Give Croyle A Chance

The 2007 season will mark the dawn of a new era for the Chiefs. For the first time since 1983, the team will attempt to develop a quarterback (Brodie Croyle) originally drafted by the franchise.

The reaction of most Chiefs fans to this grand experiment?

Time to find a new quarterback!

This is honestly a sad response. It smacks of chicken-little attitudes and an overall negative view of KC's future. Reading some of these quotes is really depressing.

"Insert Chiefs for "Fins" and Brodie Croyle for "Cleo Lemon" and you have the view of every other AFC team on the Chiefs."


Note – Lemon was an un-drafted free agent.

"Croyle will be stocking groceries in 2 years, ala Matt Blundin and about 289 other "project for the future" young quarterbacks drafted."

Note – A former Super Bowl MVP once enjoyed an illustrious – albeit short – career as a grocery stocker.

"I don't think it's the right time for Brodie Croyle either. From what I've seen, he doesn't look like he'll ever be an NFL QB."

Note – Technically, Croyle is ALREADY an NFL quarterback. And, to date, all anyone has "seen" of Croyle is seven regular-season pass attempts. I guess he's thrown some preseason passes, too, but either way, it's quite irrelevant. I'm sure the Chiefs aren't giving him a shot to start this season because of anything anyone outside the organization saw from him on the field last year.

And please, allow me to step down off this high horse. I, too, am guilty of "Croyle Doubt." During the NFL draft, as Brady Quinn dropped down the draft chart, I started to dream a little dream. When the Dolphins passed on Quinn with the 9th selection, and I saw what teams remained before the Chiefs were on the clock, I admit – I started to wet my knickers along with the rest of Chiefs Nation. Don't deny it – you did the same thing.

By the time the Cowboys were on the clock, I was worked up into a frenzy. These days I put on a good face and write nice things about Dwayne Bowe, but Draft Day 2007 won't soon be forgotten.

So, yes, it's fair to say that, at the moment, some fans might be down on Croyle. This is understandable. After all, Missouri is the "show-me" state, and to date, Croyle's NFL touchdown passes have all been scored to the opposition.

But more importantly, the Chiefs have, without question, been an absolute, unequivocal failure as an organization at drafting and developing young quarterbacks. The only two passers who have been worth anything over the long term (Len Dawson and Trent Green) entered the league with other franchises.

Since 1983, the Chiefs have drafted 10 quarterbacks. That group has combined for a whopping 33 touchdown passes – and 29 of those came from Todd Blackledge. It's pretty sad when this group's cream of the crop is widely considered to be one of the biggest quarterback busts in NFL history. Marcus Allen threw more touchdowns than most of these guys.

And no, we're not going to count Danny McManus' 259 career CFL scoring tosses.

Obviously, this is a concern. You can't really blame any Chiefs fan who might want to toss Croyle into the garbage can with the rest of KC's historical quarterback trash, but you can certainly attempt to separate yourself from them.

Look at what Philip Rivers did last year. Before the season began, it was widely predicted that the Chargers would fall off due to replacing Drew Brees with a first-year starter. Seventeen weeks later, not only did San Diego win 14 games and the AFC West title, they also led the entire National Football League in scoring offense.

How did they do this? With a dominating running game and efficient passing from Rivers, who was never asked to do more than he was capable of, utilizing an All-Pro tight end (Antonio Gates), a reliable veteran receiver (Keenan McCardell) and a young, big receiver just breaking into the league (Vincent Jackson).

Ding! A light should be going off over your heads, Chiefs fans. Croyle has all of those things in front of him in Kansas City this year. Dominating running game? Check. All-Pro tight end? Check. Veteran receiver? Check. And Dwayne Bowe will easily be better than Jackson was a year ago.

The only wildcard here is obviously KC's offensive line – another subject widely disparaged by Chiefs fans this offseason. We'll save that for a future column, however.

But here's the other thing – Herm Edwards has been through this before. I know you readers are attempting to stave off death by laughter at the moment (Herm the quarterback guru! Pull the other one!), but it's true. In fact, you Chiefs fans reading this should be better aware of this than anyone else – because Chad Pennington's first NFL start was against Kansas City in 2002.

That's right. "Herm the Conservative," connoisseur of field goals, lover of third-down running plays and author of the now-infamous quote "Any drive that ends in a kick is a good thing," shoved a young quarterback into the limelight with abandon, risking a team that made the playoffs the year prior.

And what did Pennington do? Only complete nearly 70 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and a mere six interceptions. The Jets won the AFC East and a playoff game that year, so yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus – or in this case, a chance the Chiefs might win more than four or five games with Brodie Croyle starting this year, in between stocking shelves during his night shift at Price Chopper while being mistaken weekly for Cleo Lemon.

And no, I'm not predicting the Chiefs will do anything with Croyle at the helm in 2007. He very well could be the next Matt Blundin or Pat Barnes or Mike Elkins.

But let's not throw in the towel just yet. To paraphrase the immortal words of John Lennon:

"All we are saying…is give Croyle a chance."

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