I grew up in a time when it was beat into your head that “defenses win championships.” And it seemed to be true. The ’85 Bears, 2000 Ravens, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even the New York Giants that ruined a perfect season – they all had amazing defenses. Even Bill Belichick’s Patriots were more defensive minded and oriented before Belichick realized the rules of the game would favor the offenses.
And that brings us to today.
Sure it’s great to have a good defense, but what does that get you in today’s NFL? Last season the Cardinals and Jaguars ranked 3rd and 4th respectively in defensive yards allowed. A stat that is really over-rated is “sacks” as half the teams in the top ten of that category didn’t even make the playoffs. And although last year’s Patriots defense allowed the least amount of points per game, it was more because of WHO they played then HOW New England played. The Patriots DID have the number three offense in the NFL last year though – and they ended up playing against the number one offense in the NFL, the Falcons, in the Super Bowl. Last year’s game featured a game with two clean cut quarterbacks with “video game” like statistics. And the fans loved that.
Now a days, it’s not about the defense winning championships. Its about the “quarterback.” Not even the offense – just the quarterback. Nobody wants to see a “defensive battle” on television anymore. In a sport who’s fanbase has basically tripled because of fantasy football and daily fantasy football games – defenses are the devil. The NFL knows that, which is why with today’s rules being adjusted. You can’t touch a quarterback, you must keep your hands off of a receiver and don’t you even THINK about hitting somebody too hard! Because of these rule changes and a desire/need to see big numbers put up by offenses, the quarterback has become the focus of the league.
Before I go into why the quarterback is the “focus” of the NFL, let me just say. . . I’m still true to the belief of “owning the line of scrimmage.” An offensive line is truly the key to any successful offense. An offensive line adds balance to an attack, and security for the quarterback position. With that said, NGSC’s own Kyle Nash, has made sure to painfully and constantly remind me that Aaron Rodgers is probably the only QB to win a Super Bowl with a below average offensive line, which only ADDS to the fact that having a QB in today’s NFL is crucial.
Some quarterbacks can make average receivers look better than they are, for example: Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Dan Marino (sorry Clayton and Duper fans. . .) – these are the guys who can master their system and build guys up within it. Then there are guys who need some talent around them so they can really flourish, for example Eli Manning, Carson Palmer and Kurt Warner – there is nothing wrong with being in that latter category – it’s just facts.
The quarterback has not only become the leader of a team on offense, who must have the skill set to take advantage of the rules set forth today in the NFL – they must also be “the face of the franchise.” It used to be running backs for the most part, but the quarterback determines how a team will be perceived and welcomed by the media – not just with his stats, but with his demeanor and personality.
Quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler and even at times Cam Newton – make themselves easy targets for the media to pick apart what they do. Anything from body language, social media posts or post game comments can leave a negative affect on the media and in turn, become what is talked about regarding each quarterback’s respective teams.
Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning helped to usher in this new era of quarterbacks. All time greats, who smile when they have to smile, say all the right things and stay out of trouble (stop it with deflate-gate already. . .).
This poses a problem in today’s microwave-society though. Fans want their favorite team’s franchise QB to become Manning or Brady overnight. Fans have no patience for a quarterback to mature or grow within a system. This usually ends up in coaches being fired, and the quarterback left in a position where he is doomed to fail. Remember Jason Campbell? Early Alex Smith? And soon to be, Blake Bortles? The media ends up destroying the mold of a team’s franchise quarterback because the “results” are not immediate.
Even Andrew Luck is feeling that pressure right now. Unfortunately for Andrew Luck, he is playing with one of the worse rosters in the NFL, and in a division that has become increasingly more competitive (eh, the Jaguars still have Blake Bortles at quarterback though so. . .).
The Chicago Bears moved up in the draft to take Mitchell Trubisky number two overall. That kind of move means the franchise has all the faith in the world for him to become their “guy” in the near future. But wait, didn’t the Bears just sign Mike Glennon to be their starter at a ridiculous price? And when they did, weren’t they making all kinds of ridiculous praises about him? Yes. Yes, they did. Teams like the Bears are desperate at the quarterback position and need the media and fans to believe they have someone under center who can lead. The Jets need it. The 49ers. The Texans.
In short, the quarterback position is more than just the most important piece of the puzzle in building a roster. The quarterback is also the chip that puts a franchise in a better light.