Who's the Quarterback?

It's become apparent this offseason that Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards is giving second-year man Brodie Croyle a fair chance to win the starting quarterback job. It's also apparent, at least from the outside, that who exactly the Chiefs plan to start in Houston on opening day is something of a mystery.

When Trent Green was still on the roster, the much-publicized quarterback carousel that took place in mini camp was somewhat confusing. Was Herm firing a retort to Green's complaints about the "weighted" competition? We'll never know, but at this point it's irrelevant.

With OTAs finished, you'd think the Chiefs would have settled on a quarterback, but that's still not the case, at least from what they're telling us. Two weeks ago Herm was talking like Damon Huard has a legitimate chance to be the starter.

"Damon's chomping at the bit to compete because he has a chance to be a starter," said Edwards. "Lot of places he's been he's never had that chance. He's gone in as the backup guy and now he has a chance to compete against Brodie. It's good for our football team."

Is it, Herm? The Chiefs have never developed a young quarterback in the entire history of their franchise. What is the point in starting a 34-year old journeyman? Is there anyone out there who believes Huard will actually lead the Chiefs to the Super Bowl?

Why waste time with Huard? If the Chiefs truly want Croyle to be the quarterback of the future, he should be the unquestioned starter at this point. Let him sink or swim.

Linebacker Derrick Johnson further clouded the picture over the weekend. In a short appearance on NFL Network (nice bling, DJ), a quote from Johnson indicated the Chiefs might have real plans to start Huard early this season.

"Damon Huard is probably going to be our quarterback to start off," said Johnson, "and Brodie Croyle is right behind him."

What's going on here? Was Johnson privy to some in-house knowledge only team members know? Or was his comment pure speculation?

Either way, it's confusing. But his quote did remind me of another situation that unfolded with a young quarterback, drafted to lead a franchise, just a few years ago.

It was 2004. The New York Giants had pulled off a blockbuster trade in order to secure the rights to Eli Manning, the top quarterback prospect in the draft. They had also signed Kurt Warner in the offseason, a 33-year old passer with an injury history who was clearly in decline.

Who started that season? Warner. The Giants jumped out of the gate with a 5-2 record and looked to be in contention for a playoff spot. After two consecutive losses dropped the team to 5-4, head coach Tom Coughlin made the switch to Manning. New York ended up losing eight in a row during the middle of the season and finished 6-10.

Is this what the Chiefs are planning on doing? It certainly sounds as if Johnson thinks so.

Throw Huard in early and see how the team fairs. If things turn sour, stick in the kid.

It certainly didn't work for the Giants, and I can't advocate it for the Chiefs, either.

If Croyle is to play this season, he should start from game one. Let him experience the pressure and anxiety that comes with opening day. Let him feel the expectations of the fickle Arrowhead fans in Kansas City at the home opener.

Allow Croyle to get all of this out of the way. Sticking him in the fire in the middle of the year, when everyone else is up to speed and clicking, isn't the way to introduce him to the NFL. He'll be on the wrong page with his teammates, and he'll look like a piece of meat to opposing defenses that have been playing together for weeks at that point.

It's unfair to treat Croyle as the Giants treated Manning.

Let Huard play if Croyle gets hurt – after all, considering his injury history, it's a likely possibility. Otherwise, keep him on the bench where he belongs.

Actually, forget about opening day. The Chiefs should declare Croyle their starter and give him the majority of the reps when training camp starts. Fully prepare him for the weight that is about to be yoked about his shoulders. Otherwise, it may just drag him down.

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