Throughout the past decade, the competition for the top quarterbacks in the NFL has featured the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Russel Wilson, etc. Looking at the current status of the NFL, it seems we are at a generational gap and some of the younger guys look like they are ready to take over the league.
When you think of the young quarterbacks, the names that come to mind are Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Jimmy Garopollo, Josh Allen and Kyler Murray. Now we will pump the breaks for a moment and look at the landscape of the standings where Brady, Brees and Rodgers are still playing at a high level and leading some of the best teams in the NFL. To say those guys are done, and that the young guys have taken over, would be flat out wrong. Of the best squads in the league, the majority are led by seasoned veterans; Brady’s Patriots, Rodgers’ Packers, Wilson’s Seahawks and Brees’ Saints. However, there is plenty of representation from the younger generations, as seen in Watson’s Texans, Jackson’s Ravens, Garopollo’s 49ers and Allen’s Bills.
Though the power shift is not yet in full swing, it’s no secret that some of the veteran signal-callers listed above are close to the tail ends of their careers and we could very soon see a shift in power as to who is at the top of the league in terms of quarterback play. When you look at a guy like Jackson, who was the fifth quarterback selected in the 2018 draft, his ascendance into year two as a starter has been astronomical.
Jackson’s style of play is something we haven’t really seen since quarterback Michael Vick in the 2000s, which is a daunting company to share in regards to athleticism and talent. Jackson completely dominated a New England defense that was off to a historic start to the season and made them look beatable.
Another guy that has elevated his game every year since the start of his career is Wilson. When Wilson entered the league as a third-round pick in 2012, he was a good game manager in a great situation with Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense. Wilson was always able to do enough to get the job done, which is a lot easier with Marshawn Lynch in his prime, tearing through defenses and leading the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appearances and one Lombardi Trophy. In the past couple of years, the Seahawks have gradually lost pieces to that dominant defense, and have begun to rely more on their offense to win games for them. Wilson is currently the NFL’s leader in passer rating and the MVP race seems like a dogfight between Wilson and Jackson.
You also can not forget Mahomes, the reigning MVP that won the award in his first season as a starting quarterback. It also helps when you throw 50 touchdowns, but Mahomes’ jaw-dropping skill would lead viewers to believe that 50 touchdowns on the season are just a given. Throwing for more than 50 scores in a season has only been done twice before Mahomes did it; Brady’s 2007 Patriots offense rewrote record books with their 50 touchdowns through the air, and Peyton Manning’s Broncos offense in 2014 rewrote the books once again, as Manning holds the all-time passing yards in a season and touchdowns in a season record with 55 scores. Lofty company for the young signal-caller, although his talent and demeanor give football fans hope for a man to challenge Brady in the argument for the greatest to ever lace them up. Mahomes led Kansas City to the first seed in the AFC last season and was one defensive miscue away from knocking off the New England Patriots and going to the Super Bowl. Mahomes currently has the best TD/INT ratio in the NFL, with 18 touchdowns to his one interception, and continues to build his case to win MVP for a second consecutive year, despite missing two games due to injury. The Chiefs are currently 6-4 on the season, with backup Matt Moore going 1-1 in Mahomes’ absence.
For now, the top of the NFL still features Brady, Rodgers, Brees and company, but they are not alone at the top anymore. The league seems to be as open for Super Bowl contenders as it has been in a few years now. Within the next few years, we should expect to see an NFL led by Wilson, Mahomes, Watson, Jackson, and others.