calling toward the end of games. Do you call a timeout with 2:02 left in the 4th quarter? Do you run up to the line on first down and spike the ball quickly rather than set up for a 4-yard pass in-bounds on the flat? The reality is that the process of making a decision is toughest when on the field versus in the comfort of one’s living room. I believe that we get frustrated in the moment but need to give the coaches a little slack. If the problem becomes a pattern, the coach may need to be open to a public questioning of their decision-making.

Ticket Sales and HDTV: Going to an NFL game is one of the most exciting experiences a fan can get, but ticket sales have skyrocketed over the history of the league. The Superbowl once cost about $100 per ticket and now a regular game can cost thousands with the invention of the Stubhub reselling system. Television provides more comfort and the ability to not worry about the travel time, traffic and cost of the game. Even still, there were moments throughout the season when games were blacked out, preventing the average fan from both being able to attend in person due to cost and watch at home due to blackouts. The experience of a live game will always beat watching it at home, but the cost differential certainly could dictate whether NFL fans stop trying to go to the stadiums.

The Future of Peyton Manning: While Rodney Harrison provided his thoughts on the subject, Tony Dungy had a special moment to discuss what he hopes to see out of his former player. Manning has certainly solidified himself as a Hall of Fame candidates and eventual member, but the drama with Andrew Luck and Irsay have truly deteriorated Manning’s chance to continue to start for the Colts even if he happens to be healthy. He has said it and Dungy agreed that Manning in any other jersey would be a travesty. If he is truly healthy, Andrew Luck should not dictate whether Manning gets a chance to start in Indianapolis again and the Colts should not dictate whether Manning gets to go out in embarrassment or have a chance to get one more go. Rodgers sat behind Favre and learned the pro game before taking the reigns. There needs to be an evaluation with rookie quarterbacks to determine the needs of the team and the talent they currently have. When Jimmy Clausen entered the NFL, he was not immediately thrown into the driver’s seat but he turned out to be a bust anyway. Blaine Gabbert, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton were started because of necessity but not every team takes this approach. We will potentially find out next week what Manning’s fate will be but I hope that it truly appreciates his health in the process.

Besides the topics highlighted above, Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft represented the owners and both struggled to present themselves well. Jones, in particular, truly failed when talking about the ticket prices and experience in the stadium. While he tried to explain his views, it sounded more like a jumbled mess of extra words and no point. He was more avoidant of all of his questions than actually provide reasonable responses.

There is probably no risk of a lockout for next season, but the league has a lot of issues left to tackle and hopefully can continue to preserve America’s top sport for all people to enjoy.

So I was browsing the ESPN site and caught a glimpse of an article that was written by Trent Dilfer about the grading of this year’s quarterback performances. I went to look at the article and was hit with the brick wall that is the ESPN Insider block. Darn it!! I thought to myself that I know at least a thing or two about football and I can make my own list.

Something that was plastered all over ESPN for both the NFL and college football throughout the year was this concept of the Year of the Quarterback. The thought behind the articles and discussions was that quarterbacks were going to have a big year with records, stories and other happenings that would turn the focus away from other positions. Of course this was going to be true. The quarterback is the single most important position on the offense (and really on the field), unless you are running a wildcat formation for a run or play-action pass on every play. In the college world, everyone set their eyes on the talented Andrew Luck and his decision to stay for his senior season. Meanwhile, the talents of Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden were close to exploding into stardom. With the recovery of the NFL to hosting a full season, the attention was on five significant areas: the dominance of the elite (Brady, Brees and Rodgers), the newcomers (Newton and Dalton), the stragglers (Grossman, McNabb, Orton and Sanchez), the survival of the Colts without Manning and the possibility of it being Tebow Time.

The extra hype around quarterbacks was not needed because there was enough drama and excitement waiting to be discovered. Some truths became evident quickly, while others gradually came into light. In the end, there were not many surprises in the results of the league (unless you count the Tebow-led Broncos making the playoffs), but some teams have a lot to think about as they move forward.

With that, here is where the quarterbacks of 2011 stack up:

The Elite Division

1) Aaron Rodgers (GB) – When your team comes off a fantastic Superbowl run from the 2010-2011 season and then follows up with a 15-1 record and a #1 seed in the following playoffs, you have got to be doing something right. Rodgers has quieted many critics (including Favre) with superb play week in and week out. While he did not lead the league in yards, completions, percentage or TDs, he was the most efficient/effective QB with a rating of 122.5. He also threw for 45 TDs and only 6 INTs. When your team has no running game, the focus falls to the quarterback to lead you all the way.

2) Drew Bees (NO) – Without stirring up a mega debate, Brees is truly only a fraction of a point off of Rodgers. With a record-setting season, including a 71.2% completion rating and 5,476 total yards, Brees had one of his best performances of his career. He also threw for a league-high 46 TDs and finished 2nd place with a rating of 110.6. New Orleans has been know as a gun-slinger offense since he arrived but he seems to just keep getting better each year. With a stronger running game and a couple defensive substitutions, this could be the team to beat in 2012.

3) Tom Brady (NE) – While it helps to have a guy like Rob Gronkowski making you look good, there is little question that Brady is one of the best of the league and will eventually be a hall of fame quarterback. With three rings already in his possession, he is going for his fourth this weekend in a rematch that is sure to entertain. In terms of his numbers, he had a fantastic season with a rating of 105.6, over 5,200 yards, 39 TDs and a completion percentage of 65.6%. Fantasy owners were certainly happy with his performance.

The MVP Runner-Up Division

4) Matthew Stafford (DET) – It is not a bad year when you end up be the 2nd runner up in the 5,000 yard club of quarterbacks. Stafford was the QB that everyone believed him to be and finally stayed healthy enough to prove his worth through an entire season. A team that in recent memory was winless only several years ago had now returned to the playoffs and looked to be the team no one wanted to play. He finished the season with 41 TDs and 5,038 yards.

5) Eli Manning (NYG) – While his numbers may not support the placement in comparison to some of the next few quarterbacks, the timing of his success certainly proves his value to the team. Manning was responsible for 6 fourth-quarter comebacks and looked unstoppable in each of his wins. Though the team lost to the Redskins in December and looked to be on the outside of the playoff race, he pulled out one more impressive victory with 3 TDs and nearly 350 yards to knock off the Cowboys and earn the NFC East spot. He finished with 29 TDs and just under 5,000 yards.

6) Matt Ryan (ATL) – Finishing with a respectable record and an entry into the playoffs, Ryan certainly showed his ability to be productive. He also had his more shaky moments from time to time. Though his statistics included 29 TDs and 4,177 yards, he fell flat when the team needed a stellar performance. Finishing the season with a 10-6 record and losing 2-24 against the Giants still gets labeled a losing season. Ryan has a lot to look forward to with the continued presence of Gonzalez and White and the young talent of Julio Jones.

7) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) – This quarterback is the epitome of battle-tested. Even when he was injured throughout the season and playing with a makeshift offensive line, he completed 63.2% of his passes and threw for over 4,000 yards. His performance took its biggest downturn at the end of the season, but time to rest and some draft and trade moves will give him the tools he needs to succeed.

The Quality Starter Division

8) Matt Schaub (HOU) – Except for the season-ending injury, Schaub could have been at least one division higher. In the shortened season (10 games), he put up some impressive numbers, especially in his final game against Tampa Bay with 242 yards and 2 TDs. He finished his season with just under 2,500 yards, 15 TDs and a passer rating of 96.8. It certainly helps to know that TJ Yates is around to help out in a jam.

9) Tony Romo (DAL) – While Romo is going to put up some impressive numbers, they do not seem to turn into wins when he needs them. He is the type of quarterback that just cannot break the threshold to compete in the playoffs. His stats would say that he should be placed higher (4,184 yards and 31 TDs) but his results fall far short.

10) Alex Smith (SF) – Just beating Rodgers for the most productive QB to throw for over 3,000 yards is Smith with 17 TDs and only 5 INTs. The 49ers were all about efficiency, field position and ball control throughout the season (which is sad when you see the performance in the playoffs on special teams). Regardless, Smith had his first year where he looked comfortable behind center and made great use of his quality TE Davis and developing WR Crabtree.

11) Philip Rivers (SD) – In previous years, he would have ranked higher, but his performance was shaking in the middle part of the season. As usual, Rivers made a run at the end but fell short of the playoffs. Throwing for 27 TDs and 4,624 yards is certainly a high mark, but the 20 INTs do not help his performance.

The Rising Star Division

12) Andy Dalton (CIN) – After the drama of Palmer vs the Bengals, Dalton was given the reigns to the team. As a rookie with limited offensive talent in comparison to other NFL teams, predictions were that he would fail to produce in his first season. His 3,398 yards and 20 TDs would speak otherwise, as would his selection to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season.

13) Cam Newton (CAR) – I am a little cautious about Newton because his performance as a quarterback was good, but he was better served as a running threat. His 4,051 yards speak well to his arm, but the 21 TDs and 17 INTs are close to being a wash on production. His saving grace was the 706 rushing yards and team-leading 14 rushing TDs. He was certainly a steal fantasy pick.

14) Joe Flacco (BAL) – While his 2010 season was better statistically, he lead his team to a 2nd seed in the playoffs and an appearance in the AFC Championship game. He was productive overall but failed to play consistently (especially when you look at his performance against the Titans and the Jets). Still, he finished with 3,610 yards and 20 TDs.

15) Matt Moore (MIA) – While he did not start the season and may not start next season, Moore is a QB that has a lot of potential still remaining. In his best season to date, he was able to bury the embarrassment he experienced with the Panthers. Going into his 6th season, he can be proud of his 2,500 yards and 16 TDs in 13 games.

The Tebow Time Division

16) Tim Tebow (DEN) – Though he could actually fit in several of these categories depending on whether judged by quarters 1-3 or the 4th quarter, this was Tebow’s first season at the helm. His success in college did not immediately translate into success in his passing game. He was the only QB to enter the playoffs with a sub 50% completion percentage. If you ignore his overall passing numbers (1,729 yards, 46.5% completion and 12 TDs), his performance in the 4th quarter and overtime led him to a 7-1 initial record as a starter and one of the most entertaining playoff upsets in NFL history over the Steelers in the Wild Card Round.

The Risky-Reward Division

17) Michael Vick (PHI) – The supposed Dream Team fell quickly into a nightmare after the season started. Vick’s previous season was the best of his career, but the team was plagued with significant inconsistency and Vick could not find a rhythm. He still has a chance to recover before the city hits him with a barrage of snowballs but he will need to do better than 18-14 TD-INT ratio, 3,303 yards and 59.8% completion rating.

18) Jay Cutler (CHI) – Without the receiving talent in Chicago, Cutler was doing okay until the injuries for both him and Forte. There is little expectation that he will magically have a miracle season but he can hold it together when paired with a good defense and strong running back. Before the injury, he accrued 2,319 yards and 13 TDs.

19) Matt Hasselbeck (TEN) – His numbers may have been better if he did not lose his best wide receiver so early in the season, but he may have a chance for a resurgence with the Titans. He pulled off a 3,571 yard season and 18 TDs but 14 INTs. Chris Johnson took a step backwards as the halfback, so both players need to improve to compete.

20) Ryan Fitzpatrick (BUF) – Before the contract, his numbers looked great and he pulled off several comebacks. After the contract, he took a nosedive. His production looked great with 3,832 yard and 24 TDs, but picked up 14 of his 23 INTs in the second half of the season and averaged a 66.8 QB rating.

The Just Plain Risky Division

21) Kevin Kolb (ARI) – Unlike the QBs in the above division, Kolb displays the negative side of taking a risk on a potential talent. He ended his season early with an injury and was on pace for some good numbers (1,955 yards passing). The down side was that his TD-INT ratio was 9-8 and his team record was 5-7. Fitzgerald was actually more productive with Skelton to close the season than the averages with Kolb to start.

22) Tarvaris Jackson (SEA) – Considering his struggles in Minnesota, he actually fit well in the Peter Carroll system. It helps to have a rusher like Marshawn Lynch, but his numbers only looked average in the end. The 3,091-yard season is a solid statistic but the 14-13 TD-INT ratio compares too closely to his time with the Vikings.

23) Carson Palmer (OAK) – While his debut with the Raiders was a disaster (8-21 for 116 yards and 3 INTs), his season was a roller coaster. He was at a disadvantage because of the squabbles with the Bengals, but he could perform better with most development time with the team. He finished with a 13-16 TD-INT ratio and 2,753 yards.

24) Mark Sanchez (NYJ) – Jets fans will only tolerate Sanchez’s performance for so long. There were times he was in control, which shows in his 3,474-yard and 26 TD season, but he polarized the locker room when he got caught up in the player drama. He also failed to perform when he needed to win even just 1-2 f his final 3 games.

25) Matt Cassel (KC) – His performance was not always needed to win games (such as the shutout win over Oakland with 2 INTs), but there were times with strong numbers only against weaker teams. He finished with 1,713 yards and 10 TDs, but added 9 INTs.

26) Kyle Orton (DEN/KC) – The fans of Denver were clamoring for Tebow Time and Orton made it easier to make the transition. During his final game with the Broncos, he completed on 6 of 13 passes for 34 yards and 1 INT (though only slightly worse than some of Tebow’s games). His move to the Chiefs started with a bang with a win over Green Bay but then dropped back to mediocrity.

The Colt McCoy Division 

27) Colt McCoy (CLE) – When in college, McCoy was a star at Texas. Getting drafted to the Browns is almost as close to an NFL death sentence as you can get. Other than Derek Anderson, there has not been a successful QB in the city of Cleveland (unless you count opposing teams). The best receivers in Cleveland are better served as kick returners. Still McCoy ended with 2,733 yards and 12 TDs. The Browns will probably look at at least picking up another veteran backup QB or potentially replacing him in hopes of finding a better, more consistent leader for the offense.

The Scraping the Barrel Division

28) Josh Freeman (TB) – One could argue that he was relatively consistent with a 62.8% completion rating and 3,592 yards. Then you can turn to his point production and find that he threw 6 more INTs than TDs (22 and 16 respectively). He took a team that was predicted to be competitive and turned up a dismal 4-12 season. There is some talent to be salvaged but there is not much left to expect from his career.

29) Sam Bradford (STL) – In his 2nd year, Bradford ended his season early with another injury. Though his numbers were not horrible, they provide little relief when put into the context of an injury-prone #1 draft pick. Before leaving the field, he finished with 2,164 yards and only 6 TDs.

30) Christian Ponder (MIN) – After the McNabb experiment failed, Ponder stepped in and showed a little promise as a rookie thrown into the mix of a tough division. He did not have a solid receiving corp to work with but ended the season with a 13-13 TD-INT ratio and 1,853 yards.

31) John Skelton (ARI) – With Kolb’s health being inconsistent, Skelton had to pick up the slack. The team is better with Kolb, but Skelton could serve as a mediocre backup for the remainder of his career. He finished with 1,913 yards and 11-14 TD-INT ratio. He may get another chance, but it will be with a team like Miami, Tampa Bay or another team that loses their starter early. He at least looked better than Leinart at times.

32) Blaine Gabbert (JAC) – As the rookie that struggled the most, the 12-11 TD-INT ratio is actually a little misleading. He only completed barely over 50% of his passes and was sacked 40 times. With a running back like Jones-Drew, Gabbert will potentially have another chance next season.

The Grossman Division

33) Rex Grossman (WAS) – In a season that momentarily appeared to be a surprise, the Redskins took a hard nosedive after the 3-1 start. Though Grossman had a positive game to start the season against the Giants, he racked up at least 1 INT in every game for the rest of the season, finishing with 20 total. As a multiyear starter between the Redskins and Bears, his performance was dreadful with a 57.9% completion rating, only 16 TDs and a final rating of 72.4. Shanahan put a lot of faith in Grossman over Beck, but even got to a point of benching Grossman as the starter in the middle of the season. The 3,151 yards is inconsequential when you only lead the team to 5 wins. After ignoring the need to get a new, young QB, Shanahan finds himself in desperate need of getting a new quarterback.

34) Curtis Painter (IND) – No one expected to see the Colts win without Manning. Painter was a placeholder QB. The conversation now is about picking up Andrew Luck and moving beyond both Painter and Manning for a new future. Without a win and getting beaten by the performance of Orlovsky, Painter’s 6 TDs and 1,500 yards will be soon forgotten.

A few teams will be playing the draft and trade options hard to capture a new leader for their offense and it is easy to figure out which ones need it the most.