When Dorothy warned of the carnage that “lions and tigers and bears, oh, my” could cause in “The Wizard of Oz,” she might well have been describing three modern NFL quarterbacks, so frightful are they are in inflicting damage on unsuspecting opponents.
Three guys who have paved that yellow brick road to mid-season success and established themselves as the quarterbacks to watch down the second half stretch and beyond are Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, Deshaun Watson (before he got hurt) of the Houston Texans, and Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles. They are this next decade’s Brady, Favre and Manning.
The elder member of this elite list of leaders is Wilson with one Super Bowl win in his locker already and a second one all but his except for a boneheaded play called by an assistant coach disdaining handing the ball to “The Beast,” Marshawn Lynch, three times from the half-yard line for the win instead of stupidly ordering a game ending interception, giving the Super Bowl victory to New England two years ago, arguably the dumbest call in football history.
Coming out of Clemson, Deshaun Watson has proven himself to be a player of rare talent once given the chance to quarterback the Houston Texans. After great first-half action, he has been sidelined with an ACL injury sustained during practice, shelving him for the season. But he will heal and return next year and continue his assault on opponents.
I don’t know how my Minnesota Gophers whiffed on Carson Wentz. An outstanding high school prospect, he stayed home at nearby North Dakota State and had a great college career. He may well be the best of the three at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. Staying healthy, he could be the bellwether quarterback for years to come for the Eagles ruling the tough NFL Eastern Division.
On average, the same trio is just slightly behind Brady, Brees and Rodgers in total quarterback ratings at 104.5 to 101.9. But they are younger by far and much more agile. They are, in addition, 61-19 in that key measurement of quarterback success, number of touchdown passes to interceptions. By comparison, Brees, Brady and Rodgers are 45-9.
The newbies have thrown 89 completions of 20 plus yards compared to 84 for the veterans. Those are the plays needed to sustain touchdown drives and the attendant killing of the clock. They are vital to a team’s success.
“If ever oh ever a wiz there was,” sang Dorothy, “it’s because of the wonderful things he does.”
If ever the NFL needed wizards, it is right now with all the controversies swirling around America’s favorite game. These three guys are going to be the quarterbacks determining the league’s success or failure.
My money is on their finding their fortunes in the future by leading their teams down those yellow brick roads to conference and Super Bowl championships in re-establishing the prestige and glory that once was the NFL.