The League

Doug Farrar
Writer

Doug Farrar

A FootballOutsiders.com staff writer

Build It, They Will Come

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Ironically, the best way to insure the most seamless transition between starter and backup at the quarterback position is to make sure you spread the wealth to other positions. The Packers are a great example of this. Ted Thompson became the team's general manager in 2005, and his overhaul of the roster created a 13-3 team in 2007 that was also the youngest in the NFL. An improved offensive line, receivers that led the NFL in yards after catch, and a versatile offensive game plan that allows running back success with bargain backs like Ryan Grant -- well, that's going to help any young quarterback get off the ground.

When Aaron Rodgers came off the bench and faced the Cowboys last November, he did so after Brett Favre had helped put his team in a 27-10 hole before leaving the game with elbow and shoulder injures. Favre completed 5 of 14 passes and threw two picks because he was throwing deep into double coverage and forcing passes in other areas. When Rodgers came in, the game plan changed to fit the system. Rodgers proved adept with quick throws to different receivers in multiple formations, and he let his receivers do the work with after-catch burst and downfield blocking. Green Bay lost by 10, but their quarterback of the future enjoyed a huge validation, and all because the team around him was strong.

Look at the best transitions in NFL history from one quarterback to another. Going from Joe Montana to Steve Young, or from Roger Staubach to Danny White, or from Drew Bledsoe to just about anybody, was far easier when all around the quarterbacks was working. Do we really believe that Matt Cassel would be leading a 2-0 team in Miami? No. The Patriots are leading Cassel to success with team balance. Did Bubby Brister go 4-0 as a starter for the 1998 Broncos because his skillset was comparable with John Elway's, or because that Broncos team was one of the best in recent memory?

Of course, there are those factors that set the best signal-callers apart. Just plugging a league-average quarterback into a great system won't produce the next Peyton Manning. But if you're a general manager in the NFL, and you'd like to replicate what looks to be a great success story in Aaron Rodgers, your first step should be to build a quality team around every quarterback on your roster.

By Doug Farrar  |  September 18, 2008; 9:44 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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