But Finding A Promising Quarterback Must Happen Also
Finding a quarterback is a tough business; no one denies that. But this is where “change matters” comes into play.
The Seahawks had a steady, yet unspectacular quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck for years. When Hasselbeck’s age became an issue, the team realized they had to move on. They signed Tavaris Jackson who started for a year (2011), but quickly realized they had to acquire a younger, more promising quarterback if they were to find greater success.
To give themselves options, the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn, who had filled-in admirably for the Packers when Aaron Rodgers was injured, and drafted Russell Wilson prior to the 2012 season. Wilson ended up winning the job despite the Seahawks’ three year/$26 million commitment to Flynn just months earlier.
The decision to change and find a promising quarterback has worked out nicely as Wilson has developed into one of the league’s youngest and most promising stars. Come Sunday, he’ll have an opportunity to win his second consecutive Super Bowl and cement himself as one of the faces of the NFL in the process.
As for the Patriots, it was a willingness to change that also led them towards finding their legendary quarterback.
Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) warms up before the game against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to the start of Tom Brady’s reign in New England, he was a sixth-round backup to Drew Bledsoe. This was to be the plan for a long time as the Patriots signed Bledsoe to a record-breaking deal in March of 2001, a year after Brady was drafted. As luck would have it (for the Patriots and Brady), Bledsoe was injured in the second game of the year and Brady took over for most of the remainder of the Super Bowl winning year.
Yet, this wasn’t the end of the Patriots’ quarterback decisions. Brady had a solid season, but hardly blew people away. The Patriots leaned on their defense while Brady finished the year with just 2,843 yards in 15 games (6.9 yards/attempt), 18 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
But what really challenged the Patriots was what happened in the playoffs. After going 32/52 for 312, zero touchdowns, and one interception in the opening game, Brady got hurt against the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. Drew Bledsoe came in and led the team to victory. The Patriots could’ve easily reverted back to the quarterback they had just signed to a record-breaking deal, but they stayed with Brady who finished the postseason going 60/97 (61.9%) for 572 yards (5.9 yards/attempt), one touchdown, and one interception in three games.. This willingness to change enabled the Patriots to move from mediocrity to elite status.
Come Sunday, fans should hope the Bengals pay close attention to what made these two teams the elite franchises they are currently. A willingness to change catalyzed their development while a commitment to finding more than mediocrity has been a driving force. It’s helped them develop strong defenses, competent running attacks, and find their franchise quarterbacks. With close enough attention on Sunday, the Bengals could learn how to move themselves from mediocrity to perennial Super Bowl contenders.
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