I subscribe to get on the other side of the ESPN Insider paywall because the information contained there is often very interesting and informative. So when I clicked on an article entitled “Will Luck, RG3 succeed early?” I expected some insight.
I didn’t get any and I knew I wouldn’t from the first sentence. One Bill Horton of Scouts Inc. wrote, “In the modern era, becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL has been a multiyear project, which usually entails playing behind a veteran, holding a clipboard and taking at least two or three years to learn the craft of playing at this level.”
To which I said, “Huh? Someone might want to tell Horton that it’s 2011.”
Now, back when I started watching football in the mid-60’s holding a clipboard for a number of years was the norm. That was due in part to the fact that quarterbacks called the plays then so the QB also had to be the offensive coordinator in many respects. But, whatever the reason, it was just the way things were done.
Not any more. Of the quarterbacks who are likely to start the season openers for their teams this September, nine of them either held a clipboard or saw only brief, spot duty during their first two years in the league–Matt Moore, Dolphins; Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills; Matt Schaub, Texans; Phillip Rivers, Chargers; Matt Cassel, Chiefs; Tony Romo, Cowboys; Aaron Rodgers, Packers; Kevin Kolb, Cardinals; Matt Flynn, Seahawks.
You might add Matt Hasselbeck of the Titans to the list if he starts ahead of Jake Locker. But that’s it.
If Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III start their teams’ season openers there will be 10 QB’s who started from the very first game of their rookie seasons–Luck, Griffin, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Sam Bradford.
It doesn’t look like “rushing” those QB’s along necessarily hurt them. Of the eight veterans who started from day one, six of them have taken their teams to the playoffs.
You can debate if it would be better if quarterbacks sat for a while before playing. Rodgers and Rivers are the poster boys for learning by watching. But to say that the “multiyear project” is the norm is just crazy.