Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning.
Those are the names of the last three starting quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl title. Just this past week, Manning ranked 23rd in the league among starting quarterbacks and Flacco ranked 20th, both according to Bleacher Report.
A huge emphasis has been put on teams finding a franchise quarterback over the past 10 years as the NFL has evolved into a pass first league.
The thought, “You need to have an elite quarterback to win a championship” has been entrenched in general manager’s mind for a while now.
While no one is arguing that the quarterback position is the most valuable one on a team, some teams have placed too high a value on them.
First of all, the quarterback position is extremely fragile. Each year, if a team plays only one quarterback for all 16 games, it is considered lucky. Already in 2014, teams like the Buccaneers, Rams, Cardinals, Jaguars, Vikings and Redskins have had to use multiple quarterbacks for one reason or another. The season is not even a quarter through.
Teams have too often neglected other roster needs to try to find that next elite quarterback. In 2012, the Redskins gave the Rams a king’s ransom to draft Robert Griffin III at number two overall. Griffin has since been sporadically inaccurate, and cannot seem to stay healthy.
Meanwhile, in that same draft, the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks used their first and second round draft picks in 2012 to address other team needs. The Seahawks drafted defensive end Bruce Irvin, and linebacker Bobby Wagner in the first two rounds.
Both players were key cogs in helping Seattle have one of the league’s best defenses the last season. The Eagles went on to grab Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks, two players that are also helping the eagles turn their defense around.
Later, two rounds after Griffin was taken by Washington, Wilson and Nick Foles were taken by the Seahawks and Eagles respectively. Wilson already has more championships than five quarterbacks drafted ahead of him in 2012, and the same amount as Peyton Manning. Foles, on the other hand, put together one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever had, throwing for 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in just 10 games in 2013.
What the Eagles and Seahawks did in 2012 was address other, more urgent needs than a quarterback in the draft. The results have quickly come for Seattle, while the Eagles were a playoff team in 2013 under a rookie head coach and are showing signs towards improving.
Now, no one could have predicted that Foles and Wilson would have better starts to their careers than Griffin, but it shows how much the quarterback really does rely on the other 52 men on the roster.
Most people would agree that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are much better quarterbacks than Wilson; however, Brady and Manning combined have the same number of rings over the past decade as Wilson, who is only in his third year.
The NFL, though it is changing, is still predicated on running the football and playing good defense. That is a big reason why Wilson has a championship. That is a huge reason why, Drew Stanton, a career backup quarterback, has led the Cardinals to a victories on the road over the New York Giants, and at home over the San Francisco 49ers the past two weeks. The Cardinals are 3-0 because of their defense, not because they have a top tier quarterback.
Teams will continue to dish out huge contracts and trade up in drafts to try to find the next elite quarterback that will lead them to glory, but unless the team also saves room for the other 52 players on the roster, that search will never end.