The Case for Culpepper
Josh McCown currently has four touchdowns, six turnovers, 494 yards and a QB rating of 75.2. He had a solid game against the Lions, a dreadful game against the Broncos, and a marginal game against the Browns. So who is the real Josh McCown?
The truth may be in the rating. In the prior three seasons in which he saw action in more than two games (2003 – 2005 with the Arizona Cardinals), his QB ratings were 70.3, 74.1 and 74.9. This year, it’s 75.2. Do you see a pattern here?
Those aren’t bad numbers. But they’re not great, either. They’re just okay. Maybe, to paraphrase his former coach, “He is who we thought he is!” I don’t know.
What I do know is that Daunte Culpepper has previously demonstrated a knack for the remarkable, not just the ordinary. I would like to see if he can be remarkable again for the Raiders. After all, he has a history of being remarkable. McCown doesn’t.
We need look no further than Randy Moss to see that a player can be literally reborn as his former self. Does that mean I miss Moss? No. He would have always been a liability on our team. He is a creep, and therefore a great fit for Bill Belichick. But there’s no denying he has been reborn as his former self. Returning health, coupled with a change of scenery, can work wonders in the NFL.
Let’s take a brief trip down Culpepper’s memory lane. In his last full season as a starter in 2004, Culpepper had his best of several magnificent seasons—39 touchdowns and a rating of 110.9. In 2005, after losing Moss as his go-to receiver, Culpepper got off to a rough start, and then got injured. But he wasn’t alone. The whole Vikings organization was in a tailspin. The head coach was scalping tickets and the Love Boat washed ashore. Then Culpepper went to an equally dysfunctional organization, Nick Saban’s Miami Dolphins, where he was never really healthy in the first place.
Meantime, after the 2005 season in
I held out hope for McCown when he joined the Raiders—not that I had much choice, considering that Culpepper wasn’t in the picture until early August and Russell remained unsigned. Now, however, I’m concerned that the flashes of excellence McCown showed in
Ben Roethlisberger was widely considered to have had a poor season last year. His rating for the 2006 season? It was 75.4.
Does this mean that I dislike McCown? No. Does this mean that I joined the chorus of boos on opening day? No. Does this mean I can’t root for him? No.
All it means is that I think Daunte Culpepper is equally capable of a maintaining QB rating of 75.0—and possibly much more, because he’s done it before. McCown hasn’t. Additionally, I have to say that, from my vantage, Culpepper brought intangibles to our offense last Sunday. He just seemed more decisive and accurate. I don’t really see it in the stats, but I saw it with my eyes.
So I submit to you that sticking with Culpepper would be an exercise in minimal risk with significantly more potential upside. Those are odds that I can live with. Let's put a rest to the QB indecision. We’re literally a few yards wide of being in sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Let’s not give up on the promised land, and let’s firmly get behind the guy who is most likely to take us there.