Q1: Given the success of so many first and second year quarterbacks in the NFL, how long should teams give struggling quarterbacks before turning to the draft? Jets, we’re looking at you.
TILLERY: Is this immediate QB success a trend? Maybe, but Dan Marino doesn't come around often and Griffin III, Newton or Luck either. Even Wilson is a business-like beast. If this elicits a change in how QB talent is evaluated…cool. Personnel heads, be careful what you wish for.
BRANDON: Today’s QBs are supposed to come into the league with a much higher understanding of the intricacies of the passing game. There’s nuance to this, but you have to know after the first season whether or not you can hang your hat on a guy. The Jets allowed team success and a solid defense to kill the idea that they could have used a Plan B for the Sanchise long before the irrelevant Tebow Effect.
JAMAR: With the success we’ve seen in recent years among rookie quarterbacks, there is no grace period anymore. If a team drafts a QB, particularly in the early rounds, he is expected to come in and produce immediately. There’s a short leash behind center now and teams don’t have the patience to wait. Yes, we’re looking at you, Mark Sanchez.
GAMBLE: It’s always the right time to upgrade. Nobody asks the money man why he switched from the Maybach Landaulet to the Pagani Zonda Clinque Roadster. Are you going to knock me for trading in my Selita Ebanks for an Arlenis Sosa? The NFL is a win now league. Coaches don’t play the odds, they play the hot hand.
BOADU: One year max. Either a QB can play or not and it's pretty obvious. Stars don't develop over time, they're like country time lemonade — just add water and they change franchises. The Colts have turned their Luck around from a season ago on the spirals of a rookie QB.
Q2: Calvin Johnson is on pace to break Jerry Rice’s record for yards in a season, and Wes Welker just tied his record of 17 games with 10+ catches. Given the new emphasis on passing, is this a little like Roger Maris taking Babe Ruth’s record after the season was extended? How many yards/catches would Johnson/Welker have to have, to be as impressive as Rice’s numbers?
BRANDON: We’ll know how impressive these new records are depending on how long they stand. Johnson and Welker are setting a new standard for the aerial evolution. Not as impressive as it sounds, but I won’t slight these dudes just a year after we made a big deal about Drew Brees breaking Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record.
JAMAR: Anytime a long-standing record is broken it must be recognized. But putting it in perspective, the NFL is a passing league now and the records that stood for 20 years in the '80s and '90s may only last for a couple of years. Impressive? Yes. But long-lasting? Not anymore.
GAMBLE: I’d laugh in my NFL supplier’s face, if he was out of Jerry Rice and offered me a quarter pound of Wes Welker. Welker has a snow-in-The-Florida Keys chance of throwing Rice. The rule changes are more like BarRoid Bonds smashing the homerun record. Johnson has a shot, but he’s three Super Bowls short. Rice has 22,895 career receiving yards. Johnson needs 27,000 for consideration.
BOADU: There's no required amount for it to be impressive. Breaking the record of Jerry Rice is impressive enough. Did we measure Rice's greatness against Steve Largent when he broke all of Largent's receiving records? Naw, we let Jerry cook. We ignored it and the heartbreaking similarities between his fashion taste and Michael Jordan's. We can't ignore the fact that Rice played for the Gentle Genius, Bill Walsh who invented the West Coast offense, an offense that was ahead of its time using the PASS to set up the run.
TILLERY: I'm cool with Maris because he broke Babe's record when everyone was allowed to play in MLB. That being said, I think the NFL is becoming a caricature because of all the points scored. No diss to evolution, though, because Welker is a better Steve Largent; Megatron a better Kellen Winslow.
Q3: The Steelers beat the Ravens starting Charlie Batch at quarterback. Big Ben is expected back next week and it appears Pittsburgh is peaking at the right time. Who wants it from the Steelers in the playoffs?
BRANDON: And so we’re looking at you, Houston Texans. Having already clinched a playoff berth and looking at a favorable schedule on the back end of the best season in franchise history, there’s the model of football success in the Pittsburgh Steelers, limping and lurking.
JAMAR: The Steelers had a great win, but peaking? I need to see how they are when Ben comes back. They had lost two straight and were struggling on offense. If they show a little more consistency on offense when Big Ben returns and finish the year strong, then we can talk.
GAMBLE: No team wants to face the NFL’s top defensive shottas. The squad that’s poppin’ pads and making perfect plays in December wins chips. The Steelers have been down like Foxy Brown, but things are looking up. Their Achilles heel is Big Ben’s health and an off day for the D.
BOADU: Umm..the Texans, Patriots, Broncos. Hell, can they beat the Ravens twice? Ben Roethlisberger isn't outplaying Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and Houston's defense ain't having the trillness that is Ben Roethlisberger's 3rd down conversion percentage. The Steelers' defense is 50 Cent — all reputation and no recent results. Ain't nobody scared of those terrible towels no more, bro.
TILLERY: Pittsburgh has one of the best organizations in sports. They draft low and pick athletes committed to winning. No one wants to play such a galvanized unit, and the BS most teams deal with gets no run on the Steelers sideline. Charlie Batch is appreciative.
Q4: How impressive have Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson been in Seattle?
BRANDON: They really do have that college feel kickin’ all the way up there in Seattle. Both Carroll and Wilson have defeated their own media narratives coming into the season. But mad props to the Seahawks’ top 5 defense. And if they end up landing an NFC Wild Card spot, shout-out to Golden Tate and the Replacement Refs.
JAMAR: You have to respect the job that Pete Carroll has done in Seattle. The Seahawks are in prime position for another postseason berth. With RG3 and Andrew Luck getting all the press, Wilson has been sort of the forgotten rookie QB, but if Seattle keeps it up he’ll be able to write his own story.
GAMBLE: Pete Carroll’s career needed a Wild Card and he got his Draw Four. The Lil ‘ Homie Rus Wilson gets it in and is more than ready for prime time . Great QB’s stabilize the joint and things just fall into place. Seattle was considered average in the preseason. Now, the sky is the limit for the dark horse ROY candidate.
BOADU: Pete Carroll hasn’t been impressive. LSU’s Les Miles looks like an investment banker compared to “Put it all on black” Carroll. He was bound to finally hit on one of his impulsive risks. Russell Wilson is the truth, but Pete Carroll gets no love for this choice. Rus would have been great wherever he landed, he set the NCAA record throwing the ball 379 times without a pick. Bums don’t do that — stars do.
TILLERY: I thought New Orleans should have drafted Wilson as Brees' understudy because of size and ability similarities, but Wilson was destined to go to Seattle. He's a winner and despite showing out at two programs, fell in the draft. I'm not surprised. It's now obvious scouts undervalued this kid and now others must pay.
Q5: Which quarterback is more likely to stay with their current team next season, Alex Smith or Michael Vick?
BRANDON: Right now, you have to say Smith, but neither of them seem too valued at the moment. Smith lost his job because he came clean about concussion symptoms, and the conversation on Vick is more focused on him passing the test rather than the severity of him not passing it for three straight weeks. What’s good?
JAMAR: I’m glad you said “stay” and not “start.” Alex Smith will probably remain in San Francisco, but he’ll be holding the clipboard for the hairline God Colin Kaepernick. It’s clear Jim Harbaugh has his guy under center. Vick is done in Philly. Props to the Eagles for giving him a second chance, but No. 7 will be elsewhere in 2013.
GAMBLE: Alex Smith is almost a top 15 QB. He’s gone, but he won’t be unemployed long. Jim Harbaugh is cashing out with Colin Kaepernick, who accumulated nearly 300 total yards against St. Louis. The Eagles gave Vick $40 mill guaranteed to make magic. He still has chips to earn with Philly, and if healthy, he can still be Kid Dynamite.
BOADU: Alex Smith easy. Vanessa Bryant will leave Kobe Bryant before Alex Smith leaves Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh turned Smith into a pseudo star and Alex knows it. Smith had the chance to dip during free agency in March. He came back. That man owes everything to Harbaugh and he ain’t goin’ anywhere.
TILLERY: Alex Smith. Kaepernick is more developed than Nick Foles. San Francisco looks straight with Kap. Mad turnover will happen in Philly, but unless Geno Smith falls into their draft day lap, I can't see the Eagles bringing in a stop gap QB to bridge a new era. Vick stays.