Now that we're inside a month from training camp getting underway, I figured I'd take the time to analyze each position group to outline where we stand heading in. We'll start with the quarterbacks and work our way to down to the specialists.
The Saints carry four quarterbacks on their roster currently, with three of them having 10 years plus of experience in the league, and one being a rookie. That puts Tulane grad Ryan Griffin at a severe disadvantage. On the plus side, with Chase Daniel bolting to Kansas City, the backup position behind Drew Brees is wide open for the taking. Will someone emerge from camp as the clear cut #2? Here are the players:
Drew Brees: He's of course the unquestioned starter and the best player in franchise history. While 34, he's so diligent with his workouts, diet and fitness that he's still performing at a peak level and he doesn't seem close to slowing down. He's a lock as the opening day starter.
Luke McCown: He comes in with, in my mind, the greatest advantage because he spent 2012 training camp with the Saints. He knows the playbook, the audibles, and the coaching staff knows what they'll get from him. The Saints cut him because of Chase Daniel, of course, but McCown did land on his feet with the Falcons and remain the primary backup of Matt Ryan for the entirety of last season. I view him as a low end but totally adequate backup. He'll provide some nice intel based on that Atlanta stint, too. McCown in my eyes has the lowest ceiling and highest floor of this group of backups, so ultimately the Saints will have to decide if they keep a guy that has limited ability that they trust, or if they want to go with a guy that could actually stand a chance of doing well in a pinch. If we're talking about handling the holding duty on kicks, holding the clipboard, signaling in from the sidelines, and being a positive influence on the sidelines - I sense McCown will do that best because of his intelligence and experience. If we're talking about actually playing an extended period, he may be the worst option.
Seneca Wallace: Wallace is the most physically gifted of all the quarterbacks on the roster, possibly even moreso than Brees. He's 32, so he doesn't run like he used to, but he's the type of guy that can make plays outside of the pocket if the play breaks down. At 5'11" he's even shorter than Brees, though. He's had a little more success than McCown in short playing stints, but he was also out of the league last season. Much of the media views Wallace as the favorite to win the job based on his ability alone. His biggest weakness is of course his height, and he's not going to master the system like McCown will. The payoff is he could get hot and make a lot of plays if he sees the field.
Ryan Griffin: The Tulane product has a massive arm and at 6'5" he's the tallest of the group. He's a terrific project for this team, especially now with the backup position in question and Brees getting older. To me he's destined for the practice squad in year one. Griffin ran the Saints' offense at Tulane under former receiver coach Curtis Johnson, so he's familiar with both the plays and the terminology. That's a nice advantage to close the gap with his veteran competition. To me he has the highest ceiling of the group of backups, but also the lowest floor. I know many people in NOLA love him, but remember how many busts high draft picks there are at quarterback. Griffin went undrafted. I think this is a perfect situation for Griffin to come in and learn, though. He's a front running favorite for the backup position in 2014, but this year is a redshirt season for him.
Prediction: Drew Brees is the starter, McCown wins the #2 spot and Griffin goes to the practice squad. I predict Wallace will be a bit of a disaster and rusty in the preseason and the Saints will stick with McCown, who while nothing special, will probably not play anyway and can handle a lot of the backup duties outside of playing really well.
Here's where I disagree....Wallace's experience as a starting NFL QB, and his ability to make plays with his feet as well as his arm will prove to be the deciding factor in why he beats out McCown, IMHO. Plus, Wallace gives the Saints something they didn't have last year: a running QB that could prepare them for Read Option QB's (read, Kapernick, Wilson, RGIII) who basically ate the Saints D's lunch, dinner, and desserrts last year.
Ryan Griffin will probably be the developmental QB this year while he grooms himself behind Brees.
The Read option? Payton has no single read option in his playbook. They won't practice it. When Wallace would take over that would be a useless quality. They will not waste time practicing a read option in the eventuality the backup QB would take over for an injured Brees. The whole offense is not build to do that. McCown it is.
I agree with your prediction. But not because Wallace will be a disaster. Only if Wallace clearly outperforms McCown Wallace will get it. If not, you want a stable guy as your backup. Someone who can finish games and even maybe play a 16th game. A guy like Brunell in 2009. You do now need a guy that can win you games but will be a huge risk (like Vick). When Brees goes down the season is over. Nobody expect the Saints to win a Superbowl with Brees out. and with Brees out, you sign Griffin from the practise squad. If McCown can't cut it, and you think Griffin can do something special, you start Griffin.