Rand: Playoff path for QBs vary

  • Updated: January 12, 2012 - 7:12 AM
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Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco

Photo: Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

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The Vikings already are planning for 2012, and it's not yet perfectly clear who will be the starting quarterback once everything is in place. Logical signs point to 2011 first-round pick Christian Ponder. Joe Webb, an intriguing sixth-round project, could get a long look. And who knows? Maybe at some point a veteran such as Sage Rosenfels will take some snaps.

Recent Vikings history tells us there are multiple means to an end; their past three playoff games were started by a first-round pick (Daunte Culpepper), a drafted project (Tarvaris Jackson) and a veteran (Brett Favre). This year's NFL playoffs only reinforce the notion that there is no perfect blueprint when it comes to finding a QB to take a team to the postseason. Here is a quick look at all eight teams and their QB situations:

TEXANS

Playoff starter T.J. Yates is a rookie chosen in the fifth round; he's also the Texans' third QB this season after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down because of injuries. Schaub, of course, is the team's franchise QB. He was obtained in a trade with the Falcons in 2007 and played alongside Rosenfels for a while in Houston.

RAVENS

Like Ponder, Joe Flacco was a first-round pick (2008). Flacco has started all 64 regular-season games (and seven playoff games) since being chosen. In other words, he was thrown immediately into the fire and has thrived for the most part.

PATRIOTS

Tom Brady in 2000 was the 199th overall pick in the sixth round -- the exact same spot as Webb 10 years later -- who has become one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

BRONCOS

Tim Tebow was a controversial first-round pick in 2010 and has found success this year with a unique combination of running, big-play passing and improbable comebacks -- all of which were on display in a first-round upset of the Steelers. Webb has similar traits as a QB.

GIANTS

Eli Manning was a first-round pick (No. 1 overall) in 2004 and has been the team's starting QB pretty much ever since despite taking some initial lumps.

PACKERS

Aaron Rodgers was also a first-round pick (2005), but he basically held a clipboard for three years behind Brett Favre before establishing himself as a top QB and perhaps this year's MVP.

49ERS

Alex Smith was chosen No. 1 overall the same year Rodgers was taken. But he was thrown into the fray as a rookie, failed miserably (one TD, 11 INTs) and didn't really re-establish himself as the team's QB of the future until turning in a solid 2011 season.

SAINTS

Drew Brees was an injury risk when the Saints signed him as a free agent in 2006. Now he's coming off a regular season in which he shattered Dan Marino's record for passing yards.

MICHAEL RAND

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