Ask Gary: Who is the best bet to lead the QBs?

by Gary Shelton on October 27, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

The quarterbacks of today who can be considered elite such as Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and maybe still Ben Roethlisberger, were all drafted in the 2000 - 2005 period and except for Aaron Rodgers will be retiring in the next few years. What QBs, if any, from the Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota draft class of 2015 to 2018, have the best chance to replace those guys and reach elite status in 5-10 years?

Larry Beller
Good question, Larry. If and when those guys ever decide to get old, there will be a new face to lead the next group as it takes over.

There are 12 guys who were taken in the first round of the last four drafts (your time period). That leaves out Seattle's Russell Wilson, who is just short of his 30th birthday, Detroit's Matt Stafford, who is almost 31, and Minnesota'ss Kirk Cousins, who just passed the age of 30. So we won't include them in the conversation.

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I think the best bets to become the face of the league at quarterback are still the Eagles' Carson Wentz and the the Rams' Jared Goff.  Both have a career rating that is in the 90s, and both lead very good football teams. That's important. No one is going to recognize the best quarterback because he throws for a lot of yardage. In this league, it's about winning.

It should be pointed out that the Bucs' Jameis Winston (the No. 1 draft pick in the first draft class you cited) is far and away the leader as far as. yardage. That figures. He's played more games. He also has more touchdowns and far more interceptions that the rest of the guys. But he's won two games less than Marcus Mariota and one less than Wentz.
If you count fresh faces, I really like Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes. But Mahomes is essentially a first-year starter (he started one game as a rookie in 2017). Still, a 7-1 record makes him the rising star of the bunch. The Chiefs are good team, which should help him, too.
I've liked Deshaun Watson since he was at Clemson. The kid has the best quarterback rating (100.4) of the group. So he's in the conversation, too. Mitch Trubisky isn't, but if he played all of his games against the Bucs, he would be.
As far as this year's year's rookies, none of them have really established themselves. Lamar Jackson hasn't played, and the other four all have losing records (bad teams pick good quarterbacks; it's the way of life). No one has a rating above 78.5.
I'm not a huge fan of Dak Prescott. But he's 25-14 with the Cowboys. I don't think it's all him, of course, but give the guy credit for the final result.
For now, I would rate them this way: 1. Goff; 2. Wentz; 3. Mahomes; 4. Watson; 5. Winston.
I'm sure that next year, there will be others (Justin Herbert?).

The NFC East division has won a total of 13 Super Bowls.  Which is the strongest rivalry within the division:

Eagles vs Cowboys?

Eagles vs Redskins?

Eagles vs Giants?

Cowboys vs Redskins?

Cowboys vs Giants?

Giants vs Redskins?

Scott Myers

I don't think any of them care for each other. The NFL isn't like college, where most of the true rivalries are because of geography (and fans who walked to the same buildings as the players). I don't think the Giants are that bothered by the Jets for instance.

In the NFL, a rivalry is created by teams who take away from each other. If the Eagles beat the Redskins for a division title, for instance, fans remember it.

So I'm going to go with the Cowboys and Redskins.

Remember this: In 2002, when the NFL realigned, there was a push to move the Cowboys westward. But Dallas didn't care for the idea, and it lobbied hard to stay in the NFC East. Their fans didn't want their games to start at 4 p.m. on Sundays, and they didn't think a rivalry with the new Texans would be a good thing.

It's worked pretty well, I'd say.

I will point out this: The NFC East has won 13 Super Bowl titles, but it's won only three since that 2002 realignment. The Giants have won twice and the Eagles once, all three wins coming against the Patriots.

I like good offensive football as much as anyone, but do you have any theories as to why the defensive play in the NFL been has really bad this season?
Peter Kerasotis
I suspect it's because all of the rule changes are catching up to the game. Every significant rule change that has occurred over the last several seasons has benefitted the offense (and the quarterback). They've liberalized holding, they've allowed the quarterback to dump the ball, they've restricted the way defensive backs can jostle receivers and they've let offensive linemen get away with holding. Now, you get a roughing-the-passer penalty if your weight comes down on the quarterback.
Every rule that comes along ties the defense's hands more and more behind their backs. Even kickoffs through the end zone start at the 25 these days instead of the 20.
I don't think the quarterbacking is better. I think there are more good receivers, but the elite ones aren't better than Jerry Rice was. The running backs aren't as good (or don't get as much opportunity). I always harp on this, but I think the practice rules, where you have less contact days than ever, also hurts the defense
The NFL wants this. They want a track meet that ends up 42-39 whether it's football or not..
Over the course of your sportswriting career, what do you consider to be the 3 most shocking upsets?
Jim Willson
By upsets, do you mean in an actual contest?
Let's see. I was still in high school when the Jets beat the Colts (and cost me my lunch money for the year), so I can't count that one. I was in college when the Russians stole the gold-medal basketball game at the Olympics, so I can't count that one, either.
1. I'd start with the Miracle on Ice. I wasn't there, but even looking back, that was a monumental upset. A bunch of kids from the United States upset the awesome Soviets at Lake Placid. That was amazing.
2. Follow that with wrestler Rulon Gardner's upset in the 2000 Olympics over the menacing Alexander Karelin. I didn't cover that one, either. (The United States baseball team upset the Cubans that night. I was following Tommy Lasorda around.). Karelin was seemingly impervious to pain. It was an astonishing victory.
3. For the third upset, I'd go with UConn beating a seemingly invincible Duke team right here in St. Petersburg in 1999. The Dukies were by far the class of the Final Four that came here -- I think I called them Martha Reeves and everyone else the Vandellas -- but in a game for the ages, UConn won.
I didn't count Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson or Ali over George Foreman because I wasn't at either event. I wasn't at N.C. State over Houston in the NCAAs, either.
I was at both Super Bowls where the New York Giants beat the Patriots, including the one where New England came into the game 18-0 (the one with the David Tyree catch).  I was there when the Patriots upset the Rams with a kid named Tom Brady. I was there when the Redskins whacked the Denver Broncos behind Doug Williams. People forget they were a three-point underdog. I was there when the Giants beat Buffalo behind backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler. I was there when Kerry Strug landed her vault (on a bad ankle) and upset the Russians.
This is why we watch sports. It isn't a movie where you know that James Bond will always win in the end. It's subject to emotions.
Sometimes, it makes a kid miss lunch.
The Bucs won a game they HAD to win (albeit barely) but didnt win anymore faith in fans like me. I'm real curious which Bucs team shows up in Cincy -- the one from Week 1 (sans Fitzmagic) or the one in Chicago. It's yet another key game for the Bucs (staff and players included). How do you feel they stack up against the Bengals?
Bruce Brownlee  
Bruce, I don't like the matchup. I don't know who is going to slow down Andy Dalton and who is going to cover A.J. Green.
I think it's a winnable game, but the defense has to hold up.  Jameis Winston has to have a good day with his turnovers.
If I had to bet my house, I'd bet on the Bengals to pull it out in the fourth quarter. I'm still not convinced the Bucs have enough to win in the fourth. They're a flawed team.
To win, then, they have to play a low-turnover game and hit some big plays.

The NFC South division has won a total of 2 Super Bowls.  Which is the strongest rivalry within the division:

Saints vs Bucs?

Saints vs Falcons?

Saints vs Panthers?

Bucs vs Falcons?

Bucs vs Panthers?

Panthers vs Falcons?

Scott Myers

It's a relatively new division, so the feelings have just begun to fester. But I think the fiercest rivals of the bunch would be the Falcons and the Saints.

I was once in an Atlanta airport, and the baggage handlers were handing  late-arriving passengers their luggage off of a cart. The guy eyed one passenger and asked if he was a Saints fan. The guy said, yes, he was.

And the baggage handler just dropped his luggage on the spot and walked away. It was a hoot. Needless to say, the guy didn't get a tip.

But there are reasons for every team's fans to hate every other team. The Bucs don't like Atlanta because it stole Rich McKay (and other front office people). They don't like Carolina because the Panthers wen to the Super Bowl the year after they did. They don't like New Orleans because, well, Sean Payton is a tool.

And so forth.

How do you think Vita Vea is doing? I heard Warren Sapp say that he wasn’t a good fit because he's too big to handle the Florida weather. I’ve tried to pay attention during games, he seems to do well in the running game, and needs further development in the passing game.

Carlos Ubinas

I saw a piece last week that was grading every first-round pick. Vea was the only player in it that got an "incomplete."

If you're talking about a team that needed an impact from its No. 1 draft pick, it's the Bucs.  But Vea has all of one tackle on the season. That's not what you would have hoped for. You'd love to have seen flashes that he can be a major player in the future; we haven't seen that.

As far as handling the heat, Vea has shed about 15 pounds. He should be okay once he gets into game shape. But we all know that not every first-round pick works out, and this team has seen more misses than most.

There was a play against the Browns when Vea ran to the left sideline and made a tackle on a running back. It was called back by a penalty, but it was impressive athletically. Maybe there is something there.

Look, if Vea was just a huge run-stuffer, the Bucs could have gotten him later in the draft. He's going to have to show some explosion for the Bucs to be convinced they made the right choice.

As far Sapp, I was surprised when so many fans shouted him down for his criticism. The weight is a concern. Now, I'd counter that in his homeland of Tonga, it was pretty hot, too.

Gators vs Bulldogs. I've been watching this one since I was a kid in the 70s.  Unlike last season, the Water Lizards have a top 10 team, a top 10 head coach (or higher), and they are DUE against UGA. How do you see this one?

Bruce Brownlee

Strange things happen in this series, don't they? Fourth-and-dumb. Run, Lindsay, Run.

The thing is, Kirby Smart has had more time to develop his program than Dan Mullen has had time to develop his. His Bulldogs ought to win. But I think it will be close, and if the Gators can turn it into a defensive game, they can pull it out for the win.

Overall, I think Georgia wins it this year. But I've been wrong a lot in this series. Maybe I was the dumb one in fourth-and-dumb.

Do you think that Jason Licht deserves to come back next year?

Jim Willson

It's hit-or-miss at 3-3, Jim. I do think Licht has the trust of the Glazers, which will break a tie. I think they like him, and they'd like him to continue.

But Licht has some misses, too. He drafted Roberto Aguayo. He drafted Vernon Hargreaves. He drafted Ronald Jones. He's spent a lot of money in free agency, which often is the deciding factor for general managers.

I think a lot of it centers around whether the Bucs make a change at head coach and who they pick. If they get a control freak -- like Jim Harbaugh, for instance -- and if that guy wants to bring in his own personnel guy, he'd be allowed to. If they pick an offensive coordinator from another team, someone who doesn't have a lot of leverage, then Licht might resign.

What are your feelings on it. If you were a Glazer, would you make a change?

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Bruce C Brownlee October 27, 2018 at 9:13 am

Regarding Licht, I agree with you Gary. It’s too early to tell. Vita Vea may be added to that (shit) list by season end. Missing on Vita & Jones would be hard to overlook if the season ends below .500. I like Licht but he’s surely not the best we’ve had here.

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Gary Shelton October 27, 2018 at 4:12 pm

That’s true. But he may be the second-best, right? Not that there has been a lot to brag about.

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Larry Beller October 27, 2018 at 6:55 am

I like 80% of your list. Based on talent alone it seems like Goff and Mahomes are head and shoulders above the rest with Watson and Wentz being right behind them. Mahomes might be the most exciting talent to come into the league in recent years. Watson and Wentz have already had serious injuries in their young careers so durability could be an issue with them.

I’m not putting Winston on that list and Mariota isn’t even in the conversation at this point. Seems like that draft class was totally over rated since some of younger guys we talked about have come in the league and performed so well.

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Gary Shelton October 27, 2018 at 9:02 am

Again, good players go to bad teams. I wouldn’t deny Winston his arm or his competitiveness. I don’t think anyone thought that interceptions would so plentiful.

I had Mahomes down on the list simply because he hasn’t done it enough. But he is a talent, isn’t he?

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