Huard Is A Gamer

It's ironic that prior to this season, Chiefs fans were predicting Brodie Croyle and Casey Printers to be #2 and #3 on the depth chart, leaving Damon Huard the odd man out. I'll admit it: I was one of those fans. Now, I'm completely sold on Huard.

He's no Peyton Manning, and he's certainly no Michael Vick, but the one guy that Huard actually reminds me of is the very guy he is filling in for. In addition to their height and weight being nearly identical, the comparisons between Huard and Green go much further.

The way the two set up in the pocket can be described in one word: statuesque. Often times, that word carries with it a negative connotation, implying a quarterback with zero mobility and a propensity for being sacked. However, with Green and Huard's superior accuracy and quick release, that statuesque nature works to their advantage. While both veteran quarterbacks are listed at 6-foot-3, they appear to stand even taller in the pocket. Having that vision allows them to hold onto the ball until the very last second before displaying laser-like accuracy.

Huard showed this ability when he found Eddie Kennison in the fourth quarter for a 51-yard hook up on what proved to be the game-winning drive. Kennison was running an out-and-up, and Seattle had good pressure up front on the play. Huard knew he was going to be throwing the ball sooner than he wanted to, but he left enough air under the ball for Kennison to get separation in the secondary, run under the ball and make one of his biggest catches as a Chief.

Huard also has a knack for placing the ball where only his receivers have a chance to catch it. Coaches love that, especially ball-control coaches like Herm Edwards. Green also does this well, but Huard is a placement addict. On several plays in the Seattle game, Huard threw the ball in a place that made it tough on his receivers, but no defender had a chance at the ball.

I'd seen instances throughout the first six games where I found myself saying, "Wow, that was Trent Green-esque." After watching Huard pick apart the Seahawks, I could have been convinced that Green was actually on the field, masquerading in Huard's #11 jersey.

There has been absolutely no drop off in production from the quarterback position after Green went down in the season opener. One could even make the case that Huard has been better than Green. Huard has four 100-plus passer ratings in his last five games. Green had five all of last year.

Huard is no stranger to filling in for a beloved superstar. On October 17, 1999, Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino completed an eight-yard pass to Tony Martin, putting him over the 60,000-yard passing mark. As it turned out, that completion was Marino's last of the day, as he left the game with a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the next five games.

Huard entered the game and orchestrated Miami to a 31-30 victory over New England in Foxboro. He finished with a 4-1 record as a starter in Marino's absence, including a 17-0 victory over the eventual AFC champion Tennessee Titans. Huard's ability to step into a very large set of shoes and succeed propelled the 1999 Miami Dolphins to a 9-7 record and a wildcard berth. The Dolphins would eventually lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 62-7, in the divisional playoffs, although Huard did not start that game.

Chief fans can only hope that history repeats itself (apart from the playoff blowout), and thus far it nearly looks like a carbon copy. Huard is now 4-2 as a starter with the Chiefs and is the third-rated passer in the league. He boasts an eight-to-one touchdown to interception ratio, a mark only bettered by St. Louis' Marc Bulger. If Green weren't going be back in a couple of weeks, Huard might as well begin planning his itinerary for Hawaii in February.

This only begs the question: Should Green start when he is healthy? We could find out as soon as November 12 when the Chiefs travel to Miami. In the meantime, Huard fully understands his position on the team.

"Trent is the starting quarterback and this year on this team my job is to back him up and fill in if he's out," said Huard. "That's what I'm doing."

Edwards echoed those sentiments when asked about pulling Huard from the lineup despite how well he's played.

"No, I know who my starting quarterback is," said Edwards.

Green will be the starting quarterback when he is ready. It will be his job to lose, because the Chiefs now have visual evidence of how effective Huard can be as the starter. But Green is such a gamer that Huard's success, which Green has a hand in, will only raise the level of his game.

Remember folks, having two capable quarterbacks is actually a good thing.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories