The fall season is creeping in, and it’s football season once again. After only two weeks of regular season play it’s become apparent that the National Football League is currently entering the process of undergoing a makeover, regarding the quarterback position. For the past 15 years or so, game-day talk and highlights have centered around some of the best to ever play the position. Their longevity and statistical accomplishments are evident to the idea that fans are perhaps reaching the twilight of their viewership relating to “the greatest generation of quarterbacks to ever play the game”.
Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have each been franchise cornerstones, and delivered Super Bowl championships to their respective teams for what seems like the entirety of this millennium. Manning, the younger brother of all-time great Peyton, twice defeated the G.O.A.T. (Tom Brady) bringing New York City two championships in 2007 and 2011. Big Ben also captured two (2005, 2008), each time with a different head coach. Rodgers, widely considered one of the most efficient to ever play took a title in 2010. Finally, Brees who is perhaps the most-accomplished of the group, led New Orleans to a Super Bowl in 2009 while also breathing life into a city reeling from the aftermath and devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
Yesterday, Brees and Roethlisberger both sustained injuries that will see each undergo surgery. This will certainly impact their teams’ seasons, thus making way for other youthful quarterbacks to rise up, as well as open doors for other teams to establish themselves as contenders. Meanwhile, Manning’s ineffective and less-than dazzling play in the “Big Apple” over the past few seasons and through Week 2, is already inviting whispers that it’s time for the Giants to move on, and implement heir apparent Daniel Jones immediately.
Not quite on the hot-seat yet, Rodgers is currently the subject of questions regarding his character and ability to get along with teammates, as well as head coaches after forcing out long-time coach Mike McCarthy after last season and clashing with his replacement Matt LaFleur during the preseason and on the sidelines during their marginal victory over the division-rival Vikings.
Times change and people change, especially when thinking of pro-sports franchises. More than ever, front offices and coaching staffs are under repeated pressure to produce immediate results. The first domino to fall will certainly be Manning. It remains to be seen what will happen with Brees and Roethlisberger regarding their injury rehabilitation processes. Rodgers, who is still healthy, may be labeled with a “villain” tag if he fails to win and maintain a healthy working relationship with LaFleur.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahommes and Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, along with the Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott are currently the cream-of-the-crop for the 2019 NFL quarterback class. Their performances have been overwhelming, athletically-revolutionizing, and have seemingly raised the stakes in terms of what it takes to eclipse modern lightning-quick defenses. They fight speed with more speed, as well as efficiency. Then there’s the age-less Tom Brady who is spending his career twilight as a surgeon picking apart defenses, week after week en-route to what seems to be another Super Bowl appearance.
Transitioning from autumn to winter will bring seasonal change and provide the average fan with further evidence to support or debate this speculation regarding these Sunday regulars. Time is of the essence, and at the very least is opening the eyes of NFL executives and owners. Future outlook in terms of long-term sustainability at the quarterback position, as well as change in divisional landscape is in motion, and at the very least raising eyebrows around the league. In the words of the famous Dwayne “Rock” Johnson, can you smell what I’m cooking? It’s seemingly possible that the seasons won’t be the only thing transitioning come this winter.
Header Photo Credit: NY Times