Friday, August 03, 2007

REDEMPTION! The Return of the 1st Round QB Busts

Tim Couch was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars this week, and I like it, as most people in Cleveland do (I have no idea what people in Jacksonville think, although I'm sure Byron Leftwitch and David Garrard are happy that Couch--who hasn't played in 4 years--was brought in instead of Dante Culpepper). With Couch back in the league, there are now three "bust" quarterbacks in position to make good of careers gone bad. Today I'll look at these three stalwarts, and then tell you why they are going to take the league by storm.

Tim Couch, Jacksonville Jaguars: 62 G, 11,131 yards, 64 TD, 67 INT, 59.8% Comp. Pct., 75.1 QB Rating (which is shockingly higher than Brian Sipes)

Tim Couch was doomed to be a bust essentially from Day 1. It started when he was drafted by the 1999 Cleveland Browns, an expansion team that had no line, no running game, and one receiver (Kevin Johnson). Add in the fact that Couch was playing in Chris Palmer's offense--an offense that stresses the vertical pass--after coming from the dink-and-dunk system at Kentucky and you can see why he was behind the 8-ball. After getting beaten to hell his first two years in the league (the second of which was cut short by a broken wrist), Couch finally got some average protection in his third year, and showed a knack for coming from behind. Unfortunately, injuries began to take their toll, opening the door for Kelly Holcomb's gunslinging ways and the quarterback controversy that eventually ushered Couch out of the league. Injuries incurred during off-season workouts and surgeries for lingering arm problems have prevented Couch from coming back, until now. Competing with a starter the coaches don't like in Byron Leftwitch and a backup who hasn't taken advantage of his opportunities in David Garrard, Couch has an opportunity to step into a starting role if he can prove to the Jacksonville brass that three years off and four years of abuse haven't taken too much of a toll. Couch actually has the least chance to succeed of the three mentioned here, because A.) he's third on the depth chart, B.) he hasn't played for three years, and C.) his receivers lack polish on short and intermediate routes, which is exactly what Couch is best at throwing.

David Carr, Carolina Panthers: 76 G, 13, 391 yards, 59 TD, 65 INT, 60.0 Comp. Pct., 75.5 QB Rating

David Carr's career could be considered Tim Couch version 2.0. Drafted by an expansion team, Carr had little to work with and the worst protection in NFL history. After adding Andre Johnson (100 times the weapon Kevin Johnson was for Couch), Carr hit a bit of a stride, that is whenever he could stay upright. Carr's career peaked in 2004, when the team finished 7-9 and Carr showed some spunk in leading the Texans to some tight victories. Things regressed the next two seasons, however, and Carr now finds himself with a new team. Like Couch, Carr is behind a starter who may be on thin ice in Jake Delhomme. I like Carr's chances of success better than Couch's, though, because Carr is the most talented of the three busts, as well as playing with the most talented team.

Joey Harrington, Atlanta Falcons: 70 G, 12,478 yards, 72 TD, 77 INT, 55.2 Comp. Pct., 68.1 QB Rating

Joey Harrington was drafted number 3 overall in the same draft David Carr went number 1, going to the Detroit Lions. Terrible personnel combined with Harrington's subpar play led to his eventual release and subsequent signing with the Miami Dolphins. After taking over for the disastrous Dante Culpepper, Harrington was barely adequate and let go this off-season and picked up by Atlanta to back up Mike Vick. We all know what happened to Vick, so now Harrington's the man, and I must say that I like his chances for success the best out of these three. With Joe Horn added to a young receiver corps., as well as the continued presence of Alge Crumpler, Harrington arguably has the best weapons to work with, especially when you consider Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood running behind him. Add in the fact that Bobby Petrino, a quaterback and offensive guru, is his coach and it's easy to see why Harrington should have a break-out year.

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