Three “QB-watches” more interesting than the 2013 “Tebow watch”

If your routine is anything like mine, you’ll wake up in the morning and start your day with a fresh batch of ESPN, whether it’s Sports Center or a click glance at the headlines on ESPN.com. Inevitably and unfortunately, that also means you’ll probably start your day with a fresh batch of Timothy Richard Tebow.

It’s no surprise that ESPN urges its employees to constantly discuss the Jets third-string “quarterback” considering America’s bizarre infatuation with him. He’s created a buzz in football that hasn’t been matched since, well, ever. And if you want ratings to go up, you give the people what they want, even if many others (like me) want up-to-the-minute Tebow coverage like we want a hole in our heads or kickoffs to be replaced by fourth and 15 at the 30.

But with recent news emerging that Tebow will ask to be traded or released after the conclusion of this season, he will be at the forefront of media attention once more amongst great speculation of where he might go and what team might benefit from bringing the Bible-bearing circus into town. I’m not sure where he might do any good but that’s because I couldn’t care less about the whole situation. He’s an average football player at best (his NFL stats show that) and he warrants as much attention any other third-string quarterback gets on a weekly basis, i.e. none.

Come the end of the 2012-2013 NFL season, there will be a few more interesting quarterback story lines that NFL fans should monitor instead of following Tebowmania: Part Deux, regardless if he ends up taking over for the pathetic Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville next season.

Starting in the same locker room…

Mark Sanchez

There’s been a lot of speculation as to where Sanchez will play next season considering how bad he’s been. He would almost assuredly play somewhere else if it wasn’t for the guaranteed $8.25 million the New York Jets are due to pay him in 2013. There’s not a team in the league that should consciously decide to pay Sanchez that kind of money to be their quarterback — starting or backup. So will Gang Green give him starter money to ride the pine behind Greg McElroy or another QB TBD? Will they eat all of part of his contract to get him out of town and be rid of the bad voodoo and butt fumbles?

He’s been pretty awful but his body of work career-wise hasn’t been as bad. He has a 72.0 career quarterback rating, has thrown for 68 touchdowns, 68 INTs and is 33-28 as a four-year starter. He’s certainly not elite, but his career stats are still better than guys like Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell, who were both drafted higher than Sanchez.

And in the postseason, his numbers are significantly BETTER. Sanchez is 4-2 in the postseason, leading his team to two NFC championship games in his first two NFL seasons, becoming only the second quarterback in NFL history to do so.

He’s shown that when he has adequate personnel around him, Sanchez can actually be a winning quarterback. Injuries and poor roster moves (cough-Tebow) narrowed the chances of success for Sanchez this season. Perhaps some roster changes or a trade elsewhere could reinvigorate Sanchez and salvage his career.

And if it doesn’t, at least he can say he dated Kate Upton, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Eva Longoria.

Alex Smith

You really have to feel for Alex Smith. He spent his first five NFL seasons as a bottom-feeding quarterback, not once notching a winning season. When he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, analysts warned that his hands were too small to properly hold and throw an NFL football. (He didn’t quite dissuade this notion after throwing 27 interceptions and fumbling 21 times in his first two years with the 49ers.)

But when Jim Harbaugh took over as San Francisco’s head coach in 2011, he expressed confidence in Smith and immediately helped the embattled quarterback develop into a consistent game manager and more importantly, a winner. Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and nearly took them to the Super Bowl if it hadn’t been for a red-hot New York Giants, which beat San Francisco in the NFC Championship game.

It was his first season with more than 3,000 passing yards and he set personal bests in just about every statistical category:pass attempts (445), completions (273), completion percentage (61.3 percent), passing yards (3,144), average yards per pass (7.1 yards per attempt), overall passer rating (90.7), rushing attempts (52), rushing yards (179) and total touchdowns scored (19). And he set these bench marks while throwing a league-low five interceptions.

In his first nine games this season, he continued his stellar play, throwing 13 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 70 percent of his passes. But after being sidelined with a concussion in week 10, backup Colin Kaepernick took over and never relinquished the starting role. When he found out he had been delegated to a backup role, he said “I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion.”

And he was right.

Harbaugh has committed to Kaepernick like he committed to Smith in 2011 and that likely won’t change in 2013. But even though it seems that no quality play goes unpunished for Smith, he will certainly be a starter somewhere next season and it won’t be in San Francisco. Now that he’s a proven commodity in the most difficult role in team sports, there should be a handful of teams clamoring to sign the seven-year veteran. With a stink cloud emanating from under center in Arizona (no joke intended), there’s a chance Smith could head to the desert to play for Ken Whisenhunt and throw to Larry Fitzgerald.

Michael Vick

Michael Vick’s career went from being exciting and dynamic to non-existent and irrelevant, to exciting and dynamic (again) to non-existent and irrelevant (again). But if you’ve noticed the pattern, the next logical step should be, you guessed it, exciting and dynamic.

Sure he’s had trouble staying healthy in his past two seasons and he’s struggled to keep possession of the ball (he has 19 turnovers so far this year) but still, after all the issues he’s gone through both recently and in the distant past, Michael Vick is still an exciting player to watch and a possible solution somewhere to a team’s quarterback woes.

Remember that only two seasons ago, Vick was the AP and Sporting News NFL Comeback Player of the Year after going 8-3 as a starter, scoring 30 touchdowns (21 passing and nine rushing), throwing only six interceptions, and making the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career. Philadelphia’s offensive line has been unable to protect Vick in the past two seasons, so if he can find a team with a solid offensive line, he might be able to stay healthy and return to his Pro Bowl-form.

There’s an outside chance Vick could remain with the Philadelphia Eagles, but if head coach Andy Reid is fired at season’s end, it’s likely the following staff will either bring in a new quarterback or try to develop rookie quarterback Nick Foles. If so, Vick will be released and looking for a new home, which could be the Empire State according to some rumors. Regardless what happens to Vick, it’s highly likely he’ll start somewhere next season.

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About Pete Dombrosky
Pete is a graduate of Penn State University and a life-long Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan. He covered men's hockey, golf, tennis, swimming and the enterprise beat as a reporter at the Daily Collegian, Penn State's award-winning, independent student-operated paper. He currently serves as the Assistant Managing Editor for Thrillist Media Group (www.thrillist.com).

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