Cliff Notes: Croyle's opportunity in Miami

Each preseason game presents another opportunity for Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle to either silence or validate his critics, who say he is inconsistent and fragile. Croyle does have a history of injuries, but has yet to suffer a serious setback as a pro, and I'll argue that he actually has been consistent - consistently mediocre.

Other than Croyle's impressive march down the field for a touchdown in KC's first preseason game against Chicago, which has quickly become known as "The Drive," he hasn't shown any real flashes of greatness or moments of despair. Even though it's still only the preseason, and chances are he'll be as good as the offensive line in front of him, Chiefs fans will continue to critique every move Croyle makes.

This preseason has been hyped as the most important one for the Chiefs in a long time, and that's still the case, but one can't hang their judgment on every incomplete pass or every fumble. The preseason is still the preseason. What you want to see out of Croyle in these preliminary games is good decision making, flashes of talent, and few mistakes.

I believe that's what he's given Chiefs fans so far. While Croyle is averaging only 5.2 yards per attempt and has not thrown a touchdown, he's also orchestrated long drives and not thrown an interception. I think Croyle is right where he ought to be, but for the people who still want to Tivo every pass attempt and critique every movement, here's the scoop on what he faces this week.

Croyle squares off against the Miami Dolphins, who finished 2007 ranked ninth in the NFL in defense but have lost two long-time starters and leaders in defensive end Jason Taylor and linebacker Zach Thomas. Taylor contributed 11 sacks last year, the majority of Miami's 2007 sack total. 108 tackles are also gone with the departure of Taylor and Thomas.

The Dolphins, like the Chiefs, committed to a youth movement of sorts, but didn't totally commit as veterans Joey Porter and Vonnie Holiday remain in the starting lineup. One place where Miami is considerably young is in the secondary, obviously a place of interest for Croyle.

With a young secondary and a pair of defensive ends who only amassed a total of five sacks last season, Miami's defense isn't as scary as it used to be, so Saturday's game could be one for Croyle to convert critics to fans. While Miami's defense is young, they are still producing and are ranked 10th this preseason, so it should be a good test for Croyle, but one he can pass.

In an attempt to further temper criticism of Croyle's performance, let's think about the Miami quarterback situation. Last season, both teams were near the bottom of the league in total offense, and both had injured 1,000-yard rushers in Ronnie Brown and Larry Johnson. Both teams also played a combination of young and old quarterbacks yielding similar results, and drafted left tackles in the first round of the draft.

The moral of this story is that without a solid running game and offensive line, no quarterback will succeed. Check out C.E. Wendler's column for more on this topic.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Recommended Stories