Matt Burke – Metro Boston: We began this conversation as a debate about who would wind up winning Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, but there was far too much agreement. Even Philly Sports Editor Evan Macy said he was afraid he’d agree with me far too much on my Patriots points, given that the Pats are heavy favorites this week against Jacksonville and would be 6.5 favorites over the Eagles in the Super Bowl (Vikings – Patriots is currently a pick ’em). So we shifted the conversation to the state of the QB in the NFL. With Blake Bortles, Case Keenum and Nick Foles all appearing in league championship games this weekend, is the state of the QB in the NFL in 2018 really as piss poor as it seems?
Joe Pantorno – Metro New York: Is this the worst foursome of QBs left ever?
Burke: Yes. Unless you want to say Brady brings the average up.
Pantorno: I want to look back at the 2000 season. Because the Ravens won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer and faced Kerry Collins in Super Bowl 35.
Burke: Ouch, yeah. That’s bad.
Pantorno: Ehhh … Ravens beat Rich Gannon in the AFC Championship game. Giants beat Daunte Culpepper.
Burke: Culpepper was decent.
Pantorno: Yeah, so I still take this year as the worst. Culpepper and Gannon save it from being the worst.
Evan Macy, Philly Sports Editor: “Will Super Bowl 52 be the worst ever?” That’s what we should debate.
Burke: But going into next season, even with Wentz healthy – I think the state of the QB in the NFL is piss poor.
Pantorno: BLAKE BORTLES IS IN THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME. Of course it is lol.
Macy: Yeah, I can’t argue that. NFC East has – sorry Joe – one good QB now.
Pantorno: No offense taken. It’s true.
Burke: Like Mariota and Jameis Winston are supposed to be studs by now.
Pantorno: Dak regressed like a son of a gun.
Burke: Ditto with Matt Ryan. Goff was good this season, but who’s to say he doesn't regress?
Macy: It’s the NFL’s fault. They’re over-drafting these guys, then starting them on bad teams. The Aaron Rodgers technique doesn’t exist anymore … it’s why Jimmy G is so good.
Pantorno: Mmmmm. I like it. Watch 4-5 QBs get taken in the first round this year. Because of this new mindset.
Macy: And they start on teams that suck with new coaches and fail.
Macy: Put one of these guys [in the 2018 NFL Draft] on the Patriots or Saints, let them sit for two years with a great coach, and they become Pro Bowlers.
Burke: I mostly agree. Though Garoppolo was the exception to the rule in New England. Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett were all mostly crap.
Pantorno: So by this equation, does that mean Pat Mahomes succeeds in Kansas City?
Burke: Definitely. Alex Smith has to be done in KC. They’re not going to fire Andy Reid, and there has to be change there this offseason.
Pantorno: I could see Alex Smith going to the Jets.
Burke: That’d actually be a good spot for him.
Pantorno: Yeah, for sure. Won’t be too pricey (like Kirk Cousins) either. You pretty much know what you’re getting with him, unlike Case Keenum.
Macy: Agree with that, too.
Burke: This is hurting my original point that the league doesn’t have as many bona fide stud QBs as it did, say, five or six years ago (Brady, P. Manning … Rivers, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, E. Manning all in their prime), but the two breakout QBs of this season both ended up going down with season-ending injuries. If Wentz and Deshaun Watson are the real deal – and they both certainly look like it – the state of the QB is probably in good shape. This season might just be an outlier and it’ll be a thing where everyone’s like, “Hey, remember that stupid year when BLAKE BORTLES MADE THE AFC TITLE GAME?!”
Macy: I mean, the injuries of Wentz and Watson, the demise of Manning and somewhat Roethlisberger, the irrelevancy of Rivers and the emergence of defenses in Philly, Minnesota, Jacksonville and even Tennessee and Buffalo … it’s not a normal year. I wouldn’t be concerned about QB play but I would be concerned with this damn over-drafting.
Pantorno: If the Jaguars have taught us anything this year, it’s that teams can win despite poor quarterbacking. If you have the right pieces on the other corners of the roster, there shouldn’t be this gold rush to try and aggregate every single promising arm (there’s an arms race joke in here, just too simple to make it).
Burke: So if you guys were running teams, when would you pick a QB in the draft (if at all)? Say you were the Browns, who need everything?
Pantorno: I can see two quarterbacks possessing legitimate first round talent this season in Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold. If I don’t have a top two or three pick, I’m not using a first round pick on one – whether it be Baker Mayfield or Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen. I’ll get a top-tier prospect at another position of need to make my roster deeper. That way whichever QB comes in, whether it be this year or next, they have a better chance of surviving.
Macy: It’s too blanket a question. Because the Eagles had the pieces to make Carson Wentz successful. If the Eagles didn’t trade with the Browns for that second pick, I think Wentz is a failure in Cleveland.
Burke: God, I think Wentz would have succeeded anywhere. Some guys are just that good.
Pantorno: It’s such a shame that such a stud is in the Giants’ division.