KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It is difficult, if not impossible, for a young quarterback to develop when the only game action he sees in the preseason. But it speaks loudly to what the Chiefs think of Ricky Stanzi that in a 2-13 season where they have continually displayed the need for a quarterback, they haven’t given him a look.
For quarterback Ricky Stanzi, the final week of the season appears destined to be much like the first and all the others in between. What little practice work he gets will be limited to helping the Chiefs’ defense prepare for Sunday’s final game of the season against the Broncos in Denver.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for a young quarterback to develop that way. But it speaks loudly to what the Chiefs think of Stanzi that in a 2-13 season where they have continually displayed the need for a quarterback, they haven’t given Stanzi a look.
It seems like a wasted season for his development, but Stanzi at least believes he is a better player than he showed during what for him was a rough preseason.
“Every year, you develop,” he said. “There’s no wasted year. You may not be on the field, but there’s been a lot of time spent on watching film, working on footwork, working on the fundamentals, working on your throwing. You’d like to be playing, but you can always get better, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
“You would hope as a player you’re progressing through the season. It’s been great to be able to sit here, learn things and not have to be … sometimes you’re thrown in to a situation you’re not ready for.”
Stanzi looked as though he wasn’t ready to play in the preseason, particularly a turnover-filled game against the Rams in St. Louis. Coach Romeo Crennel acknowledged that the memory is difficult to shake.
“What happened in the preseason happened, but I know he’s grown as a player, grown in the classroom since that time,” Crennel said. “It still comes down to whether I decide to give him a chance or not.
“Getting him on the field becomes more difficult. Not only him, but there are many guys who are behind other guys. You take anybody who’s behind Tamba Hali. He can show improvement, but his chances of getting on the field are not going to be great unless there’s an injury situation.”
The preseason has been over for almost four months, but it is hard for a backup to prove he is a better player since he gets little in the way of meaningful practice time.
“It’s difficult but in practice you can show the progress you’re making, whether it’s fundamental things or your decision making,” said Brady Quinn, who is now the Chiefs’ starting quarterback but was a backup for most of his NFL career. “Everything you do is on film, and it’s not as if the coaches aren’t watching that film.
“That’s one of the biggest differences between college and the NFL is that you have to take it upon yourself to get better each day and to prepare yourself. You don’t get the work that the starters do.”
Crennel indicated that Stanzi was taking that work seriously.
“It’s hard in that situation because he only gets show-team reps,” Crennel said. “On the show team, you have to show that you’ve improved your fundamentals because the show team is not a real test. You’re running off (play) cards, and we circle the guy we want him to throw to so he doesn’t have to read the coverage and all those things. To his credit, he tries to read the coverage and know what coverage is being played … and know whether he would go to the guy that’s being circled. Many times, he’ll come back and say, ‘Hey, this is a set up. I wouldn’t throw to that guy normally.’ I say, ‘I appreciate that, Ricky, but we need to see the ball go to this particular spot.’
“So you can tell a little bit that he’s into it mentally by things like that. He’s made strides. If we deem that we want to give him the chance to show what he can do, then we’ll dress him and see if there’s an opportunity for him to get into a game.”
That won’t happen Sunday unless Crennel has a dramatic change of heart. Stanzi’s contribution will again be to imitate in practice the opposing quarterback, in this case Denver’s Peyton Manning.
It’s not like playing, but it’s all Stanzi has.
“You get to go against the first-team defense,” Stanzi said. “You get to go against some great defenders. You get to work on some of your things. You treat it like a game. You take it seriously and you make it count. If you do that, you’ll be a better player.”