Last week when Tom Brady went down and didn’t come back up, Patriots, no, NFL fans everywhere held their collective breath. Seeing Tom Brady back in form against the Buccaneers that week made everyone breathe a sigh of relief. In today’s NFL, nobody can stand losing their franchise quarterback.
That is the real danger and risk associated with practice and preseason games. Many teams, indeed, question whether it is a necessary risk.
Is it worth losing one of the most important players on the team to a game that doesn’t count? How much practice does a quarterback really need with pads on and live contact?
Losing a franchise quarterback is so hard to overcome that no team has brought a backup quarterback, that wasn’t meant to be the quarterback of the future (sorry Colin Kaepernick), since Trent Dilfer won the first Raven’s super bowl back in 2000. Matt Cassel and others have made it to the playoffs or have had winning seasons but, as history proves, you need a good quarterback to make it to the Big Game.
Just look at the Washington Redskins this past playoff season.
Losing a quarterback can change the game. When Robert Griffin III went down in the fourth quarter, the Washington Redskins never stood a chance. Kirk Cousins is no slouch, but he is also no Russell Wilson. That can mean the difference between success and failure. Think back to how the Colts played without Peyton Manning in his last season as a Colt. No one could lead that football team to a win.
That does not mean a quarterback has to have a cannon of an arm or run like a running back to win. It does take talent, but even a game manager can be a super bowl-winning quarterback. Think about Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer. No one can say they are on the same level as Peyton Manning or Drew Brees. But they won through their efficiency and safe decisions. That does not mean that sub-par quarterbacks can make it for long. There are many attributes that make franchise quarterbacks different than most other quarterbacks. Erik Frenz of Bleacherreport.com describes what makes a franchise quarterback here. As you can see, it can be difficult to define and even more difficult to find.
In the end, it takes a strong kind of player to lead an NFL team. It takes an even stronger player to be a franchise quarterback.
Unfortunately, it is hard to find and develop. Think back to wasted draft picks, Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Chris Weinke, that teams wish so badly and pay so much to try to be their quarterback. So many players have tried to become the player the franchise needs but many do not make the cut. So when one goes down, everyone holds their collective breaths. Not just because a team might lose its biggest leader.
It’s because the NFL might just lose a special kind of player, one of a kind, that cannot be replaced.
What do you think? Who’s your favorite franchise quarterback? Can a team win it all without one this season? Hit us up on Facebook or on Twitter now!