This week marked a new era of incompetence in quarterback play in the National Football League. While many teams … some teams … really just the Patriots, have seen exceptional quarterbacking all season long, the majority have been mired in mediocrity. Here are some names you might not expect.
Peyton Manning: There’s no question that at his age, Manning’s health, more than his skill, has become a hinderance to his play. He still has the noodle-arm and amazing football intellect that helped him secure the career passing yards record on Sunday. His 71,840 yards are now an all time record, but that would was not the story of the game. Manning threw for only 35 yards before being removed from the game in favor of Brock Osweiler. It now appears Peyton will miss time with a partially torn plantar fascia in his foot. There should be no doubt, however, that while Sunday was his worst, Manning is still one of the all-time bests.
The Browns: There is always room to mock the Browns play, talent or decision making. But honestly, Sunday may be a new low for the Browns. Ben Roethlisberger has been injured for the Steelers for a good portion of the season, as Landry Jones, backup extraordinaire, started in his place. Sunday, Jones was knocked out of the game, so who did the Steelers turn to? None other than Big Ben himself. Roethlisberger stepped in with no game plan, no preparation and ran the no-huddle offense like he’d never left, leaving Browns fans to wonder what more could go wrong.
The Dolphins: You may recall that I called the Colts failed fake punt one of, if not the worst, special teams plays of all time. This week however, the Dolphins’ kick returner Damien Williams was tackled by his own teammate attempting to tell him to take a knee in the end zone, falling down at the 1-yard line where the Dolphins were forced to start an offensive drive. Following a blitz, the Dolphins gave up a safety for the third consecutive game.
The Referees: I’ve written before about the dangers of allowing the officiating crews to play an active role in deciding the outcome of NFL games. This season, the referees have been far too vital to the outcome of a number of contests. While there is never a shortage of disgruntled fans who would like to blame their team’s loss on anything but poor play, the NFL needs to reevaluate the way it trains referees. There should be a constant standard imposed on those responsible for doling out penalties in this league. It shouldn’t be that when you Google “referees,” the first thing that comes up are articles from beat reporters describing the myriad ways your team was screwed by the referees’ failure to follow the rules.
While the NFL season remains young, the quarterbacks do not. I would not be shocked to see a number of veteran passers retire this offseason, and I honestly look forward to an era in which new game managers and playmakers are given the chance to shine or slip, given their own chance for glory or anonymity.