The Best and Worst NFL Benchings Of 2008

Sean O'BrienCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2008

This year, we have seen a lot of controversy regarding who would sit on the bench and who would start. Most issues started during the offseason, with players squaring off for the starting position.

Most times, the correct player got the start, but not always. Bias and coaches playing favorites have sometimes effected the outcomes. Right or wrong, these decisions have ultimately shaped the 2008 NFL season thus far.

Let's review the worst decisions first:

4. San Francisco 49ers start J.T. O'Sullivan over Shaun Hill.

Mike Martz obviously used his sway over Coach Nolan to get O'Sullivan the start. San Francisco fans knew from the beginning who the starter should have been. Hill is much less turnover prone, has a better pocket presence, and fits the West Coast offense better.

With O'Sullivan at the helm, the Niners went 2-5 and committed the most turnovers in the league.

Since interim coach Mike Singletary benched O'Sullivan and put in Hill, the 49ers have gone 3-2, with impressive wins over Buffalo and New York, as well as a thriller against divisional rival Arizona.

3. Minnesota Vikings start Gus Frerotte over Tarvaris Jackson.

Let me just say this: Before all the hate comments come through, Gus Frerotte statistically has not done any better then people guessed Jackson would. 

Jackson was supposed to be the future of the franchise, you don't bench him two games into the season unless he lost it for you.

Simply put, Jackson did not lose either the Green Bay or the Indianapolis game. The team lost those. Frerotte has been a turnover machine and a bit of a drama king. 

For the rest of the season, I hope they let Frerotte heal and put the young gun in. Not only does he give the Vikes a better chance of winning, but it will enable them to determine whether or not he truly is the future.

A healthy Jackson is much better then an injured Frerotte.

2. Detroit Lions start Daunte Culpepper over Drew Stanton

Signing Culpepper was a mistake in the first place, and I'm not just saying that because I've seen him play these last few games. When I heard the Lions were signing Culpepper, I was an immediate opponent of it.

Not only is Culpepper obviously washed up, they started him far too soon. The man hasn't even grasped the offense yet and they threw him under the bus instead of seeing what they had in Stanton.

They were obviously taking notes from Al Davis and just trying to avoid a winless season, look how that has been working out.

Start the kid so you know whether or not to take a QB in the first round.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Gruden benches Garcia in favor of Griese.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again: Jeff Garcia is by far the most underrated quarterback in the league. The 49ers dumped him after he played good ball, the Eagles turned their back on him after leading them to the playoffs, and now Jon Gruden benched him in favor of Chicago-reject Brian Griese.

Are you kidding me?

You lost one game and it wasn't entirely Garcia's fault, and suddenly he's benched?  The guy led your tired old team to the playoffs last year! In the words of the MNF hosts, "C'mon Man!"

Show the guy some freaking respect; you wouldn't be in playoff contention without him.

Now let's take a look at some of the best decisions:

3. San Francisco 49ers coach Singletary benching Vernon Davis after stupid penalty.

Not only did Singletary bench Davis, he sent him to the locker room.  When a team is struggling like the Niners were, the last thing they need were idiotic penalties brought on by grown men acting like children.

Singletary not only made an impression upon Davis, he made it upon the team and the fans as well.

Since that pivotal moment, the 49ers have been far more competitive. If they keep Singletary around and build off what they've got, we could very easily see them in the playoffs next year.

2. Tennessee Titans start Kerry Collins over Vince Young.

Young was hurt in game one and since then we have seen the re-emergence of a wily veteran. Collins has not only performed well statistically, he has proven to be an excellent field general and has stepped up when called for.

Young could still shine one day in the NFL, he just needs to keep his emotions in check and stay away from all the drama.

For now, Coach Jeff Fisher made the correct decision in benching his star QB. Hopefully it gives the young gun a good reality check.

1. Arizona Cardinals start Kurt Warner over Matt Leinart.

When was this actually ever up for debate? Warner was always the clear-cut candidate for the starting job in my mind.

I know Leinart is the face of the franchise, but the Cards needed to take advantage of how stacked they were offensively right now to give them the best shot at a playoff game.

Thus far, that decision has proved to be the best yet.

There we have it, the best and worst benchings of the 2008 season.  Do you agree or disagree?  Share your thoughts, I'm always open for a great debate.