As halftime arrived at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday in a tied match-up between the Houston Roughnecks and the Tampa Bay Vipers, nobody could have foreseen the mysterious benching of fan-favorite Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback, Quinton Flowers. Coming into the game, the Vipers were already without their starting quarterback, Aaron Murray who had also missed last week’s game against the Dragons. Through the first two games, Vipers head coach Marc Trestman implemented a two-quarterback system into his offense, and some had wondered if he would switch his strategy and go with a traditional, one quarterback system in his third game after scoring a combined 12 points in the first two contests.
In the first half, Trestman seemed to have stuck to his roots by continuing to use two quarterbacks, Taylor Cornelius and Quinton Flowers. The Viper fans wasted no time beginning their relentless, “We want Flowers” chants, as the Tampa Bay area is no stranger to the former USF standout quarterback. The Vipers had gone their first two games without an offensive touchdown, but that would swiftly change after Quinton Flowers led the Vipers on a seven play, sixty-six-yard drive that was capped off by Flowers on a read-option play that he took for a seven yard touchdown. By halftime, the 0-2 Tampa Bay Vipers were tied up with the undefeated Houston Roughnecks, 18-18. Before Flowers ran to the locker room, he was given another loud ovation by the Viper fans once he wrapped up an interview that was projected on the jumbotron at Raymond James.
After the half ended, the Viper fans were eager to see more Quinton Flowers magic. Unease began to set in once Taylor Cornelius stepped on the field for the Vipers first possession of the second half. Cornelius, who had 99 yards along with a rushing touchdown in the first half, was greeted by boos as he ran onto the field. Mysteriously, Quinton Flowers was not put in during the second half at all by head coach, Marc Trestman. The Vipers would go on to lose 34-27 with Cornelius throwing a game sealing interception on their final possession of the game, which was the Vipers fate last week as well.
After the game, Trestman commented on the decision to not put Flowers in during the second half, “We decided to stick to the plan and keep Taylor in there…We love Q, he’s going to be a part of what we do each and every week.”
By now, it is clear Trestman has a plan with his team as far as the quarterback position goes. However, Marc Trestman did announce after the game that he handed his play calling duties over to Offensive Coordinator, Jamie Elizondo for this week’s game while stating, “I stepped back last weekend…In a two-quarterback system I just didn’t feel as comfortable switching guys in and out.” After scoring more points on Saturday’s game against Houston than the previous two games combined, it should be a no-brainer decision for Trestman to continue with Elizondo calling plays.
The Vipers are now 0-3, and at the bottom of the East division after their three debut games. Next week they take on another tough opponent with the D.C. Defenders coming into Tampa on Sunday, March 1st with a kickoff time of 7 PM.