Just how important is the quarterback?

From the Sidelines

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Now that the NFL season is into the playoffs, most teams are now looking at the draft to fix what problems they have.  Several teams will be looking for the next “Franchise Quarterback”.  Anyone will agree that a quarterback is essential for team success, but are they the most important part you can get to improve a team?

David Klingler is the perfect example, a record setting qb out of Houston, the kid had talent, and a big arm. In his first game for the Bengals, he was sacked 10 times by the Pittsburgh Steelers!  In four years with the Bengals, he was sacked 82 times. There is no telling how many times he had to run for his life because the Bengals couldn’t block worth a hoot!  Needless to say, his career with them was only 4 years.

Even Mike Brown said that the team didn’t help him much.  Really? Pure genius there! This then begs the question “Why Not??” Then there was Jeff Blake, followed by the worst pick in Bengals history, Akili Smith.  I do believe that the Bengals have a winner in Joe Burrow, but he has been sacked in his 4 years 148 times in 52 games, 51 times in 2021,and has missed parts of 2 seasons.

Now, the Chicago Bears are debating whether or not to keep Justin Fields after 3 years.  They have the number one pick, and it seems like an even split between keeping him or drafting a quarterback with the pick.  According to Statmuse, Justin has been sacked 135 times in 3 years!  No telling how many times he has had to run for his life to keep from getting sacked.  Yet, the Chicago Bears think they may need a new quarterback.

As I stated, quarterbacks are important.  But, isn’t keeping them upright, giving them good receivers, and being able to run the ball more important?  I think it is because all of those mundane things make the quarterback more able to do his job.  Most of the teams looking for a new quarterback do not need a new quarterback.  They need a much better offensive line.

Joe Burrow is the classic example: when he is able to throw, the Bengals are one of the best in the league, when he isn’t, they are average at best.  Look at this year, started out bad, got in rhythm, and looked great, then he gets hurt, (Sacked 28 times in 10 games, no telling how many times he was hurried or harassed) and good bye playoffs.

Sam Howell for the Commanders looks adequate when they can keep him upright, but he was sacked 58 times, and ran for his life most of the time.  Yet, the Commanders are looking for a new quarterback so they can get him beat up, then go get another one to get beat up!  It makes no sense!

If I was a General manager, the first thing I would do, no matter what, is look at my offensive line, which I think is the most important unit on the field.  NOTHING happens without them, period!  They protect your most expensive player, they open the holes for your all-world running back, and they allow enough time for your Hall of Fame receivers to get open.

This is all common knowledge, yet owners, who are always looking to make a splash with their first pick, will take the qb, running back or receiver before they take that tackle who will immediately help.  Why? Number one is they want the fan base to get excited for the new “Franchise” and number two is they do not think an offensive lineman is worth spending money on.  Then, the all everything qb, running back or receiver will be disappointing because he can’t do his part because the part you need most is lacking?

Does that sound smart?  I will never forget when the Bengals first started, their first ever draft pick was Bob Johnson, center from Tennessee.  Several years later when I had my on field radio show with coach Brown, I asked him why he was his first pick?  He stated

“You build from the inside out.”  Paul Brown got it.

If I were the Bears, I would keep Justin, trade my first pick for more picks, and get a guard and tackle, and a blocking tight end.  With my other picks, I would get some receiver help (there are plenty of them available) and fill in other needed holes.  Most certainly though, I would protect Justin.  He shows real promise with a team that cannot run or pass block very well.  Guess what?  They won’t run or pass block very well for a new quarterback either if you don’t fix your main problem, the offensive line!

Football is a simple game, really.  If you block and tackle well, you normally win.  Why can’t GM’s and owners see this fundamental part of the game that never changes?  I don’t get it.  But, I am not the owner or GM, they are.

Maybe I should be??  That’s the way I see it, from the sidelines.