Friday, October 15, 2010
Under Center of Attention: Chasing Marino
By Vince Masi
Our weekly look at quarterbacks who are under the center of attention.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: CHASING MARINO
Three quarterbacks have thrown for 1,600-or-more yards through five games this season: Philip Rivers (1,759), Kyle Orton (1,733) and Peyton Manning (1,609). Each of them now has more yards through their first five games than what Dan Marino had through the first five games of his 5,084-yard record-setting 1984 season. Can this trio keep up the pace? Two years ago, Drew Brees had 1,673 yards through five games, but he finished just 15 yards shy of Marino’s record.
Let’s look at other quarterbacks who are under our center of attention for Week 6.
The Saints offense isn't off to the explosive start of the 2009 team, averaging less than 20 points per game in 2010, after scoring nearly 40 points per game in their first five games last season. With teams playing deep coverage more often against the Saints, Brees has been forced to throw shorter passes. No player has thrown more passes at or behind the line of scrimmage than Brees's 51 this season. Compare that to last year, when through the first five games Brees threw just 20 passes at or behind the line of scrimmage.
The rookie is scheduled to make his first NFL start Sunday when the Cleveland Browns face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns will be the first team to start three different quarterbacks this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Colt McCoy will become the 16th different starting quarterback used by the Browns since their return to the NFL in 1999. That will break the tie with the Miami Dolphins for the most in that span. McCoy can't do much worse that the others. Since 2008, Browns quarterbacks rank last in completion percentage, passing touchdowns and passer rating.
The Dallas Cowboys will try to avoid a 1-4 start when they face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Despite having lost three of their first four games, the Cowboys boast the NFC's top-ranked passing offense, averaging 326.3 yards per game and 7.2 yards per attempt, with Romo throwing for 1,346 yards through the first four games. Since 1970, Romo is just the third quarterback to throw for at least 1,300 yards and have one or fewer wins in the first four games of a season. The others were Hall of Famers' Dan Fouts in 1983 and Joe Montana in 1982. The Chargers finished the 1983 season 6-10 (though they were 5-5 in Fouts' starts) while the 1982 49ers finished that strike-shortened season 3-6.