Packers fans, I really hope you appreciate what you have.
And no, this isn’t another one of those Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers success stories.
But this is about the quarterback position.
I think we can all agree that Rodgers is the class of the NFL quarterback. His memory, instincts, accuracy and arm strength are uncanny. Following Rodgers, there’s Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees.
But there’s one common denominator. The last three guys have an average age of 37.3. In three years, all of those guys will either be a shell of their former elite selves or out of the league completely.
Rodgers turns 32 in December and Andrew Luck turns 26 in September. In a couple years, these guys will be the only elite quarterbacks in the league. For some, that may come across as balderdash because many think Russell Wilson is on the cusp of greatness. He’s solid, but Wilson has an elite ceiling that Luck still hasn’t touched.
The question is, why are so many great quarterbacks drying up?
The problem lies with college football. Many big-time passers are schooled to run a particular scheme that benefits the style and players the team has. In college, you’re more apt to see Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell or Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel look more like a pro prospect because they’re given more freedom to fail at the lower levels.
Marcus Mariota threw only four picks last year, which breaks down to an absurd 0.9 percent of the time. But because he was so robotic in his scripted reads, his gaudy numbers actually hurt him. Nobody actually got to see him fail — and respond from that failure — very often.
It’s kind of like the traveling team for your son or daughter. They could split the teams evenly, making the competition tighter and increasing the odds that a loss would be sprinkled in the schedule. Or the powers that be could load up the star-quality players to the point that players cannot identify in-game adversity as they roll to victory.
The college game has always been criticized for being the minor leagues of the NFL. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The college game is in love with spread offenses and multiple quarterbacks. Just look at Ohio State, which has three. The game has gotten tougher to stop defensively, which is why fans usually see final scores that resemble a college basketball game.
And as the college game has evolved, the NFL is starting to take on a different shape as well. Ever since Cam Newton was taken first overall in 2011, the running aspect of the position has been stressed even more. And Newton’s one career playoff win was enough of a smokescreen to get rewarded as the third-highest-paid quarterback in the league recently. The very next year, the Redskins fell in love with Robert Griffin III and would love to part ways with the broken-down first rounder that caught lightning in a bottle.
And even if a quarterback comes from a non-spread system where he is taught to make more than one read, he often goes to a team where he has to play right away. Those quarterbacks are destined to fail. Guys like Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen and Blaine Gabbert come to mind.
There was no guarantee that Rodgers was going to blossom into the quarterback that he is now. But I really think the reason he did is because of the time he was given to observe and absorb everything for three years.
The sooner the air-it-out spread game becomes extinct in college, the sooner the quarterback position in the NFL will make a turnaround.
But unfortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn