Features

NFL: Bus drivers now all the rage

National

Issue: "As the West burns," Sept. 6, 2003

Think your quarterback matters in the NFL? Think again. Or, at least that's the recent trend. NFL fans would have to search back to St. Louis in 2000 to find the last team to win the big game with one of the NFL's marquee quarterbacks. Last season Tampa Bay won with Brad Johnson, a nice but limited quarterback who didn't make mistakes. New England won in 2002 with Tom Brady, a no-name who caught fire, and Baltimore won with its defense in 2001 (Trent Dilfer ran the offense).

The trend may be bad news to new teams like Houston and Cleveland who sought to build their teams around first-pick quarterbacks. In the Browns' first year back, they selected Tim Couch with the first pick. Now the former top-choice quarterback has been benched for career journeyman Kelly Holcomb. Houston's David Carr shows promise, but more often shows how to get hit hard. In his first season, Mr. Carr set the dubious NFL single-season record for times sacked.

In Dallas, where a quarterback controversy just ended, new Cowboys coach Bill Parcells has said he just wants to find somebody who can "drive the bus." That's the direction of the NFL-at least for now.

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