The most difficult position to play in the NFL is the quarterback. It’s a universal fact that has not been challenged over the last 40 years of history. That doesn’t mean everything we know and expect about the position is correct though.
If there’s one thing the modern game has taught us, it’s that evaluating quarterbacks based on team success or factors beyond their control has really murked up the evaluation process.
No better lesson can be taught to both the New York Giants and New York Jets in their Week 15 contests.
The Giants take on a Washington Commanders team that has won five of six starts by Taylor Heinicke this year, including the lone loss held by the Philadelphia Eagles. Gang Green meanwhile faces Jared Goff and a Lions roster that has won five of their last six themselves.
Both Goff and Heinicke offer unique lessons to their opponents in Week 15. The only question will be if both teams understand what they are seeing.
Heinicke and a loaded roster
Here’s a genuine question: if the Commanders had any other quarterback other than Taylor Heinicke starting, would they be in the race for the playoffs right now?
It’s a fun debate, but it takes away from the fact of how important intangibles are to the quarterback position. Heinicke took over for a team that had seemed to lack confidence under Carson Wentz. Since then, however, the overwhelming amount of talent has blossomed with Heinicke at their disposal.
For the Giants, the lesson to learn from Washington is that average quarterbacks (I don’t think anyone denies that Heinicke is average) can have extremely successful careers and take their team to the playoffs. The key to the success of average quarterbacks and getting the best out of them is to surround them with supreme talent.
The Commanders have that with Heinicke. The 49ers have that with Jimmy Garrappolo. And the Giants should look to do that with their own quarterback, Daniel Jones.
Don’t give up too early on Jared Goff
It’s been quite a different tune for Jared Goff in his career. The former first-overall pick made a Super Bowl with a team full of talent, then was traded away to NFL Siberia in Detroit. Many analysts felt that Goff’s career was basically over as a potential top player in the league. There’s no way he could turn around a poorly constructed Lions team.
Then again, it seems he has.
The Lions are only at 6-7. Yet Goff has played some of the best football of his career this season, including a 34-23 win over the 10-win Vikings. So what’s the lesson the Jets could take from a situation like Goff’s in Detroit?
Simple: trust that a talented player can find himself with proper coaching.
The Jets tend to jump ship whenever one of their quarterbacks struggles for a small stretch. Whether it is Zach Wilson or Mike White, the Jets need to be patient with their quarterback. The Lions have been patient with Goff and are now on the precipice of a potential playoff berth.
Jared Goff and Taylor Heinicke. Two quarterbacks that you wouldn’t think could offer prime lessons to their opponents this late in the season but here we are.
We’ll see if the Jets and Giants stand true to what is being taught to them.