Both the Arizona Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens appear on the verge of playing with fire, as both teams head coaches are talking about trying the dreaded platoon situation at quarterback. Both teams situations are vastly different, but nevertheless, trying to play two quarterbacks in the National Football League is like waking a sleeping dog – it usually leads to disaster. The Ravens are a team that has a window to win a championship, and tinkering with the offense now is a mistake. In Arizona, trying to sit what is supposed to be your franchise QB might help short-term, but hurt you down the road.
Ravens head coach Brian Billick spoke Monday about playing backup Kyle Boller more late in games, sort of like a relief pitcher coming in for the save. What impressed Billick was Boller moving the Ravens down the field for the game-winning field goal vs Arizona on Sunday and his poise. Sure Boller has been impressive over his relief duties and even late last season, but there is a reason he is a backup. He’s not very good in pressure situations.
Looking at Boller’s career as a starter, you can see why the Ravens took a flier on Steve McNair at the start of last season. Boller could not string many good games together, and just when you thought he was going to become a better, more solid QB, he usually took a step backwards. As for McNair, the thought is to try and keep him fresh, as he is coming off a groin injury and at 34 years old, the less he has to play now means the more he can play in January.
This sets up for disaster in my opinion. Like stated earlier, Boller is a backup for a reason, and I would not trust him late in games under many circumstances. McNair may be getting older, but the back and forth switching that it looks like Billick may do may end up costing him some games. If McNair is that banged up and not healthy enough to end games, then don’t let him start them.
In the Cardinals case, it’s almost the complete opposite, as coach Ken Whisenhunt is talking about putting older QB Kurt Warner on the field replacing Matt Leinart. Warner sparked a comeback in Baltimore Sunday, but the timing of when both he and Leinart played were completely different. Leinart was saddled with many pro formations and running plays, and Warner got the benefit of doing what he’s always done best, playing in a wide-open throw it around style of offense.
Did Warner look better Sunday? For sure. Should he be the starter Sunday vs the Steelers? No. Leinart is the future under center for Arizona. For Whisenhunt to make this move in week three shows that Leinart either has regressed in his development as a pro QB, or he does not fit the offense of Whisenhunt and he’d rather go with someone like Warner who can manage the game better.
For now, both teams are flirting with a nightmare when it comes to switching the QB positions game in and game out, and even in the game. In Baltimore, let McNair play, and play the whole game. In Arizona, allow Leinart time to develop and to see if he is going to be the quarterback that many thought it would be coming out of college. Play with this position, and you are sending your team some mixed signals on what direction you are headed in.