Fresh faces at quarterback overshadow veterans
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, September 30, 2016
Experience is what it takes to succeed in the NFL. Veteran quarterbacks lead their teams to Super Bowl victories. Guys who are in for every offensive play, and certainly every game, are the ones who we have come to know as the only options for the quarterback who will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season. That’s just how it works…right?
In the three short weeks of this year’s NFL season, it seems that experience under center has taken a back-seat to raw talent and a strong team. While the names you hear year-after-year — Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning — have continued to do their jobs, play consistently and pick up wins, it seems that, at least so far this year, their experience at the helm is not the only way to pick up wins in the NFL. Young, inexperienced quarterbacks have been making headlines and highlights reels nationwide.
Philadelphia (3-0) has gone crazy for rookie QB Carson Wentz. Dak Prescott’s only loss came after being felled by the Giants, Dallas’ (2-1) NFC East rival, by a one-point margin in a high-pressure setting. Trevor Siemian has led the Broncos (3-0) to an undefeated start in an attempt to fill the gaping hole Peyton Manning’s retirement left in Denver’s offense. Second- and third-string quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett, have stepped out to an undefeated start in spite of the controversy surrounding the quarterback position in New England (3-0), while they keep Tom Brady’s seat warm.
And what may be even more surprising than these inexperienced quarterbacks finding success in the League is the fact that, of the five green quarterbacks who are currently making names for themselves nationwide, only Wentz was a first-round draft pick. Siemian was the 250th overall pick in the 2015 draft, and has managed to topple Cam Newton’s Panthers and Andrew Luck’s Colts.
So, this raises the question: Does experience really matter all that much in the NFL?
It is worth noting that not all of the inexperienced quarterbacks who have begun to prove themselves this year are rookies. Siemian and Garoppolo each had the opportunity to sit on the bench behind two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They have each taken a few snaps. They’ve had some time to learn the ropes of the League and their offenses. But that does not constitute experience.
I won’t overstate the importance of the quarterback here. Each of these newbies stepped onto the field alongside players with vast reserves of experience and established programs. Each of these teams was relevant before the new quarterback stepped on the scene and made headlines. But it’s hard to win games without an offense. And without a strong quarterback, it’s hard for an offense to produce. The quarterback is an integral part of any offense, so the fact that three teams with either rookie or completely inexperienced quarterbacks have jumped out to undefeated starts is not something that can be overlooked and passed off on the skill and experience of the rest of the team.
It’s hard to let go of the idea that experience at QB will yield more success. But it is also hard to argue with the fact that, apparently, experience is one of many factors in a team’s success. It is clear that the correlation between experience does not always work out. Just look at the 0-3 Bears under 11-season veteran Jay Cutler. That opens the door to the fact that a lack of experience under center doesn’t necessarily lead to a weak showing. And while there is still a lot of the season left to play, it seems that this year’s crop of inexperienced quarterbacks may have been able to turn the tables on what is expected from them.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.