With the season winding down following the New England Patriots record-tieing 6th Super Bowl victory, we are now able to reflect back on the performances of these young quarterbacks throughout the league.
The NFL’s infusion of young talent at the quarterback position was on full display over this past season. This was noticeably true in the playoffs with several budding signal callers getting the nod.
The NFL was lit up this season by quarterbacks all under the age of 26. At the end of week 6, the list was headlined by five quarterbacks who all appeared to be playing beyond their age.
Those five being Deshaun Watson, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Patrick Mahomes and Mitchell Trubisky.
Two other young quarterbacks put their dynamic play out there for everyone to watch later in the season.
The AFC North duo of Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson were able to come on late in the season to pull their squads back from poor play from seasoned veterans. Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor combined for a 5-6-1 record before being replaced by their younger counterparts.
Baker Mayfield was able to give the Browns 6 wins (7-8-1 final record) after being 1-31 over the previous two seasons and breaking a 19-game losing streak in week 3. Lamar Jackson went 6-1 after taking over for Joe Flacco due to injury in week 11.
With these seven quarterbacks, none wowed the NFL audience more than Patrick Mahomes and the magical plays he was able to produce.
From no-look passes to throwing left-handed (as a right-handed quarterback) to throwing curve balls around defensive lineman, no one was able to stop the 2nd year QB.
While putting on a clinic and putting up a 5,000-yard season with 50 touchdowns, 12-4 record and an MVP nod, Mahomes seemed to be showing us a glimpse into the future where the next generation of stars will be taking over for all time greats in Tom Brady and Drew Brees.
Patrick Mahomes wasn’t the only young gun that was able to take his team to the promised land. Lamar Jackson, Mitch Trubisky, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff all took their teams to the postseason with Goff bringing an offensive juggernaut to the biggest stage to face off with the two headed monster of Brady and Belichick.
Although Jared Goff had a very lackluster performance in the Super Bowl, there isn’t too much anyone can do as a 3rd-year signal caller against “The GOAT” on the biggest stage in professional sports (unless you’re Eli Manning).
In the last “The New NFL” article back in week 6, Mahomes was leading the league in passing touchdowns at 18. So it is no surprise that after 17 weeks he leads the league with 50 with Andrew Luck being 2nd with 39.
Goff and Wentz were able to extend their postseason bids since 2017. Both 3rd-year signal callers continued to show why they were drafted 1st and 2nd respectively in the 2016 NFL Draft, while simultaneously shutting down all bust labels that may have been prematurely given to them following slow starts in their rookie season.
Wentz and Watson both were able to come back strong after having their 2017 seasons derailed following ACL tears. Although Watson wasn’t able to make it to the postseason and Wentz was shut down due to injury late in the season, it was clear they weren’t one season wonders.
After finishing the season strong, the septuplet ranked 1st (Mahomes), T-6th (Goff), 11th (Mayfield), 12th (Watson), T-14th (Trubisky), 17th (Wentz), 36th (Jackson) in touchdowns. 2nd (Mahomes), 4th (Goff), 11th (Watson), 17th (Mayfield), 20th (Trubisky), 21st (Wentz), 37th (Jackson) in passing yards. And 3rd (Wentz), 9th (Watson), T-17th (Trubisky), 20th (Mahomes), 24th (Mayfield), 26th (Goff), 32nd (Jackson) in completion percentage.
With six of the seven quarterbacks being in the top half of the league in at least one of the three main passing stats, it is evident that they aren’t having the struggle of learning an NFL offense as a rookie, 2nd or 3rd-year quarterback. Lamar Jackson was the only exception due to him taking over in week 11.
Of the seven quarterbacks, five lead their divisions (Goff, Mahomes, Trubisky, Watson and Jackson) with records of 13-3, 12-4, 12-4, 11-5 and 10-6 respectively. The other two aren’t far behind with Wentz being 9-7 in a division where the Cowboys went 10-6 under Dak Prescott and Mayfield leading the Browns to a 7-8 third-place finish in the AFC North.
Pre-season predictions had the Rams (2nd) and Eagles as top three Super Bowl contenders while the Texans and Chiefs were either favorites to win the division or to secure a wildcard spot.
This didn’t end up being too far off with all four making the playoffs with Watson being knocked out in the wildcard round, Wentz making the divisional round, Mahomes making the conference championship and Goff competing in the Super Bowl.
The Bears and Ravens weren’t predicted to make it to the playoffs but were still able to make it to the postseason only to be knocked out in the first round.
In the previous article, I stated, “The 2018 draft isn’t likely going to generate the talent that the 1983 draft class had, but it is too early to tell.” This has ended up holding true with Mayfield and Jackson breaking out after displacing their veteran teammates and Rosen (Cardinals), Darnold (Jets) and Allen (Bills) having fairly average first-year outings.
Another tidbit from week 6 was the “fixed backup” in Lamar Jackson surprisingly getting a golden opportunity with Joe Flacco getting injured just before their bye week.
All seven of the teams seem to feel pretty secure with their young quarterbacks as do the three other teams that had a rookie signal caller.
Now that these 10 aforementioned teams have seemingly found their franchise quarterback, they join the likes of the Raiders, 49ers and Cowboys who also have younger/in their prime quarterbacks while the Patriots, Saints, Chargers, Packers and Steelers all have a handful of years with future Hall of Famers commanding their offenses.
The quarterback play around the league has seemed to be very high with almost every team having a serviceable gunslinger within their offenses.
It will be enjoyable to watch the shift from the Bradys and the Brees of the world being replaced by young Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff. Will these young players replicate the productions of these Hall of Fame veterans or will they disappoint?