Don’t think for a minute that the 2011 Indianapolis Colts didn’t, in some part, mail it in, knowing that after all that stormy weather, Andrew Luck would be standing at the end of the ensuing rainbow.
Sure, Peyton Manning was out for the season, but the team could’ve found someone more legitimate, like Carson Palmer, to start ahead of Curtis Painter. Instead, the Colts, without one player who only played on one side of the ball, went from 10-6 in 2010 to 2-14 in 2011.
So as we look to the 2013 NFL Draft, here are the quarterback situations of the nine teams with the worst records in the NFL.
Two of these franchises will land either West Virgina’s Geno Smith or Southern Cal’s Matt Barkley.
The Cleveland Browns (0-5) just drafted Brandon Weeden in the first round in 2012. He's the third quarterback they've taken in the 1st round since they drafted Tim Couch in 1999 (Brady Quinn, 2007). He turns 29 at the end of the month and has been up and down. But they did take him this year in the 1st round. What general manager wants to admit such a mistake so quickly? Surely not Tom Heckert.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (1-4) selected Blaine Gabbert in the first round of the 2011 draft. His completion percentage and QB rating are up from a year ago, but the team is still awful. (Duckie, what do you think of Blaine? "That's a major appliance, that's not a name!")
The Tennessee Titans (1-4) took Jake Locker with the 8th pick in last year's draft. After a breakout performance in an overtime upset win against Detroit in Week 3, Locker got hurt early in the following game. But he's their quarterback of the future.
The Oakland Raiders' (1-3) Carson Palmer is a good quarterback when he has players around him. He doesn't in Oakland and he'll be 33 at season's end. His backups are Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor. They could use a quarterback in Oaktown. They could have used one five years ago, too; what they got was JaMarcus Russell.
The Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) have Matt Cassel and backup Brady Quinn on the roster. Neither is the answer. Arrowhead Stadium is considered one of the great venues in pro football. It deserves a top-flight quarterback.
The Detroit Lions (1-3) have a solid starting quarterback in Matthew Stafford, who led the team to the playoffs last year while putting up Pro Bowl-worthy stats. Stafford's Lions have taken a step back this season, but he's still a legitimate starter for years to come.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3) have to wonder how much longer they can take the field with Josh Freeman. His numbers are abysmal (4 TDs, 5 INTs, 55% completion percentage, 75.3 QB rating). Journeyman backup Dan Orlovsky is not the solution, either.
The Carolina Panthers (1-4) took Cam Newton with the first pick in last year’s draft. He was a Pro Bowler. He's having a bit of a sophomore slump, but Newton is solidly the team's present and future signal caller.
The New Orleans Saints (1-4) have a Super Bowl winning quarterback in 33-year-old Drew Brees. Peyton Manning was 35 last season when he was cast aside. Of course, Manning was injured. Barring a major injury, Brees should be a legitimate starter for a few more seasons.
So there it is.
It seems like Kansas City, Oakland and Tampa Bay are most desperate to take a quarterback in the first round. How those teams perform—or don't perform—in the next few months will determine who's under center when they take the field in 2013.