Arizona Cardinals employed many passers during the 1990’s
By Jim Koch
The Arizona Cardinals were forced to utilize an array of starting quarterbacks during their first full decade in the desert
Throughout most of the 1990’s, the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals had a difficult time establishing stability at the quarterback spot. A plethora of individuals were handed an opportunity to seize the organization’s starting gig, but most of the candidates failed in their quest. The Cards did find a signal-caller with some staying power towards the end of the decade, but the club’s fans had to witness some awful play at the position before that occurred.
The misery began back in ’90, when a second-year player named Timm Rosenbach was handed the reigns. The Washington State University product showed some promise early on, but his career unraveled quickly. A variety of injuries took the passion out of Rosenbach, prompting the once fiery competitor to leave the Cardinals after just 26 appearances with the team.
Three different passers were utilized by Phoenix in 1991, with the severely limited Tom Tupa somehow getting the starting nod in 11 games. Former World League of American Football star Stan Gelbaugh started three contests, but failed to impress in any of them. Journeyman Chris Chandler also notched a couple of starts for the Cards during one of the most depressing campaigns in franchise history.
Chandler was the Cardinals main man for most of 1992, with a bit of Rosenbach also sprinkled in. In 1993, free agent bust Steve Beuerlein took over, with Chandler also remaining in the mix. The late Buddy Ryan, who put very little stock into the offensive side of the ball, went with the mostly unsuccessful trio of Beuerlein, Jay Schroeder and Jim McMahon in 1994.
In 1995, longtime Seattle Seahawks gunslinger Dave Krieg started all 16 matchups during Ryan’s second and final season as Arizona’s head coach. A year later, Vince Tobin used a combination of Boomer Esiason and Kent Graham to lead the team’s scoring attack. At this point, the Cards had trotted out 10 different quarterbacks in six years, and desperately needed an injection of life into the position.
The Cardinals obtained a ray of hope in 1997, when they drafted Arizona State University’s Jake Plummer. In 1998, the “Snake” led the Redbirds to their first playoff appearance in 16 years. Plummer remained the club’s starter for four more seasons before being lured away by the Denver Broncos in 2003.
The 1990’s were hardly memorable for the Cards signal-callers. Plummer finally provided some stability to that area of the offense, but the rest of the squad’s passers were truly forgettable. It was a bleak period for the Cardinals, and one that they hope they’ll never have to experience again.