NFL QB Watch: Injuries anoint some unwanted starters in Week 8

Elsa

When Kellen Clemens and Josh McCown are starting and players like Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi are on standby, you know things are getting rough. And this is only the midway point of the season.

Injuries are just a part of football. Unfortunately for Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler, they appear to be a significant part.

Bradford was enjoying his best season as a pro -- even if the Rams weren't much better off for it -- before tearing his ACL on Sunday and ending his season. Now he must make the long road to a full recovery and hope to be ready to begin the 2014 season as the starter for St. Louis.

But when and how will the Rams start to take measures to prepare for a future without Bradford?

Despite Bradford coming into the NFL with an injury history and missing six games in 2011, St. Louis opted not to draft Robert Griffin III in the 2012 draft. It would have been a bold move and there would have certainly been some hoops to jump through thanks to Bradford's huge rookie contract, but when it comes to finding a franchise QB, sometimes you have to take some major risks.

Because if Bradford doesn't work out and RGIII does, it'll be hard to overlook that time when you could have had him and went with the wrong guy. With Bradford out for the rest of the year and the Rams at 3-4, they're probably going to face a similar decision next April.

If the Rams find themselves with a top 10 pick and a possible franchise QB on the board, do they pass again, or do they finally give up on the idea of Bradford as a franchise player? The Chargers once did that with Drew Brees and ended up losing possibly one of the five best quarterbacks of all time. Countless other teams have done the opposite and wound up making the right move -- even if it's a difficult one to make.

Here are the quarterbacks on shaky ground for Week 8.

Sad Bramford

Kellen Clemens, Rams

Clemens is not good at being an NFL quarterback. That's not something he should take personally, fewer than 30 people in the entire world are good at being NFL quarterbacks at any given time. The difference between Clemens and someone like Brian Hoyer is that we still didn't know that much about Hoyer.

Clemens has been in the NFL since 2006 and we've had plenty of time to find out that he's not good.

The Rams signed Brady Quinn and Austin Davis for support in the second half of the season. Quinn was terrible for half of the year in Kansas City last season, so at least he's got experience.

Up next: Like Case Keenum last week getting his debut against the Chiefs, Clemens gets to make his first start this season against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. It's the Seahawks on Monday night!

Groin Pains

Josh McCown, Bears

No quarterback has made the majority of starts at quarterback for the Bears in five consecutive seasons since Ed Brown (1955-1960), but Jay Cutler is in his fifth season with Chicago and he's almost there. However, he'll now miss a start (at least four of them) for the fourth straight year. In that time, Todd Collins, Jason Campbell, Caleb Hanie, and McCown have all made starts in his absence, but none of them are good. And now it's McCown again.

The Bears haven't drafted a quarterback higher than the fourth round since 2003 (Rex Grossman, 22nd overall) and that strategy usually leaves a team constantly churning the roster with backups who couldn't hack it in other cities.

McCown isn't good. His best quality is that he isn't absolutely terrible. Chicago gave Jason Campbell $3 million to back up Cutler last season in order to avoid another Hanie meltdown but it turned out that Campbell also isn't good. The Bears will probably want to spend a higher draft pick on a player with some actual potential next season, or we might just keep singing the same sad, old song here.

Up next: Chicago at least gets the week off to think about things and sign another QB.

Speaking of sad and old

Brandon Weeden, Browns

If the season ended today (which would be unexpected and likely tragic) then the Browns would be picking 14th and 27th (Colts, Trent Richardson trade) in the draft. The last time they picked twice in the first round, they made two mistakes: Weeden and Richardson.

They can't afford to do that again.

Maybe Cleveland is so confident in Brian Hoyer (which would be a repeat of the Derek Anderson fiasco) that it doesn't use one of those picks on a quarterback, but it probably should. I'm not sure the Browns will be able to do anything to get Teddy Bridgewater, should he still be the consensus No. 1 pick, but there are a number of good QB prospects next year, and they should take one of them early. Even if they have to move up to do so.

What's the worst that could happen? Is it worse than having wound up with Weeden and Richardson?

Up next: A benched Weeden and starting Jason Campbell face possibly the best defense in the league in Kansas City.

"Not murdered" was the Case

Case Keenum, Texans

In his first career start, a game on the road against the Chiefs and their No. 1 one pass defense, Keenum was 15-of-25 for 271 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Despite a persistently relentless pass push by Kansas City, Keenum hung in, and the Texans almost pulled off the unbelievable.

Even if it was a lucky game for Keenum, how could you possibly go back to Matt Schaub or T.J. Yates until he plays himself out of the job? The bad news is that when you're an undrafted free agent in your second season and literally no one has high expectations for you, it wouldn't take much to get pulled if you have one bad start.

Up next: He won't have a bad start this week, as the Texans are on a bye.

George Can-Stanzi

Chad Henne, Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars' season is officially a "run out the clock" scenario. The players probably want to win all the games and the coaches probably want to win all the games, but the GM and the fans probably just don't want to do anything to screw up getting the No. 1 pick.

I'm not sure there's a whole lot of upside to finding out if you have anything with Ricky Stanzi, because you almost certainly don't. But there's not really any downside either. The downside is that he loses games, and for the Jags, that's all upside.

Up next: Another almost-certain loss against the 49ers.

Probably a free man again soon

Josh Freeman, Vikings

Not that a quarterback ever stands much of a chance when he's asked to start just a few weeks after he joined the team, but do debuts get any worse than that? Against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL, a team that was 0-6 and had allowed 14 passing touchdowns in six games, Freeman was terrible. He threw the ball 53 times, had 20 completions and an almost mind-blowing 3.58 yards per attempt.

Jennings_medium

His yards per pass attempt would have been meager for a yards per carry stat. Anything lower than 7.0 yards per pass attempt should have you rolling your eyes, and this was basically half of that.

Freeman's status this week against the Packers is now uncertain, with news of a concussion coming out Wednesday increasing the potential for another Christian Ponder sighting in Minnesota. Is it possible for a player of Freeman's status to be released by two teams during the same season? I'd wager that it is if he again performs like he did on MNF.

Up next: Like I said, the Packers!

Openings Available Soon?

Michael Vick, Eagles

Vick nearly lost his job as starter when Nick Foles played like an Oregon QB would against San Western State Tech, but then he played pretty terribly against the Cowboys and suffered a concussion. He was replaced by Matt Barkley, who may or may not be the worst employed quarterback in the NFL right now. Vick is back to being the unquestioned starter (if healthy,) but it now seems logical that Chip Kelly will draft his franchise quarterback next April.

I've heard rumors that there is a guy at Oregon who is pretty good.

Carson Palmer, Cardinals

Arizona is averaging +3.4 points per game compared to last season. If that's what the change over to Carson Palmer was worth, it's more a dig on how bad John Skelton and Ryan Lindley were than it is a positive mark for Palmer. Because he's been pretty awful.

For a team with a history like Arizona, you would think they would have drafted more than one QB in the first round over the last 25 years, but that's not the case. Matt Leinart is the only QB they've drafted before the second round since Kelly Stouffer in 1987. The Green Bay Packers drafted a QB in the first round when they still had Brett Favre.

How are other teams still not getting this?

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