Jake Plummer is Benched
The Denver Broncos are making a bold move, sitting veteran Jake Plummer in favor of rookie Jay Cutler. Plummer has not played particularly well this year. His QB Score per play is 0.54, which is below the mark posted by an average signal caller. Although he is below average, ten other quarterbacks have done worse, including J.P. Losman, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. Still, after two consecutive losses the Broncos appear to feel a switch at quarterback is needed to save the season. But is a rookie a good choice?
I don’t have a definitive answer to that question (hey, an economist who can’t make up his mind, what a surprise). Here are some things to think about.
So far three rookies have played significant time this year, Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Bruce Gradkowski. The average QB Score per play for the rookies has been 0.25, a mark below what the Broncos were getting from Plummer. Of course advocates of this move will note that Cutler’s supporting cast in Denver will be better than what is available to the other rookies. This supporting cast, though, was unable to turn Plummer into an above performer this year, and he actually has played in the NFL (and at times, played quite well).
If the season ended today the Broncos would be in the playoffs. It seems odd for a playoff team to switch from a veteran, who has had some success in the NFL, to a rookie who has never played in a regular season NFL game (or a playoff game).
And it is important to note that this move appears to be motivated by the last two games against San Diego and Kansas City. This is pure speculation, but I think if Denver had won either game that a switch wouldn’t have happened. When we look at these contests we see that Plummer posted a QB Score per play of 0.82 and 0.84. Again, neither performance was great. But these marks are comparable to what Brad Johnson has done this year, and better than either Jake Delhomme or Rex Grossman.
So is this the right move? The Broncos looked to be headed to the playoffs with Plummer. It is hard to see the team having more success with a rookie. It is even harder seeing this rookie leading the team to the Super Bowl. If Cutler cannot lead the Broncos to success this season, then this move represented an attempt to build for next year. And although building for next year is important, typically we don’t see this kind of behavior from a team that is actually contending for a playoff spot this season.
Andrew Walter is Right?
A few weeks ago Andrew Walter of the Oakland Raiders claimed the play calling was holding him back. In week eleven Aaron Brooks posted an above average performance, suggesting that the problem with Walter might have been Walter. But last week Brooks posted a QB Score per play of -0.61. And with that level of production, Art Shell changed offensive coordinators, vindicating Walter.
Hopefully this will make a difference. If the Raiders can win a game or two down the stretch my Detroit Lions will come that much closer to being officially on the clock for the first pick in next April’s NFL draft. Now if we could only get the Lions to take that choice away from Matt Millen.
Tony Rome is the Best
Chapter Eight of our book begins with a quote from one of my favorite artists, Frank Sinatra. Not only do I have a very extensive collection of Sinatra’s music, but I also find that I enjoy most of his movies. But apparently I don’t know these movies as well as I thought. When I first heard about Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys I found myself asking, “Isn’t that the detective Sinatra played in the 1960s?” Well, actually its not. Sinatra’s character was named Tony Rome.
Romo is no Rome, or Sinatra for that matter. But he is playing extremely well at quarterback. A few weeks ago Bill Parcells switched from Drew Bledsoe to Romo. And the results have been spectacular. Romo is currently the most productive quarterback in the NFL. Romo’s play clearly proves that Parcells is a genius.
Okay, maybe not. In the words of Parcells, “let’s not get out the anointing oil just yet.” If Parcells was truly a genius it would not have taken him six games to make the switch. Maybe Parcells was just being loyal to Bledsoe, a quarterback he originally drafted way back in 1993. Or maybe Parcells was like me, wondering why his back-up quarterback reminded him so much of Frank Sinatra.