Forget the year of the quarterback, football is and always will be the sport of the quarterback. The position, for better or for worse, has always has been viewed as the most important on the field. The championship history of the NFL runs through the quarterback.
Because of this, NFL quarterbacks are put under a microscope on and off the field. Every move they make, pass they complete and interception they throw is combed over by the likes of ESPN, TMZ and GQ. Their lives are stories and their success and struggles are often projected onto the teams they play for.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some hot-button storylines, mostly on the field, that will involve NFL quarterbacks during the 2013 season.
The Saga of Mark Sanchez
Top 5 pick. Quarterback in the shadow of the Big Apple. Cover of GQ magazine. It all sounds so great until you are asked to win games. Many thought the Jets should have let him go this offseason, but the money they would owe him if they were to do that was too much to ignore. As a result, he’ll have one more season to prove his worth — both to the Jets and the rest of the league — and perhaps save a career that started so well and has since spiraled disappointingly out of control.
Time will tell if the presence of David Garrard, a capable veteran, looking over his shoulder will help or hurt Sanchez’s cause.
A Fresh Start for Kolb
Kevin Kolb will assume the role of starting quarterback for a third different team during his seven year career. It didn’t work out as he had planned in Arizona, and to be honest, it’s going to be an uphill climb in Buffalo. With the crop of quarterbacks projected to enter the NFL in 2014, this season will have major career implications for Kolb.
Brady without Welker
Bread and Butter. Ham and Cheese. Brady and Welker. They just went together so well. Welker was Brady’s safety net. Brady was Welker’s meal ticket. Like all things, money and maybe some pride got in the way of something that could have continued successfully. How long, if ever, will it take for Brady to establish the same type of relationship and communication with Danny Amendola?
Joe Flacco’s Worth
He won the Super Bowl. He got paid elite money. Now, Joe Flacco is the face of the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and all eyes are on him. They’ll be no excuses. The Ravens lost some big names, but they got younger and arguably more talented in many key positions. Baltimore fans are expecting a dynasty. Flacco’s critics are expecting mediocrity. Something has to give.
Alex Smith’s Second Chance
For the second time in his career, the former No. 1 overall pick will line up under center for a team who was the worst in the NFL the previous season. He will be asked to be the guy to lead the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl appearance since the days of Hank Stram. Will a new coach, a new team and a new city mean new results for a guy who spent much of the first part of his career as a punchline?
Jerry Jones made a statement when he signed his quarterback to what many thought was a ridiculous contract: America’s Team is now Tony Romo’s team. Yup, he’s here to stay. Now that he has the pressure of job security off his back (at least temporarily), can he shake the demons of postseason troubles and lead the Cowboys to the brink of Super Bowl glory?
There is not much else to say, really. The guy has the ability to revolutionize the game and build on the season he had in 2012. It all comes down to the health of his knee. This could develop into one of the bigger stories in the NFL as the season gets closer.
Matt Ryan’s Legacy
Ryan had the Falcons on the verge of playing for the Lombardi before letting in all slip away at the end of the NFC Championship game in January. The team made strides and looks to be one of the frontrunners in 2013. Their success, should the season end with the Falcons raising the Lombardi Trophy, will be what determines whether or not Matt Ryan joins the ranks of the truly elite.
Kaepernick and Russell Without Security Blankets
Both NFC West Quarterbacks were handed the reins by their coaches and led their teams to playoff glory. Both coaches had the luxury of knowing that if their young guns were to fail, there were seasoned veterans behind them who could step in. That’s no longer the case, and I have to wonder if Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh now feel like first time parents bringing an infant home from the hospital. Both went through magical seasons where they were showered with praise and everything went well. Now, it’s quiet and reality sets in. How will everyone respond?
Manning With Welker
Throughout his career, Peyton Manning has run offenses with two traditional wideouts, a tight end, and a dynamic running back. Sure, he’s had Brandon Stokley a couple of times, but the slot man has never played an integral role in Peyton’s scheme. Now, the biggest celebrity besides himself in his lockerroom is his new slot receiver. How will the desire to work Welker into the offense with a workload he’s used to impact what Denver has built offensively?
BY J.P. SCOTT ON APRIL 18, 2013