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During the modern day age of the NFL, the quarterback position has been known for the pocket passer-strong arm quarterback with a great head on his shoulder. Well that hadn’t changed in today’s game. We have some of the most talented QBs that has ever played this game. They all come in different sizes, packages and skill sets. QBs from Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and so on.
Randall Cunningham was a quarterback that had dazzled the NFL like no other in history. His running ability, and flare for the spotlight captured everyone’s attention. His only knock was he wasn’t a discipline QB. Plus, because his style was so unique and wasn’t the typical pocket passer, many felt he wouldn’t last in which his career in Philadelphia (Eagles) was cut short. In today’s game, we have more mobile quarterbacks starting for teams. Rodgers, Tony Romo and Jay Cutler (just to name a few) are QBs that can use their legs to their advantage yet still be able to throw from the pocket as well.
There are a selected few of signal callers that are put in a category of their own. Cam Newton and Russell Wilson are in a special tier in the NFL. They are not only mobile but they dominate the game with their legs and arm. Coaches have to stay up much later and add in extra time for game film just to prepare for these hybrid QBs. Some might say “What about Steve Young”, well I’m glad we bring him up. As great as Young was, the only difference is he had the greatest wide receiver ever to play the game in Jerry Rice. Not to mention John Taylor, Brent Jones and a young Terrell Owens were catching Young’s passes as well.
What makes Newton and Wilson special is that they don’t have the great receivers on their rosters. They don’t even have good receivers to throw to. Yes, both Ted Ginn and Doug Baldwin had breakout years, but the credit has to go the the men throwing them the football. They make their receivers better by being able to extend the play with their legs and drawing the defenders in by making them think they will run. This presents lanes and other opportunities to target the open man down field. Just the threat of the them running forces the opposing team to keep a spy out which takes an extra defender away from defending the pass. This helps the organization as well since they don’t have to spend money to land a big-time receiver which gives them the opportunity to fill other needs.
They not only affect the passing game but they help boost the running game as well. Although the read-option kind of fizzled out in the NFL, these two still use it and use it effectively. The threat of them running forces the defensive end to play honest which creates lanes for Marshawn Lynch and Jonathan Stewart or which ever running backs are in the backfield. If the defensive end jumps the lane to stop the running back, then there goes Newton or Wilson for a nice long run. When is the is the last time you heard of any other QB in NFL history boosting the running game for their running backs?
Both have contrasting styles that benefits each quarterback. Newton’s 6’6 260 pound frame gives him the ability to see over defensive lines. His arm strength allows him to throw off his back foot and still be able to get the ball there accurately. With that big stature, he can absorb hits and run like a running back which enabled him to run for 10 touchdowns this year. Wilson on the other hand is 5’11 weighing 203 pounds. He’s able to become the perfect escape artist dodging linemen in the pocket making miracle plays from potential disaster. His quickness allows him to run for 15 or more yards without getting hit.
Both men had career years in 2015. Newton posted his highest QB rating with a 99.2 and threw for 35 TDs. Wilson had a league leading 110.1 QB rating (his third QB rating over 100 in his four years) and threw 4,024 yards with 34 TD passes. The last three Super Bowls including this year will have had one of these two QBs represent the NFC. All of this might seem familiar to most fans, that’s because Donavan McNabb was a mirror image of these two future legends and he led the Eagles to to five NFC Championship games. Although they are in a league of their own, quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota have the similar effects on their teams as well. So it’s safe to say that this is and will be the new trend of quarterbacks that general managers will seek out for for years to come. Good luck because there are not many blessed with that type of talent.