With over a month to go until a meaningful football game is played, our crew decided to pass the time by throwing out a couple of hypothetical scenarios. Here are the rules for engagement: pick a current NFL quarterback you would want for one play, one drive, one game, and the next five years. The only rule is that you cannot select the same player for more than one spot — each pick has to be unique. This is what our writers came up with:
Harris Ahmadzai — Russell Wilson: In a do-or-die situation, I want a QB that can improvise. Wilson gives me flexibility in the play call, and has enough creativity to make a play out of nothing. He’s accurate, doesn’t turn the ball over much, and has the foot speed to get some yards on the ground.
Dylan Fraychineaud — Russell Wilson: For me, this came down to Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has proved to be dangerous outside the pocket and on broken plays, but Wilson is king. Thanks to shoddy protection and a lack of a running game the past few seasons, Wilson has mastered the art of evasion. Nobody has been able to consistently make plays out of nothing like Wilson has. He might be more threatening when he is forced into a school-yard-like play. Give me ‘Dangeruss’.
Jason Fray — Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers pairs every single trait one would want in a do-or-die play. For one, he’s got immense arm strength. The simple flick of his wrist will launch the ball 70+ yards. He can also fit the ball into the tightest of windows. Secondly, his improvisational ability might be second to none. Rodgers is adept at feeling out pressure before effectively stepping up in the pocket and evading the rush. He can also scramble for a first down, or buy himself enough time to make a big play downfield. There’s no other better option than Rodgers. He’s the complete package in this regard.
Blake Hoffman — Ben Roethlisberger: Ultimately, this one comes down to which quarterback can improvise and make the big play. While Russell Wilson is the most elusive, and Cam Newton is the biggest running threat, no one creates more big plays when protection breaks down than Roethlisberger. Even though he probably couldn’t crack 5.0 seconds running the 40, Roethlisberger still somehow manages to evade pressure and keep his eyes downfield. If I only have one play, I’m confident Roethlisberger will find a way to make something out of nothing.
Harris Ahmadzai — Tom Brady: Experience is key in this scenario. Brady has been there, done that, countless times over his career. He won’t shy away from the moment. When the Patriots need a score, Brady gets absolutely surgical. He knows exactly where the first down markers are, and consistently puts his team in position to keep the chains moving. Whether we need a field goal or a touchdown, I feel far more confident with Brady on my side.
Dylan Fraychineaud — Tom Brady: With the game on the line nobody has been better than Brady. Amongst all active players, Brady has the most game-winning drives — 42 to Brees’ 41 — and has the fourth most all-time. Brady’s five rings speak for themselves. If my team is losing and has one possession left to try and win, I’m taking Brady every time.
Jason Fray — Tom Brady: Is this even a question? We’re talking about the greatest signal-caller in the history of the sport. Brady has made two-minute-drill drives appear as seamless as strolling down the street on a sunny day. His feel for these situations is simply unparalleled. Never have we seen a quarterback operating with this sort of clutch gene.
Blake Hoffman — Tom Brady: This one doesn’t require much of an explanation. After countless game-winning plays, eight Super Bowl appearances, and five Lombardi Trophies, there’s a reason Brady’s name has become synonymous with the word ‘clutch.’ With the game on the line and only one chance to eke out a victory, I’ll take the guy with 23 more wins than any other quarterback in NFL history.
Harris Ahmadzai — Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers is as close to being the LeBron James of football as the NFL has. He’s the most efficient passer, and carries a bigger offensive load than any other player. Rodgers’ impact is most evident over the course of a full game. He makes winning plays on just about every down, and will keep your team in it over the length of the contest.
Dylan Fraychineaud — Drew Brees: Brees has consistently been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for over a decade. His ability to make any throw and salvage plays when his protection breaks down is nearly unmatched. Brees has 41 game-winning drives over the course of his career, giving me plenty of confidence in the Saints quarterback to lead my team.
Jason Fray — Drew Brees: Brees has always been looked at as an underdog. As such, he’s developed quite a competitive streak. His legendary leadership traits will uplift his team (particularly if they’re underdogs heading into this hypothetical one-game scenario). From a playing standpoint, Brees can make every throw on the field. He’s also experienced enough to not get rattled when faced with adversity. His postseason success makes him more than qualified to lead a team into battle in a must-win situation.
Blake Hoffman — Aaron Rodgers: Tom Brady might be the G.O.A.T, but he isn’t the best quarterback in the league right now. That distinction belongs to Rodgers — who is arguably the most physically gifted quarterback the league has ever seen. Equally accurate throwing from inside the pocket or on the run, Rodgers makes at least three plays per game that leaves fans in awe. Rodgers’ talent transcends the personnel he plays alongside, as he automatically makes everyone around him better. In one winner-take-all game, it’s a no-brainer selecting Rodgers to lead the offense.
The Next 5 Years
Harris Ahmadzai — Carson Wentz: There are a few routes you can take here. Rodgers is still very much in his prime. Same goes for the slightly younger group consisting of Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, and Matthew Stafford. Jimmy Garoppolo, DeShaun Watson, and Dak Prescott could be intriguing picks as well, but I think Wentz has the highest ceiling of the bunch. By Year 3, Wentz would be 28 years old, firmly in his prime. He has a body type that will hold up over the NFL grind, despite coming off major knee surgery in 2018.
Dylan Fraychineaud — Aaron Rodgers: The safe answer here would be Wilson, Stafford, or Garoppolo, but I would want Rodgers to be my quarterback for the next five years. When healthy, there is no better quarterback in the league. From 2014-2016 Rodgers threw for 12,630 yards, 109 touchdowns, and only 20 interceptions. He will be turning 35 during this upcoming season, but his age doesn’t concern me as of now. Rodgers’ pure talent is unmatched and he should be a top-three quarterback until he retires.
Jason Fray — Jimmy Garoppolo: The inclusion of Jimmy G may surprise some people. The pool of other young quarterbacks (Josh Rosen, Marcus Mariota, Deshaun Watson, Pat Mahomes, Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz) is quite good. However, Garoppolo has all the tools necessary to once again take the San Francisco 49ers back to a relevant standing within the NFL. His most informative years in terms of development occurred under the guidance of the G.O.A.T. head coach (Bill Belichick) and quarterback (Tom Brady). Duly, the 26-year-old is currently 7-0 as a starter. While this last statistic certainly won’t last, Garoppolo’s ability to be a top-notch performer will.
Blake Hoffman — Andrew Luck: This one is definitely a bit of a gamble. Shoulder injuries are far from ideal for a quarterback, but when healthy, no one outside of Aaron Rodgers can match Luck’s level of talent. At 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds, Luck has prototypical size, a high football IQ, underrated mobility, and the arm strength to make every throw asked of him. Assuming he will be back to 100 percent to start 2018, the next five years — with Luck only 33 years old in 2023 — should include at least two MVP awards for the gunslinger.
Sources: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports, Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports, Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports, Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY Sports