Quarterbacks and Antonio Brown.
One is necessary. The other is not. More on that later.
The axiom has always been, if you don’t have a “franchise quarterback” you’re not going to win a championship.
Yes, you can win a lot of games, maybe division titles in the NFL, but winning it all? Not really.
A ” franchise quarterback” is a guy who can lead a team down the field in the closing minutes and either tie, or win the game. He makes the key plays at the right time. You win. And when all is said and done, your quarterback is the reason why.
Most people can identify the QB’s who fall into that category. It’s the eye test. You’ve seen it, and you know.
If there’s an argument about someone, he probably is not that guy.
Can you win a championship without one? Yes. It’s been done. But it’s rare.
Usually, a quarterback who does not fit the profile of what we’re talking about, runs an offense that is dwarfed by a special defensive unit.
Trent Dilfer was not considered exceptional when the Baltimore Ravens captured the Super Bowl in 2000.
The Ravens great defensive unit was the reason why. Same for the Chicago Bears in 1986. Jim McMahon was colorful, and popular. But the Bears defense, like the Ravens, is rated one of the league’s finest all-time.
When the Steelers won four Super Bowls in six years, they had both elements. A truly great quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, along with one of the greatest defensive groups ever.
But that’s rare.
As a result, we measure a team’s championship on whether they have the player taking the snap from center to get it done.
We all know about Tom Brady. But entering the current season, who were the others?
I’m going to name several elite quarterbacks, at the beginning of the season, who could take their teams far into the post-season, if not taking it all.
Drew Brees. Patrick Mahomes. Ben Roethlisberger. Aaron Rodgers. Carson Wentz. Andrew Luck. Cam Newton. Russell Wilson.
Jared Goff. Matt Ryan. There may be others. Some on this list have won Super Bowls. Others have come close. Others are still searching.
Basically, if you have a top gun, you have a chance.
The one major rule of thumb has always been, if you lose your quarterback to injury, your season is probably over.
Thus far, the number of first-rate quarterbacks going down has been dramatic.
Even, for teams building for the future with good young prospects, injuries to QB’s have been overpowering.
The Super Bowl contending Saints lost Brees for at least six weeks. The Steelers, with high hopes, lost Big Ben for the season.
The Colts, lesser hopes, saw Luck retire before the start of the season. The Jaguars lost Nick Foles, who they figured might get them back to within a game of the Super Bowl, where they reached two years ago.
Cam Newton came back healthy enough to spark a Carolina resurgence.
Even the lowly Jets, saw light at the end of the tunnel with second-year Sam Darnold developing as the franchise leader.
So, the injuries to top-rate quarterbacks, set many prominent teams back to the extent that their dreams were either extinguished or severely disrupted.
Week 3, in the NFL season showed once again, the old, but reliable saying, ” that’s why they play the game”, is what it’s all about.
The Saints, with Teddy Bridgewater, not Drew Brees, beat the tough Seahawks in Seattle.
The Colts, with Jacoby Brissett, not Andrew Luck, beat the Falcons, and Matt Ryan.
The lowly Giants, with rookie Daniel Jones, not the benched Eli Manning, beat the Bucs on the road, with the more-experienced Jameis Winston.
The Panthers, with backup Kyle Allen, not Cam Newton, beat the Cardinals.
The Steelers, with second-string Mason Rudolph, not Ben Roethlisberger very nearly defeated the 49ers.
The Jags, with reserve Gardner Minshew, not Nick Foles, beat the Titans.
I realize, many of these triumphs, and near-wins, came at the expense of weak teams.
I am also aware that you’re not going to catch lightning-in-a-bottle in the long run.
The loss of those starting quarterbacks will ultimately take its toll.
But for one week, at least, there was the spark, engineered by a player no one figured on, that turned disappointment into joy for the players, organizations, and fans.
A post-script on the debut of Daniel Jones for the Giants.
Who knows how the Duke rookie will fare as his career moves forward?
But a reminder of how much the Giants organization was burned by “critics”, who stated the Giants had made a bad pick so early in last April’s draft. This is the same player who was booed by the crowd at Madison Square Garden when he witnessed a Knicks game late in the season.
After last Sunday’s extraordinary performance in his first start, I wonder how many of those fans would jeer him now?
And how many of those “experts” who chastised the team for choosing Jones, would knock the move today?
Now onto Antonio Brown.
When he was signed by the Patriots, I figured his days as a disrupting player were over.
The players on the team, and the organization, accustomed to championships, would simply not let him tarnish the atmosphere.
As it turned out, it was Brown’s off-field conduct, not his attitude on the field, that proved to be the final straw.
As fans who thrive on fantasy football wonder which team will pick him up next, they should keep in mind that.players such as Antonio Brown ruin a team’s chemistry, no matter how much talent he has.
The same story may fit Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars’ defensive back who openly challenged his head coach on the sideline.
There are those high-priced players with major talent, who can, and do, poison their teams.
If organizations do not see that, let the buyer beware.
We’ll see where the trail of Antonio Brown and Jalen Ramsey lead.
It’ll be fascinating to watch.
LEADERSHIP • A WINNING ATTITUDE • INSPIRATION • TEAMWORK
Have a corporate meeting or motivational group event coming up where you are in need of a keynote speaker?
Book Dick Stockton for your next speaking engagement.