Thursday, April 13, 2017

Change my view: 2004-2014 will go down as the Golden Age of NFL Quarterbacks

I chose this specific period partially because ten is a nice, round number and easy to make comparisons, but also because it's book-ended by two significant events: the prolific 2004 rookie class, and the last truly great seasons from both Peyton Manning and Tony Romo.

To make my case, I'll try to break the quarterbacks who were significant during this era down into four distinct "generations" based on the years they were drafted.

First Generation - Legacies (-1999): The smallest class of the group, these guys were already established stars by 2004, but would continue to play at a very high level for several more years.

  • Brett Favre ('91)
  • Mark Brunell ('94)
  • Kurt Warner ('98)

Second Generation - Tweeners (1999-2002): Edit: PFM was drafted in '98. Three draft classes in a row each produced an unquestioned first-ballot Hall-of-Famer. Enough said. These guys laid the foundation for the decade of insane QB play that would follow.

  • Peyton Manning ('98)
  • Donovan McNabb ('99)
  • Matt Hasselbeck ('99)
  • Tom Brady ('00)
  • Drew Brees ('01)
  • Michael Vick ('01)

Third Generation - Lifers (2003-2006): Led by the '04 rookie class, this four-year stretch produced eight quarterbacks who would go on to start for 10+ years. Eight. Fucking. Quarterbacks. This generation along with the one before it would go on to define the era by its staggering amount of world class QBs displaying unprecedented longevity.

  • Carson Palmer ('03)
  • Eli Manning ('04)
  • Philip Rivers ('04)
  • Ben Roethlisberger ('04)
  • Tony Romo ('04)
  • Alex Smith ('05)
  • Aaron Rodgers ('05)
  • Jay Cutler ('06)

Fourth Generation - Challengers (2007-2010): These players entered the league during the latter part of the era, but had already risen to notoriety or downright stardom by the time it was over.

  • Matt Ryan ('08)
  • Joe Flacco ('08)
  • Matthew Stafford ('09)
  • Sam Bradford ('10)
  • Cam Newton ('11)
  • Andy Dalton ('11)
  • Andrew Luck ('12)
  • Ryan Tannehill ('12)
  • Russell Wilson ('12)
  • Kirk Cousins ('12)

Honorable Mentions: Notable quarterbacks who made brief appearances, but did not have sustained success during the era.

  • Steve McNair, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Bledsoe, Vinny Testaverde, Jake Delhomme, Chad Pennington, Trent Green, Kerry Collins, Jake Plummer, Rich Gannon [QUESTIONABLE], Marc Bulger, Jeff Garcia [EDIT: LATE ADDITION]

  • Vince Young, Matt Schaub, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick, Nick Foles

  • Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater

Now, I know you could make the argument that I'm technically drawing from about 25 years' worth of draft classes to make my case. But consider this: of 32 active NFL teams, literally half of them can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that their greatest quarterback in franchise history played the majority of his career during that specific ten-year stretch.

  • Colts (Manning)
  • Packers (Favre/Rodgers)
  • Jaguars (Brunell)
  • Rams (Warner)
  • Cardinals (Warner/Palmer)
  • Eagles (McNabb)
  • Seahawks (Hasselbeck/Wilson)
  • Panthers (Newton)
  • Patriots (Brady)
  • Saints (Brees)
  • Falcons (Vick/Ryan)
  • Bengals (Palmer)
  • Chargers (Rivers)
  • Texans (Schaub)
  • Lions (Stafford)
  • Ravens (Flacco)

And that's not to mention the Steelers, Giants, Bears, Chiefs and Cowboys, whose fans could also make a convincing argument to be included on the list.

You could also argue that we've yet to see what the future holds for more recent breakout players like Mariota, Winston, Carr, Prescott, Wentz, etc. But even so, I'm not sure how you would reconcile the sheer volume of talent. Yeah, I'll give you that Brady >= Manning, Rodgers >= Favre and Brees >= Warner, but the comparisons end there. Who is your Brady of the '07-'10 era? Who's your Brees? Who's your Rodgers of the '11-16 draft classes? I'm not sure anyone drafted in the last five years is currently flashing that kind of potential.

While I'm very, very high on a lot of quarterbacks drafted in the last five years, I'm not sure we'll ever again witness the insanity that we did from '04-'14. In a single ten year stretch we saw the prime of at least six Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and by the time the dust settles three of them may be considered among the top five ever at the position.

What a time to be alive.

EDIT: Correcting some facts thanks to awesome sleuthing by /u/BobLbLawsLawBlg

EDIT 2: As many have pointed out, I overlooked Boomer Esiason and Kenny Anderson for the Bengals

Submitted April 12, 2017 at 09:04PM by WittenMittens
via reddit

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.