While defense wins championships, and football teams must win battles on the lines of scrimmage to win games, every team must have a quarterback — a really good quarterback.
Regardless of the level of play, if a team does not have a good quarterback, it’s in trouble. Teams search high and low to find a quarterback who can help make the team a winner.
Recruiting battles in college are legendary, and if you think it’s any easier to find one in the NFL, ask the Cleveland Browns. They’ve been searching for one since Bernie Kosar, an eight-year starter who last played there 24 years ago.
We’ll see two great NFL quarterbacks play each other Sunday, as good friends Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons and Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions face off in Detroit. A lot has been made this week of the friendship that has developed between the two, which really should not be a big surprise.
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They are two of the best quarterbacks in the league. Ryan was last year’s NFL MVP, while Stafford is already getting mentioned as a candidate for this year’s award. Both have contracts that will make their great, great-grandchildren rich, as they’ll never be able to spend all the money they’ll make in the NFL.
Stafford was a star in the making before he even stepped on campus at Georgia. Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN’s draft guru, anointed Stafford as a future first overall pick in the NFL draft before he left high school. He had a good career at Georgia, but many wish he would have accomplished more.
Stafford’s individual success in the NFL has not helped the Lions become winners, which proves that a quarterback must have a good supporting cast around him. That’s why Matt Ryan has become a great player, as receivers like Julio Jones and a regular strong running game have certainly made Ryan a better player.
When a team like Atlanta faces a quarterback like Stafford, the secondary becomes very important. The Falcons are helped by having Desmond Trufant back in the lineup, and he will test Stafford on Sunday.
Most believe an NFL team must have a star quarterback, while a college team can have a game manager, someone good enough to not make mistakes and simply put the offense in position to win.
There are many who believe college teams are better suited for a dual-threat quarterback compared to a drop-back passer. Some have wondered if Georgia has not reached an elite level because the Bulldogs have not had a dual-threat since D.J. Shockley, who won a conference title as the quarterback in 2005.
It’s also why, even with two very good quarterbacks now, Georgia is after high school star Justin Fields, who some believe is the best high school quarterback in the country.
There is an inevitability to a situation in Athens. It likely will be a good problem to have, as Jacob Eason eventually will return from injury. What happens then? Does Eason get his job back, despite what Jake Fromm has done or what the team’s record is with Fromm as the starter? Or does Fromm continue to start no matter what?
Well, the way fans are about quarterbacks, the starter likely will be the one who hasn’t lost. Put Eason back in there as the starter and see Georgia lose a game, and you’ll hear the loud complaints of those wanting Fromm back in there. And then if he loses as the starter, the fans will scream for Eason to come back.
Football is a team game. Teams need skill players, big fat linemen and athletic defensive talents. But when a team loses, who usually gets the blame? The quarterback. Quarterbacks are essential, and it always seems to be the position on the football field with the most drama and intrigue. And if a team doesn’t have a good one, there’s full-fledged panic mode that’s rather uncomfortable.
Listen to "The Bill Shanks Show" from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on "Middle Georgia’s ESPN" – 93.1 FM in Macon and 99.5 FM in Warner Robins. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.