Hey everyone, what better day to come back to Twitter Blog life than on the day of arguably the most unpredictable draft ever. This spring semester in Illinois had us bring back ALL of the high school sports it seemed, including football. That wasn’t the plan when I scheduled my Masters action research well before any delays, so I had that goin’ for me…..which was nice. (Narrator: It wasn’t nice). Like Jerry Stiller said above, I’ve been laying back on Twitter and….I’ve noticed some things.
I’m super glad everyone has saved up their “receipts” for all of their predictions they’ve made of future NFL and current NFL quarterbacks. Specifically, young quarterbacks, who are all in their own little petri dish of an environment, ranging to position coaching, play calling, team talent level, offensive line protection. Let alone their own ability to process a three times as thick playbook, against passing windows that drop shut like a guillotine.
We’ll get into the how “college influenced” per se NFL offenses have been in the past 5 years for another 3 part series. As the years have gone one though, the NFL has put a much greater emphasis on passing. It might actually link right up to the fact that QB’s are drafted in the first round at a 4 to 1 ratio over running backs this past decade. Gone are the days of the bellcow back we grew up with, mostly because teams only ran the ball at a 42% clip this past season. Passing matters now, thanks to rule changes, schematic ideas, and a glaicerly slow shift by the know it all NFL cognoscenti.
Where’s my fresh out the box Hall of Famer at?
Paced with this, the digital age we’ve arrived in the past decade has better or for worse robbed society of any semblance of patience, for basically anything. It’s like that damn Chicago area JG Wentworth commercial: “It’s my money, and I want it NOW!” Except, it’s for everything. Downloads, text responses, Tax returns. Even Quarterback development. If A QB hasn’t become the reincarnation of Tom Brady by Year 3, teams cut bait a helluva lot faster than they did in the 90’s and 00’s.
They are both right and wrong at this. Not everyone comes down the chute fully formed in Year 1. Hell, a lot of guys you knew growing up sat for a year. Rodgers. Rivers. (Also: Mahomes.) Some guys gor thrown into the fire (Manning, Big Ben, Matt Ryan-isshhhh). There is no wrong way to do it. You can’t say one team did it like this, and that’s why it happened. Each player and team meeting is its own unique little snowflake. And that’s true, no matter what Brad Pitt from “Fight Club” says. Putting different plays on different teams is a great experiment we can never go back in time to figure out. Now, where did I put that Flux Capacitor??
Location, location, location.
I would make the argument that where a QB lands has the biggest outcome on their impact. Before you rush off to PFF and drop stats that you can’t explain (okay, that’s like 5% of Twitter, I apologize), hear me out on this. Think about top end QB’s each year. Stats DO say that you will find a Pro Bowl at the top of the Draft just as often or more anywhere else in the Draft, if not more so. Those guys are touted for a reason.
But the pile of busts is an ugly trail to go down. Maybe it’s outdated scouting methods, or making unnecessary comparisons to previous players, or whatever inane theory prevails each year, that pushes guys to the top. As we later find out they clearly shouldn’t have been. There are tales in books filling up the shelves of the ancient Library of Alexandria of highly drafted QB’s who crapped out. Jeff George here, Rick Mirer there, an Akili Smith everywhere!
How to spot a dumpster fire
The QB’s that get pushed to the top go to teams that invariably there for a reason. These teams clearly have a low talent base, and likely a very poor culture as well. Think about one handing holding the other, walking down the trail. A bad culture is such a massive intangible which makes it hard to decipher. All I can say is, you know a good or bad culture when you see it, especially in football.
Most of those top teams in the draft cycle in a new coach to get some of the NEW culture, which means not only is the new QB learning a massive new system, but so is the whole offense, so there is no familiarity. A lot of times, that shock is too much, and the cycle repeats. Barring teams pushing out of this by nailing a draft, or making a short run, it’s hard to dig out of this cycle of football poverty, whether it be inept ownership (often), poor front office evaluations, a bored fan base.
Think: The Browns, Lions, Bills most of the millennium.
***Now, this doesn’t include teams that trade way up, who might at least have some modicum of talent and okay coaching. That QB may survive, or maybe they won’t, and more likely, that’s on them. But, think about why Mahomes and Allen are succeeding, besides working under really competent offensive minds that help them succeed, and their wildly insane talent? They were picked at least outside of the Top 10, where they could be considered a moderately stable franchise that just needed a boost.***
When do I get my Hall of Famer?
Another big secret: Who was constantly in the playoffs this millennium, say more times than not. Patriots, Steelers. Colts. Packers. (close but I’ll shoe them in: the Saints). All piloted by future Hall of Famers. Anybody see that trend? Who kept squaring off in NFC Title games more times than not. The same guys. Over, and over again. Meanwhile, everyone else may have gotten a Divisional Round shot, or duked it out in Wildcard games.
For those other 24 or 26 teams that had bouts of success, it was a range of excellent, some very good, and a dash of solid. For those not lucky enough or frankly incompetent too much, it was a parade of career backup, and whoever was on the Browns. It’s gonna be a crapshoot tomorrow in this first round of 2021, and franchises will be altered because of it. Now save those receipts, so you can tell your friends, you called it!