Saturday night's preseason game against the St. Louis Rams didn't answer the question of the Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback competition but the play of Ricky Stanzi is starting to make the decision easier. Stanzi consistently struggled in his time running the offense, turning the ball over twice and, as Trent Green said on the broadcast, appearing too "hesitant."
Green said early in the TV broadcast to look for Stanzi to play for two quarters against the Rams. TV broadcasters don't just make these things up. They have production meetings with the coaches and players before the game to understand the game plan. Romeo Crennel likely told him that was the plan for Stanzi. That's why it's a little concerning that Stanzi received a little less than a quarter and a half of play before Brady Quinn came in."I think the fact they've taken Ricky out and given Brady some snaps here in the fourth quarter is a little bit of an indication," Trent said of Quinn replacing Stanzi at the 9:43 mark of the fourth quarter. "Unfortunately for Ricky he had an opportunity and it didn't go as well as he had hoped not only for him but the team. Not getting production, not getting the ball down the field, not getting first downs. The interception was unfortunate. It was a nice play by the defense punching the ball loose. Good hustle by the defensive linemen to get down there and make the interception. Then on fourth down (the fumble) just trying to make something happen.
"The one thing I noticed out of Ricky is that he was hesitant," Trent continued. "There were several occasions in the pocket where he had the chance to get the ball out of his hands and he was hesitant. He wasn't willing to pull the trigger on it and get the ball out of his hands. Not necessarily that you want to force the ball down the field -- there's a fine line there -- as a quarterback you have to be decisive. You can't second guess yourself and keep the production going. Unfortunately for Ricky that didn't happen."
Hesitant is a good way to put it. Last week Stanzi was firing it deep so it almost makes me wonder if in the last week they worked with him on his decision making, resulting in the hesitancy.
Trent pretty much nailed the analysis of his play as a whole -- hesitant, didn't take advantage of his opportunity. Stanzi made two major errors in the game via an interception (not totally his fault) and a fumble (his fault).
The first one, the interception, came on his first drive of the second half. Stanzi was looking for Terrance Copper on a quick comeback. As you can see below, he threw the ball in Copper's area, the ball was tipped in the air and then a Rams defensive lineman picked it off. Stanzi's fault? Not really. With hindsight being 20/20 and all, he should've thrown the ball a little lower, perhaps low and to the left of Copper instead of high and to the right so it couldn't be tipped back up in the air.
Now see the interception in action:
The next mistake was a fumble but it was also fourth down anyway so maybe not as bad as you'd think. Stanzi took the snap and was flushed from the pocket, scrambling to his right. While running, he held the ball like he was Deion Sanders taking an interception back. I know it was fourth down and he's making a play but you can't hold the ball like that because it will often result in fumble. The Rams picked the ball up and didn't advance it very far but for a second it looked like they had a lot of open field to return that thing.
Outside of that, Stanzi's numbers fell in line with the rest of the Chiefs quarterbacks. He completed 3-of-4 passes for 24 yards in a quarter and a half of play. When you play him right after Matt Cassel you can see the difference between those two. Cassel is head and shoulders the best quarterback on the team and it's not even close.
Stanzi is playing exactly like who he is -- a second year fifth round quarterback. Take the whole Stanzi Nation stuff out of this and it's a little easier to process. The odds of a fifth round quarterback becoming anything more than a backup quarterback aren't very great and, while I'm definitely rooting for Stanzi to succeed, we also need to keep the reality of it in mind. Stanzi hasn't had much playing time and he will improve as he becomes more consistent and sees the field more often but through two preseason games in 2012 he looks like exactly what he is, an inexperienced second year player who is inconsistent and makes mistakes.