Is tonight’s final Cardinals preseason game all about the Ryans?
Not Rex or Rob.
Or even Meg or Jeri.
But Ryan Williams versus Ryan Lindley?
They don’t even play the same position, and yet the two may be auditioning for Bruce Arians’ final rose on the Cardinals roster.
Williams is a former second-round pick who hasn’t been able to stay healthy for longer than a fortnight since joining the team. Lindley was the Cardinals’ sixth-round pick in 2012 and is vying to be third-string quarterback, if the Cardinals even opt to keep a third quarterback.
And there lies the question: Would the Cardinals rather keep five running backs or three quarterbacks?
The NFL trend seems to be moving away from three quarterbacks on the roster. After all, only one team in the NFL last season was forced into using its third-string quarterback. Plus, an additional running back can play on kick coverage and returns, and could be used as a receiver in a pinch.
However, I still prefer having the insurance of a third quarterback. It’s kinda like having an extra blanket on hand. As an Arizonan, there probably aren’t going to be many nights that I’ll require additional warmth. But in case I get chilled, I like knowing I can grab an extra blanket rather than trying cover myself with a couch cushion — for example. After all, a third blanket doesn’t take up that much space, does it?
The argument could be made that once you’ve gone to a third quarterback, your season is likely lost anyway. But I feel that argument only takes into consideration the season-ending injuries players suffer. What happens if your starting quarterback is out with a concussion? Suddenly, you’re scouring the waiver wire for a backup to bring to practice that has to learn your offense in a week and be ready in case the second-stringer goes down in the game.
OK, so it’s not likely to happen. But it’s not like it couldn’t happen. The season hasn’t even started and the Buffalo Bills are already on their third quarterback. Undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel isn’t going to be handed the responsibility of leading the Bills to the playoffs, but he is going to be asked to buy the franchise some time until EJ Manuel returns from knee surgery.
So, there it is. That’s the role my security blanket plays. Get me through a game. Perhaps just a quarter. A drive. Five out of eight divisions were decided by a game or less in 2012. In 2011, seven teams missed the playoffs by a single game. One game!
Do you really want to miss the playoffs because your backup quarterback went down and Jay Feely had to run the offense for a half against the Niners?
Quarterback is the most complicated position to play in the NFL. Running back is arguably the simplest. In case of emergency, would you rather plug and play a new quarterback or a new running back?
The record for most yards rushing in a Super Bowl is held by Tim Smith of the Washington Redskins. He rushed for 204 yards against the Broncos in 1987. He had 126 career rushing yards prior to the playoffs that year. You think a waiver wire quarterback is heading to Disney World?
Look, I’m not saying cut Ryan Williams, but I’d do that before I cut my third quarterback.
And oh by the way, that one team that required their third-string quarterback to play last season?
The Arizona Cardinals.
Someone hand me a blanket.