Brady, Bortles, Foles, Keenum. We sure have come a long way from the yearly tournament of Brady, Manning, Rogers, and Brees. It’s not hard to notice the lack of quarterbacking talent in this year’s NFL final four. The disappointing draw (Brady excluded) will leave football fans scratching their heads, forced to face a question many did not want to acknowledge…does the NFL have a quarterback problem? Are three signal-callers with 4 playoff wins between them really the best the league has to offer? If not, how did they get here? Isn’t the quarterback supposed to mean everything in the NFL?
Lets start with that first question. Brady aside, is this the best quarterbacking the NFL has to offer? No, not even close. I’ll leave it up for debate in the comments section, but here is a selection gunslingers NFL fans would be better off watching than any of those three (in no particular order)…
That’s 16 quarterbacks, AKA half the league. If having a good quarterback is the best barometer for an NFL team’s success, how did most of the leagues top players at the position get left out of Championship Weekend? Most of the quarterbacks above fit into one of two categories. First, there are the ones who missed because of injury. Guys like Wentz and Rogers probably would still be playing if they had a full healthy season, and as we all know, the NFL has a well documented issue about keeping players upright and on the field. There are also those like Luck who can’t stay on the field at all, to the point you start to question their worth (that is a completely different article, keep an eye out during the off-season).
Then you have the quarterbacks who, no matter how hard they tried, couldn’t drag their systemically flawed teams into and through the playoffs. Russell Wilson was done in by an aging defense and decaying locker room. Matt Stafford was once again held back by a team that choked when it mattered. Even championship quarterbacks like Brees and Roethlisberger couldn’t overcome atrocious coaching (Tomlin should be fired, but again that’s another column). Perhaps the problem lies not with the NFL having too few talented quarterbacks, but lacking talent in the places necessary to support those quarterbacks. What if Cam Newton had better weapons around him? What if Matt Ryan had an offensive coordinator who knows what he is doing? What if Derek Carr had a defense to help him out? We could be looking at a very different Championship Weekend.
With the NFL’s ratings down noticeably from last season, everybody wants to point fingers at what is diluting the product. Given the quarterbacks playing on Championship Weekend, it is easy to turn there and say the most high-profile position in sports has lost the star-power it had in recent years. While we are well removed from seeing 4 future Hall-Of-Famers every year like clockwork in the conference championship games, hope is not lost. Sure, the top 3 quarterbacks in the league (Brady, Rodgers, Brees) will presumably be out of the game within the next 5 years. Guys like Luck and Newton, while exciting, can’t stay on the field. But the next generation of QBs is here to pick up the slack. Wentz, save one ill-advised dive into the end zone in LA, could be the biggest name in sports right now. If Jared Goff can make the jump from years 2 to 3 like he did from 1 to 2, he will regularly find himself in MVP discussions. Add to that the stellar quarterback class in this year’s draft (another column to keep an eye out for in the coming months), and who knows, the next Brady-Manning rivalry could be on us before we know it.
Am I taking too little stock in Bortles, Foles, and Keenum? Leave someone off my quarterback list? Let me hear it on Twitter @RealAlexBarth
Written By: Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth)