Most of us understand that the ultimate goal of any NFL franchise is to win the Super Bowl. That's what players, coaches, general managers, and fans spend their whole life dreaming of. And most of us also understand that in order to be a great team, you need a great quarterback. It is extremely rare that a team wins the Super Bowl without an elite QB. In order to prove this point, here are the winning QBs of the last 20 Super Bowls:
Weird, right? Almost all of those guys are Hall-of-Famers or future Hall-of-Famers. So in order to consistently compete for super bowls, your QB needs to be among the elite in the NFL. But what defines elite? I look at it like this: Your team needs to have the better QB in 2 out of every 3 games. That would be the top 33%, or around the top 10-12 QBs in the league.
So, looking around the NFL right now, there are about 4 tiers of QBs. The first is the elite guys, the ones who are certainly capable of winning a championship - Wilson, Mahomes, Jackson, Rodgers, Brees, Watson, Brady, and possibly Wentz. We can mostly agree on those. And we can also agree on the last tier: the guys that just aren't good enough - Fitzpatrick, Trubisky/Foles, Kyle Allen, Dalton, etc. But those are the easy things to point out. The top guys can get you a ring, the bottom guys can't. Pretty simple and easy to grasp. The issue, however, lies within the middle 2 tiers. These guys are constantly shifting around, and we don't actually know if they are good enough. The older guys in this tier would be Stafford, Ryan, Garoppolo, Tannehill, Prescott, Goff, etc. At this point in their careers, we know what these guys are. And many fans think they're good enough to get them over the hump, but those fans are sadly mistaken.
You see, that's where the 3rd tier comes in: The young guys. QBs like Kyler, Burrow, Herbert will soon become some of the best in the league. Mark my words: In 2-3 years, all those guys will be better than the Cousins/Ryan tier. And we've seen this movie before too. Remember Andy Dalton? There was a time, not too long ago, when he was considered to be a borderline franchise QB. He was considered to be a top 10 or top 12 QB in the league. So what happened? He didn't decline or anything. Everyone around him just got better. Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz came into the league. Mahomes and Watson came into the league. Carr proved to be better than Dalton. Dalton went from ~12th best to maybe 24th best. All without any major injuries or decline.
So what we saw with Dalton, we're about to see with Matt Ryan. A year or two ago, I would've considered Matt Ryan to be a top 10 QB. I don't think I can say that anymore. Prescott and Tannehill have passed him. Kyler Murray and Josh Allen are close behind. Before you know it, Matt Ryan will be considered a below-average QB. And if the Falcons realize it now, they can better set themselves up for the future. I expect both the Falcons and the Vikings to be picking in the top 10 this year, and neither one of them should pass on Lance or Fields.
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