Since the NFL’s inception, the Quarterback position has constantly evolved. As we head into what promises to be a drama-filled offseason, it’s fair to wonder whether or not the Eagles have been caught in the landslide of this development.
The early years
In the ’40s-’50s, the Quarterback was nothing more than a piece of the collective puzzle. Asked to throw the football only a couple of times a game while the league was drudged in the mud for running the ball.
Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw took that one step further in the ’70s. A Quarterback could lose you a game more often than win you one. As Bradshaw was quoted saying “You (70’s Steelers) can easily lose without me…but you aren’t going to win without me“.
Joe Montana and Dan Marino changed the position as the rules updated in the 80’s. A QB became the most important position on the field. Accuracy and touch were now the most vital skills a QB could have.
The next steps
Randall Cunningham and Brett Favre helped define the ’90s. A QB didn’t need to be the prototypical quiet leader. He could be as “crazy” as he wanted and the personality of the position started to grow.
Cunningham showed that a QB didn’t need to just be able to throw. The skillset of being more than just a pocket passer was introduced and it wasn’t long before it took off.
Michael Vick, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson all played roles in evolving the position to what it is now. The true pocket passer is now a dinosaur amongst the NFL players. A QB needs to be able to make plays with his legs as well as his arm, from the college game to the pros.
In the age of social media, the power a QB has only grown to legendary heights.
“With great power, comes great responsibility”
A Spiderman quote summarizes the QB position pretty well. Tasked with being the face and voice of the franchise, the QB has not only been given great power, but a huge spike in financial value. And in so doing, has created a downfall.
Teams continue to mortgage their future outlook for the chance at a franchise QB. Millions upon millions are invested in one player as opposed to the other 52 players on the roster.
The reaction? A sense of over-confidence that comes off as cocky and entitled. What does that lead to? Disaster.
It can be seen all around the league every single year. In what could be a record-setting offseason that sees multiple perceived franchise QB’s on the move, the notion is simple:
The Quarterback position is evolving into an unneeded luxury.
The evidence is in the hands of the Quarterbacks in roster limbo now.
Our journey starts with the biggest name up for a trade this offseason.
Not even a full year after getting a lucrative four year- $156 million dollar contract, Watson has requested a trade from the Houston Texans.
Why? Among a myriad of other reasons, the team lied to him.
They didn’t lie about personnel, coaching, or his status. They lied about asking for his input as the team searched for a new GM. A GM. A position in the organization that outweighs the QB, yet the Texans told Watson he would have input.
The QB position has evolved to now being able, and wanting a voice on personnel choices within the organization.
It’s not enough to pay the QB anymore. Watson’s contract showed that. The level of respect must be elevated to that of a czar of football. The coach must be vetted by the QB. The GM must be vetted by the QB. Personnel issues must be vetted by the QB as well.
A recipe for disaster.
Stafford is an interesting case that really shows the danger of the QB position. He is a player that has done everything right for the city of Detroit. The Lions were in the playoffs more times with Stafford than they had been in the previous decade.
What do they have to show for it? No playoff wins. And back to square one of a rebuild.
Stafford teaches teams the main lesson I’m trying to teach here. Paying the QB means absolutely nothing if the roster around him is terrible.
The Lions received elite play from Stafford for over a decade, and now, he has been traded to the Rams – A team that has enough weapons to make a deep playoff run.
Teams are stuck with QB’s because the perception is that an elite QB can hide multiple weaknesses and be the difference. Stafford is an example of that rarely being the case.
Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz
No Eagles fan wants to hear this, but the Dallas Cowboys have played Dak’s contract extension talks perfectly to this point. They haven’t broken the bank for him, instead, dealing out franchise tag deals for the last year and potentially this upcoming season.
There has been a massive narrative built out that Dak Prescott is lightyears ahead of Carson Wentz. Yet one QB is absolved from all struggles the team has had, while the other has been crucified for it.
Dak Prescott put up incredible numbers in 2018. The Cowboys went 8-8. All the talk was about how Jason Garrett was to blame.
2019 rolled around with the Cowboys having a new coach. Before Dak broke his ankle, the Cowboys were 1-3 and on the precipice of being 1-4. All the talk was about how terrible the Cowboys defense was. As for the struggles of the Eagles and how they’re perceived, that’s a totally different universe
Now Wentz didn’t do himself any favors for himself in 2020. He played horrendously and it’s one of many reasons he’s now on the trade block.
But when talking about the Eagles 4-11-1 season – the only player that gets hit hard for it is Wentz. Not an OL that gave up over 50 sacks. Not the medical staff that has been pathetic for three years. Noone blamed Jalen Hurts for going 1-3 and not scoring a single point in any second-half.
Some QB’s are absolved from the public of any wrongdoing while others are mercilessly attacked. Are Dak or Wentz worth the contracts both are on the precipice of having? Absolutely not. Is there a narrative for both to either protect or attack the other? You better believe it.
The perception of QB’s is different depending on who you talk to. Yet the Cowboys are in a better spot with four All-Pro talent weapons, while the Eagles are about to trade the only Pro-Bowl skill position they’ve drafted since 2016.
The 2017 Eagles were the best team in football. With Wentz, the team went 11-2. With Foles, they won the Super Bowl.
The idea that the Eagles were better with Foles than Wentz is moronic and tiresome. The fact is, that TEAM was stacked. The TEAM was good enough to win the title no matter who the QB was.
Be honest. Was the Buccaneers roster (minus the QB) good enough to win the Super Bowl?
All-Pro talent on both sides of the ball, excellent draft picks, and free agent acquisitions that were added to bolster talent instead of depending on them.
The Bucs went 7-9 in 2019 with Jameis Winston at QB. They turned the ball over 41 times as a team.
If they cut their turnovers in half for 2020, they could win probably four more games than they did in 2019.
In 2020, they turned the ball over 20 times LESS. They ended up winning 11 games. Tom Brady is the greatest QB of all time. There isn’t really an argument against that.
But if you put any of the top 15 QB’s in 2020 on the Bucs roster, do they still win the Super Bowl? Do they make the playoffs?
Watson, Wilson, Mahomes, Rodgers, Tannehill, Ryan, Allen, Jackson, Herbert, heck even Derek Carr could’ve made the playoffs with that Bucs roster.
Russell Wilson is a very funny case.
The QB was sacked 51 times this past year. He then went public to complain. Almost everyone talked about him needing more help along the OL.
Wilson also got a $140 million extension. Noone wants to talk about how his contract has strung the Seahawks into cutting costs at other positions.
How dare we question a QB complaining about players on his roster when he counts for close to half of a teams cap!
We are told franchise QB’s are able to hide those weaknesses and still find ways to win. Did Seattle win a playoff game this year? No.
A potential restructure for Wilson to give the Seahawks some room to improve the team would be beneficial. Nobody wants to talk about that though because Wilson is a franchise QB.
The perception of the QB needs to change. What we expect out of QB’s need to change.
QB’s can’t be considered as these super-humans that are able to hide any and all mistakes.
They weren’t able to do it fifty years ago and they aren’t able to now. Gifting them as the faces of the franchise is risky. Expecting things to be different after drafting one is stupid.
In the end, it’s only proven that QB’s are evolving in a way that makes their success unsustainable. Why pay $35 million for a QB instead of building an All-Pro roster and getting an average QB to ride the wave to a title?
QB’s are beginning to no longer matter. The team around the QB is the only barometer. The sooner the Eagles figure this out, the fewer of these rebuilds fans will have to endure.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire