Anyone who takes a snap in the NFL is going to be second-guessed by Monday-morning quarterbacks. But some signal-callers are under more pressure than others this season. "The climate of pro football is this," says CBS' Phil Simms: "If teams don't like what they've got, they say, 'Let's just change the quarterback and the coach, because that will cure it all.'"
Case in point: The Giants' Eli Manning is a lightning rod for criticism "just because he happens to be in New York, and I guess New York fans want him to be Peyton Manning," says CBS' Boomer Esiason, noting that Manning's "sleepy Southern personality drives them crazy here." Still, he adds, "I think he's a good player — he's just not a great player."
Out in Chicago, Rex Grossman was inconsistent last season and threw two damaging interceptions in the Bears' Super Bowl loss to Indianapolis. "It is a make-or-break year," Simms says. "He will not be given the tremendous grace period that he had last year."
In Philadelphia, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has been hobbled by injuries the past three years, which "has been so debilitating to that franchise," Esiason says. "It's a shame," adds CBS' Dan Marino. "He's such a great player. I expect him to come back strong."
Tony Romo's stock soared after he took over the Cowboys' offense last October, then fell when he couldn't deliver their first playoff win since 1996. "A lot of people are anxious to see what kind of player he's going to be for this franchise," says Fox's Troy Aikman, himself a former Dallas QB.
After high hopes fizzled in Detroit and Miami, Joey Harrington was set for a transition year in Atlanta. But following the Michael Vick crisis, he's now the Falcons' starter. "You only get so many chances in this league to show what you can do," Aikman says. "This may be his last chance."
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