Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Never-Ending Search for the Franchise Quarterback, 2016 Edition

Jared Goff may prove to be a "Quarterback of the Future" but not in the present.

   You always hear about teams searching for the "Franchise Quarterback."  With the regular season almost complete, what if anything have we learned about Franchise quarterbackology?  Everybody has their own little narrative about what's going to happen, and sometimes it works out and sometimes not.  

    1.  The number one narrative is that drafting the "Franchise Quarterback" is going to be transformational process that allows bad teams to become Super Bowl contenders.   Teams subscribing to this idea are Tampa bay (Jameis Winston #1 pick of 2015), Tennessee (Marcus Mariota #2, 2015), Los Angeles (Jared Goff 2016 #1) and Philadelphia (Carson Wentz 2016 #2).   At the moment, Jameis Winston is the 21st ranked quarterback, and Marcus Mariota is number 11, Jared Goff has been awful but not played much, and Carson Wentz is 25th.   None of the so-called "Franchise Picks" turned their team around immediately, but Tennessee and Tampa Bay were in the hunt for the playoffs this year.  If there is a franchise quarterback, it's Dak Prescott of the Cowboys, ranked third in the NFL. Mariota might get there in a year or two, in my opinion, based on his accuracy, and athleticism.  

The Houston Antichrist, aka Brock Osweiler may not be as bad as people believe, and Tom Savage may not be that good.  

     This year the 72 million dollar experiment was Brock Osweiler, an experienced player with a good but limited record with the Broncos, who had a poor season for Texas and  has been replaced by Tom Savage.  The Houston narrative is that Osweiler is the Antichrist, and replacing him with Tom Savage is bound to turn on the offense.  Well, it worked for one game, in which Savage led them to victory over the weak Jacksonville Jaguars.  But against the Cincinnati Bengals playing without star Vontaze Burfict, Savage managed only 176 yards passing.  To tell the truth, I liked what the Texans did in getting a young but experienced quarterback to try to lead the team from the get-go.  So I was surprised to see him struggle.  But there may be  other problems with Houston besides quarterback, and Osweiler may take another year or two to assimilate Coach Bill O'Brien's system. Or maybe Bill O'Brien's system is not as good as he thinks it is.  

Dak is the People's Choice to start of Tony Romo.  

     If you're looking for a simple formula, draft a quarterback in the fourth round!  Dak Prescott has been the bomb for Dallas.  Maybe he doesn't have the deep arm of a Jameis Winston, but he is very smart, accurate and able to avoid the bad interception.   Should we have seen that in college?  The Village Elliot believes so.  My number one stat for evaluating quarterbacks is yards thrown divided by interceptions.  I llike this stat because it reflects the quarterbacks decision making as well as raw ability.  A guy with low INTs correctly evaluated the play most of the time.    Dak was one of the best in the NCAA with an amazing 758 yards per interception.  That's more than twice Jared Goff's average of 363 yards per INT.   So yeah, I would predict Dak would be better than either Goff or Wentz (413 yd/INT) on that basis.  And the absolute king in college was Marcus Mariota with 1114 yd/INT.  Famous Jameis was one of the worst at 217 yd/INT.  But the scouts love Jameis' arm, which is the strongest of the bunch.  

     And in case you're wondering, the leaders in this stat for the 2016 college season are Mason Rudolph (944 yd/INT) and Mitch Trubisky (867 yd/INT).  
     As for the experienced quarterback, perhaps the most intriguing is Jimmy Garoppolo, who has been the understudy for Tom Brady at New England.  The Patriots are interested in shopping him around.  The deal would be complicated because a new team would want to lock him in, and Jimmy's agent will want Osweiler money for sure.   So despite his talent, he may not be traded unless some team wants to come up with 70 million dollars.  
     Otherwise, available quarterbacks include the likes of Case Keenum, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt McGloin and Geno Smith.  Not exactly an inspiring list.  

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