The NFL, it’s a quarterback’s league.
If you have one, you better keep him healthy. If you don’t have one, you better get one, and hope you don’t make a mistake.
Name me a star quarterback. Quite easy. Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Colin Kaeperneck, Ben Roethlisberger and Tony Romo, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, Aaron Rogers and Joe Flacco and that’s it. There are 32-teams in the NFL, and there are 12-established quarterbacks who can win you a game anytime, anywhere.
The rest of the teams, you either have up and down guys like Alex Smith, Matt Stafford or Matt Ryan, or wild throwers like Jay Cutler and Ryan Fitzpatrick. And then you have kids, having a real hard time.
It is stunning how much is expected of the guys taken at the top of the NFL draft board. And that’s the rub. The best college QBs go to the worst team, who draft early. The kid QB gets thrown into the water early, gets battered, and has a horrible season or two. Sometimes they come out of it, but many times they are so damaged, emotionally or physically, the career never takes off.
Look at the household names taken atop the last two drafts, and what has happened to them and their teams.
Robert Griffin III has had 3-major injuries in two seasons in Washington, that coupled with coaching and coordinator changes. The issue for the Redskins read-option guy, can he stay healthy, and can they teach him to stay in the pocket? So far the answers are no and no.
Cam Newton sure surprised many people with his stat driven rookie season, but NFL teams figured out how to defend the read-option and his explosiveness went away. He is struggling, coming off ankle surgery, and last night’s (10-28) performance is an example of trying to re-teach a college athlete, how to play in the pros.
EJ Manuel is sitting and suffering in Buffalo, as they try to rebuild around him, and he staggers week to week with productivity, to the point he has been benched for a journeyman Kyle Orton.
Geno Smith’s career is going much like the Jets, in reverse and maybe down the drain. Work ethic, preparation questions, injuries, interceptions. You name it, he is experiencing it right now, standing behind old man Mike Vick.
Sam Bradford, cursed by injuries to the same knee two years in a row, and further cursed by playing for a bad Rams team. There is upside but there is no health right now.
Mike Glennon, one of the many issues in Tampa. Thrown into the fire at the end of last season, he had good and bad days. Now with this year’s (1-6) start, he is overwhelmed.
Jake Locker cannot stay on the field, and off the injury list in Tennessee, in the final year of his contract. 3-different injuries in 2-seasons have made him a huge question mark as to whether he really is the guy.
Ryan Tannehill, pushed onto the field in Miami, shows flashes, but just does not seem to have the consistency yet. That plus he has an ever changing offensive line, no run game and possible instability in the coaching staff.
Blake Bortels looks the part in Jacksonville, puts up good passing yardage numbers, but the turnovers are in neon lights. In 21-quarters since they named him a starter, 15-turnovers and 18-quarterback sacks, and not much of a team around him.
His brother had his career destroyed in a span of 3-years with the expansion Houston Texans. This Carr seems composed, doesn’t take alot of hits, makes some throws, has yet to turn it over much, but has a horrid team around him at (0-8).
Teddy Bridgewater started the season as the 3rd QB in Minnesota, now he is the starter. Working under guru Norv Turner, his weekend outings have been up and down. Sacks and picks are still very much part of his stat sheet. Of course not having suspended RB-Adrian Peterson would hurt any QB.
Johnny Manziel is now Johnny Backup and he will shortly become Johnny Unhappy in Cleveland. His preseason outings were wild; make a good play, then take a hit or turn it over. He might be a tougher version of Doug Flutie, but who knows if he can really play at this level.
Being a rookie quarterback is so hard. The speed of the game, the complexity of the playbook, the reading of defenses, the pressure, the hits, the media, the leadership qualities you must exhibit. It just overwhelms you.
If you have one San Diego, or New England, or Denver or Indy, appreciate it. There are at least almost two thirds of the teams desperate for someone to do the job, in a quarterback-driven league. 12-good ones, a bunch of middle class guys, and at least 10-other teams wishing they had someone other than the guy starting for them at quarterback this weekend.