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NFL 2021: QB Chefs and Grocery Shoppers

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

For a little over a month the NFL world has still been digesting the Tampa Bay Bucs’ 31-9 blowout win over the defending 2019 champion Kansas City Chiefs in a game that featured the G.O.A.T. QB Tom Brady (43, winner of 7 Super Bowls) vs. the B.A.B.Y. G.O.A.T QB Patrick Mahomes (25, winner of 1 Super Bowl).

QB intrigue and mania in the NFL has never been more blistering than it is today.

As NFL fans know, the evolution of the NFL QB in recent years has been stunning —- to the point where there is a train of thought among GMs and head coaches that in order to combat the blazing speed and power of NFL defenses, it could help your team’s chances if the best athlete on the field is your QB.

Of course, in Super Bowl LV, QB Tom Brady and RB Leonard Fournette reminded the NFL world that precision passing from the pocket and running the ball effectively is still perhaps the most methodical way to win football games.

But, what the Bucs decided to do during their bye week after the team had lost 3 of their last 4 games which included a a 38-3 embarrassing loss to the Saints and a 27-24 loss to the the B.A.B.Y. G.O.A.T, could be a harbinger for the QB evolution to come —- when the head coach decides to give the ultimate ownership of the offense to his starting QB.

Bucs’ head coach Bruce Arians boasted, “In New England they didn’t let Tom coach. We let Tom coach. I just sat back and watched. I didn't have to do sh&^.”

The Bucs’ bye week decision to give Tom Brady the autonomy to run the offense the way he wanted it to run was a bonanza because the Bucs would win four straight game to end the season and thereby qualify as a Wild Card. Then they rolled off four straight wins in the playoffs beating the Redskins on the road 31-23, avenging the regular season losses to the Saints by beating them 30-20 in New Orleans, beating the #1 seed Packers in Lambeau 31-26 and avenging their regular season loss to the Chiefs 31-9 at home sweet home in Tampa Bay.

It should be noted that Tom Brady was also given a hefty amount of influence in attracting some of the free agents who helped the Bucs win the Lombardi Trophy.

A few decades ago it was a miffed Bill Parcells who wanted out of New England because as he put it, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”

The point is —- today’s veteran NFL QBs (not just the head coaches) want the autonomy to shop for the groceries and cook the meal.

Look at what Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson are going through right now. They want to go to a team that will give them Tom Brady-like input and autonomy. They no longer want to be dictated to by their head coaches, GMs and people in the front office.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Dak Prescott is seeking the same thing in Dallas and he is eager to use the leverage he has in order to feather his nest wherever he plays, be it in Dallas or somewhere else.

In essence, to use a Nietzschean term, today’s veteran NFL QBs want to be the Uber Mensch of their organizations. They want to sit at the head of the board room table.

The question is —- is this a good thing? Or a bad thing?

As a high school educator and coach for over 40 years, I believe that giving the team’s star QB as much authority and autonomy as possible is the ultimate path to potential success. After all, what is an educator’s main goal? isn’t it to help students expand their knowledge and their self-confidence in order to help them develop advanced skills as independent thinkers and decision makers? After all, they are the ones playing the game.

In my opinion, the greatest teaching of all occurs when the teacher is able to become a retreating light in order to encourage and empower the students to take ownership of the classroom and, better yet, to take ownership of the curriculum so as to be able to drive it themselves.

I am also of the belief that succeeding generations are better, wiser and more talented versions of ourselves —- but, alas, so often the talented younger generations are being suppressed and impeded by the stubborn ignorance of older traditions of thought.

It therefore thrilled me, as a long-time Cardinals’ fan, to see the Cardinals’ players make such a concerted and impassioned pitch to recruit J.J. Watt to Arizona.

It thrilled me to hear J.J. Watt express his confidence in 3rd year QB Kyler Murray.

It also thrilled me to hear Steve Keim say that he’s been playing closer attention to Kyler Murray’s personnel suggestions, because I trust in Kyler Murray’s understanding of what to takes to win football games, in terms of strategy, preparation and personnel.

I keep reading tweets and articles where people opine that if things don’t go Kyler’s way, he’s going to quit football and play baseball. Just this week, after Kyler showed up to watch the Suns’ win over the Golden State Warriors while donning an Oakland A’s cap, twitter was all abuzz about the supposed statement Kyler was trying to make.

My reaction was this:

Steve Keim has said on numerous occasions that Kyler Murray is completely dialed in on football. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the case. In fact, I believe that Kyler is extremely happy that he picked the NFL over MLB. Had he chosen MLB, think of there he would be right now —- he’d be in the A’s camp preparing to start the season in AA (after having to miss the 2020 season when the minor league schedules were cancelled), with the hope of being able to move up to AAA by the end of the season.

More likely than not, he would still be a year or two away from playing full-time with the major league club.

if Kyler ever decided to go back to baseball, he’s smart enough to know that it would likely take him a couple of years in the minors to prepare himself to hit major league pitching.

Recently, Michael Bidwill expressed his excitement about watching Kyler take the next step in his development in year three. Hand in hand with the coaches, it’s very likely that we are going to see ways in which Kyler is going to take greater advantage of his mobility, particularly in the passing game, where up until now he’s been mostly employed as a pocket passer from the shotgun.

The ultimate goal the season is for Kyler to take greater command of the playbook and to drive much of it himself. In the meantime, Kyler is networking and doing his best to help Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury add the key pieces to his chessboard. It appears that this year, the GM and the head coach are welcoming Kyler’s input more strictly.

The QB carousel around the NFL is spinning at top speed right now —- not only with a number of star QBs in a current state of flux, but also with a growing expectation that 5 QBs will be taken early in the 2021 NFL Draft, which aids and abets the Cardinals’ chances of being able to draft a special player at pick #16.

Meanwhile, Tom Brady is now working on signing a contract extension with the Bucs, so that his team can add much needed cap room in order for them to try to re-sign their own key free agents. Brady is currently scheduled to take up $28.4M of the the Bucs’ 2021 salary cap —- which in itself is an utter bargain for the Bucs, just as Brady’s willingness to take humble slices of the salary cap pie in New England was a perennial boon for the Patriots.

Some pundits and and fans argue that well Tom Brady is married to Gisele, a super-model, so he really doesn’t need the money. Yeah. OK. But, I believe that Brady wants to win so badly that no matter what, he would do whatever he could to help his team mange the cap in order to be able to vie for championships.

Kyler Murray, in light of his burning desire to win, is apt to do the same, when the time comes. That is, just as long as K1 gets to do some of the grocery shopping so that he and the team can cook up a signature feast.