Non-Franchise QBs who won the Super Bowl anyway
If your guy is not a franchise quarterback, so the football sages say, you cannot win in today’s NFL. What garbage. Sure, you want the best possible quarterback to be on your side, but it is played by 22 starting players plus special teams and key subs from the 53-player roster. It’s a big disadvantage if your pigskin chucker is not as good as the other team’s guy, but they don’t get a free win just by showing up with a better stat sheet.
There are plenty of times when the Super Bowl was won by a guy who was not considered to be a franchise quarterback. In fact, most of the time the term gets applied after the team wins the Super Bowl rather than before.
To cite one recent example, the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles had a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz, after trading what seemed like a dozen draft choices to the Browns to move up for him the previous season. Wentz was lights out all year but had a season-ending injury.
So the Eagles had to give up and go home, right? Wrong. In came Nick Foles (a guy who, by the way, John Dorsey had signed in Kansas City) and he did well enough to win a couple of playoff games. Then in the Super Bowl, he exploded for 373 yards, three TDs, and even a TD reception on a trick play. The Patriots had a similar play for Tom Brady that failed, as you may recall.
Sometimes you can win with, say, Doug Williams, who had a grand total of zero regular-season wins as a starter in 1987 when he replaced a successful but struggling Jay Schroeder. The Washington faithful were certain that coach Joe Gibbs had taken totally lost his mind. But Williams bombarded John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl that year, 42-10.
The Washington third-string quarterback was Mark Rypien who eventually developed into a starter and won another World Championship in 1991. Former Brown Earnest Byner helped him out with 1,356 yards from scrimmage that year.
Or maybe you have to play your backup, like Kurt Warner when Trent Green was injured in 1999, or Trent Dilfer in 2000 when Tony Banks went down, but the season is not necessarily over if your franchise quarterback (whatever that is) is not available.
Another non-noteworthy name is Brad Johnson of Tampa Bay (2002), who had been a ninth-round pick back in the day.
Brady by now is the most prototypic Franchise Quarterback of all time, but when this all started in 2001, he was just a sixth-round draft pick and backup for Drew Bledsoe, who was the first overall pick of the 1993 NFL draft. Bledsoe, not Brady, was the obvious franchise quarterback in 2001.
For that matter, the Cleveland Browns last World Championship was in the pre-Super Bowl era, but they won with Dr. Frank Ryan at the controls. Ryan had been drafted in the fifth round by the Los Angeles Rams. Other prehistoric quarterbacks such as Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr would be considered to be franchise guys today, but Unitas was rescued from the scrap heap after being cut by the Steelers, and Starr was drafted in the 17th round in 1956, so they were both journeymen before becoming stars.
Bottom line, fans should not get upset about whether Baker Mayfield is labeled a “franchise quarterback” or not. Who cares? Leave that to geniuses like Colin Cowherd to figure out.
At the end of his career, we can look back and worry about how good he was, whether he was Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor, elite, above-average, or what. The only distinction worth making now is starter, second sting, or third string.
For now, it could not be more clear that he is the starting quarterback and the leader of the offense. so let’s worry about getting to start the season somehow and hopefully watch the kid do his stuff.