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Chad Pemberton: Horror of bad QB play making for good TV viewing

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:39 AM

For as entertaining as it is to watch the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the NFL methodically slice through defenses with the exactitude and efficiency of a minimally invasive surgery, there's sometimes a base level of boringness to all of this. These guys make slinging an oblong shaped ball 45 yards to a receiver with an opening the size of a newspaper look almost effortless as 11 behemoth-sized grown men do whatever they can to not let this happen.

The guaranteed entertainment from week to week is watching the blundering quarterbacks who make completing a pass look as difficult and as taxing as climbing the Himalayas. The ones who look befuddled after they throw a pass into triple coverage. The ones who botch clock management and mishandle audibles.

This column isn't a celebration of clairvoyant-like quarterback play (you won't find any greatness described below). It's a celebration of distaste -- some well deserved recognition of spectacular incompetence and the myriad ways it can happen.

PHILIP RIVERS

The San Diego Chargers have lost eight of their last 10 games, including four straight (the only two wins during that span came against the Kansas City Chiefs). The lead conductor for this train wreck of a season is Rivers. On the surface, it might seem as though Rivers' numbers aren't particularly abysmal (2,969 yards, 18 touchdowns, 15 interceptions 65.3 completion percentage), but sometimes the sum can conceal the disaster in the individual parts.

San Diego's last eight losses -- seven were decided by one score -- are compounded by their quarterback's dreadful play in the fourth quarter, when it supposedly matters the most. Rivers has made a habit of turning the ball over in the closing quarter (he currently leads the league in fourth quarter interceptions with eight) so much that it was a surprise to absolutely nobody when he ended Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals with an interception in the red zone with less than a minute left and his team only down seven points.

ANY QB FOR ARIZONA

John Skelton began the year as the Arizona Cardinals' starting quarterback, only to be replaced because of injury by Kevin Kolb in the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Kolb, who replaced Skelton to begin with, was eventually replaced by Skelton, who was then replaced by Ryan Lindley, who has now been replaced by Skelton, who has apparently "earned" a third stint as the starter. A quarterback carousel has never been a good thing. And neither has a team whose quarterbacks have combined to throw more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (10).

MARK SANCHEZ

I've spent the last several days delving into the darkest moments of Mark Sanchez's comically bleak fourth season as a professional quarterback. And here's what I've found:

Through twelve games, Sanchez has thrown at least one interception in nine of those games, which is tied for the second most in the league. Only three times this season has Sanchez thrown more touchdowns than interceptions in a game. He has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in half of his games, he has registered a Quarterback Rating of less than 67.0 seven times this season and has thrown four interceptions in the red zone.

But no doubt, the nadir of Sanchez's season, and very likely his career, was last week against the Arizona Cardinals when he was benched for a rookie late in the third quarter after throwing three interceptions on his first nine attempts and producing zero points in 10 drives that ended with punts 50 percent of the time. And, somehow, Mark Sanchez is still starting this week for the New York Jets.

All of it is so ugly to watch, but it's way too much fun to look away.

Chad Pemberton is a Marshall University graduate who follows the NFL and is writing about it for The Herald-Dispatch. Email him at pemberton@herald-dispatch.com.

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