Finding a fixture at the most important position on a football team in today’s NFL is absolutely critical for long-term success in this league. Seven of the last eight Super Bowls have been won by elite quarterbacks (and the one of eight that wasn’t won by an elite passer, happened to have an elite passer on the losing end) - now granted, four of them were won by the same man (on two different teams, mind you), but that even further illustrates my point.
In today’s NFL, passing is key! Being able to move the football, sustain drives to help keep your defense fresh, and put points on the board is the not-so-secret secret to success.
Josh Allen may be the name I chose to insert into the title of this article, but you could take MANY current NFL quarterback’s names and insert them as a placeholder (it just so happens that the memory of Josh Allen was the one most recently burned in my mind).
...heck, even Derek Carr.
The Next Great Thing
Every year, many of these college quarterbacks entering the NFL Draft are dubbed by scouts, media, draftniks and fans to be the “Next Great Thing”. This can be both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing in helping these kids get extra exposure and often elevates their draft stock; earning them more money in the process. It’s a curse as it may put TOO much pressure on these young men right out of the gate.
Finding a happy medium is ideal, but in this world of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, the pressure can become a burden.
However, this is all part of finding the next great thing.
Some teams will go to great measures to get their guy.
In 2018, the Bills sent a first (12th overall) and two seconds to the Bucs to move to 7th overall to select Josh Allen. A year earlier, the Chiefs sent their first (27th overall), a third, and 2018 first to Buffalo, in order to move up to 10 and select Patrick Mahomes. That same year, the Texans traded pick 25 and a 2018 first to the Browns for pick number 12 to select Deshaun Watson.
And then you have teams like the Colts, who had Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck fall into their laps in the Draft.
Furthermore, you have teams who will trade to get a veteran guy they feel can get them over the hump. Look no further than this year when the Rams traded for Matt Stafford. The chapter(s) of this book have yet to be written, but early returns look very promising.
Provide YOUR GUY With Protection and Playmakers
Ideally, you’d like YOUR GUY to be able to step into a good situation. The most important part is have a semi-established offense line to protect your investment. Teams who do this backwards often can do so at the risk of harming the mental psyche of the man under center. The Detroit Lions and Joey Harrington is a prime example of this.
You’d also like you franchise quarterback to have some key playmakers at his disposal upon arrival. It’s nice to have some younger playmakers in the fold so the players can build their own chemistry early on in their respective careers, but a solid veteran presence or two can often be a young quarterback’s best friend. It also doesn’t hurt to draft a rookie in that same draft to grown along side the quarterback - or do what the Bills did with Josh Allen, and go out and trade for that big-time playmaker.
Building the Offense Around Your Quarterback
Smart team tailor their offense around the strengths of their quarterback. You see proof of this in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson. Jackson is never going to be a classic NFL pocket passer, but what he can do with his legs, including his ability to extend plays when things break down, is unbelievable. Harbaugh is smart to take his talents and tailor his offense around those.
If you draft a quarterback who ran a lot of RPO’s in college, it may be wise to incorporate some of this early in that player’s career. If you have a guy who is mobile and excels outside the pocket, play-action bootlegs may be a part of the offense coordinators wish to incorporate. If you have a guy with a big arm, capable of stretching the field vertically, you want to be able to take advantage of that with downfield shots (provided you have the weapons to get vertical).
The Washington Football Team
Head coach Ron Rivera chose to essentially ignore the quarterback position over his first two offseasons (he did inherit a second year player he needed to evaluate in Dwayne Haskins), instead choosing to build up other areas of the team. Reading the tea leaves here, one can only assume that the staff did so, so they could eventually go out and hand-select their quarterback of the future, and drop him into a potentially good situation as either a rookie or second year starter. Now, it’s very easy to argue against this point as well - seeing how hard they went after Matt Stafford, but for this article, let’s pretend that affair never happened (because in reality, it never turned into a relationship).
The draft select of Sam Cosmi and the trade that brought Ereck Flowers back to D.C., should go a long way into stabilizing the front five for the foreseeable future. Youngster Saahdiq Charles, who missed the majority of his rookie year due to injury, can now be slowly brought along with no pressure to immediately preform. Now, more work is needed, as Brandon Scherff looks prime to land himself a massive deal in free agency elsewhere, and the left side of the line is still a big question mark with Charles Leno Jr. signed through just this season, but there is some stability and young talent.
At the skill positions, Washington has the dynamic Terry McLaurin on one side, and Curtis Samuel (who is actually younger than Terry), as a weapon who can play anywhere, including on the outside opposite McLaurin (he just needs to get healthy from a groin injury he’s currently fighting). They added a nice deep threat with huge upside in Dyami Brown. Many had the North Carolina speedster going in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he fell to Washington with the 82nd overall pick - and they were thrilled to scoop him up. At running back, Washington has Antonio Gibson. The former Memphis receiver is still learning the nuances of playing as a full-time running back in the league, but his upside is tremendous, and his skills as a receiver out of the backfield are a welcome skill to any coordinator and quarterback.
Aside from running back and receiver, Washington gave Logan Thomas a nice extension this offseason, keeping the tight end in burgundy and gold for the next few years. We’ve already seen Thomas act as a great security blanket and red zone target for his quarterback(s), and he could become even more valuable for a young rookie passer.
Now, the Football Team (cough, cough...Commanders), needs to just go out and find their future “Josh Allen”.
This is obviously a lot harder that it seems, but if a solid structure is set up for that young player to come into (which is the case here in D.C. now), the chances of that player becoming the next great thing is substantially higher. It’s now on our coaches and scouts to identify that player, pull the trigger on acquiring him, and make sure he’s developed the right way.