Every year – not matter what sport – there are coaching changes and depth chart alterations throughout the season. Some are based on performance, while others are because of injury. This NFL season, however, there have been plenty of players moving up and down the depth chart. The importance of a legit backup quarterback has proven extremely beneficial in the NFL giving some the chance to take over a franchise – just think of Tom Brady benefiting from Drew Bledsoe's injury.
Players don't take pleasure in seeing a teammate being injured but they have to step up and do their part to make the team successful. All these athletes want to do is compete, and sometimes they aren't given the chance to compete for one reason or another. This season though, I feel there have been a handful of quarterbacks that have been shafted for lack of a better word.
Alex Smith can't catch a break. He was labeled as a bust after he was taken with the first pick in the draft and didn't lead the 49ers to the playoffs – until recently. Smith has gone through more offensive coordinators since joining the league that some do in their career, which hasn't made his time in the Bay Area easy. San Francisco couldn't get the job done in the postseason last year and some speculated that Smith's time as a 49er was over. He returned for another year and had high hopes entering this season. It wasn't as expected though as Smith shared quarterback duties with second-year player Colin Kaepernick during the first half of the season.
Smith was the starter until he missed a game with a concussion. Despite Smith playing well coach Jim Harbaugh went with the hot hand and turned the team over to Kaepernick. Now, Smith is being the good teammate and holding the clipboard on the sideline, but he isn't happy about it. Smith wants to start and it seem he'll be looking for a new home next year, especially if Kaepernick wins a game or two in the postseason.
Staying in the same division, let's look at Seattle. Matt Flynn left Green Bay where he was the backup for Aaron Rodgers and bolted to Seattle. Flynn thought the Seahawks gave him the best chance to s tart and win. Little did he know that they would draft Russell Wilson in the second round to challenge Flynn. I admit I thought Seattle made a mistake by handing the offense to Wilson without Flynn taking a snap in the regular season. The Seahawks are sitting among one of the best teams in the NFC with Wilson under center, so Flynn is an expensive backup. While Flynn got shafted by not starting, he obviously didn't do enough in training camp and the preseason to secure the job. On the plus side, Flynn is still getting paid big bucks to hold a clip board, although I'm sure he'd rather be on the field on game day.
A quarterback that hasn't seen much time on the field this year is Tim Tebow. The Jets traded for Tebow to be part of the offense in some way. The saga of the Jets has been well documented in the media and hit the boiling point this week as coach Rex Ryan skipped over Tebow as the when he named Greg McElroy the starter for the final two weeks of the year. Tebow responded by saying he was disappointed by the actions of the team. Even though he's signed through 2014, Tebow will either be traded or released by New York, ending the media stunt with Tebow.
The Jets wouldn't get much in return for Tebow as he'll be the backup or situational quarterback in most systems in the NFL. With Tony Sparano running the offense, many thought, the Jets would use Tebow in the red zone and in multiple Wildcat formations. They didn't and the Jets' offense never got off the ground this season. Tebow helped the Broncos to the playoffs last year and helped them lead the league in rushing. He could have been an asset to this team but New York squandered any opportunity of that.
Sticking with the Jets, let us turn to Mark Sanchez. Sanchez had to deal with all the media attention of being in New York as well as having golden boy Tim Tebow as his backup. Just like in Denver, fans wanted Tebow to get a chance to lead the team after Sanchez's lack of production and win this season. That never happened as Rex Ryan stuck with his franchise quarterback. That all changed this week when Ryan named Greg McElroy the starter for the final two weeks of the year. Ryan benched Sanchez after backing him all season and skipped Tebow on the depth chart. He took the blame for the struggles of the team being 6-8, but fans must feel cheated. Having the added pressure of having Tebow as his backup didn't make Sanchez better; it made him constantly look over his shoulder and stumble. It is fair to say that Sanchez's days in New York are over as well, at least as a starter. New York could trade Sanchez, but that might not be an easy task. Obviously there are teams in the league that would welcome Sanchez; the price would have to be right.
Some of these guys will get a shot to earn a starting job next year, while others will have to accept the fact they will be a backup somewhere. The NFL is a business and there are times things don't seem fair, but these athletes are professionals. The minute they forget that, they will be out of the league for good. So even though this season is in the books for these quarterbacks, here is to a fresh start in 2013.
We'd love to hear your comments and/or opinions. If you submit them here, other visitors can read them, rate them and comment on them. An e-mail address is not required.