ANDREW LUCK, COLTS:
Ocarina (The Legend Of Zelda: The Ocarina Of Time, 1998)
After a decade of dominance, the Colts' empire crumbled last year, and so they must call on Andrew Luck, a nine-year-old boy from the forest, to save them. With this team, there's no room for error. For him to succeed, he'll have to play every note perfectly. Look for Indianapolis fans to turn on him when the songs he plays don't really sound much like Hoobastank at all.
JAKE LOCKER, TITANS:
Wooden sword (The Legend Of Zelda, 1986)
Let me stay in the Zelda universe for just another moment, and let me also admit to the fact that I have absolutely no idea of how well Jake Locker will do this season. He played well in a limited role last year, his O-line is pretty good, and his receivers are healthier than they were last year. With the Jaguars and Colts looking as sad as they do, playoffs are a very real possibility.
So I think I'm going to cop out on this one. Jake Locker is Link's wooden sword. If he's at full strength, he can shoot laser thingies out of it. If not, he'll have to walk directly up to receivers to give them the ball.
MATT SCHAUB, TEXANS:
Gun (Asteroids, Atari 2600, 1979)
pew pew pewwww
What's the gun from Asteroids? It's a gun. Who's Matt Schaub? He's a quarterback. Completely nondescript and largely immobile, Schaub is boring as all get-out.
Don't misunderstand me: boring isn't necessarily bad. He's effective. He's quite a good quarterback, and the Texans have other playmakers/interesting personalities, such as Arian Foster, to keep the Houston Texans a fun television viewing experience. He's just sort of there, is all. He's just, "quarterback." But just as the first video game boom wouldn't have happened without Asteroids, the Texans couldn't do much of anything without Schaub.
God. That's the worst music I have ever heard.
BLAINE GABBERT, JAGUARS:
Turret (Portal, 2007)
In Portal, you don't actually have a "gun" in the traditional sense. Your gun can shoot portals and pick stuff up, but that's it. The closest you get to having a gun is picking up a sentry turret, which will start pleading with you once you start running around with it:
who aaaaare you?
what are you dooooing
That turret is Blaine Gabbert. For the love of God, Jaguars, don't put him through this again. Last season he had the worst season a starting quarterback has had in years, and things don't figure to be much different this time around. Maybe get one of the groundskeepers to start a few games for him. SOMETHING. Poor fella.
please put me dowwwwwn
PHILIP RIVERS, CHARGERS:
Shock rifle (Unreal Tournament, 1999)
Unreal Tournament is a lot like the NFL in two ways: first, it's unbelievably fun if you're not horrible. Second, your plans are liable to go to shit. Everything moves so quickly and unpredictably that you're probably just best off running around and clicking "FIRE" at anything that looks like it's moving.
The game's Shock Rifle was always my favorite: long-range, highly accurate, and so powerful that it could throw an opponent halfway across the map. This is still Philip Rivers, I swear to God. It really is. He's a great quarterback who is coming off one relatively crummy season. Once in a while, your plans just aren't going to work out.
PEYTON MANNING, BRONCOS:
Siege tank (StarCraft, 1998)
The siege tank, one of my favorite weapons from any real-time strategy game, was tremendously effective if you used it properly. In "Siege Mode," it used its massive shock cannon to vaporize legions of Zerglings in a single shot. The catch was that it couldn't move, and if you didn't want it to be destroyed, you had to surround it with support units.
Peyton Manning was already one of the NFL's least mobile quarterbacks. Now he's 36, in a new environment, and coming off neck surgery. As long as his O-line can protect him, look for him to plant both legs a foot in the ground and let loose in Denver's outer-space gravity.
CARSON PALMER, RAIDERS:
Anything (Super Mario Bros. 2, NES, 1988)
Carson Palmer's career, I think, pretty neatly illustrates the transition from the original Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2. In the first act of his career, he was throwing fireballs in Cincinnati. He had plenty of great targets at wideout, notably Chad Johnson, and he had the likes of Cedric Benson and Rudi Johnson to help balance out the pass with the run.
Now, everything feels different. His running back in Oakland, Darren McFadden, is terrific but highly injury-prone, and his receiving corps is one of the thinnest in the league. So what's his weapon now? Anything. He's just gonna have to pull beets out of the ground and start chuckin' 'em. Might even take an offensive lineman and heave it over his head.
This, as always, will be polarizing. Half of Raiders fans will stand by Palmer, and the other half will point out that the game is totally just a ripoff of Doki Doki Panic.
MATT CASSEL, CHIEFS:
Towers (WarCraft III, 2002)
All right. I've spent the last four pages making shitty reductive assessments of everyone else's quarterbacks, so now it's only fair that I roast mine.
Matt Cassel is possibly the least big-play quarterback in football. He just doesn't go for the bomb. He had his best season in 2010 because he existed in an environment in which he could just sort of dink and dunk his way down the field. His defense and running game were solid, so he didn't really have to play heroball.
His game is basically a tower rush. If you're not familiar, the "tower rush" is common in strategy games: basically, you build a string of little towers across the map until you reach your opponent's base. Individually, these towers are weak, but the idea is that they add up to offer a strong foothold in enemy territory.
Tower rushing is shitty and everyone hates it, but it's the only game Cassel has, really. And if everything else goes perfectly, it will work. Until the playoffs, anyway, because the Archmage has cast a spell on the Chiefs that prevents them from winning a playoff game ever again. That's a huge competitive imbalance, and I keep waiting for a patch. It will never come.