No quick fix at QB

New Tennessee Vols football coach Lane Kiffin, formerly of the Oakland Raiders, already knows that fixing a shaky quarterback situation is a lot easier in the pros than it is in college.

At the NFL level, all you have to do is plug in a 30-something guy behind center. Just ask the Tennessee Titans, the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

The Titans went a so-so 10-7 in 2007 with gifted but underachieving Vince Young at quarterback. When Young was hurt early in 2008, the team turned to 35-year-old journeyman Kerry Collins, who has provided a significant upgrade. Despite merely average numbers (58.4 completion percentage, 2,676 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions), the 14-year NFL veteran has provided the steady hand that was missing under Young. As a result, the Titans have gone from 10-7 to 13-2 in one season.

The Jets can relate. They were unhappy with their quarterback play in 2007, so they released Chad Pennington and traded for 39-year-old Brett Favre. An 18-year veteran, Favre has completed 67.0 percent of his passes for 3,239 yards in 2008. He's a major reason the Jets have gone from 4-12 in '07 to 9-6 in '08.

Still, the Dolphins are the ultimate rags-to-riches tale. They picked up the 32-year-old Pennington, who has resurrected his career in Miami while turning the franchise around. The nine-year NFL veteran is the NFL's 10th-rated passer this year, having completed 67.0 percent of his throws for 3,453 yards with 17 TDs and just 7 interceptions. Pennington's inspired play has helped Miami go from 1-15 in '07 to 10-5 in '08.

To recap: The Titans have become the winningest team in pro football since switching to a 35-year-old quarterback. The Jets have made a five-game improvement over last year by switching to a 39-year-old QB. The Dolphins have made a nine-game rise by handing the reins to a 32-year-old castoff from another organization.

It's too bad for the Big Orange that there is no free agency in college football. Otherwise, Lane Kiffin could be sifting through a group of 30-something candidates to upgrade the Vols' quarterback situation for 2009.

It's too bad there is no draft in college football, either. Otherwise, Kiffin might resolve the QB issue by selecting one with his first-round pick. That strategy worked exceptionally well for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons last April used their No. 1 pick on Matt Ryan, who is the NFL's 11th-ranked passer as a mere rookie. He has completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 3,280 yards with 15 TDs and 9 interceptions.

With no free agency and no draft, Tennessee will have to upgrade its quarterback play by developing the players already on hand ... unless, of course, the Vols can find a 30-something who still has collegiate eligibility remaining.


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