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Mahomes broke the QB position in the NFL


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@TLO and I were having a conversation about Sam Darnold earlier.  We were struck by the fact that Darnold, at 23, is still three years younger than Chad Pennington was when he became the Jets starter at 26.  Pennington was also a first round pick but backed up Vinny Testaverde for two years after starting 38 games at Marshall.  Darnold started only two seasons at USC (after only starting a couple of years in High School) and was inserted into the Jets dumpster fire starting lineup just a couple months after turning 21.  

The Pennington and Darnold comparison feels like a microcosm for the whole NFL lately.  Teams have sky high expectations for QBs from day 1 and are completely willing to move on from high draft picks if they don't get consistent Pro Bowl caliber production right away.  I joined FF in 2008, thinking back to those first few drafts guys like Ryan, Flacco, and Stafford were far from superstars from day 1 but there was never any talk I can remember of teams moving on and (at least in the case of Ryan and Stafford) they broke out in their mid/late 20s.  Plenty of other examples like Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill.  Even guys who were complete dumpster fires like Mark Sanchez or never really that promising like Josh Freeman generally got several full seasons as starter before teams would give up on an early first round pick. 

But the last five years... 

  • Goff was a 2x pro-bowler and made it to a Super Bowl, but a couple of meh seasons and he's gone
  • Wentz played at an MVP level for a year and was average/above average for two more.  Gone after one bad year
  • Paxton Lynch got 4 starts
  • Trubisky made a Pro Bowl, struggled in 2019, and was below average in 2020 before getting benched (yes I know he didn't pass the eye test, but on paper he really wasn't having a terrible year)
  • Darnold is already a bust at 23
  • Josh Rosen got 13 starts in Arizona before being traded so his team could draft another QB in the first round the next year.  Same thing happened to him in Miami  
  • Daniel Jones has been mediocre but shown flashes.  A lot of people are ready to label him a bust at 23. 
  • Dwayne Haskins has barely been given a chance in Washington and people are over it
  • Plenty of people thought Miami should dump Tua and draft another QB after one (decent) year... the guy who everyone was tanking for and calling a generational prospect a year or two ago

You could argue teams are being more sensible about sunk costs and moving on if they were wrong.  But the QB carousel has reached ridiculous proportions the last couple of years.  Teams aren't even considering if Player X is better than Player Y tbh.  All they care about is that Player X is new and shiny and Player Y is a known commodity who isn't Patrick Mahomes.  

These days if you don't have a Mahomes or Lamar Jackson type of impact early in your career, you are immediately on the hot seat.  Tbh the NFL will be a very QB hungry league in 5 years if this continues and nobody has patience or values stability at the QB position. 

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The problem seems to be that recently, other than the Patriots with Brady, the only teams who win the Super Bowl seem to have young QB's on their rookie contract.  QB salaries have become such a huge part of the salary cap that even if they are merely "pretty good", it isn't enough to beat teams who have the advantage of inexpensive quarterbacks on their rookie contracts. 

Seeing Patrick Mahomes has made GM's desperate to duplicate what the Chiefs have done.  The problem is that guys like Mahomes don't come around very often.

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I just think it's become more clear to teams whether a guy has it or not. You can see it. And if they have it then you have your guy and if not then you cannot settle because guys need to get paid and that 5th year option for first round QBs isn't a small price to pay. 

3 years is enough time to show your worth, after that teams should begin creating contingency plans because the league will pass you by. 

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34 minutes ago, mission27 said:

@TLO and I were having a conversation about Sam Darnold earlier.  We were struck by the fact that Darnold, at 23, is still three years younger than Chad Pennington was when he became the Jets starter at 26.  Pennington was also a first round pick but backed up Vinny Testaverde for two years after starting 38 games at Marshall.  Darnold started only two seasons at USC (after only starting a couple of years in High School) and was inserted into the Jets dumpster fire starting lineup just a couple months after turning 21.  

The Pennington and Darnold comparison feels like a microcosm for the whole NFL lately.  Teams have sky high expectations for QBs from day 1 and are completely willing to move on from high draft picks if they don't get consistent Pro Bowl caliber production right away.  I joined FF in 2008, thinking back to those first few drafts guys like Ryan, Flacco, and Stafford were far from superstars from day 1 but there was never any talk I can remember of teams moving on and (at least in the case of Ryan and Stafford) they broke out in their mid/late 20s.  Plenty of other examples like Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill.  Even guys who were complete dumpster fires like Mark Sanchez or never really that promising like Josh Freeman generally got several full seasons as starter before teams would give up on an early first round pick. 

But the last five years... 

  • Goff was a 2x pro-bowler and made it to a Super Bowl, but a couple of meh seasons and he's gone
  • Wentz played at an MVP level for a year and was average/above average for two more.  Gone after one bad year
  • Paxton Lynch got 4 starts
  • Trubisky made a Pro Bowl, struggled in 2019, and was below average in 2020 before getting benched (yes I know he didn't pass the eye test, but on paper he really wasn't having a terrible year)
  • Darnold is already a bust at 23
  • Josh Rosen got 13 starts in Arizona before being traded so his team could draft another QB in the first round the next year.  Same thing happened to him in Miami  
  • Daniel Jones has been mediocre but shown flashes.  A lot of people are ready to label him a bust at 23. 
  • Dwayne Haskins has barely been given a chance in Washington and people are over it
  • Plenty of people thought Miami should dump Tua and draft another QB after one (decent) year... the guy who everyone was tanking for and calling a generational prospect a year or two ago

You could argue teams are being more sensible about sunk costs and moving on if they were wrong.  But the QB carousel has reached ridiculous proportions the last couple of years.  Teams aren't even considering if Player X is better than Player Y tbh.  All they care about is that Player X is new and shiny and Player Y is a known commodity who isn't Patrick Mahomes.  

These days if you don't have a Mahomes or Lamar Jackson type of impact early in your career, you are immediately on the hot seat.  Tbh the NFL will be a very QB hungry league in 5 years if this continues and nobody has patience or values stability at the QB position. 

Some of the guys you listed though, like Haskins or Lynch, did they really have their heads on straight? Rosen was a victim of circumstance as a new head coach was hired, and wanted HIS guy. You are right in general that guys are given a much shorter rope, but the bar has been raised in the last decade plus with rookies coming in, and already looking like they are among the best. Herbert the latest example. Some guys do still stick around though. Look at Derek Carr. 

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This all started changing when the rookie wage scale was implemented. To your point, that wasn't until after you joined the forum in 2008. 

1st round QB's are no longer being drafted as the highest paid players in the league out of the gate. It's much easier to move on from a guy that isn't performing within the first 3 years. Drafting a guy to let him sit and develop is one thing, but lengthening their leash as a starter is a thing of the past that was tied directly to the financial commitment to him. What job have you ever had where your employer gives you three years to learn how to do the job properly? 

Good examples are teams like the Rams, Eagles, and Chiefs who were able to rapidly build a Super Bowl contender/winner through free agency because they didn't have a QB hogging up a huge % of their cap.

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There's a lot to unpack here, but I'll leave it at two comments:

1. It's one thing to not be good as a rookie, but several of these guys, their teams saw enough to know they weren't going to be good. Paxton Lynch, for instance.

2. Bad teams stay bad for a reason. Look at the teams that are drafting a new franchise quarterback every 3-4 years.

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The difference between now and even 10 years ago is how easy it is to pass in the NFL. Justin Herbert in his rookie season with a bad head coach and 1 really talented WR had a better season statistically than many long tenured QBs.

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American Culture is a throw away culture and a we want it now culture. Have a perfectly working phone? A new model comes out ditch the old one for a new one. Have a marriage that has a couple bumps in the road? Throw it out and get a divorce and find a new “love”. It has now trickled into sports as well. We expect results instantly and if they aren’t there when we want them we toss them out for the next thing. 

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I don't think it has anything to do with Mahomes, specifically. It's just another era and priority shift. Happens every few years, at least. Teams have realized that it just isn't a winning formula to try to build a good enough to team to carry a just okay QB to the superbowl. The winning way to do it is to get a QB that can at least play elite football for that 3 or 4 game postseason stretch. If a guy doesn't have that carry potential, they're moving on. Because it's highly possible that you have a 20 year stretch where every superbowl winning QB but 2 winds up making the hall of fame (I don't think Eli deserves it, but I won't be surprised if he gets there.) And the exceptions in that list, even if we include Eli, are guys who had absolutely phenomenal postseason stretches, in Eli, Flacco, and Foles. So teams are looking for either a guy with a hall of fame trajectory, or with enough high level potential to believe they can put a 3 or 4 game stretch together in the postseason (I think this is the logic the Rams have, going from Goff to Stafford, for instance.) It's just a response to years of evidence. It isn't because of Mahomes.

Honestly, it's crazy if you look back like 15 years and glance at a list of starting QBs, and see how many guys in the early to mid 30s, on the second or third team, were still getting signed as starters despite clearly not having it. Like, I picked 2005, randomly, and you have 33 year old Kerry Collins starting for his 4th team, the Redskins were trying a 35 year old Mark Brunell, the Vikings were in their second stint with Brad Johnson, this time at 37, Buffalo kept hoping 32 year old Kelly Holcolmb might be better than J.P. Losman, Joey Harrington got a 4th year to try to figure it out in Detroit, alongside 35 year old Jeff Garcia, etc. So many cases of guys getting too many shots. Now, we may have overcorrected currently. Time will tell on that. But I think it's a fantastic sign, seeing times finally willing to cut their losses. There used to be so many terrible cases of sunk cost fallacy logic used to keep trying to make players that weren't good work. But, we spent a 1st overall pick on Joey Harrington, we have to keep trying. No, he sucks, move on. Teams gave Joey Harrington 6 years worth of starts. 6 years he started >8 games. For 3 teams. He only once threw more TDs than picks in those 6 seasons. It's like if some team was still really trying to make Paxton Lynch work in 2021. It would be unthinkable, now.

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I think the easy answer too is that Darnold has literally never had a full 16 game season of health. If you can't trust a guy won't constantly be banged up, and when he is in, can't stop turning the ball over (his turnover rate is really bad) AND are faced with needing to pay him a market value contract in 2 more years, teams are smartly making these decisions earlier than ever. There's no reason to shoulder your franchise to a QB who you have in the building for 3 years and do not have faith in.

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I take a different view of this amaurosis quarterbacchus and, yes, Patrick Mahomes is the perfect illustration.  The first time any of us saw Mahomes our eyes bugged out.  As teams relying on the likes of Brock Osweiler, Blake Bortles, Marcus Mariota, and Andy Dalton passed on Mahomes who among us didn't shout "WTF!?"?

Many of the people who made those unthinkable choices are still making them, often hiring or recommending others who do the same.  They run franchises that are living arguments for relegation to the CFL. 

The problem starts there.

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13 minutes ago, bigbadbuff said:

People said Josh Allen sucked and the Bills should’ve moved on. 

I’ll leave it at that

Ding ding. Most of these QBs have talent. The coaching is what is failing and their failures get scapegoated onto the QBs. The Bills did a great job in taking an incredibly raw QB and molded him into what he is now. They did this by game planning for his strengths and bringing in weapons that help accent them. Most of these other teams simply fail to do this. Either they are trying to mesh a rookie HC with a rookie QB or they have a HC with a specific system and tries to tailor the QB to the offense.

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