Remember the good ol’ days of the NFL? Quarterback gets drafted, spends an extended apprenticeship that goes a year, maybe two years too long while a head coach plays it tight to the vest with his “guy,” his veteran, his wet blanket … who values the ball. Dude may not be able to make a play to save his life, or his team’s chances in a single game, but he won’t turn it over.
Ahhh, remember such peace, tranquility … and humdrum sameness, year after year after year?
Remember it well, because all of that is gone, if recent times are the foundation of the future, in terms of how organizations will handle the most important position on the field anymore.
They want playmakers, and they want them now. No more delays.
That explains why we saw five rookies start Sunday, another come on in relief, and probably the reason why the city of Philadelphia is immersed in confusion over whether it should pledge allegiance to wild-card Michael Vick or push even more for newcomer Nick Foles.
More on that later …
At Indianapolis, Andrew Luck essentially rubber-stamped the brilliant tag on every “expert” who said he was the man coming out of Stanford University last spring. In a second-half tour de force to rival pretty much anything his Hall of Fame predecessor did for more than a decade at the offensive controls, Luck led the Colts back from a 21-point halftime deficit. The big fella ran for a score and tossed two more, including the game-winner with 35 seconds remaining. For the game, he completed 31 of 55 passes for 362 yards. If he hadn’t before, he clearly showed he belongs right now.
At Cincinnati, Ryan Tannehill was an efficient 17-for-26 passing, totaling 223 yards, in sparking Miami’s upset win against the Bengals. The fast-riser among last year’s draft crop, he was an enigma if anything. A former college wideout turned QB, he obviously had athletic skills, but he had little experience. So far, he’s held his own pretty well, getting the Dolphins to 2-3 at this point, with two of those losses coming in OT.
At Carolina, Seattle’s Russell Wilson had his best day as a pro, completing 19 of 25 passes for 221 yards and a score, as the Seahawks beat the Panthers to improve to 3-2 under his direction. Much like he did in his one season at the University of Wisconsin, Wilson has come in, taken the reins, settled things down, and won … whether he’s put up great numbers or not. He can play … at all times, under any circumstances.
Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden remains winless, as the Browns fell to the New York Giants, but he is starting to consistently move the offense and put up numbers. On Sunday, those included 22 completions, 291 yards and two scores. Since a disastrous opener, he has been a quality performer in justifying the organization’s selection of him in the first round last spring and then going with him as the starter.
Last year’s Heisman winner, Robert Griffin III, made it pretty obvious he was ready to play from Washington’s opening snap this season. In fact, he currently ranks fifth in the NFL in passer rating at 101.0, even with getting knocked out of Sunday’s contest with Atlanta. He was relieved, ironically, by fellow rookie Kirk Cousins, who played OK, but got picked twice. Had RG3 not gotten roughed up, you have to wonder if the Redskins may not have knocked the Falcons and Matt Ryan from their unbeaten perch.
As for Philly, the call for Vick’s benching seems to gain a little steam with every turnover or misread he makes. Apparently, the most dangerous weapon in the game can be just as lethal to his own team’s chances. Combine that with Foles’ impressive showing in the preseason, his prototypical size (6-6, 243), his prototypical NFL style (dropback passer with no wheels), his big arm and his easy-going personality, and the tension is building in the City of Brotherly Love.
It seems to be heading to the point of so much so that the NFL just may be welcoming a sixth rookie starter at QB sooner rather than later. Stay tuned.