NFL Ushering In New Era Of Quarterback

Jan 10, 2020, 4:08 PM | Updated: 6:07 pm
Lamar Jackson - Baltimore Ravens...
Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens passes the ball against the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on December 12, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NFL quarterback is evolving and there now looks to be a changing of the guard at the signal-caller position as Tom Brady and Drew Brees were eliminated from the playoffs.

Those two represent what a stereotypical quarterback used to look like but those two are both over 40 years old and show what the position used to exclusively be.

Watching the NFL Wild Card round saw mobile quarterbacks who not only could run but are also accurate passers, specifically Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans, take over games.

No one saw Brees or Brady do that.

However, the point is not that those two are not as athletic as Watson, the Bills’ Josh Allen, or All-Pro quarterback Lamar Jackson, but rather mobile quarterbacks are making inroads as successful signal-callers.

Jackson, Allen, and Watson all have a skillset that the NFL has not really seen work at this level with a quarterback who is as accurate as the traditional drop-back passer and can run and make plays. Usually, the case has been quarterbacks who can run like Michael Vick but have a low completion rate.

Now the league is more open to utilizing these quarterbacks. The spread offense that took fire in college football during the early 2000s is now migrating to the NFL. Slowly but surely, that spread attack and the athletic quarterback is finally making its way to the pro level.

There have been skeptics like Hall of Fame general manager Bill Polian who wanted Jackson to play wide receiver instead of a quarterback.

“I was wrong because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is clearly why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” Polian said as he was referring to the Baltimore Ravens coach and former GM who drafted Jackson.

The Future Of The NFL Quarterback Is Here

KSL Sports Scott Mitchell is a former 12-year NFL quarterback and he looks the part of a traditional quarterback at a towering 6-feet-6-inches. He knows a few things about the position and he is more in the mold of Brady and Brees than Watson and Jackson.

“You have these years in the NFL where you feel there is a change like you have been in an era and it is time for a new era to start,” Mitchell said.”You have these changing of the guard moments and that is where I feel the NFL is right now. It was a very telling sign when you have Tom Brady and Drew Brees have these perplexed looks on their faces and they are not these dialed in and focused to will their team to victory.”

Since the turn of the century, the quarterback position has been exclusively the tall, strong-armed and stationary quarterback to lead their teams to the Super Bowl and championships.

“In the past 20 years of the AFC it has been Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning or Tom Brady who has won a Super Bowl and they all look like me,” Mitchell said. “That was what the standard was in the NFL.”

That is all changing with teams opening up to quarterbacks who not only can throw very well but are mobile with called run plays that are not just a quarterback sneak to get a few years.

“You now have these young guys coming in and there is a change in the air and it’s the dual-threat quarterback. There has been so much about black quarterbacks in the past and people made a big deal about it,” Mitchell said. “What is really nice is that there is a whole slew of black quarterbacks who are playing and leading their teams in the playoffs, and they are just really good quarterbacks with people not making an issue about it.

“The way the quarterback position is being played in the NFL is changing. Even Josh Allen is even more of this [dueal-threat] style.”

This new style of NFL quarterback makes the game so much more exciting when Watson, Allen, Jackson or other quarterbacks who make plays with their feet and then see them make an amazing throw downfield.

There is still more than enough room to see Patrick Mahomes or Kirk Cousins sling the ball like a traditional quarterback, but NFL fans are in for a treat if this style of play at quarterbacks spreads beyond a handful of players.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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