Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Culpepper wants GMs to review the tape
By Tim Graham
Quarterback Daunte Culpepper is confident he can still help a team. He just needs a chance.
All his plays are there. Each throw, touchdown, interception, drop, sack, scramble, stumble and fumble of Daunte Culpepper's season with the Detroit Lions is on the playlist. He's not hiding from any of it.
In fact, he wants every play to be seen twice, burning DVDs that show the 50-yard-line and end-zone angles from the unbiased coaching tape.
"I put every play that I had on the DVD," Culpepper said. "It answers if I'm hurt. It answers if I can throw. It answers if I can make the plays.
"It's not a highlight film. It's every play -- good and bad -- just to show what I can do."
Culpepper doesn't need the whole world to review the footage. He would settle for a majority of the NFL's general managers to take a look and see for themselves whether he deserves a spot on the roster.
"The perception versus reality is the main thing I'm battling," Culpepper said. "I'm ready to go."
Last month, the free-agent quarterback dropped by the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla., to remind everybody he's out there. Culpepper doesn't have an agent, so it was up to him to work the room.
Culpepper stated the Buffalo Bills were the team with which he most wanted to play. He also mentioned he would be open to serving as a primary backup for a team such as the New England Patriots or even returning to the Miami Dolphins to make good on what he considers the worst season of his career.
Since then, I have obtained the promotional kit Culpepper has put together in hopes of convincing a front office he's worth an opportunity. He has hand-delivered the kit to at least five general managers so far.
The packet includes the DVD, testimonials, an outline of his negotiating protocol and a year-by-year breakdown of his career with a synopsis of each season, injuries and circumstances.
It's an interesting look at finding a job in the NFL. He realizes that with the draft about a week away, any team in need of a quarterback will wait to see what happens before signing a veteran, but he's eager to occupy a locker stall.
"The main vibe I'm getting from everybody is that they're posturing to see what goes on in the draft," Culpepper said. "I'm hoping somebody steps outside of the box and says 'I'm not going to wait to pull the trigger on a guy we can win with.' "
Culpepper is fighting all sorts of preconceived notions -- that he's too old, he's always injured, he makes too many slow decisions with the ball or he's incapable of handling certain offenses.
Daunte Culpepper's time in Miami was limited to just four games.
That's what the DVD is for. As the old football saying goes, "The eye in the sky don't lie." The coaching tape shows plenty of talent remains in Culpepper's 33-year-old body. He still has the laser arm. He can run for first downs. And it's evident he didn't have much of a supporting cast last year.
"People think I'm either too old or still injured," Culpepper said. "That's one of the main things I want to show, if I can get a coach or a team to say 'We're going to give him a shot to have a true competition.' I've never asked for anything to be given to me.
"I'd love nothing more that to change perception. I know I still have the skills, that I can do the things I've done before. I haven't had an opportunity since I left the Dolphins."
Culpepper's stay with Miami was disastrous and has marked his career.
He was one of 2006's highest-profile offseason acquisitions despite coming off a career-defining knee injury. Dolphins coach Nick Saban handed him the offense, and the results were hideous. Culpepper had returned from his injury too soon.
"I only played four games," Culpepper said. "It was a lot of media attention for the short time I was there."
Culpepper is five years removed from his last Pro Bowl appearance and spent the past three seasons toiling as a backup with the Lions and Oakland Raiders.
One former NFL head coach and offensive coordinator still on the sidelines believes Culpepper will get another chance. The trick, the coach said, is finding the right fit.
"Daunte is not a system guy," the coach said on the condition of anonymity because he was commenting on a player not on his roster. "He's going to be awful in a West Coast offense. He's not a three-step guy or effective on timed routes. He's a seven-step guy.
"Where you want him is doing the old Al Davis Raider offense, more like what Ben Roethlisberger was doing with the Steelers or what Mike Shanahan does with his offense. Daunte would do well if you roll him out to the edge off play-action and let the ball go down the field because his ball goes waaaaay down the field.
"He's a talented guy. There's things he's not able to do very well, but there are portions of any offense he excels at."
The coach added Culpepper would need a strong offensive line because he's the type of quarterback who needs to see his receivers come open before the delivers the ball. With that in mind, maybe the Bills wouldn't be such a fine destination, after all.
Culpepper's priority is to be able to compete for a starting job, which is why Buffalo is so attractive to him. If the Bills don't draft a quarterback inside the first couple rounds, then Culpepper could be an alternative to Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Brian Brohm.
But Culpepper also knows his league-wide options will be even more limited when the next batch of quarterbacks enters the NFL. He might be stuck with taking a low-paying backup job.
But, at the very least, he hopes his role will be determined on merit and not preconceived ideas.
"Playing in the NFL is an awesome privilege that does not change regardless of success or challenges," Culpepper said. "I have seen a lot over the last 11 years, and it has only motivated me to do whatever is necessary to experience success in the future."