Gillette asks about quarterbacks. Quarterbacks. No. Franchise quarterbacks. A phrase often tossed like rapid gunfire during a company paint gun outing to promote cohesiveness and camaraderie. It's a debate to categorize incoming quarterbacks and to question existing signal-callers within the organization.
But what is it?
Is a franchise quarterback simply someone that starts for an organization for ten years? Carson Palmer was once a franchise quarterback, former No. 1 overall selection, placing his name firmly within the organization's record book (around the top-three in most). Yet he went 46-53 with the Bengals, leaving town only to suffer even more humiliating defeats with the Oakland Raiders. Who cares if one quarterback starts ten years, blows chunks in the process with an enthusiastic incline where the roller coaster peaks during the third year, with a massive decline that rips arms when colliding with enclosed tunnels.
Is a franchise quarterback an elite quarterback? Then who defines what is elite? Joe Flacco thinks he's close and Eli Manning things he's there. Some would agree with those respective assessments. Not me. Once you start identifying a quarter of the league's quarterbacks as elite, the word not only becomes distilled like a Kroger-brand bottle of red wine, it's very definition is rendered inert.
By my definition the Bengals have had three franchise quarterbacks in their history, with a fourth well on his way. Having a 15-year career in Cincinnati as a four-time Pro Bowler, one-time First-Team All-Pro with one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback of that generating, Ken Anderson is argued not only as one of the franchise's top quarterbacks, but a constant debate worthy for Hall of Fame entry.
Boomer Esiason is a close second, equaling Anderson's Pro Bowls and First-Team All-Pro selections, and some would argue he was the best -- put up strong numbers during shorter span with the Bengals. Perhaps 1 and 1A.
So the question of the day: Is Andy Dalton a franchise quarterback now? How he always been? Or do you need more of a sample size?
* Through November 12, 2012.
** Andy Dalton didn't start against the Redskins, but seriously. We're giving him the "start".