AFC NEWS & NOTES
QUARTERBACK-CENTER CHEMISTRY IS A MUST
MANNING-SATURDAY WILL START 158th GAME TOGETHER ON SUNDAY
How vital is it for a quarterback and center to be in sync to orchestrate an NFL offense?
“I think it’s extremely important, each one of them knows the other’s limitations and strengths, but there is a huge trust factor involved in it as well,” says Indianapolis Colts head coach JIM CALDWELL. “To see those two guys work together is a work of art.”
Indianapolis Colts quarterback PEYTON MANNING and center JEFF SATURDAY have started 157 games together. This Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Manning and Saturday will surpass Buffalo’s JIM KELLY and KENT HULL (157) for the most games started by a quarterback-center combination since the 1970 merger:
QB-CENTERTEAMSTARTSRECORDSB TRIPSSB TITLES
Jim Kelly-Kent HullBuffalo Bills15799-58 (.631)40
Peyton Manning-Jeff SaturdayIndianapolis Colts157*112-45 (.713)21(XLIV)
Brett Favre-Frank WintersGreen Bay Packers12382-41 (.667)21 (XXXI)
Steve Bartkowski-Jeff Van NoteAtlanta Falcons12055-65 (.458)00
Phil Simms-Bart OatesNew York Giants10670-36 (.660)11 (XXI)
“The chemistry between those two is a must for a quarterback to be successful,” says Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly. “I was blessed because I had Kent Hull for more than 90 percent of the snaps that I took in the NFL.”
Manning, who has won the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award an unprecedented four times, says he has a great amount of gratitude for the job Saturday has done through the years.
“I'll always be indebted to what Jeff has done for me, just protecting me as a quarterback,” says Manning. “I feel very comfortable with him right in front of me. Every time I make an audible, Jeff kind of has his own audibles after that. He makes those calls and then he has to go block a 320-pound defensive lineman. So I have never taken him for granted. I stay real close to him.”
Kelly says the quarterback has to have a certain trust level to rely on a center to make the proper adjustments and line calls at the line of scrimmage.
“We would go up to the line and Kent would turn to me and say, ‘Get out of it,’” says Kelly. “He knew based on the alignment of the nose tackle whether it was a 3-4 or a 4-3. He always knew if the play was going to work by their initial alignment when we’d get up there. I wouldn’t even ask any questions or wait to look.”
When the quarterback and center are in sync, says Baltimore Ravens center MATT BIRK, it makes the entire offense run effectively.
“It just runs smoother when the quarterback and the center are on the same page,” says Birk, who is in his 13th NFL season. “I think the quarterback can play faster and that allows all the receivers to play faster as well. Things are just crisp and it just kind of raises everybody’s level of play.”
(NFC News & Notes after the 'Jump')
NFC NEWS & NOTES
REDSKINS VISIT EAGLES AS MC NABB RETURNS TO PHILADELPHIA
When the NFC East division rivals Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles meet on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field (FOX, 4:15 PM ET), the quarterbacks will be in the spotlight.
Both clubs feature a quarterback in his first season as that team’s starter. For the Redskins, former Eagle DONOVAN
MC NABB makes his return to Philadelphia, while for the Eagles, MICHAEL VICK has seized the starting job with his electrifying play.
McNabb, the second overall pick by the Eagles in the 1999 NFL Draft, holds numerous team records, including wins (92), attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), passing yards (32,873), passing touchdowns (216) and games played by a QB (148). He was selected to six Pro Bowls during his time (1999-2009) in Philadelphia and led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES TEAM RECORDS
ATT COMP PASS YARDS
Donovan McNabb4,746 Donovan McNabb2,801 Donovan McNabb32,873
Ron Jaworski3,918 Ron Jaworski2,088 Ron Jaworski26,963
Randall Cunningham3,362 Randall Cunningham1,874 Randall Cunningham22,877
WINS PASS TDs QB GAMES
Donovan McNabb92 Donovan McNabb216 Donovan McNabb148
Ron Jaworski69 Ron Jaworski175 Ron Jaworski142
Randall Cunningham150 Randall Cunningham122
“I think the world of Donovan,” says Philadelphia head coach ANDY REID about his former quarterback. “And the legacy that he left here will be a legacy that lasts forever. He did phenomenal things for this organization, and that’s not forgotten. But at the same time, he wants to beat the Eagles as we want to beat the Redskins, so there’s that side of it that you have to deal with. But we all have a special place for Donovan in our hearts.”
In Philadelphia, Vick has led the Eagles to two consecutive wins after taking over as the starting quarterback. He leads the NFC with a 110.2 passer rating and tops all NFL QBs with 170 rushing yards. Vick, who has posted a passer rating of 100 in all three games this season – has accounted for seven touchdowns – six passing and one rushing – and has yet to throw an interception.
HIGHEST PASSER RATING MOST RUSH YARDS, NFL QBs
Peyton ManningIndianapolis116.9 Michael VickPhiladelphia170
Michael VickPhiladelphia110.2 Josh FreemanTampa Bay92
Jay CutlerChicago109.7 Jay CutlerChicago62
Tom BradyNew England109.1 Jason CampbellOakland54
Drew BreesNew Orleans107.6 Aaron RodgersGreen Bay49
“He’s being very decisive right now in his decision making,” says Reid about Vick. “About his study habits, he’s really cranked down on those. He’s here all the time and that’s a good thing.”
In Philadelphia’s 28-3 Week 3 win at Jacksonville, Vick threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns for a 119.2 passer rating and rushed for 30 yards and another TD. In just his second start at quarterback for the Eagles, Vick threw three touchdowns and ran for one – by comparison, McNabb only had three such games in 142 starts, RANDALL CUNNINGHAM did it twice in 107 starts and RON JAWORSKI accomplished the feat once in 137 starts.
“Three touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown in the same game; that’s called a complete package,” says NFL Network’s RICH EISEN about Vick.
In Week 1, after entering the game in relief, Vick passed for 175 yards and rushed for 103, the seventh time in his career that he gained at least 100 yards by both passing and rushing. That is more than twice as often as any other player in NFL history. Tied for second with three such games apiece are former Eagles quarterbacks McNabb and Cunningham.
“He’s worked so hard to get back where he needs to be and it’s a great opportunity for him,” says Eagles wide receiver DE SEAN JACKSON about his quarterback.
On Sunday, both Vick and McNabb will be in the spotlight and a man who has coached them both knows what each is capable of doing.
“I think both of them are tremendous and playing very well right now,” says Reid.