Good QBs don’t have to be top draft picks or veterans

  • Scott M. Johnson / Pro Football Report
  • Thursday, December 7, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

KIRKLAND – During the course of his not-so-insightful concessions that the Seattle Seahawks desperately need a quarterback next season, coach/GM Mike Holmgren has often added a tag line about how difficult they are to find.

He’s right. Established veteran quarterbacks are about as plentiful as qualified presidential candidates these days.

Fortunately for the Seahawks, finding an established veteran isn’t necessary. There are quality quarterbacks out there, as long as you know where to look.

Unlike two years ago – when teams were trying to bring every Tom, Dick and Randall Cunningham out of retirement to give them a veteran leader – the wave of the future is, um, the future. Youth is the name of game these days, not veteran savvy.

Just take a look at the teams vying for playoff berths.

Of the 12 teams that would qualify if the postseason opened today, only Vinny Testaverde, Charlie Batch and Steve McNair have been the starter for more than one full season with their current club. And Batch and McNair are both under the age of 28.

The remaining teams are relying mainly on young quarterbacks, or at least ones who are new to their systems. Those days of riding a veteran arm seem as dated as the run-and-shoot.

Guys like Daunte Culpepper and Aaron Brooks, who had a combined total of three career passing attempts before this season, have led their respective teams into the thick of the playoff race this season. The three division leaders in the AFC have relied on quarterbacks from Dartmouth, Delaware and Alcorn State.

The pioneer of this new-school quarterback is a familiar name – but only since the middle of last season. St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner proved that it didn’t take an experienced veteran, or even a first-round draft pick, at quarterback to win the big one.

That comes as good news to the Seahawks, especially when considering the shallow pool of rookies and available veterans in the upcoming offseason.

The other school of thought is that quarterbacks aren’t quite as important to winning as they used to be.

Just look at the starting quarterbacks on some of the playoff contenders. Kerry Collins? Trent Dilfer? Jay Fiedler and Gus Frerotte? Warner might have been a nobody until the middle of last season, but that was a better reputation than some of these guys had coming into this year.

These well-traveled veterans have put their teams in position to make it to the postseason, but whether or not they can finish the job remains to be determined. As usual, chances are that the quarterback position will be vital in advancing on to Super Bowl XXXV.

The position will also play a hand in future Super Bowls, which is why finding a quarterback is Holmgren’s No. 1 priority in the offseason. Guys like Warner and Brooks have proven that there are diamonds in the rough. Others like Testaverde, Jeff George and Rich Gannon have shown that something can be gained by giving a guy a second – sometimes third – chance. High draft picks and money aren’t the only ways to land leaders.

We know Holmgren can coach quarterbacks. In the upcoming months, he’ll have to prove that he can find them, too.

  • Kickoff: 1:05 p.m.

  • TV/Radio: KIRO-TV (Ch. 7); KIRO radio (710 AM)

  • Stars to watch:

    Seahawks – QB Jon Kitna has an 88.1 passer rating since Week 10. RB Ricky Watters needs just 50 yards rushing for his sixth consecutive 1,000-yard season. DE Michael Sinclair has recovered four fumbles in the past three weeks. LB Anthony Simmons needs 34 tackles in the final three games to tie the all-time season record of 153.

    Broncos – QB Gus Frerotte hasn’t been pretty, but he’s started and won three consecutive games to help push the Broncos back into the thick of the playoff chase. RB Mike Anderson, who has averaged 223 yards rushing over the past two contests, needs 123 total yards from scrimmage to break Terrell Davis’ club record for rookies. WR Rod Smith leads the NFL with 1,339 receiving yards, and showed the Seahawks that he can run the ball as well – rushing for 78 out of the backfield two weeks ago. LB John Mobley has a team-high 97 tackles and was responsible for knocking Brock Huard out of the game two weeks ago.

  • ????Breaking down the game: With a five-game winning streak and nine victories overall, the Broncos have quietly emerged from the middle of the pack into a possible Super Bowl contender – all with starting quarterback Brian Griese and running back Terrell Davis sidelined by injuries.

    The Broncos expect those guys back eventually, but not this week.

    The Seahawks are also relatively hot, having played their best ball of the season recently. Seattle’s only loss in the past four games came at the hands of Denver two weeks ago.

    The Broncos will try to win this game in familiar fashion: on the ground. Wideouts Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey will also figure heavily in the offense.

    When the league’s two worst defenses match up, the better offense will have to win it.

  • Pick: Broncos, 31-20.

  • Injury report: Seahawks – QB Brock Huard (bruised kidney) is questionable. Broncos – CB Ray Crockett (hamstring), QB Brian Griese (shoulder) and RB Terrell Davis (lower leg) are out; DE Lester Archambeau (knee) and WR Scottie Montgomery (groin) is questionable; RB Mike Anderson (knee), TE Desmond Clark (arm), LB Ian Gold (knee), WR Ed McCaffrey (calf/ankle), LB John Mobley (thumb) and DE Kavika Pittman (ankle) are probable.

  • Little-known fact: The last running back to break the 100-yard barrier against the Seahawks twice in one season was Denver’s Terrell Davis in 1998.

  • Tampa Bay (8-5) at Miami (10-3), Sunday, 10 a.m.: At the beginning of the year, the Bucs looked overwhelmingly like the best team in Florida, with the Dolphins finishing a distant third in the voting. Now that all the ballots have been certified, Miami gets the nod. But Tampa Bay is playing for its playoff life, and Tony Dungy hasn’t placed any concession calls yet. Pick: Buccaneers, 13-10.

  • Minnesota (11-2) at St. Louis (8-5), Sunday, 1:15 p.m.: Will the real Rams please stand up? Geez, maybe they have already. Three consecutive losses have St. Louis in a near must-win situation against the NFC’s top team. Lucky for Kurt Warner and the boys, the Vikings have one of the league’s worst pass defenses. Pick: Rams, 41-38.

  • New York Jets (9-4) at Oakland (10-3), Sunday, 5:35 p.m.: Vinny Testaverde and Rich Gannon are the final two pieces of evidence that teams can win with a veteran quarterback. But this one will come down to Curtis Martin and Tyrone Wheatley. We’ll take Martin in that matchup, and the Jets in a nail-biter. Pick: Jets, 20-17.

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