Colin Kaepernick: Does his play deserve another shot?

Has Colin Kaepernick done enough on the field to get him another chance at playing quarterback?


Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment in the NFL has been well covered. Many have said that the QB’s absence from a roster is solely because of his social protests and not because of any doubts about his abilities as a quarterback. While his protest was definitely a distraction, I find it hard to believe that a league that has given second chances to guys like Michael Vick, Adam Jones, and Richie Incognito would not give Kaepernick another shot because of distractions. So here are some on the field issues teams may have with Colin Kaepernick. 

By the numbers

Despite what others are saying, Kaepernick did not have a good season last year. People may look at his TD-INT ratio (16-4) in 12 games and say that’s pretty good, but Kaepernick’s QBR tells a different story. QBR is a stat made by ESPN that is supposed to judge all aspects of a quarterback’s performance. Since Kaepernick first entered the league, his QBR has been consistently decreasing, with an all-time low of 47.0 in 2015.

20122013201420152016
QBR76.969.767.547.055.2

In comparison, Since leaving San Francisco, Alex Smith has improved his QBR with Kansas City every year, last year finishing with 66.1 and an 11-4 record. 

in 2016, Brock Osweiler had a higher QBR than Colin Kaepernick and even won a playoff game with Houston, yet he was traded by the Texans and then cut by Cleveland, so what does that say about Kaepernick’s chances?

Running QB’s

Colin Kaepernick’s strength is not his accuracy, nor his touch, it’s not really his arm at all, but his legs. In each of his first three years as a starter, Kaepernick was top-five in rushing yards amongst QB’s, making many memorable plays with his feet. But the running QB is becoming less popular once again in the NFL; since 2012, we’ve seen quarterbacks be encouraged to stay in the pocket to avoid unnecessary contact. QB’s like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III have had serious injuries because of their mobility and although Russell Wilson hasn’t yet missed a game, he spent the majority of 2016 banged up because of hits he took outside the pocket. 

Then take into consideration that Colin Kaepernick has trimmed down lately, making him more susceptible to hits when running with the ball, and you get a big risk on losing a QB because his strength isn’t throwing the ball. 

Missed opportunity in 2016

Last year was Colin Kaepernick’s chance to have a big bounce back season from a porous 2015. Chip Kelly was the 49ers head coach, a guy perfectly tailored to Kaepernick’s play-style. Yet, he could not even win the starting job, losing a QB battle with Blaine Gabbert in the offseason. 

After taking over the starting role, Kaepernick wasn’t able to stand out either with the naked eye or statistically. Chip Kelly is known for running an offense that produces a lot of points, which is good news for his quarterbacks. When Chip Kelly was with the Eagles, Nick Foles put up huge numbers (40TD-12INT, 69 QBR) and a 14-4 record as a starter. If Chip Kelly can do that with Foles, then Kaepernick’s performance last year can be, at best, disappointing.

Being a backup?

The struggle with adding Kaepernick to a roster is that he’s not good at running a prototypical NFL offense. Very few NFL teams run the system Colin needs to be effective in an offense, and they seem set at the QB position. 

Another issue with most teams is that they are committed to a QB, and don’t want to sign a backup that could cause a controversy in the locker room about the starter and create an outcry among the fan base. For example, the Ravens decided against signing Kaep amid a Joe Flacco injury. Joe Flacco stated during the process he thought Kaepernick deserved a spot on a roster but didn’t want it to be in Baltimore. 

The Ravens ultimately decided against signing Kaepernick, and it’s because of the implications it could have on their future. If Colin had played well in place of Flacco, the locker room might be divided on who should play QB, and the fans might also have their own favorite choice for the job, which could affect the team’s commitment and performance on Sunday of they feel the wrong choice was made. And if you choose Kaep, then you’ve alienated Flacco for the future. This is the conundrum teams are finding themselves in when looking at signing Colin Kaepernick to a backup role.  

The facts

Colin isn’t good enough to secure a starting spot in the NFL outright. He may be better than some backup QB’s in the league, but being a backup isn’t completely about skill. A backup creates stability on a roster, not chaos. If a backup causes division in the locker room regarding who should start, it’s not worth putting him on the roster. Why did the Cowboys want to get rid of Tony Romo so badly after finding Dak Prescott? tThey didn’t want to hear the Romo cries after every poor play from Dak. 

Colin Kaepernick isn’t on a roster thus far, and likely won’t be for most of the 2017 season. 

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Dave Drain

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I’m passionate about Football, Basketball, Baseball, and Golf. College or the Pro’s? It doesn’t matter. In addition to writing about sports, I also coach year-round in my community, teaching middle-school boys the fundamentals of the sports I love, as well as helping them grow-up into outstanding young men. Don’t get me started talking stats, and I’m always up for a debate on the greats of the game!

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