No, Charlie Batch is not a better NFL quarterback than Trent Dilfer.
It only looked that way Monday night.The way to break in a young quarterback is not to force him to win the game, as Peyton Manning is trying to do in Indianapolis, Ryan Leaf is trying to do in San Diego and Dilfer tried to do against Batch and Detroit after the Bucs got behind.
In all three instances, it was a step backward.
The NFL this year is full of young quarterbacks who have been thrown into starting jobs before they are ready (some never will be).
Start with the obvious - Manning, Leaf and Batch, all rookies.
Then add a group of QBs in their mid-20s - Kordell Stewart, Steve McNair, Glenn Foley, Rob Johnson, Eric Zeier, Jake Plummer, Bobby Hoying, Danny Kanell, Dilfer, Danny Wuerffel, Tony Banks and Kerry Collins. Add them together, and that's 16 of the 30 current starters who have yet to reach their peak or never will reach it.
Now, guess who has the best winning percentage among those who have started more than 10 games.
Kordell Stewart of the Steelers.
Who's second? None other than Danny Kanell of the Giants.
Kanell's stats aren't brilliant. He's never thrown for more than 300 yards. In fact, he's been over 200 yards only three times in 14 starts. He's thrown for 17 touchdowns, had 14 interceptions and his ratings are very average - 70.7 last season and 72.9 this year.
But his record as a starter is 9-4-1 because his defense has gotten him the ball in good field position (a league-leading plus-25 turnover ratio last season and four interceptions Sunday against San Diego, in Kanell's third career 200-yarder - 17-of-33 for 208 yards, an inordinate number of passes in one game for Kanell.
Batch's stats Monday night were the kind any young QB should have - 14-of-23 for 115 yards and 39 rushing yards in eight carries with no turnovers. He, of course, has Barry Sanders, as Stewart has Jerome Bettis.
His own running is a plus.
"Sometimes, he can make things happen on his own," coach Bobby Ross said. "He did that a time or two, and that is part of what we like about him."
Plus, he hangs on to the ball.
QUARTER-SEASON AWARDS: Coach of the quarter: Mike Shanahan, Denver. Runner-up: Mike Ditka, New Orleans. Shanahan is the kind of coach who never wins awards because the Broncos are supposed to be good. But he's done a masterful job of making them forget they won the Super Bowl last year. Ditka's done a great job with nothing, but he's also beaten nobodies.
- MVP: Steve Young, San Francisco. Runner-up: Brett Favre, Green Bay. Who else?
- Offensive Player: Terrell Davis, Denver. Runners-up: Jermaine Lewis, Baltimore; Ed McCaffrey, Denver. Believe it or not, McCaffrey leads the AFC in receiving yards.
- Defensive Player: Levon Kirkland, Pittsburgh (no contest). NOT Derrick Thomas, who has one more sack after six the opening week. Runner-up: Michael Strahan, Giants.
- Offensive rookie: Tie - Randy Moss, Minnesota, Fred Taylor Jacksonville. Runner-up: Tra Thomas, Philadelphia, the first legitimate offensive lineman the Eagles have drafted this decade.
- Defensive rookie: Vonnie Holliday, Green Bay. Runner-up: Charles Woodson, Oakland.