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On Whisenhunt and Late-Round QBs: Why Its Smart to Start Mett

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Taking a look at Whiz's last years in Arizona at QB.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I started working on this article in anticipation of Zach Mettenberger eventually being named the starter in a week or two, and it was originally titled "Why We Need to Start Mett."

Now obviously that has all changed, but here's another reason why the move was smart.

One point that's been covered already is that the Titans need to see what they have in Zach Mettenberger to make a decision on his future. The overlooked point, in my opinion, is that Whisenhunt tends to stick with late-round QBs for quite some time - odd, since he said this year he wanted to be more patient.

Kurt Warner retired after the 2009 season, and here are the QBs Whiz trotted:

Let's start with 2010:

QB How Acquired Starts Games Played
Derek Anderson 6th Rd by Browns, acquired as FA 9 12
John Skelton 5th Round by Cardinals 4 5
Max Hall UDFA 3 6

That is one heckuva QB group. Did he remedy it in 2011?

QB How Acquired Starts Games Played
John Skelton 5th Round By Cardinals 7 8
Kevin Kolb 2nd Rd, Trade with Eagles 9 9

Well, he tried to. He made a trade with the Eagles for Andy Reid's pupil. Kolb started off strong early in the season but started going downhill and suffered various injuries. Skelton stepped in and performed decently - enough to get almost all the starts after Kolb's Week 7 injury.

2012 it starts to go off the rails a bit:

QB How Acquired Starts Games Played
John Skelton 5th Round by Cardinals 6 7
Kevin Kolb 2nd Rd, Trade with Eagles 5 6
Ryan Lindley 6th Round by Cardinals 4 7
Brian Hoyer UDFA 1 2

You can see clearly that Whiz has stuck with several of his guys. He had Skelton for all three years and Kolb for two. He picked up a new 6th round QB as well in Ryan Lindley. Ironically the only guy on this list to have success is the one that played the least.

Now, I think its important to point out that some of this was out of Whiz's control.  In 2010 he banked on Derek Anderson playing well - that one's one him. He attempted to fix it with the 2011 Kolb trade. Kolb started off the season well, only to get hurt in Week 7 and from there everything falls apart. Its hard to predict what would have happened had Kolb stayed healthy. To me this is the clear break point in his Arizona tenure. More bad QBs were put out there and it cost him his job.

The point I'm trying to make here is that Whisenhunt is a bit of an addict when it comes to QB. We knew he loved big, tall, strong-armed ones, but his last few Cardinals years indicate to me that he strongly believes he can work with many of these late-round prospects. Zach Mettenberger fits that job description and now we're going to see him.

I hope that Mettenberger plays great and eliminates any further debate about the Titans' QB spot. If he doesn't though, the more tape Whiz has on him should allow us to know whether we need to move on, and hopefully, avoid a cycle like the one started in Arizona. Seems like a win-win.