Quarterback has and always will be the most highlighted of all positions in the sporting world. They get too much credit when a team wins and too much blame when the team loses. Lose or stumble on a regular basis and the microscope focused in on the position will invite passionate opinions on what teams need to do to fix it and who needs to go.
Just ask Kyle Boller.
Boller’s struggles have directed fans down a seemingly endless path on a near hopeless search for their quarterback of the future. Fans have lamented the loss of Derek Anderson as though he was the next Jim Kelly. Some even stooped to new depths of idiocy when they cheered an injury to Kyle Boller paving the way to Anthony Wright’s emergence as a starter.
Next up – Drew Olson and Troy Smith.
I found it interesting that one member of the media recently wrote a story with this lead: “Olson Quietly Enjoying a Productive Camp.”
No he is not!
Perhaps even some in the media have been sucked into this search to find the heir apparent to Steve McNair. At least one has.
The truth be told, Olson has looked bad regularly during camp and he has yet to put together a consistent camp outing where one could say he’s had a solid day. There’s just too much inconsistency.
Smith hasn’t been much better overall suffering from inconsistencies himself. He just hasn’t experienced the depths of inefficiencies during practice that Olson has.
Yet with quarterbacks, fans seem to look for that silver lining – that glimmer of hope or ray of light upon the horizon.
That glimmer once surfaced with Derek Anderson who rallied the Ravens to an overtime preseason victory against the Redskins at M&T Bank Stadium back in 2005. Because Anderson beat a despised rival against some players who are now parking lot security guards, he was viewed by some as the future. Today he sits behind the great Charlie Frye and soon he’ll be parked behind the “savior” Brady Quinn who cost the Browns next year’s No. 1.
Now there’s Drew Olson who predictably was elevated to Anderson status after a 7 for 9 performance for 84 yards and a score.
Please settle down folks!
Olson is not the future and he will not make the team. If he passes waivers on September 1 the Ravens might invite him back on to the practice squad but even then, he might not be asked back because the Ravens will already have three QB’s in camp including Troy Smith.
Smith signed a three year deal that included a six figure signing bonus. Troy Smith autographed helmets are given away for those applying for a Ravens credit card. Troy Smith from Day 1 has received far more snaps in practice than Olson. It's clear where Olson sits in the pecking order.
In defense of both players, they are being asked to throw to spots as is customary of the level of play and expectations of the position in the NFL. No longer can they wait for a receiver to gain separation and then deliver. They have to throw the ball to the place where the receiver is supposed to be at a certain time in the very near future. To do so effectively requires trust in the receiver.
The receiver needs to know his assignment as well and read defenses and fight through traffic to get to that spot at the exact time. That is sometimes a lot to ask of a young and inexperienced receiver. Fail to do so and the play fails. Forgetting to do so and the QB can be hung out to dry and made to look like a fool. A resulting interception to the untrained eye almost always falls on the back of the quarterback.
Perhaps the true test of both Olson and Smith to gauge their progress is to have both run with the first team offense. But that isn’t likely. How could Brian Billick look at himself in the mirror if Troy Smith exposed Mark Clayton to a head hunting safety and ended Clayton’s season?
So as we look to be entertained in the third and fourth quarters of tonight’s game against the Giants, keep in mind the quality of the players that Smith and Olson are playing with and the quality of player they are playing against. There’s a reason why Olson throws so many interceptions when facing the Ravens first team defense but looked like Joe Montana against the Eagles scrubs.
Enjoy the “competition” between the two but trust me on this one – it’s over!