CHICAGO, January 13, 2013 – The NFL’s divisional playoff games were nothing if not revealing.
The Broncos found out that Payton Manning might not be as good an investment as they once thought. He made some questionable decisions which cost Denver the game.
The Packers found out that they really can’t have that bad a defense and win games, and the fans’ trust in Dom Capers because of his Super Bowl win with the team is long gone because of their historically bad showing on Saturday.
More importantly, however, the world got its first real glimpse at the future of the quarterback position with outstanding play from two first-year starters: the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. In fact, if Tom Brady hadn’t been so tremendous this weekend, you could easily argue that the two youngsters are the best quarterbacks in the league.
The NFL had seen this type before, with Cam Newton erupting onto the scene last season with record-shattering numbers in his first few games. Teams found out the answer to him pretty quickly, however, and his team is currently mired in mediocrity for the second consecutive year.
Wilson and Kaepernick, however, are truly different. Not only do they display the incredibly athletic style of the future like
Wilson was nothing short of flawless since the second half of the season, and if not for a few questionable coaching decisions and a little bad luck, he would be facing Kaepernick in the NFC title game next week.
Not to be outdone, Kaepernick has made the NFL look easier than the college game since his spectacular debut on prime-time television against the Chicago Bears. He carves defenses like pumpkins, never failing to find a gaping hole in even the fiercest scheme (especially when a team like the Packers apparently forgets that Kaepernick can run).
We also can’t forget the success of the supremely athletic, tragically injured Robert Griffin III. If healthy, he could easily reach the levels of his fellow young guns.
As these quarterbacks rise, we’re also seeing the old breed of pocket passer fading off into the sunset. Payton Manning didn’t look like a superstar in his playoff loss, Aaron Rodgers had fewer passing yards than Kaepernick had rushing yards at halftime in a Packers loss, and Matt Ryan was quite frankly outshined by Russell Wilson despite the win.
The past challenge for running quarterbacks has been staying healthy (and for that reason, RGIII is on the second tier until he plays a full season), but Kaepernick and Wilson never seem to be the slightest bit shaken up after a run. Contrast that with Michael Vick’s inability to escape a single play without a broken rib and you can see the potential these two can bring to the table.
With Kaepernick the only one running quarterback remaining in the playoffs it will be intriguing to see how well he fares against a tough playoff defense in comparison to his pocket-passing colleagues; if he stays healthy, San Francisco certainly looks like the Super Bowl favorites purely because of their read-option offense.
How many people saw that coming in Week 1?
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! and That Liberal Pinko in the Communities at the Washington Times Online.
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