We have been fed the idea that the league is spreading out. I have preached it myself. Double tight, three wide. 3-4 defences and slot receivers aplenty just to keep up with the run and gun attack that so many teams are featuring. Every team needs a gunslinger pivot to lead their high octane attack.
Or maybe not. Maybe the league really isnt changing as much as we have been lead to believe. Moreover, maybe these young kids under centre are more hype than substance and are actually riding a fairly typical career arc considering what they are being thrown into.
Teams have gone off the board on several occasions in recent years to grab the guy they believe to be their man of the future. Christian Ponder. Blaine Gabbert. Jake Locker. Sam Bradford even. But we are learning that pro defences are still pro defences and while you may be able to pull some things over peoples eyes the first time around, the amount of film study in the pro game makes it almost impossible to fool a team twice.
You can fool a pro team once, but you have to beat them the second time. So when a rookie gets off to a hot start for their first few games or even first season, it is easy to sit back and say that you can already place amongst the elite pivots in the league. While the real elite quietly go about their business every week, our eyes are glued to the fairly pedestrian performance of most of these youngsters.
The Panthers game is on, let's see what Cam is doing. 'Skins are playing later, I wonder how RGIII is going to do. Luck has made the Colts into an exciting team again.
All things that you hear every week, and we let our eyes lie to us for another week. In terms of actual production, the young demographic of quarterback has been playing exactly how they should. They have struggled with interceptions and completion percentage. Every player is that much better in the pro game and the holes close that much quicker. A three step drop slant is not always a sure thing.
Every terrible team can only be cured with a brand new pivot as well. That was is rich. The only reason that your team is terrible, Kansas City and Jacksonville for example, is surely because of the inconsistent quarterback play, and not the continued failure of the front-office staff to draft and develop high level players after years of high picks. But the fan base will eat up a race for a new pivot. Suck for Luck was the talk of the town.
Amongst the young generation of men under centre, RGIII has the highest rating. Much of his success has been due to the offensive upheaval that Kyle Shannahan performed on the 'Skins playbook that has morphed their attack into a hybrid college style spread approach. A lot of completions over the middle but not a formula that has brought the team much success thus far. Even as such, RGIII ranks 9th in the league.
Andy Dalton is a few spots down from that with all-everything AJ Green catching his lobs. Russell Wilson comes next with his home-away splits that are begging to regress back to the mean. Sam Bradford, armed with his gaudy old school CBA first overall deal, is in the bottom half of the league in passer rating. Granted he has little to throw to, but at that price there are no excuses.
Christian Ponder, he who struggles to break the century mark, is just barely better than Tony Romo. Remember Cam? Superman if you will. He was going to gave 50 scores this season. Another 4,000 yard season was on the horizon. Or maybe he is Vince Young.
Andrew Luck has in fact led the Colts to an impressive reversal of fortune through nine games, but his number leave something to be desired. 57% completion percentage with only one more score than pick. Tannehill and Weeden both have more picks than scores.
It is a mans game and Peyton, Drew, Tom and Aaron are not about to leave their throne. The new kids may be coming for them, but until they are able to do it on a week in week out basis, they will have some work to do. Real pivots are not made once a month. The real ones come out every single week and lead their team up and down the field.
Is there help on the horizon that will cure the league of all of their woes and make life so much easier for the general? Not anytime soon. The next crop of pivots being thrust upon us is lead by Matt Barkley who is having a tough time distinguishing himself from Mark Sanchez at this point. Geno Smith was once the next RGIII, but he is now looking like something closer to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tyler Wilson and Bray? Facing tough SEC teams every week and finding a new hole in their game on every possession.
Logan Thomas was supposed to be the next big thing, with first overall on the lips of many. But he has done a number to his draft stock like few before him. Maybe we have to wait a few years for Johnny Football to make its way to the pro game until we can really be excited about a pro prospect again.
Or maybe we need to heel on the expectations for the rookies coming into the league. While it is a nice idea that all you need is a good young quarterback to return to prominence in the league, but if you give him no weapons and don't protect him, you can only expect so much. Alex Smith, while not quite a youngster at the point, turned into quite the pivot when the 49ers spent two first round picks on offensive linemen.
KC and Jacksonville are labouring near the bottom of the standings, fighting each other for the honour of taking another USC product that will fall short of expectations. Is it possible that pro teams could actually shake their collective heads and draft the best players available regardless of position this year? Or will every team without a superstar under centre race to draft whatever youngster with a big arm that they can find?
Chiefs, Bills, Jaguars, Jets, Browns, Raiders, Cardinals, Cowboys. All of these teams could see a change to the man calling the plays in the next year or so. There are another half dozen teams that are an injury away from being on that list as well.
As we saw last week with Cutler, Alex Smith, Big Ben and Vick, the head of the snake can quickly be cut off and the team is usually reeling to find a replacement. Every team understands that their signal caller is the number one target on the field, and that if you can get past the first layer, your odds of winning increase substantially.
Maybe some of these college products will break into the pro ranks and take the world by storm. But they will also surely come back down to earth in short order. No one becomes elite overnight and the cream of todays crop did not get to where they are today by accident.
Pay less attention to the names and more attention to the numbers. Cam vs. RGIII may sound sexy on paper, but there could very well be better football being played elsewhere. Ponder vs. Bradford only sounds good until you actually start watching. While it won't blow you away, watch what Houston does on both sides of the ball if you want a new appreciation for the game.