Before getting into anything else, I want to wish everyone out there a Merry Christmas.
I haven’t touched upon the NFL in terms of on-the-field action in a while, so we’re going there for this column.
One overarching thread this year seems to be fan and media dissatisfaction with a majority of NFL quarterbacks. I know it’s as old as professional football itself but it seems to be more widespread thanks to social media and 24-hour sports channels with their equivalents of pundit shows.
My question to the gripers is this: Who do you get to play quarterback ? There are only so many top guys around. Even legends like Tom Brady and Drew Brees have been shaky or injured, respectively. Of the younger generation, only Patrick Mahomes II, Lemar Jackson and DeShawn Watson are regarded as stars. Cam Newton is injured and there are doubts about his future.
I know that I said Colin Kaepernick shouldn’t have been blackballed from the NFL. Realistically, though, after three years off from the game, he’d be a back-up.
There are reasons for this situation being the way it is. Injuries, quarterbacks leaving college early with relatively little experience, Andrew Luck’s early retirement, maladroit or quarterback-killing coaches, aging and, in rare cases, an embarrassment of riches. Except for the unforeseen Luck retirement, I’ll discuss each below.
I’ve already mentioned Newton and Luck, who retired due to accumulated injuries, on the first, Brees, Nick Foles, Mahomes, Joe Flacco, Matt Stafford, Mitchell Trubisky, Carson Wentz and Ben Rothlisberger all have missed chunks of the season or are still recovering from previous injuries which is suspect is the case with Wentz.
Early entry: Trubusky, for example, only started 13 games in his college career before coming out early so he was from polished. Combine that with teams impatience to unwrap their new toys and you have some disasters (Johnny Manzel, anyone?). You look at Hall of Fame resumes and you’ll see apprenticeships. Brady,Dan Marino, Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Ken Stabler. Joe Montana and Warren Moon ,among others, sat and learned for at least a portion of the season or seasons. Bradshaw took until 1974 to solidify his job,. Moon had to go to Canada.
Coaches: Rex Ryan is a great defensive coordinator who took the Jets to consecutive AFC title games as a head coach. He also did some numbers on his quarterbacks when it came to self-confidence. Just ask Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Tim Tebow and E.J. Manuel. Freddie Kitchens, if he is retained as Browns head coach, may eventually ruin Baker Mayfield.
Aging: Let’s face it, nobody beats time. Brady, Eli Manning. and Phillip Rivers all are showing the effects of aging. Brees and Rothlisberger got hurt and the latter’s career is in jeopardy since they don’t recover as fast as a Mahomes or a Watson.
Riches: This is rare, but the Saints have Brees and Teddy Bridgewater, both capable NFL starters, on their depth chart.
If you agree or disagree with me on this or any other subject, please let me know. I got sidetracked by the quarterback issue this week so I’m going to look at the season next week.
Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter for the Princeton Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.