NFL AM: Quarterback Changes For Week 17


Quarterback Shuffle

Marc Trestman’s benching of starting quarterback Jay Cutler lasted all of one week, as Cutler is expected to start in the team’s season finale against the Minnesota Vikings.

Starting his first game since 2010, Jimmy Clausen completed 23 of 39 throws for 181 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His quarterback rating was 77.0.

“I think I just went out there and competed,” Clausen said. “That’s the biggest thing I think I did. I showed I could play in this league.”

Clausen was diagnosed with a concussion following the game, clearing the way for Cutler to return to his starting job.

“Jay is clearly our best option in this case,” Trestman said. “Dave (Fales) has worked very hard. He has certainly not had the opportunities because the opportunities that Jimmy’s had throughout the season, David has not had. A much different situation.

“But certainly Jay gives us the best option. He was the quarterback when we played Minnesota in the first game, he’ll be the quarterback this Sunday and David will be in a backup position.”

In Arizona, head coach Bruce Arians is making a performance-based switch as rookie Logan Thomas will start in the team’s regular season finale against San Francisco.

“I need to find out some things about him before we get any further into this season,” Arians said of Thomas. “I want to see him with a full week of practice, getting the reps and then see how he does.”

Ryan Lindley started in Arizona’s 35-6 thrashing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks and he looked… well, bad.

Really bad.

Lindley completed just 18 of 44 throws for 216 yards with no touchdowns (he hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in his career) and an interception. He was also sacked four times and finished with a quarterback rating of 47.2.

Arians was complimentary of Lindley, who was in a position that would have been difficult for any quarterback.

“I think he proved that the stadium wasn’t too big for him,” Arians said. “He just missed some throws.”

Finally, the Cleveland Browns will have a new quarterback on Sunday when they conclude their season against the Baltimore Ravens. Johnny Manziel injured his hamstring during Sunday’s 17-13 loss at Carolina and will miss the team’s final game.

Manziel concluded his rookie season completing 18 of 35 throws (51.2 percent) for 175 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His quarterback rating was 42.0.

Starter turned backup Brian Hoyer injured his shoulder in relief of Manziel and his availability for Sunday is uncertain.

“I just know he’s very sore,” Pettine said of Hoyer. “Time’s going to heal it, but will it quiet down enough for him to be available Sunday?”

If Hoyer can’t go then the reins will be turned over to undrafted rookie Connor Shaw.

Clueless Jay Gruden

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden is having a tough first season as a head coach. He’s bounced around between three different starting quarterbacks and outwardly benched the face of the franchise, in favor of journeyman Colt McCoy.

After the Redskins upset victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, Gruden gave his take on quarterbacks.

“Obviously you look at the production and all that stuff, and what he could’ve done maybe, but winning football games is the only thing that matters to me for a quarterback,” Gruden said of quarterback Robert Griffin III. “And it doesn’t matter if they go 12-for-24 for 80 yards and we win, or if they go 28-for-35 for 400 [yards] and we lose, you’d rather have the 12-for-24. The ability to manage a game, stay away from the big turnovers and get the W is all that counts.”

A head coach citing quarterback wins as the be all end all? Really?

Football is the ultimate team game and there are all sorts of factors that go into victories, far beyond the quarterback’s control.

Vince Young and Tim Tebow have winning records, perhaps Gruden should sign one or both of them to replace Robert Griffin?

For the majority of this season, Gruden has looked to be over his head. Many believe that Gruden received his NFL opportunities due in part to his brother’s success. At this point, it’s tough to prove otherwise.

The statement that Gruden made about quarterbacks has about as much merit as football knowledge from the loud girl at the bar cheering on her boyfriend of the week’s team. Either Gruden was lying (to gain what, who knows) or if he really believes that the only way he should be allowed in an NFL stadium is through the purchase of a ticket.

Bengals Maintain AFC North Lead

The Cincinnati Bengals kept pace with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North race as they took down the Denver Broncos, 37-28, setting up a winner-take-all matchup next Sunday night for the division title.

The victory was Andy Dalton’s first this season in a prime time matchup, although the Cincinnati defense and rushing attack was the real story.

“We knew we had to come out here and show the nation that we’re serious and we beat a great AFC opponent tonight,” Bengals running back Jeremy Hill said on ESPN’s SportsCenter following the game.

The Bengals’ defense picked Peyton Manning off four times and sacked him twice, as they dared the now weak-armed quarterback to throw over the top. Manning finished 28 of 44, for 311 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions and a quarterback rating of 61.8.

Offensively Cincinnati rode Hill, the rookie running back, as he gained 147 yards on 22 carries, including an 85-yard touchdown run to put the Bengals on the scoreboard. The team gained 207 yards on 37 carries.

“We knew we had to keep Peyton (Manning) off the field, when he gets in rhythm he’s unbelievable,” Hill said of the Bengals’ game plan to run the football.

If the Bengals can beat Pittsburgh and the Broncos lose to Oakland next Sunday, Cincinnati would receive a first-round bye.

The loss by Denver clinches home-field advantage for the New England Patriots throughout the AFC playoffs.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.