The tides are turning. A colossal shift in the NFL landscape is becoming self-evident. A change of guard! I have seen it more this year then any year I can remember. The league is preparing for its next era of football. With college offenses transitioning to NFL with ease, you are sensing a shift. Traditional pocket quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and Eli Manning are becoming relics of the yesteryear. Defenses are faster than they have ever been. Quarterbacks can no longer sit in the pocket and wait for plays to transpire. Just look who is left in the playoffs. Besides the New England Patriots, every team left has a great defense and a slightly mobile quarterback that like throw quick short passes. These aren’t the Michael Vicks of the world, but this seems like the future of the NFL or at least the new trend. Mobile quarterbacks that can move around the pocket and dump it off is exactly what college quarterbacks are being taught in ‘7 on 7’ practices in high schools around the country. These same kids end up being quarterbacks at major universities around the country, and this is the system they know. You don’t have to waste a high pick on a quarterback anymore. Just build around your defense. Sound crazy? Just pay attention to who is left in the playoffs. The NFL is now a defensive dominated league.
Nick Foles and Case Keenum both grew up in the ‘Bubble Screen Era’ (what I like to call it) in high school football of the early 2000’s in Texas. Mike Leach (previous coach for Texas Tech), used to have seminars to teach his ‘Air Raid’ style of offense to other Texas high school coaches in those days. This helped popularize ‘7 on 7’ football, a style of football during the offseason, that encompasses linemen-less football players, that emphasizes short passes and an easy route tree. This helped high school kids develop into college athletes at an accelerated pace. This trend started making it’s way to places like California and Florida. Coaches like Kevin Sumlin of the University of Houston and Chip Kelly of the University of Oregon, masterfully use this system to change the landscape of college football. Now almost every major university in the country has these types of quarterbacks or wants one. That is why you see more young quarterbacks thrive in the college system than ever before. Tua Tagovailoa took over as quarterback in the National Championship game and won as a freshman! As years go by, you are seeing less of the traditional quarterback and more of the mobile ‘dink and dunk’ style in the NFL.
NFL coaches, coordinators, scouts, GM’s are always looking for ways to stay ahead of the trends. Spending hours and hours watching film of potential future players for their team, there is no doubt they see the league is changing. To combat these types of quarterbacks that have flooded market, the success of building great defenses has led them to deep playoff runs. We are finally seeing it happen. It is not just coincidence that the 3 out of the 4 teams left in the playoffs rank in the top-5 in defense this season.
The Eagles, Vikings, and Jaguars all have really good pass rushers, that is why the New England Patriots are losing this Sunday. Tom Brady has traditionally struggled against great pass rushing teams. The Jaguars have probably the best pass rusher in the game right now in Calais Cambell, who posted 14.5 sacks in the regular season. Add in Malik Jackson to that mix and this team is strangely reminiscent to that Super Bowl XLII, where Tom Brady was terrorized by the New York Giants Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck and was sacked 5 times. That ended the Patriots perfect season, the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. The line in Vegas favored the Patriots by (+12.5) and they lost. The line for the AFC championship game this Sunday is Patriots (-9), I cannot see that happening. I would not trust Vegas on this one. With Blake Bortles’ ‘dink and dunk’ style to the nasty pass rush from the Jaguars defense, will cause a seismic shift in the NFL and will change the way we see the NFL for years to come. The Jacksonville Jaguars will win in a historic game.
Header Photo Source: Calais Cambell