This year, in the NFC North, has been very mixed regarding quarterbacks.
It is very fair to say that immediately following the Super Bowl last February, it wasn't immediately clear who would be the starter for each NFC North team.
From the Brett Favre controversy to Kyle Orton's recent untimely ankle sprain, the NFC North has been suffering from a lot of up-and-down quarterback fortune and performance.
Let's examine how each team has gotten to this midseason point with their QB situations.
Was there a more scrutinized QB situation coming in this year? Amid the preseason absence of both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, many wondered if Aaron Rodgers was up to the task. Green Bay endured a very ugly situation with Favre that ultimately became an extremely messy divorce. There have been accusations of varying severity against both sides.
Rodgers, now the unquestioned starter, is having a very productive year and could be up for Pro Bowl consideration. His arm strength, anticipation, and accuracy have been top notch, and he's exhibited an alarmingly close connection to Greg Jennings.
Unfortunately, his injury prone nature has popped up as well, as he is currently playing with a sprained throwing shoulder. He has shown toughness and a willingness to sacrifice for the team, which is very promising. The key is not to have a drop-off during the second half.
The backups in Green Bay leave a lot to be desired. In fact, the game that Rodgers got injured, he eventually returned in the fourth quarter because it was painfully evident that Flynn was not going to be effective at all. The Packers can only hope their projects develop quickly.
The Vikings are a talented veteran team with probably the best running back in the game. They just need a quarterback who can make a few plays per game to help them reach the playoffs and quite possibly beyond. The pick was the still relatively untested, inexperienced Tarvaris Jackson.
Unfortunately, it was painfully evident in the first two games he wasn't there yet. After the first game, we all had our doubts, but the second game showed his glaring inability to make enough plays to win. Indeed, the Vikings had Indianapolis right where they wanted them and still lost the game.
In comes Gus Frerotte, who always seems to be around when Minnesota needs him (see his first stint with Minnesota). His veteran experience, leadership, and game experience have led the Vikings back to .500, and gives them the best chance to salvage this season.
But glaring questions about Jackson's development remain. Will he ever be ready? Was the plug pulled too early? Can Minnesota wait any longer for Jackson?
It's gonna be a very interesting offseason for Minnesota, quarterback-wise. There will be some cheap veterans in free agency, some trade bait (Anderson/Quinn, Kolb/McNabb), and intriguing draft options. They better make sure they have a plan in place though, or things could get very sour very soon.
The management was criticized for not bringing in anymore competition to challenge previous starters Orton and Rex Grossman, who basically got one-year tryouts. So far, it has worked out great for Orton, who, at the very least, has guaranteed himself work next year somewhere. His calm and controlled play has the Bears leading the division to this point.
Orton was having an unorthodox amount control in the offense, even being allowed to make play changes at the line. His accuracy and poise has been on display this season. His only consistent contributor has been Matt Forte, as the Devin Hester experiment at wide receiver looks like a bomb so far.
It could all come crashing down, though, with Orton's recent injury. Latest reports indicate he would like to suit up this week, even though preliminary reports were that he'd be out at least three weeks. Let's assume they sit him this week. Will Grossman be given the same control of the offense as Orton? Can he hold the Bears up? Can he offer the same kind of consistency Orton has offered?
What about next year? Were they in the process of locking up Orton or are they looking for a new face? They'd be hard pressed to find a level of familiarity, consistency and comfort in anyone else right now. With all the young pieces they have on offense, do they really want to shake it up? We'll find out.
The Lions can't catch a break, even when they have things going their way. The quiet optimism that was present at the beginning has been destroyed. There has been accusations, finger pointing, and a major loss of morale.
When they started the season with Jon Kitna and their new insistence on establishing a run game, it looked decent. But not even two games into the season and Kitna was having arguments and shouting matches with his own coaches on the sidelines. Then, Kitna sustains an iffy back injury and gets the controversial Injured Reserve decision, more of a signal of the changing the direction.
To make things harder for the quarterback, they traded away a top weapon in Roy Williams for draft picks. Luckily, they could end up with a mid-round pick because Dallas doesn't look so hot. Dan Orlovsky does his best to put forth decent play while management looks for other options.
Enter Daunte Culpepper. Now that Orlovsky is iffy with an injury, and there's obviously no confidence in Drew Stanton, Culpepper may be the new Detroit signal caller. At least he has a few weapons, but quarterback play has been anything but consistent this season for Detroit.
As for next season, who knows? They could go with Culpepper, while either Orlovsky or Stanton develops, bring in another free agent, or more likely scour the draft. But the franchise quarterback for this team is likely not on the roster. Detroit has much work to do.
Green Bay arguably made the biggest gamble, but now are laughing at everyone else in the division, because like it or not, the other three teams are facing the same questions as last year:
Is our franchise quarterback on our roster?
Who is gonna be a opening day starter next year?
Good luck figuring it out.
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