Now or Never

Now or Never
By Zack Cimini

For a starting quarterback in the NFL, your days come and go. The script is laid out for success, but playing that part is harder than reading that playbook continuously. A quarterback needs to be able to direct their own script, or someone else will take their place. A coach can only teach and hold your hand for so long, before the babying process of nurturing turns into another call to the office for release.

Ever so often, though, a quarterback will come along that gets chances over and over again like a repeat offender. For whatever reason that glimmer of potential still hangs around their name, even though the quarterback has been plagued with the inability to enter the next stage.

Aaron Brooks and Jake Plummer have surpassed any impatience threshold a team could handle. Yet, coaches will not give up on them, because they do have the skills to be great quarterbacks. There comes a time when you have to move on and clean house, now matter how tough it is.

Controlling their mistakes is the only thing from keeping these two quarterbacks from entering the top echelon of quarterbacks. Year in and year out both can be written down as secured backups, but not worth the risk as a starter because of their prior showcases.

It’s truly a now or never situation for both Brooks and Plummer. They’ve somehow hung around as NFL starters without any debate of being benched or serious talk of it. You’d have to be a fool to not say it’s almost time to take their starting label away.

2005, will mark the end or the change for the better for Brooks and Plummer. It’s entering the late stages of their fights. Will they deliver a knockout blow, or succumb to late stage tiresome mistakes?

Jake Plummer made an early legend of himself by delivering some incredible games with the Arizona Cardinals. He was known as the comeback kid when Dan Marino and John Elway were still playing. He had that unusual knack of thriving in the fourth quarter, but what the media kept away was his mistakes that got the Cardinals in that situation earlier on in the game. The excuses from Plummer and everyone in the league were that the talent surrounding Plummer was the reason for his erratic play.

Mike Shannahan was one of his biggest and firmest believers. So there you had it, a perfect blend that was seeded. Instead nothing has changed, as Plummer just can’t grasp the idea of letting things unfold properly. He plays like he can deliver Brett Favre like magic, but he hasn’t done enough in his career to get that type of thinking in his head. He needs to start playing like an every day quarterback that’s job is on the line, instead of like a hall of fame quarterback that can be an extreme risk taker.

The qualities of Plummer definitely outweigh his weaknesses. Still, if Denver is ever going to reach beyond the wild card, he needs to mature with his decision making. That’s all it will take. He has a solid arm, and is one of the best at making something out of nothing.

Truthfully, it just doesn’t seem like he’ll ever grow out of being number one in errors. Glance at his career, and his touchdown to interceptions every year are almost parallel or weighing more in the interception category. It’s sad and pathetic, and the worst thing is that he is entering his ninth season. This is a veteran that’s play has been exact to what Joey Harrington has done. The exception is that Harrington is 27 not 31.

Someone needs to do some serious research, because on paper Plummer might be the worst starting quarterback to retain a job for a decade. It’s insane and bewildering to figure out how Plummer has managed to stay a starting quarterback this long.

Look at his career thus far.
1997: 15 touchdowns and 15 interceptions
1998: 17 touchdowns and 20 interceptions
1999: 9 touchdowns and 24 interceptions
2000: 13 touchdowns and 21 interceptions
2001: 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions
2002: 18 touchdowns and 20 interceptions
2003: 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions
2004: 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions

Ouch!!! What in the world was going on in 1999? I know the Y2K scare was big, but my goodness. To mind you, not once did Plummer ever have to sit on the bench besides due to injury in his career.

He has some serious reshaping to do or there is no doubt he has to be the worst quarterback statistically to complete over ten years starting in the NFL.

Circling around success is the only thing that can be said about Aaron Brooks career. He does the unthinkable in a good and bad way, and has never been more than an average quarterback. Therefore his team has never been more than average. They’ve been either 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7 in all his years as full time starter.

Playoffs have been within reach but he has never taken them on his own. The year 2000 doesn’t count, because Jeff Blake started for the majority of the season.

Besides 2003’s campaign, Brooks’s touchdown to interception ratio has also been comparable to Jake Plummer’s. He has one of the most talented receiver in Joe Horn and running back in Deuce McAllister. Rarely has that equated to a stretch of more than two games of Brooks utilizing his surroundings.

Both Plummer and Brooks are out of excuses. Talent has been around both of them for sometime. This will be the year that separates them from becoming NFL castoffs or new hopes.

It’d be an embarrassment for both to be cut by their respective teams, and then only offered backup jobs. The pressure has been off of them until this off-season.

It’s now or never, Jake Plummer and Aaron Brooks.


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