This season the NFL has suffered for many different reasons. One key reason is that the quarterback play is horrible. The NFL stars that many fans have grown to expect to watch are either hurt or performing horribly. So how will we find the NFL’s next star player?
There are many reasons why this is happening but the question remains: who is the next NFL Star? Every single guy who has been pegged as the next big thing has not met expectations but why? Why has Jameis Winston suffered this year when the organization has invested so much into that offense? Where are the new NFL stars coming from? Can they sustain success and not just be great for one or two seasons? Are we anointing too many guys too early?
Old NFL stars still around
The stars of the past are still playing but the quality that we are used too from them as fallen for some of them. Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger are still playing but they are not elite anymore. They have moments where they remind the fans why they won so many games but the consistency has fallen. Roethlisberger has been struggling with consistency for a few years now and has been Jekyll and Hyde in terms of playing at home versus on the road. Manning has been carried by Odell Beckham and has suffered from a horrendous offensive line. Rivers has been stuck losing in very dramatic ways for years and it is sad.
Even though these guys have been on the decline, they still are playing better than many young quarterbacks. The guys like Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford have failed to distinguish themselves as stars. Where are the new guys coming from while the NFL is suffering from its lowest ratings in a long time? The top franchises are winning but the product is bad.
Could it be coaching?
When you look at the development of the presumed top quarterbacks in the league, they are usually around great coaching. Tom Brady has Bill Beilichick and that partnership has helped Brady become one of the greatest. Aaron Rodgers has had Mike McCarthy throughout his entire time at Green Bay. There is not a doubt in my mind that inconsistent coaching could be the result of horrible quarterback play. If we look at Stafford and his tenure with the Detroit Lions, you will start to see a revolving door of coaches which means a he loses consistency in the system he plays in each year but the best example at why coaching matters is Alex Smith.
Throughout Smith’s entire career with the San Francisco 49ers, he had a different offensive coordinator each of his first five years. Now in Kansas City, he has shown what he can do with consistent coaching. Andy Reid has helped elevate Smith’s career and turned him into one of the most dependable quarterbacks in the league. Smith can get you to the playoffs consistently, but you will always wonder if your team can be better.
The fans want more
Players like Smith are needed in the NFL but people would rather have a boom-or-bust quarterback. Everyone wants a franchise quarterback but how many of those guys have come around in the past 25 years? Everyone wants the next star player but that’s easier said than done.
Every year, several teams draft a new guy and put the entire franchise on his shoulders. He may falter in the beginning and then everyone jumps off of his bandwagon. He may be successful for a few years but then stumbles after. You can take Mark Sanchez as a key example of someone whose early success clouded what his actual raw numbers were.
Fans are irrational and are extremely quick to anoint them as their franchise’s savior. I am an Atlanta Falcons fan and I love our quarterback Matt Ryan, but I hate how fans treated him a few years ago. Ryan was one of the most consistent players but had two bad seasons. After the 2014 and 2015 seasons, people were calling for the team to find a new guy.
We have to understand that the position is hard and guys have rough patches through their careers. As a fan, you can want them to be great and still appreciate what you have. Nobody wants to be the Cleveland Browns or the Houston Texans, before Deshaun Watson, because you have no clear future. Having an average quarterback is better than searching for a star. At least with the average guy, you know the ceiling and the floor with him. Bottom line is there has to be someone to step up to be the NFL’s next star player soon.