Decade Debate: 5 Biggest Quarterback Busts

When fans think of biggest quarterback busts, the first one that usually pops into their heads is Ryan Leaf. But when it’s all said and done, the biggest quarterback draft bust of all-time might have come from this decade. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here is a top 5 ranking of the biggest quarterback draft busts of the past decade, as well as a separate list of two signal callers that might be well on their way to bustville.

5. Byron Leftwich (Year Drafted: 2003)

Things didn’t start off poorly for Leftwich. After the Jaguars took him with the seventh overall pick in 2003, Leftwich led them to a 9-7 record in his second year and helped Jacksonville earn a 12-4 record and a playoff berth in his third year before an ankle injury cost him the remaining five games of the season. But after returning from the injury in time to receive a 28-3 beat down from the Patriots in the postseason that year, things went downhill for Leftwich. He suffered another ankle injury in 2006 (one that cost him all but four games of the season) and then he was released in 2007 in favor of David Garrard. He was signed by the Falcons in September of that year, but was a minor disaster and couldn’t hold off Joey Harrington for the starting job. He did win a Super Bowl ring as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup with the Steelers in 2008, but he once again failed as a starter in 2009 after the Bucs signed him in the offseason. Even though he did have some success in the league, Leftwich never lived up to his top-10 billing. His big arm was a hit in college, but his slow release has often doomed him in the NFL and now it appears he’s destined for a life as a backup.

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Will the Lions start Stafford in Week 1?

Even though training camp is still over a month away, the talk in Detroit right now is whether or not the Lions should start rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford in Week 1 of the regular season.

Before we debate this topic, let’s get something out of the way first because I know there’s a commenter out there who just can’t wait to throw out this boring, overused statement: It’s way too early to know whether or not Stafford should start Week 1 considering it’s only June and we haven’t seen him take one snap against live action (either in practice or preseason).

But I’m going to throw the topic out there anyway because it takes the sting out of knowing that the NFL season is still light years away. So save all of your, “It’s way too early to tell,” comments and tuck them under your pillow to be used at another time.

There will be two names that some Lions fans will throw out there when making the argument that Stafford should start as a rookie: Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco. If Ryan and Flacco could respectively lead the Falcons and Ravens to the playoffs, why couldn’t Stafford do the same with the Lie-Downs?

The difference is that Ryan and Flacco had help. The Falcons hit a home run with free agent running back Michael Turner, who carried the ball 376 times and helped take the burden off Ryan by opening up lanes in the passing game. Ryan also benefited from having a solid receiver corps (led by Roddy White), as well as an offensive line that overachieved and stayed healthy. Don’t forget that Ryan was also considered one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks to come out of college in the past couple years.

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Offseason Blueprint: Detroit Lions

Notable Free Agents: Dan Orlovsky, QB, Rudi Johnson, RB; Jason Hanson, K; Shaun Cody, DT; Paris Lenon, LB.

Projected 2009 Cap Space: $26,000,000

Draft Order: 1

Top Needs: A team doesn’t go 0-16 by accident. The Lions have major holes to fill at every position although offensive line, quarterback and secondary are arguably their biggest needs.

Offseason Outlook: Where do I start? This team is such an utter mess that it’s going to take new GM Martin Mayhew at least 2-3 years to rebuild the roster. And that’s assuming most of his moves pan out.

Even though it would be a long, slow process, Mayhew’s best approach would be to blow up the entire roster and start over. The two biggest problems with the Matt Millen era is that it lacked direction and he couldn’t spot talent if it fell from the sky and dropped in his lap. What Mayhew needs to do is build from the inside out and it all starts with the offensive line.

Many will argue that the Lions need a franchise starting quarterback first and foremost, but without an offensive line it won’t matter who they have under center. That’s why drafting Virginia’s Eugene Monroe with the first overall pick might be Detroit’s best move. Monroe is the type of player that could anchor the Lions’ offensive line for years to come and considering the team has a decent amount of cap space, Detroit could get a piece or two in free agency to help rebuild the offensive line as well. (Although the top available linemen – Matt Birk, Mike Goff, Mark Tauscher – are all over the age of 30.)

Even though it would pain most Lion fans to watch either Daunte Culpepper or Drew Stanton take another snap under center, the fact is that the other options aren’t that great either. The Patriots seem content to hang onto Matt Cassel and even if they weren’t, it would take multiple draft picks (multiple draft picks the Lions need to help rebuild the roster) and mucho dinero to acquire him from New England. And unless Jeff Garcia (already a failed experiment in Detroit), Rex Grossman or Kyle Boller gets your motor running, the unrestricted free agent market isn’t too promising either. In fact, the Lions’ best option at quarterback next year might still be on the roster in Jon Kitna. He was too happy with the way the team placed him on IR with a back injury midway through the season last year, but the coaching regime that made that decision isn’t in Detroit anymore. He could essentially be a solid stopgap at quarterback so the Lions could address the offensive line and defense this offseason.

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Did Jason Whitlock just compare Matt Millen to O.J. Simpson?

Newspaper columnist Jason Whitlock is a bit miffed about NBC’s recent hire of former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen as their lead studio analyst for the NFL playoffs. And he wondered if O.J. Simpson was available from his Las Vegas jail cell.

Seriously, O.J. on “Football Night in America” is the only thing that could top Millen’s inclusion. And NBC is promising to foist Millen on its Super Bowl audience. If this happens, I will confront Millen and NBC executives at the Super Bowl and go Rob Parker-Rod Marinelli on the responsible parties.

Look, the Lions haven’t won a NFL championship in over 50 years, and Millen was in charge for only eight seasons. Though under his leadership, the Lions did own the NFL’s worst winning percentage (31-81, .277) and became the first team in league history not to win a road game in three consecutive seasons (2001-2003). And, of course, there was the whole 0-16 thing. At the core of this failure are some pretty bad drafts that included guys like quarterback Joey Harrington, and wide receivers Charles Rogers and Mike Williams.

Lion fans surely grew tired of Millen’s time as the team’s CEO, but I can’t imagine them longing for the Eric Hipple years.

South Park meets the NFL

The World of Isaac spent some time comparing NFL players, coaches, officials and wives/girlfriends to their “South Park” counterparts. Fans of both the NFL and South Park will obviously get a kick out of this.

KennyKenny/Brett Favre
Every time you think these guys are dead, every time you think you’ve seen them for the last time, every time you think its their last hoorah, they keep showing back up.

Towelie/Ricky Williams
Towelie can’t last an episode without some weed and apparently Ricky Williams can’t even go a bye week without it.

Cartman/Shaun Rogers
Huge Head…check

Timmy/Terrell Owens
One has special needs. The other one is just “special”. You tell me which ones which.

Kyle/Joey Harrington
Positive even when he doesn’t need to be but eventually his personality wears out on you.

Their comparison to Harrington and Kyle is dead on. Hear or read any Joey Harrington quote after a game and you’ll know exactly what The World of Isaac is talking about.

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