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Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Secondary may be the Texans' Most Immediate Problem, but QB is their Biggest

What does it take to get drafted as an NFL QB? Arm strength. Mobility. Touch. Size. Being able to "make all the throws" is absolutely a prerequisite for becoming an NFL starting QB, but it takes more than just that ability to develop from a "starter" to a "winner" as a QB in the NFL. What separates Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb from Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, David Klingler and Joey Harrington?

There is some magical combination of poise, confidence, leadership, determination, intelligence and discipline that allows a good young college QB to turn into a great NFL quarterback. Whatever that combination is, David Carr, two weeks into his FIFTH NFL season, has not shown that he has "it". Blame his O-line. Blame his offensive coaches. Blame the lack of a consistent running game. Blame whatever you want, but my opinion is that David Carr will never lead an NFL team to the playoffs.
Watch Peyton Manning pick apart opposing defenses, almost as if he knows their defensive scheme better than his opponents do. Watch Donovan McNabb make plays out of the pocket and rally his team to a late victory. Watch Brett Favre use his fiery on-field leadership to essentially will his team to a win. Watch Ben Roethlisberger sit in the pocket for an extra half-second, taking a big hit in order to make a crucial completion. David Carr does not have the intelligence or work ethic of Peyton Manning. He does not have the charisma or play-making ability of Donovan McNabb. He does not have the will to win or the fearlessness of Brett Favre. He does not have the poise and unwavering confidence of Ben Roethlisberger. He does not have the precision or grace under pressure of Tom Brady. Of course one cannot and should not reasonably expect David Carr to possess a multitude of these traits, but nearly every single team that achieves consistent success is led by a QB who exhibits at least one outstanding quality. David Carr, at his best, is an average quarterback. He is not a quarterback who will carry a team to victory on his own, but merely a QB whose team wins in spite of his play or indifferent to his play.

What quality does David Carr possess that indicates he will become one of the elite class of NFL QBs who lead their teams to annual playoff appearances and who win clutch games in December and January? I cannot think of one. Much has been made of the fact that Carr has not historically spend excess time in the video room or among his teammates. He often comes across as nonchalant and rather immature in his press appearances, and rarely, if ever does Carr place blame on his own broad shoulders. He speaks often of loving to "just get out there and play some ball", and unfortunately, he often seems to resemble an amateur backyard QB, trying to improvise on the fly rather than execute a well-prepared scheme. It was an extremely rare occasion when Carr steps up in the pocket on 3rd-and-long and makes a powerful, precise throw under pressure to make a successful conversion. The great ones also without fail tend to take losing personally and work tirelessly to get better, and David Carr seems almost indifferent to failure and has shown zero proof, at least publicly, that he is concerned with his own lack of improvement as a QB.

Here's my attempt at categorizing the current NFL starting QBs:

The Elite
:
Tom Brady
Carson Palmer
Peyton Manning
Donovan McNabb

The Young Guns
:
Daunte Culpepper
Ben Roethlisberger
Eli Manning
Michael Vick
Drew Brees
Jake Delhomme
Matt Hasselbeck
Mark Bulger

The Cagey Vets
:
Drew Bledsoe
Mark Brunell
Steve McNair
Trent Green
Jake Plummer
Brad Johnson
Brett Favre
Jon Kitna
Kurt Warner

The Others
:
Kerry Collins
David Carr
Jake Plummer
Aaron Brooks

The Question Marks
:
JP Losman
Chad Pennington (Above-Average when healthy)
Charlie Frye
Byron Leftwich - (somewhere between Other and Above-Average when healthy)
Phillip Rivers
Rex Grossman - appears headed for Young Gun status
Chris Simms - tenuously close to an Other
Alex Smith

Of the teams with an Other or a Question Mark at QB, only the Broncos, Jags and Bears are likely playoff teams. The Jags and Bears are dynamic defensive teams, and the Broncos have won before Jake Plummer's arrival and in spite of his play, and Jay Cutler will likely be the starter sooner rather than later. The Texans need a lot of work, but unless their defense quickly becomes Raven-esque or their running game becomes truly a mirror image of the Broncos, they will not join the NFL's elite. It appears that with Gary Kubiak at the helm, Bob McNair has been convinced that the Broncos' style of play can be installed in Houston such that the franchise can win games consistently in spite of David Carr's non-descript play, and that may prove to be true. Four-plus years into his career, David Carr has never shown signs of excellence, but at his best, has managed to look as if he could potentially blend into an NFL-caliber offense. In order for the Texans to become an annual playoff contender, they will need to find a QB who takes pride in his own development as a leader and a QB and who inspires his teammates to take the same approach themselves rather than a nice guy with a big arm. Until then, they can improve all other aspects of their team, but they will never be a real Super Bowl contender.

18 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

I could not possibly disagree with you any more. I'll be posting my thoughts on yesterday's Texans game later today, but Carr did not seem to be the problem. Believe it or not, I took a lot of positives out of the ninth consecutive Colts triumph over the hometown team.

With regard to your list of current starting QBs, the only QBs I'd rather have calling the shots for the Texans' offense right now are named P. Manning, T. Brady, C. Palmer, D. McNabb, B. Roethlisberger, M. Hasselback, B. Favre, and B. Leftwich. I'm not saying that David Carr has totally acquitted himself in my eyes yet, but my cautious optimism that he can lead a NFL team to the playoffs is growing.

Mon Sep 18, 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

You're insane. Save your stats from yesterday's game. Carr's QB rating was higher than Manning's. Is that legit? Of course not. The 1st team defense bombarded Carr so badly that he couldn't hardly handle a snap from center, much less lead a drive. All of his touchdowns and nearly all of his yards passing came against the Colts' second string secondary and a deep zone defense with no blitzing and are therefore meaningless. There are plenty of problems in the Texans organization right now, but David Carr must be replaced before this team will ever be credible around the league.

Mon Sep 18, 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

The current starting QBs who I would NOT take over David Carr: Charlie Frye, Chris Simms, Jake Plummer, Mark Brunell.

Breakdown of 1st three quarters against Indy: Q1: 14 plays, 30 yards, zero points; Q2: 15 plays, 60 yards, three points; Q3: 6 plays, 5 yards, zero points. It's nice that Dave had a high completion ratio since nearly every pass he threw in the first few quarters was a frantic two-yard dumpoff to a running back or fullback.

The game was already an embarrassment before David Carr ever began to move his team down the field. He looks like a fifteen-year old boy whose girlfriend just dumped him because she caught him picking his nose and eating it in homeroom. He's a loser and as long as he's in charge, the Texans will be losers. The players play like their on-field leader, who by default is their QB, and the Texans have an immature, selfish pantywaist as their on-field 'leader'.

Mon Sep 18, 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Steph said...

Did you actually just use the word "pantywaist." Tim, I don't know this for certain, because you might be megamanly for all I know, but I am guessing if you took just a fraction of the hits that David Carr has behind mostly a project offensive line and old rejects, you would be reduced to a quivering pile of goo.

Just a guess.

Obviously Carr had some bad moments, but he can't make AJ catch the ball or stop Lundy from fumbling and stopping a drive for example.

There are SOOOOO many legitimate concerns with the Texans that to put it all on Carr is kinda silly, especially when he is one of the few players who have seemed to responded to the 2006 coaching.

Mon Sep 18, 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Steph, I assume that your comment was directed at me rather than Tim since Tim apparently discovered this weekend that he may be entitled to some portion of Carr's signing bonus upon death or retirement and decided to jump blindly into The Franchise's corner.

First, my post specifically does not put 'all' of the blame on Carr. The secondary is problem that needs immediate attention, at least in terms of winning a single game this season. That said, why does the fact that David Carr was hit 200+ times in four years (I use the term 'hit' rather than 'sacked' because I know from experience that David has taken several dozen sacks on his own volition by dancing out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage without letting go of the football) necessarily excuse him from criticism for his unimproved play? If Carr lost his throwing arm in a weed-wacking accident, the Texans would not continue to run him out there as QB under the premise "if only he hadn't lost his throwing arm in that weed-wacking accident, he'd probably be pretty good."

Regardless of the root cause, David Carr is clearly not any better now than he was five years ago. A five-year veteran of the NFL, ex-#1 pick does not play like a skittish adolescent. Regardless of his on-field execution, which is subpar at best, I believe that Carr has NEVER demonstrated any semblance of the intangibles that I discuss in my post, which in my opinion are possibly even more significant than his shrieking like a school girl and skipping out of the pocket and/or flipping the ball underhand to a fullback three feet in front of him when a defender merely crosses the line of scrimmage. Unless you're going to have the Bears' or the Ravens' defense, you're not going to win consistently with a guy like Carr who does not put his own stamp on the game each week. This franchise is in disarray and consistently appears to have a severe leadership void on the field, and that is not a new phenomenon. That has been a consistent problem for several years now, and David Carr has never publicly taken responsibility for this or shown an intense desire to improve. He seems like he's punching the clock each week, making some money to provide for his family and 'playin' some ball', but not exhibiting the will or dedication to take his team to the next level, which sadly is now Mediocrity. If he had the abilities of a Manning or a Brady, then some of this immaturity and laissez-faire attitude could possibly be excused, but he also has difficulty solving that mindboggling Cover 2 or handling a snap from center, which makes his intangibles all the more important.

Mon Sep 18, 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Steph-

While Scott is correct that your ire should be redirected toward him (a/k/a H-Town Sports' most notorious and illogical flag-waving critic of D. Carr), I can confirm to you that I most certainly am "megamanly." Oh, and as I outlined in my post, I don't believe that Carr is the problem. On the contrary, I am more optimistic than ever about Kubes & Co.

Mon Sep 18, 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Steph said...

Yeah, my comment was directed at Scott as the user of the term "pantywaist." Or more specifically "immature, selfish pantywaist."

My problem with most sports commentary is that it is somewhat hysterical. You know, it is completely possible to do a fair critique of Carr without suggesting he is a nancyboy or poofster or Grey's Anatomy watcher or something.

Some of Scott's criticism seems appropriate, and some of it is kinda reaching and overly personal, as though Carr once stole Scott's girlfriend or something and he is all bitter at the guy or something. (Is there a backstory I am unaware of? Stolen girlfriend? Hair envy? Vince Young manlove?)

It may have been a mistake to pick a QB as a #1 pick and start him as a rookie behind a messed up line with no really experienced or talented receivers. That being said, I am actually impressed with how after all that stuff, and fans spilling beer on his prego wife last year and being destroyed and ridiculed and booed, that he hasn't gone all blubbery and forever injured like Tim Coach or quitereque like Joey Harrington.

He has done everything Kubiak has asked him to do preparation wise, has statistically demonstrated improvement (even when the running game has been complete crap in the regular season). He isn't where Kubiak wants him to be, and DC has said as much.

I just don't see why after that particular game you blow up with a David Carr is the biggest problem with the Houston Texans post. It's a popular opinion in Houston given that people have run out of good will for him, but there are a lot of problems with this Texans team--most of them involving undiciplined play by both sides of the ball.

Mon Sep 18, 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Little known story: Scott actually dated Melody Carr back in the day. David suavely arrived on the scene, swept Melody off her feet, and Scott was left the bitter and broken man we all read today. Throw in that Scott's losing his hair, and you can begin to understand his burning hatred for D. Carr.

Mon Sep 18, 06:15:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Steph, where would you rate David Carr among the league's starting QBs? Do you think he is capable of winning a playoff game? Do you think he is capable of winning a Super Bowl? Have you ever heard him take personal responsibility for the team's struggles? Have you ever heard him discuss specific things that he needs to personally improve upon as a QB and/or a leader? Do you like the way he handles himself on the field in his role as the captain of the offense?

Mon Sep 18, 09:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Steph said...

Scott-
Where I'm at with DC is that I think it is too early to tell. I do not think any rookie could have looked good with the receivers we had (with exception of AJ), the lack of proper coaching, the thrown together line and the cobbled together scheme.

And yes, I have heard him take responsibility for his play.

I don't think he has to be a spectacular QB to win a Superbowl because there are all sorts of non-spectacular ones who have. He just needs to be a game manager.

This is my complete view of him here:

http://blogs.chron.com/fanblogtexans/2006/07/david_carr_international_man_o.html

Ultimately, I am way more concerned with the entire defense than I am the QB position.

Tue Sep 19, 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Bert said...

Now I'm confused. Steph, if you're talking about "Vince Young manlove" then you're talking about most of Houston and you're especially talking about Tim. While I see improved play on Carr's part I just can't understand the "too early to tell" comment. As previously mentioned, this is his 5TH YEAR! Montana played for 15 years, Aikman for 12 years, and Brad Johnson is now in his 15th year. I think we can all agree that these guys have had longer than average NFL careers. 1/3 of his career is almost done. I expected much more…

Tue Sep 19, 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I'm with Bert in that I'm not a big believer in the "it's only his fifth year" argument. After all, we've been hearing that for five years; it's become a pretty tired excuse. I do, however, think it's entirely fair to note that Carr's development was likely stunted by the previous regime's repeated failure to provide him with a serviceable O-Line, more than one adequate WR, and a pass-catching TE (at least since the days of Billy Miller). Carr now has more weapons than ever before, and the early returns on his use of those guys should be positive.

One thing we can all agree on though--Vince Young is the greatest football player in the history of mankind, and statues proclaiming such should be constructed in every Texas town.

Tue Sep 19, 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Steph said...

Hey, I am a huge fan of Vince Young's and in fact am an owner of 3, count them 3 Draft Vince shirts that I stopped wearing once Carr's option was picked up.

My point is never the whole "It's only year 5." I just cannot conceive of any rookie QB succeeding in the situation that Carr was put in in 2002 and in subsequent years with Palmer/Pendry.

Tue Sep 19, 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

It matters not why Carr has not been able to lead the Texans' offense to scoring drives on a consistent basis at any point in his career. The fact is that when the game has been on the line this season, the offense has been inept. There is no fire, no precision, no confidence and no intelligence at the Texans' QB spot, and that will continue to hamper the team's progress as long as #8 stays in the backfield.

Wed Sep 20, 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Steph said...

People don't want to hear it, but the offense the Texans are using only works if the running backs can consistently provide positive yardage.

In the first game, the run game was non-existant. In the second game, it was a little better, especially in the second half, but Carr can't help it if Lundy fumbles.

To me, that Carr was able to throw the ball at all when the running game was so much worse than it was in the preseason and how it is designed to work in the offense, well, that gives me a glimmer of hope.

Hope you enjoyed the link stuff today. Thought you guys would appreciate it. :)

Wed Sep 20, 04:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I come in somewhere between Scott & Steph. I agree with Steph that there aren't many (if any) rookies who could have succeeded in the position in which Carr has found himself over the last 4+ seasons. It's entirely possible that had Carr been drafted to a more established team, or had he been able to watch a veteran QB on the field for a season or two, he could be successful. I think he's got the physical skills. That being said, I'm inclined to agree with Scott that at this point Carr may have too much accumulated damage from his 200+ sacks, multiple offensive schemes, & lack of a winning experience/attitude to ever be successful, at least in a Texans jersey.

Thu Sep 21, 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Thanks for the comment, Rob. You may be exactly right - maybe if Carr had gone elsewhere #1 or if the Texans had handled him differently, he would have matured into a better QB here in Year Five of his career. I am not placing blame as much as I am labeling Carr what I see him, which is essentially a finished product, and it is not a winning one, I'm afraid.

Thu Sep 21, 03:33:00 PM  
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