There is one position in football that stands out among the rest in terms of media coverage, value to a team, and general attractiveness. The guys that kids want to be like and women want to be with. They receive the shining glory of victory and carry the shameful blame of loss, and that is why Quarterback Weekly exists! With 32 (or more) of these guys stepping on to NFL fields each week, you can’t possibly keep track of all of their heroic efforts and embarrassing gaffes, which is why I’ll do it for you (you’re welcome). If you’re new to this whole football thing and aren’t even quite sure what a quarterback is, no worries, I’ve got you covered! Let’s take an in-depth (and by that I mean shallow and sarcastic) look at what it means to be a quarterback in the NFL, and why these guys get so much of the spotlight.
Quarterback is one of the most highly-paid positions in sports. Unless, of course, you compare them to baseball contracts. I mean, those dudes make hundreds of millions of dollars; and for what? You stand around in the outfield or at your base, and maybe every 20 minutes you have to catch a ball (usually still standing in the exact same place) or pick one up off of the floor and throw it. And that’s if you’re lucky because baseball’s idea of a “perfect game” is literally nothing happening. Two dudes playing catch. No hits, no runs, no nothing. And if your team is at bat, YOU JUST SIT DOWN UNTIL IT’S YOUR TURN. You sit there and gossip or eat or whatever it is that these overpaid schlubs do in the dugout. Come on, people! It’s as if…wait, what was I talking about? Oh quarterbacks, right, quarterbacks. Let me try again.
Quarterback is one of the most marketable positions in sports. The smoothest, best-looking, alpha-dog leader on the team. They get all the interviews, win all the awards, and most importantly make all of the money. In an offseason that saw many quarterbacks around the league cashing in in a major way due to new contracts, many players and fans are asking why.
One player in particular, Seahawks D-lineman Michael Bennett, had a lot to say about the favorable treatment that signal-callers receive. He opined after Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, a quarterback who has never made the playoffs, signed a six-year extension worth about $95 million: “Quarterback is the only position in the NFL where you could be mediocre and get paid. At every other position, you can’t be mediocre”. Bennett also went on to add that Tannehill’s contract in particular illustrates the “value of the position”.
Bennett’s definitely got a point there. NFL teams are willing to shell out big bucks for a guy who MIGHT one day lead them to the Super Bowl. Just take Sam Bradford, the former Rams quarterback hasn’t played in two years because of ACL injuries, but the Eagles were willing to trade for him this offseason (including paying him $13 million this year alone) because of who he MIGHT be. Bradford was drafted #1 overall in 2010 and is still living off of that potential. As is often the case in the NFL, potential can pay a lot of dividends for a quarterback.
As it happens, two games in this first week of NFL action (thank God it’s back, I was on the edge of insanity) painted a perfect vignette of exactly why teams are willing to throw so much money at a guy in hopes of finding their franchise quarterback. The first: Sunday Night Football’s match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. It’s almost always must-see TV when these teams face off, and Sunday was no different. The contest was back-and-forth through the first three quarters, setting up a wild finish. Trust me, I know because when I was supposed to be welcoming the new recruits of a year-long internship I once completed, I instead was eating fish tacos and watching the fourth quarter of this contest. It was opening weekend, okay?! Plus, that place has great tacos. Anyway, let’s look at how it all went down.
With 8:01 left in the game, New York running back Rashad Jennings scored a touchdown, putting the Giants up 23-13. This meant that Tony Romo would have eight minutes to overcome a 10-point deficit and defeat a division rival, something your average quarterback just doesn’t do on a regular basis. Leading his team straight down the field, Romo threw a touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten with 5:08 left. Dallas’ defense had all three timeouts left and would need to get off the field quickly to give Romo a chance to win the game. Four minutes and an inexplicable clock-stopping play by the Giants later, New York knocked in a field goal to go up 26-20 with 1:34 to go. Romo would have to score a touchdown and didn’t have a lot of time to do it. Making it look easy, Romo completed pass after pass, hurrying his team back to the line of scrimmage as they moved down the field. Near the goal line, Romo’s pass floated just past his receiver’s fingertips and was almost intercepted. The incomplete ball stopped the clock at :17 with Dallas on the 11-yard line. A bad snap on the next play put the ball at Romo’s feet, but he calmly collected it and again found Jason Witten at the goal-line to tie the game at 26, at which point I tweeted:
because it’s fun to talk like a British soccer announcer. Dallas’s extra point won the game, 27-26. New York’s Eli Manning, a quarterback who just signed his own large extension, did not throw a touchdown in the game.
Now let’s hop over to Monday Night Football (or Monday afternoon on the west coast) where our poster boy Bradford led his Eagles against the Falcons and another high-paid “potential” guy, Matt Ryan. To be fair, Ryan has taken Atlanta to the playoffs, but has a 1-4 record in the post-season and is coming off two no good, very bad years. I digress. The Falcons started the scoring early, and two touchdown passes from Ryan to Julio Jones made it 20-10 as the third quarter began. At this point, Bradford had contributed nothing but an interception, but a pair of touchdowns from running back Demarco Murray cut the deficit to 17-20. After the fourth quarter saw another Eagles touchdown and two more Atlanta field goals, the stage was set for Bradford. At the two-minute warning he got the ball back, down 24-26. For the Eagles and their fans, this was a chance for Bradford’s first signature moment in Philadelphia. Two quick and questionable passes later, Bradford was faced with 3rd and 8 with little over a minute to go. Throwing to a receiver over the middle, a defensive back popped the ball up in the air, where it was intercepted. There would be no game-winning drive for Bradford. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown in the entire second half.
So what did we learn? Two quarterbacks, same situation, two different results. You see, at the end of the day a quarterback’s contract really comes down to one thing: he’s the guy that wins and losses ultimately hinge on. Your team may have a great defense, or an all-star running back, maybe even the best tight end ever (cough*Gronk*cough), but when you’re down by six points with two minutes left, everyone is looking at the quarterback. He’s the guy who has to get the job done. So while Michael Bennett may not like all the money that the position commands, I’d remind him that he’s not wearing a second Super Bowl ring because he couldn’t stop the opposing quarterback when it counted.
San Diego Southpaw
Did you see the movie Southpaw this summer? If you didn’t then let me tell you, you really missed out. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a professional boxer who, to his wife’s dismay, fights harder with every hard blow to the face, chest, stomach, etc. This makes for very entertaining, suspenseful, and bloody fights, which the fans love. Unfortunately, his wildly successful and awesome life is interrupted by terrible tragedy and that’s where the movie really begins. Here’s the best compliment I can give this movie: I’ve never cried during any film I’ve ever watched, but Southpaw was the closest I’ve come. I was choked up in the theater several time, but somehow managed to keep it together. Truly an amazing film. I promise that there’s a point to all of this; just hold on.
If the movie Southpaw (hopefully I’ve mentioned it enough times to get some sort of compensation) were a quarterback, it’s be San Diego Chargers leading man Philip Rivers. Rivers has a fiery, never-say-die attitude that endears him to Chargers fans and draws the ire of just about everyone else. You may remember Philip Rivers as the quarterback traded to San Diego from New York when Eli Manning was drafted by the Chargers and immediately began whining and complaining, like any entitled Manning child would. But let’s not talk about Eli anymore, mostly because I hate him.
The point here is that if anyone embodies what it means to lead a team from the quarterback position, it’s Phil Rivers. While ruling the AFC West at the helm of many dominant Chargers teams, Rivers gained national acclaim through post-season battles with the Patriots and Colts. It always seems that Rivers elevates a few levels of play when San Diego really needs it, and he earned every bit of the four-year, $65 million extension he recently signed on Sunday against the Lions. Detroit got off to a hot start, taking a Rivers interception to the house on their way to a 21-3 second quarter lead. Down 21-13 with four minutes left in the third quarter, Rivers threw a touchdown to Stevie Johnson, added another to Ladarius Green, then led the team down the field on a drive that ended with a Danny Woodhead touchdown run. In the most crucial of moments, Rivers accounted for 21 un-answered points that completed San Diego’s improbable comeback. Rivers has the most talented offensive unit he’s seen in a few years, and this was a great way to kick off a season full of Super Bowl expectations. Although, to be fair, Chargers fans claim that they are going to the Super Bowl every year.
Don’t you love over-reacting to what quarterbacks do on a week-to-week basis? It’s one of my favorite hobbies, personally, and that’s why “Quarterback Over-React” will be a staple of Quarterback Weekly. We got a special treat in week 1 because the insane hype surrounding rookies Marcus Mariota (Titans) and Jameis Winston (Buccaneers) finally came to ahead as the two faced off in their first NFL start. Let’s see how that went, shall we?
First of all, MARCUS MARIOTA IS HEADED TO THE HALL OF FAME. THE NFL MAY AS WELL BE THE PAC-12 BECAUSE MARIOTA IS IN CHARGE NOW!!! Did you see this kid??!! Mariota threw four touchdowns during a 42-14 demolition of Tampa Bay and their so-called savior, Winston. Super-Mariota looked like a veteran out there, throwing his receivers open and looking downfield with patience to find the right option. It was an inspiring display that should have Titans fans buying #8 jerseys in bulk. Seriously, buy every jersey, signed ball, and rookie card that you can now, because in 17 years when Mariota in inducted into the Hall of Fame, they will be worth millions and millions of dollars.
On the other hand, Winston looks like the latest in a long line of Tampa Bay draft picks that were all hype and no return on investment. Winston began his doomed NFL career by throwing a pick-six as soon as he touched the ball. Winston would later add another interception because he’s a robot sent from the future to turn the ball over as much as he possibly can and destroy his offensive coordinator’s sanity. “But Gyasi, didn’t Jameis have two touchdowns?” Oh yeah, that loser threw a pair of touchdowns alright. His first, a 5-yard pass, came after Tampa Bay had already fallen into a 21-point hole. He threw the second with about nine minutes left in the game, when Tennessee probably took most of their starters out of the game because even they could see that Jameis Winston is a lost cause who will never make it as a pro. These are just facts people, I mean c’mon, you saw the game.
I am literally going to set a timer for two minutes and list some of my other big thoughts from this weekend of football. Ready…set… (can’t find the stopwatch on my phone)…GO!
- I expected Carlos Hyde to be alright, but HOLY CRAP. That dude has serious talent.
- I’ve been saying for a few years that Peyton Manning can’t throw the ball anymore, mostly joking or in the playoffs, but did you see him on Sunday? Ouch. Might be time to hang it up, Ol’ Noodle Arm.
- Gronk will have 45 touchdowns this year.
Well, I was really expecting to get a lot more than that down, but two minutes is way shorter than I thought. I have a lot more to say (and be right about), but rules are rules. Looks like I’ll have to shut my mouth until next time, folks. Remember to stop by the comments section if you like (or have a deeply-rooted disdain for) what you’re reading. You can also send any questions, comments, or fantasy conundrums to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @4thandGyas.