Peyton Manning. Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady. Drew Brees. All four of these names are household names across the United States, and that’s part of the territory when you’re among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that in order to compete for a Super Bowl title, you need one of these elite quarterbacks leading your team on offense. While that’s undoubtedtly the popular school of thought around the NFL, I’m starting to question whether that notion has any validity.
For much of the past decade, the NFL has been characterized as a “quarterback-driven league.” With each passing season, it seems as if more and more importance is placed on the ability to be able to move the chains by passing the ball. The days of running the ball 30-plus times a game have disappeared – or so it seems. With that notion in mind, it seems as if both the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers have completely ignored that notion, winning football games in their own brand.
For example, Joe Flacco, a quarterback who was hardly considered “elite” at the season’s beginning, just dethroned Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in their own houses in consecutive weeks. On the other side of things, Colin Kaepernick just defeated Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan in consecutive weeks as well.
To further explain my point, this year’s Super Bowl will mark the first time in the last 10 seasons that no quarterback with the last name Manning, Brady or Roethlisberger is playing in the game. Instead, this year’s quarterback matchup will be between Flacco and Kaepernick – two players who are playing the best football they’ve ever played.
Flacco, a fifth-year player from Delaware, has been highly criticized in recent years for his inability to take the Ravens to the “next level,” yet finally seems to be earning his stripes. On the other hand, Kaepernick is only a second-year pro out of Nevada who only became the 49ers’ starting quarterback more than halfway through the 2012 regular season. While yes, it’s obvious that neither Flacco nor Kaepernick has the pedigree of a Manning, Brady or Rodgers, you can’t argue against results, and that’s exactly what Flacco and Kaepernick have delivered as of late.
Bottom line: The common belief that you need a truly “elite” quarterback to win a championship has gone out the window. Either that, or we’re watching two young, talented quarterbacks make the transformation from “good” to “elite” right before our own eyes. I’ll leave it up to you to be the judge of which scenario is taking place.
Follow @ZachMentz on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org