Let me start by saying this; my team has never possessed what I consider to be a franchise quarterback.
Yes, the quarterback is the most important position in football. Yes, in most seasons, you will not win a Super Bowl without a franchise quarterback. Yes, if you don’t have one your team will most likely struggle until you trade or draft one. But here is the thing – you don’t need to be a Brady, Wilson, Rodgers or Brees to be what I consider a franchise quarterback. So often announcers, analysts, writers are so critical of a quarterback’s play, that we forget just how good some of these quarterbacks really are.
If you look at the history of the NFL since 2000, the teams that are consistently in playoff contention are those teams with a franchise quarterback. If you look at the teams that have struggled over the years, it is an ever revolving door for that position. Look at the Cleveland Browns for an example. How many quarterbacks have they drafted that have failed over the past 15 or so years? Yes, they are extremely bad at drafting quarterbacks – that much we can all agree. But why are so many other teams that cannot gain consistency at the position.
Let’s look at the Arizona Cardinals – once Kurt Warner left, how many guys played quarterback before they traded for Carson Palmer? Imagine what Larry Fitzgerald’s career numbers would like if played with Palmer or Warner every season? He wasted two-three prime years with Glass Joe Skelton as his quarterback.
Look at the St. Louis Rams – I would love to know the number of quarterbacks they have started over the past 10 years? We forget how bad they have been at that position in recent history. Los Angeles fans are hoping Jared Goff will be that guy, but only time will tell. The Buffalo Bills are another example of this going back to the day that Jim Kelly retired. I won’t pick on them too bad because I do think Tyrod Taylor has the potential to meet my criteria for a franchise quarterback.
Lastly, look at the New York Jets. If the Jets had a true franchise quarterback during the Rex Ryan era, who knows what could have happened with those dominant defenses. Ryan might still be the Jets coach with one Lombardi trophy under his belt. In case you are wondering, Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a franchise quarterback in my eyes.
So what defines my criteria for a franchise quarterback? Well I have three simple criteria points:
- I need to go into the NFL season knowing my quarterback gives me a shot to win every game despite the matchup.
- If we are down six with less than two minutes left to go in the ball game, as a fan, I have to believe my quarterback is going to march my team down the field and score the go ahead touchdown for us to win.
- I need to know that at the end of the season, you will throw for 3,500 yards, 20 – 30 touchdowns while keeping your turnovers to a respectable number. Stats are important, but the first two criteria points are more critical in my eyes.
As fans, we are often spoiled with team success while not recognizing how lucky we are to witness a franchise quarterback playing every week. Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers – just to name a few – are so under-appreciated across the NFL because they have not won a Super Bowl. You don’t realize how lucky you are to have such great players on your team. Team success is not always indicative of a quarterback’s play despite how much we try to tie Super Bowl trophies to success. The luxury of having a quarterback with that ability must be awesome. Down 20 points going into halftime, but not feeling the game is too far out of reach because Eli Manning (or insert any franchise quarterback here) can score quick and often making it a one possession game with five minutes left. What a feeling it must be.
Each week these quarterbacks have the ability to win you a game in the fourth quarter no matter the circumstances. I have no experience feeling that level of confidence in my quarterback. For my team, it is an ever evolving door praying that one day, we will have a true franchise quarterback who provides me with a sense of hope. Hope that my team can win a Super Bowl. Hope that no matter the odds, with him behind center, we have a fighting chance. That is my wish. So to all you fans out there who have a franchise quarterback, appreciate him while you can because when he is gone, you will miss him. Trust me on that and if you don’t believe me, you can ask any Miami Dolphin fan what life has been like post Dan Marino. I will conclude with this – I have been waiting 33 years for a franchise quarterback and it looks I will keep waiting.