Former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer spent much of lambasting the Cleveland Browns for kowtowing to the whims of their fans when they benched Derek Anderson in favor of Brady Quinn. Romeo Crennel took time out from not coaching Brandon McDonald to refute the charges.
Dilfer has now refocused his energies on the 49ers, an outfit in worse shape than the Browns who are also making a quarterback change this week. J.T. O'Sullivan is, thankfully, on the bench, and Shaun Hill, the guy who was supposedly in line for the job in training camp, will finally get his shot.
Despite a solid showing during the second half of the 2007 season (in three games Hill completed 68 percent of his throws, had 5 TDs and just 1 INT) there's plenty of room for skepticism: trou-dropping coaches, Mike Martz's "scheme," Hill's inexperience, etc. Not to worry, though, Dilfer has a good feeling about the move.
[Dilfer] said when a quarterback is able to get rid of the ball quickly and gains the reputation for doing so, the defense he faces immediately becomes passive. ... Dilfer said he has looked at every offensive snap of the Cardinals this year, and he says that's why quarterback Kurt Warner is thriving. ...
Quick throws, short drops and long drives play into Shaun Hill's strengths and it will be interesting if offensive coordinator Mike Martz now abandons his seven-step philosophy. ...
Dilfer also said Hill's arm strength is underrated. He puts the strength of his arm as better than Chad Pennington's or Jeff Garcia's and on par with Steve Young's and he said he can throw the deep seam routes Martz favors.
Wait, stronger than Pennington AND Garcia?! Don't believe it for one second.
Seriously, Dilfer makes some solid points (although I'd mention that teams still seem to blitz Warner because he takes a ton of hits), but the real issue is if Martz is willing to change. Word on the street is that he had a nasty habit of saying not-so-nice things to his quarterbacks in an effort to ... well, I have no idea. Make them tougher? O'Sullivan can take a hit like nobody's business, so in that sense, it worked. But in terms of actually consistently matriculating the ball down the field, yeah, not so much.
Hill's shown he can have success in this league, now it's just a matter of replicating it. And whether Martz will try to sabotage the whole thing. Hopefully, Hill will call on the spirits of Chad's and Jeff's arms to watch over him during this difficult period.