Call it the Tony Romo Effect. Thanks to the startling success of the Cowboys' overnight star, suddenly every inconsistent quarterback on a playoff hopeful team finds himself in a precarious situation with fans and talk show hosts.
The hottest debate surrounds the struggles of Bears quarterback Rex Grossman. He has thrown six interceptions with no touchdowns the past two weeks while completing just 38.2 percent of his passes.
But Bears coach Lovie Smith is steadfast in his support of Grossman, who with start his 20th NFL game Sunday. Many fans are calling for backup Brian Griese, a veteran of 72 NFL starts and a 84.8 career passer rating.
"We are not making a change," Smith said. "Everything we do is based on giving us the best chance to win," Smith said. "And that's why we're playing Rex right now."
Another NFC quarterback requiring the backing of his coach is Carolina's Jake Delhomme. After throwing three touchdown passes Monday night, Delhomme regressed with two costly fourth-quarter interceptions.
Like Smith, Panthers coach John Fox isn't making a change despite Carolina's fourth blown fourth-quarter lead of the season.
"We're going to stick with Delhomme for next week," Fox said. "Like all our players we evaluate them as we go. We still feel like he gives us the best chance to win."
A major reason is because Fox doesn't have a Romo to turn to. While Griese is an experience and known commodity in Chicago, Delhomme's backup is Chris Weinke. Many fans might want to see Delhomme benched, but few want to see Weinke take snaps as Carolina's starter.
The situation is similar in Minnesota, where coach Brad Childress is still undecided on who will start Sunday following Brad Johnson's latest terrible outing. The Vikings are 5-7, but just a game out of the NFL wild card picture and need an offensive spark to make a late-season run.
Johnson's backup is Brooks Bollinger, who suffered a sprained non-throwing shoulder last Sunday. Tarvaris Jackson is considered the team's quarterback of the future, but even the rookie second-round pick out of Division I-AA Alabama State admits he's probably not ready to take over the job yet.
Backups Becoming Popular Around The League
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