The beautiful death of quarterback groupthink
What is Washington thinking? And Atlanta? This offseason, a handful of teams thought for themselves. That's good for the game.
Greetings from Florida! Where it rains. A lot. It’s currently downpouring in Tampa after downpouring in Jacksonville, but the rain hasn’t dampened anyone’s spirits this time of year. Be on the lookout for several longform features from our spring tour over the coming weeks. Several players shared their harrowing stories with Go Long. I cannot wait to share.
In-between interviews here, let’s give Press Taylor a hand.
For starters, at this rate, the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator will be a head coach. The last time you heard from him, he also had three kids. Welp. Taylor is up to four. He gives his rock-star wife all the praise in the world and says he helps as much as he can. The morning of this chat, for example, Taylor was working the pacifier at 4:30 a.m. Yet, there are no bags under his eyes. He doesn’t look tired or weary or drained — at all — during our conversation. Perhaps that canteen of coffee on a table behind him is to thank. But another reason he’s as cheerful as any assistant coach this time of year is the fact that Trevor Lawrence is his quarterback.
More on all things Jags and Lawrence at a later date, but you can probably count on one hand the number of teams capable of sleeping this soundly at night.
The clearest path toward quarterback bliss is the same as it’s always been. Land a top 10 pick — preferably No. 1 overall — and hope that particular draft just so happens to feature a generational talent. Hit the bull’s eye, and you can pencil yourself in as a contender for a decade. All teams know that an elite talent at quarterback heals all potential warts: injuries, draft whiffs, free-agent whiffs, a lazy beer vendor, the air just smells fresher. Quarterbacks are also inching closer to Bubble Boy status in the league office, which means they’ll probably stay healthy all 17 games.
Which is why some teams have shamelessly tanked.
Which is why other teams — like the Carolina Panthers this year — sell off appendages to get the No. 1 pick. You increase your odds of hitting big. We’ve seen trades up the draft pay off. Kansas City coughs up a first because it believes in Patrick Mahomes. Buffalo matriculates its way from No. 22 overall to No. 7 and chooses Josh Allen over Josh Rosen.
Yet, I cannot remember another offseason where so many different teams attacked the position in so many unique ways. Of course, what the San Francisco 49ers are attempting to execute is unbelievably difficult to sustain. Yes, “Mr. Irrelevant” steered them to the NFC title game. But even Kyle Shanahan, gigantic ego ‘n all, took his big swing. The 49ers czar effectively invested four first-round picks in a quarterback from North Dakota State who started one collegiate season: Trey Lance.
Now, the 49ers are dangling Lance on the trade market.
Finding a savior at the most important position in sports is not easy. Most organizations would prefer to not stink up the joint for the chance at the next stud because there’s a good chance that a.) you’re not even around to reap the rewards of that subsequent No. 1 pick or b.) you do irreparable damage to the locker room. The stench of losing isn’t swiftly cleansed with one draft pick.
Finally, teams are actively doing something about it.