The quarterback position has long been the most popular position in football, and perhaps American sports. He is the face of the franchise; the guy who leads the team.
Guys like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees have long been the faces of the NFL, and as long as they are healthy, the league has done fine. But, whenever they have gone down with injury, the ratings followed. But the NFL has been healthy because, for the majority of their careers, these four have stayed on the field.
However, Father Time is undefeated, and they won’t be able to play forever. Manning retired in 2016. Brees is 39, and although he’s having arguably his greatest season yet, who knows how much he has left in him, or how much longer he would want play for (especially if his New Orleans Saints win the title this year)?
And the two biggest names in the game, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, still have years left in them but are getting up there in age. Rodgers turns 35 this winter and has five years left on his contract after 2018.
But, with the beatings he has taken over the years and the lack of support by the Green Bay Packers franchise, it’s likely we see him end his career sooner rather than later.
And Brady, as we all know, is 41 but wants to play till he’s 45. He has defied Father Time for the past half-decade, but over the last three weeks, the veteran is showing his age.
They are icons of the game, and players we have grown attached to over the last 10-15 years. And because of it, other great young quarterbacks have been overshadowed.
Thus, the NFL’s fear of a dropoff, regarding popularity, after Rodgers, Brees, and Brady retire is understood. When so much time and resources are put into your most marketable players, who also happen to be on the back nine of their career, it’s hard to prop up others.
But Monday night’s Clash of the Titans between the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs may have put some of those worries to rest.
On display were two of the most exciting offenses in league history led by the game’s two brightest young quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff.
Young is a relative term because Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson are ‘young’ compared to Brees, Brady, and Rodgers. But, all three are 29 and have been in the league for seven seasons now (eight for Newton).
Regardless of the hype they came in the league with, the trio entered the NFL during the high-time of Manning, Brees, Rodgers, and Brady’s peaks. The trio was always going to be in the shadow of them.
And because of either geography, health, or whatever else, players like Newton, Luck, and Wilson have become forgotten at times.
But there has been an influx of young quarterbacks over the past few years who, along with Newton, Luck, and Wilson (and other veterans like Matt Ryan) will be enough to carry the torch. And Mahomes and Goff are at the forefront of it.
Has anyone had as meteoric of a rise as Mahomes has had this year? The Chiefs moved up to 10th in 2017 to select the gunslinger out of Texas Tech and sat him for a year behind Alex Smith. But even after having a career year, the Chiefs moved Smith this past offseason, showing just how much they believed in their young quarterback.
And what Mahomes has done has been beyond imagination. In what is basically his rookie season, Mahomes is a frontrunner for the MVP award. He’s become one of the biggest names in American sports, and no doubt the talking point of the NFL.
He leads the league with 3,628 passing yards and 37 touchdowns through 11 games. He has become the media darling of the NFL because of his play, and it’s hard not to see why.
The 23-year-old is on track to do something that only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have done at their peaks. And he’s going to top that as well.
Mahomes is an all-time talent; one who makes you want to tune in and watch every time his team plays. He is a mix of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre (both Packer quarterbacks) in some respects.
His arm is something to behold like the other two and is easily one of the strongest ever. Mahomes combines that with athleticism and swag which allows him to make throws only Aaron Rodgers can make, making him one of the flashiest players in the league like Rodgers.
And he has a bit of Favre’s gunslinger mentality in him, playing with reckless abandon at times. He will force the ball down the field because he’s aggressive. He has a huge ‘wow’ factor along with head-scratching tendencies which will lead to tons of home run plays or turnovers. And nothing is more exciting than those.
And because he plays in a terrific offensive scheme put together by Andy Reid and is surrounded by arguably the most explosive weapons group ever, the fireworks are only magnified.
It’s fair to question whether we’ve ever seen a better quarterback-running-back-wide receiver-tight end combination than the 2018 Chiefs. As long as they stay together, the NFL will have must-watch TV every week.
Jared Goff is a different animal entirely. While Mahomes is all running around and flashy, Goff is quiet and humble, but a deadly assassin from the pocket.
His rookie year was ruined because of former head coach Jeff Fisher, prompting people to call him a bust. But Sean McVay was brought in and created a scheme that played to Goff’s strengths to a tee (as a coach should), and we see why the 24-year-old was taken first overall in 2016, even over Carson Wentz.
He is steady and consistent and merely goes about his business quietly and without making any noise. He isn’t the best of athletes, but is a pure pocket passer, with a good arm, smooth delivery, and an elegant ball.
His IQ is high, accuracy, pristine, and anticipation, elite. Oh, and he has the most wins of any quarterback since the start of 2017 but has been lauded as a “system quarterback.” Remind you of anyone?
Goff is the Brady (or Brees) to Mahomes’ Rodgers. He and McVay appear to be the next Tom Brady-Bill Bellichik or Drew Brees-Sean Payton duo, which is good news for the league.
Goff is with the right coach, and as long as they are together, wins and impressive stats will follow. And he plays under the bright lights of Los Angeles while running an offense that will always get them primetime spots, amplifying his profile even more.
Goff won’t make the exciting plays like Mahomes, but he has some of the surgeon aspects Brady and have. He will sit back and dissect a defense by throwing darts and dimes all over the field while launching them beautifully downfield too.
2017 was Goff’s redemption year, while 2018 has been his breakout season; one which has him as a legitimate MVP candidate.
Goff and Mahomes appear as if they will be playing for the most exciting offensive schemes in the future, with some of the best weapons in the game. They are young, fresh, and exciting in their own ways.
As long as they are in their current situations, winning and historical numbers will follow. But beyond them, Carson Wentz will rejoin them, and Luck, Wilson, and Newton will be there too.
It’s hard to match the iconography of the veterans, but with the new crop of quarterbacks led by Mahomes and Goff, the NFL is in a good spot down-the-line.