The theme of the NFL’s Week 3 matchups was the high number of teams deciding to bench their starters after two games and give the backups a shot. After Week 3’s games, most of the quarterback controversies seem to have been at least temporarily resolved with great play from the quarterbacks who started in Week 3. The lone exception is the awful situation that is arising in Carolina.
Here’s a rundown of the teams that made quarterback decisions, and how those decisions fared:
Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Vick starts over Kevin Kolb
The decision to start Vick over Kolb was not necessarily a bad one, but the way coach Andy Reid handled the situation was a little perplexing. Kolb missed Week 2’s game after suffering a concussion in the season opener against the Packers, but was announced as the starter for Week 3 on Monday. By Tuesday, Reid had changed his mind, and decided to start Vick, who had played extremely well as Kolb’s replacement in Week 2. The scrutiny regarding the decision was compounded by the fact Donovan McNabb was traded away in the offseason in order to turn the starting reins over to Kolb.
With Vick throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another in Philly’s 28-3 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, it appears that there is no longer a controversy and Vick is the starter unless he falls apart in the coming weeks. Vick’s job will become even more secure if the Eagles end up trading Kolb instead of keeping him around as the backup.
Starting Quarterback: Michael Vick
Buffalo Bills: Ryan Fitzpatrick starts over Trent Edwards
After Edwards looked awful in Buffalo’s first two games of the season, he was benched in favor of Fitzpatrick. After the Bills were able to muster 30 points behind Fitzpatrick (after scoring only 17 points in the first two games combined), it looked as if the Bills were looking around the league to see if anyone was interested in trading for Edwards. It seems likely that no one showed any interest in Edwards, and the Bills promptly released the veteran QB on Monday, about a day after deciding to bench him.
I don’t question the decision to start Ryan Fitzpatrick. He has looked marginally better than Trent Edwards when playing for the Bills, and Buffalo’s fanbase seemed to be clamoring for a change. The decision that does seem odd is to release Edwards so quickly after benching him. Do the Bills really trust Fitzpatrick as their starting QB that much after one game? Do the Bills really think that Brian Brohm can possibly be a viable backup in the event that Fitzpatrick gets injured/plays poorly? It’s not something that I ever thought I’d say, but there’s a chance that the Bills will end up missing Trent Edwards if anything goes wrong with Fitzpatrick.
Starting Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Oakland Raiders: Bruce Gradkowski starts over Jason Campbell
Looks like Al Davis is finally learning to admit some of his mistakes. After releasing draft bust JaMarcus Russell in the offseason, Davis traded for Campbell, who was the starting quarterback for the Redskins last season. After struggling in his first two starts, Campbell was benched in favor of Gradkowski.
Gradkowksi didn’t exactly light up the stat sheets with his play in Week 3 against Arizona, but he probably played well enough to keep Campbell on the bench. Neither quarterback is good enough to lead the Raiders back to the playoffs, but the decision to bench Campbell shows that the Raiders aren’t going to stubbornly stick with underachieving players like they have in past years.
Starting Quarterback: Bruce Gradkowski
Tennessee Titans: Vince Young starts over Kerry Collins
Vince Young was benched for the fourth quarter of Tennessee’s Week 2 game against Pittsburgh, but it appears to have been temporary. Young was allowed to start in Week 3’s game against the Giants and took full advantage of the opportunity, completing 62.5% of his passes and not committing a single turnover. Young is easily the better quarterback choice for the Titans, and after almost leading the team back to the playoffs last season, he deserves more job security than he’s gotten in Tennessee.
Starting Quarterback: Vince Young
Carolina Panthers: Jimmy Clausen starts over Matt Moore
Moore suffered a concussion in Week 1 and then played so poorly in Week 2 that he lost his starting job. Clausen started at quarterback in Week 3, but looked awful against the Bengals. Clausen is the “quarterback of the future” in Carolina, but the future isn’t here yet.
The worst thing the Panthers can do, however, is continually flip-flop on who is going to be their starting QB. They either need to hand the reins to Jimmy Clausen and let him play through the growing pains, or hand the job back over to Matt Moore and let Clausen observe for a while from the sidelines before getting thrown into a game. If Carolina doesn’t let their quarterbacks play through trouble and learn from their mistakes, neither Moore nor Clausen is going to improve.
Starting Quarterback: Jimmy Clausen?
All stats from espn.com