This one is a tricky one for me to wrap my head around. I’d almost rather we totally tank, get the number one pick for NEXT year’s draft, and take the Andrew Luck Train all the way to multiple championships. In which case, my previous point about bolstering the offensive line is pretty apt; better to have the solid O-line in place for the new quarterback than to get the new quarterback and watch him get killed season after season while you try to piecemeal some protection around his fragile, inexperienced body.
THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, really, we REALLY can’t keep putting this off. REALLY! Good teams have succession plans in place, so they can seamlessly transition from over-the-hill veteran to rising superstar tenderfoot. Green Bay has been the NFL’s how-to manual in this regard with their Favre to Rodgers switch. New England also hit the jackpot in going from Bledsoe to Brady. San Francisco may have had the best quarterback hierarchy in history going from Montana to Young.
Of course, those teams are in the extreme minority. Most of the time, teams wait too long with their veteran quarterbacks. The more Hall of Fame-worthy they are, the longer they’re forced to wait for their legend to retire. Oftentimes, the retirement comes all at once, with no plan whatsoever in place (see: Elway, Marino, Esiason, Jim Kelly). Those teams, for all intents and purposes, have never recovered from their all pro field generals; they’re still waiting for the quarterback transition to gain traction where the new guys start leading the teams to victory again. Sometimes this takes many, many tries.
So, yeah, we can’t keep putting this off or else we’ll lose Hasselbeck and won’t have anyone good to replace him! We’ll struggle to .500 records like we did all through the 90s, maybe we’ll take a flier on a hall of fame vet on his very last legs (like we did with Warren Moon), we’ll stick with an underachiever for too long because – in comparison to all the other stiffs we draft in that time – he looks the best (like we did with Jon Kitna). I don’t want to go through the 90s again with my football team. Because I don’t have the 90s Sonics to fall back on when NFL standings get me down.
That’s the immovable object in this whole equation. Now, onto the unstoppable force:
Drafting a quarterback might as well be like playing the Lotto! How could you possibly know which guy is the right guy? Who could’ve seen Tom Brady coming? What made Donovan McNabb a success while Akili Smith was a bust? Why is Eli Manning a Super Bowl calibre guy while Joey Harrington is a flag football calibre guy? Who’s going to be the huge talent with the biggest gun while simultaneously being the biggest headcase with a huge appetite for donuts?
I hate this. I hate drafting quarterbacks higher than the 4th round. The higher the round, the more expectations. If they don’t come out of the box on fire, then fans get antsy and the quarterbacks themselves start to press and struggle. If you go to all the trouble of drafting a quarterback in the first round, AND they suck, there’s always going to be incentive to keep giving them chance after chance after chance. Hell, look at the professional arc of Ryan Leaf’s career; that’s really all you need to know.
On the plus side, teams seem to be getting better at drafting their higher end QBs. Guys like Flacco, Ryan, Stafford, and Bradford are starting right out of the gate and producing at a high level. Rookies are making playoff appearances and getting wins!
This begs the question, though: did they just get lucky, or are teams REALLY drafting better? We’ll find out this year. It’s looking like a supremely DOWN year at the position. I’m not buying Cam Newton for one buttfucking second. Jake Locker is looking an awful lot like a faster version of Charlie Whitehurst. The other guys all have their flaws and I think this year’s draft will be lucky to see one team actually get its “Quarterback of the Future” and have that future be anything but ass-sucking.
We draft at spot number 25. Granted: that’s right around where Rodgers went. Will the next Aaron Rodgers fall in this year’s draft like he did in his? If so, then In Schneider I Trust. If not, this is NOT the year to start reaching for a “project”. I’ve seen too damn many projects in my day. Ever since Dave Krieg went down for the count, I’ve seen nothing but projects, game managers, and Matt Hasselbeck! I want more! And dammit, I DESERVE more!