Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crybaby Quarterbacks: Defining the 2006 Quarterback Class

Watching ESPN's NFL Live TV show last night, I found one segment rather interesting. They were reviewing the 2006 NFL Draft, a draft that included Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. Host Trey Wingo and analysts Trent Dilfer and Mark Schlereth reviewed the year's draft and took a long, hard look at how each of the three high profile quarterbacks have played out so far.

Each of the three quarterbacks had a case made for them to be the top quarterback in that class. It looks like Jay Cutler has won that battle so far, but we'll get another look at him without a clear cut number one (or number two) wide receiver in Chicago. It's still rather early in their careers, but Matt Leinart and Vince Young appear to be headed to lives as either backup quarterbacks or B-list starting quarterbacks.

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But I'm not here necessarily to comment on the play of the three quarterbacks. What has jumped out to me, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one, is the way both Vince Young and Jay Cutler have handled adversity in their NFL career.

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler got things started when he learned that Denver tried to trade him. The deal would have brought in Matt Cassel, new Head Coach Josh McDaniel's starting quarterback in 2008 while both were with the New England Patriots. He threw a hissy fit of epic proportions after learning that little detail.

Reportedly, Cutler refused to return phone calls from Daniels and Broncos owner Pat Bowlen over a 10 day period right before he was traded and did not participate in the Broncos' offseason program. Cutler denied that they had been trying to reach him for 10 days. Still, some players agree with Cutler's reaction and say that they would feel equally frustrated and betrayed as Cutler felt, including Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher who said, "I would be ticked off, too, if someone was trying to trade me and didn't tell me about it."

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What's evident is that while most players would feel angry or frustrated about their team trying to trade them, there is a strong feeling in the NFL that business is business and anything that takes place in the business realm should be left off of the field. As long as you are in a Denver Broncos uniform you work and play your hardest for the Broncos. If you do have a problem, handle it internally with the people you have a problem with. It's part of being an adult. Cutler just came across as a crybaby. Unfortunate, considering he had gained so much popularity among the Denver faithful who saw him as the strong armed quarterback and leader on and off the field that the team was missing since the days of John Elway. So much for steady, fearless leadership.

We'll see how he does with the Chicago Bears, who at least do not have a legendary quarterback (their closest being Jim McMahon who failed to ever throw for more than 2,400 yards or 15 touchdowns in a season) to compare him to.

Vince Young

Vince Young yesterday told Baltimore television station WMAR-TV, "if them guys don't want me in there, it's time for me to make a career change for myself," not only sending a message to the Titans, but also presenting the strongest case for completing all four years of college, especially those two English composition classes, that I have seen in a long time.

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He continued, "if they're not ready for me to play ball, somebody is." Prior to that, however, he said that he wants to "be in there playing ball and picking up where I left off, winning games and having a good time with my teammates and fans."

Today, Young's agent Major Adams stressed that Young was not asking for a trade when he made those comments and has always intended to compete with Kerry Collins for the starting role this offseason and into the regular season.

Matt Leinart

Things are a bit different in the Matt Leinart case. He has not made a huge public stink about being benched and forced to sit behind probably a future Hall of Famer in Kurt Warner. He has not demanded a trade despite being a top 10 draft pick, Heisman trophy winner and 2-time National Champion with USC.

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He, like Young, has not shown the dynamic ability to be an NFL quarterback, however. (The NFL Live program argued that while Young is a playmaker, he is no quarterback, yet. I couldn't agree more.) In Leinart's case perhaps it has a bit to do with his missing most of training camp as a rookie due to a prolonged contract holdout that lasted until August 14.

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So what can this year's rookie quarterbacks learn from the Quarterback Class of 2006? Maybe they should take it from Leinart that a prolonged holdout hurts your development in a crucial time in your budding NFL career. (Take a look at Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco who arrived in training camp on time) Or maybe they should learn from Vince Young's and Jay Cutler's whining ways that this sad display of immaturity can seriously hurt your image and the way your fans look at you. And we'll see, but we may be telling future rookies to realize a good thing when you've got it. Let's see how Cutler plays in Chicago without Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal and Brandon Stokley catching his passes.

Written By Danny Hobrock

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