The national media had four or five nail-biting finishes from Sunday afternoon to choose from but instead chose to spend Monday discussing the unfortunate assault on Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode. Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth intentionally stomped and scraped his cleat down the face of Gurode during a game in Nashville Sunday. Gurode required 30 stitches to close the wounds but will not likely miss any time. The same cannot be said for Haynesworth, who Monday was suspended by the NFL for five games - more than twice the length of the previous two-game high.
Haynesworth might have been drafted by the Chiefs if he had shown acceptable character prior to the 2002 NFL Draft. Haynesworth had multiple incidents while playing at the University of Tennessee and also turned off Chiefs personnel in a phone interview just days before the draft. Instead, the Chiefs traded up into the Cowboys slot and selected Ryan Sims, who hasn't been a badge of honor for Kansas City's scouting department. Nobody is listing that selection on their resume.
But Sims hasn't brought this type of embarrassment and shame upon the organization, either. You can thank the Chiefs for that. It was no accident. Character matters.
I'm often left wondering how many Kurt Warners have labored throughout their NFL careers in relative obscurity, schlepping clipboards for NFL minimum salary or being cut before being given a legitimate opportunity to shine. While I'm not yet ready to put Damon Huard into the Warner category, he's accepted all challenges thus far and has performed beyond all expectations (except for perhaps the lofty expectations of a select few Warpaint writers). I'd like to examine a few progression dynamics of a successful NFL quarterback. By no means is the following all inclusive:
1. Opportunity: Being given an opportunity isn't always a good thing, especially if that opportunity is given before you're ready or before your team has given you sufficient protection on the offensive line - which leads me to the second dynamic.
2. Confidence: Being confident in one's self is intrinsic to any quarterback fortunate enough to participate in an NFL game. The strong survive. The weak implode and flop out of the league. See Ryan Leaf, who I feel was an incredible talent, but was rushed and saw his confidence destroyed.
3. Work Ethic: You think Peyton Manning has an all-world arm? I agree, but he's also one of the best prepared players in the league - on either side of the ball. That dude works on the field, in the film room, and unfortunately for us, he works hard on his endorsement opportunities in the offseason.
4. Leadership: Nothing commands respect from teammates like a quarterback who has the ability to lead. A leader displays some of the characteristics already discussed and others we'll not have time to discuss in this space. The best quarterbacks are able to balance confidence with some modicum of humility. Nobody likes to be around somebody who wears their confidence with a chip on their shoulder. A lineman wants to feel comfortable with their quarterback. They have to feel that their most important responsibility is keeping that quarterback safe. If Joe Tackle dislikes his quarterback, he's not going to ensure that quarterback's safety to the best of his ability.
5. Playmaking: A quarterback has to make the throws. More importantly, he has to be able to spot the open receiver. That includes reading defenses, knowing the playbook and going through progressions.
6. Decision making: This is one that takes players a couple years to conquer. When do they chuck it out of bounds or at the feet of a covered running back? How can a kid realize the low odds of threading a throw into a small area surrounded by three defenders? I won't pretend to have the answers here, but I know from many years of watching football that a quarterback who has a tendency to make poor decisions doesn't last very long.
Much playoff debate surrounds the newly revived Chiefs football team since Sunday. No longer are the doom and gloomers predicting a winless streak under Damon Huard. Instead, they're making reservations for a wildcard playoff game.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs are still bested in the standings by nine other teams in the AFC. The Chiefs remain near the bottom - tied in the win column with the Houston Texans. The defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers also find themselves in a 1-2 hole. There's plenty of season yet to play, however. The playoff race has never been decided in Week 4, but the Titans and Raiders are undoubtedly out.
Some unscrupulous Chiefs fans have had the nerve to mention Elvis Grbac and Rich Gannon when discussing Damon Huard's success in relief of Trent Green. Is a quarterback controversy on the horizon in KC? Is that necessarily a bad thing? Was it a bad thing when the Chiefs were left wondering if they should play Priest Holmes or Larry Johnson? Heck no! That's a problem 32 teams in the NFL would like.
If Damon Huard plays the next 12 games and leads the Chiefs to a playoff berth, let him play it out. I hope Trent Green comes back as soon as safely possible, but I also believe there is a point of no return during the season. You can't plug Trent Green back into a team that has been led by someone else for the majority of the season. But I'm not the expert. Why don't you come and tell me what you think on our message boards?
Two Plus Two: Green Leads By Example
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