There was once a time when having a dual-threat quarterback was seen as an "alternative." They weren't seen as practical, and conventional wisdom said that one needed a traditional drop-back quarterback to win the Super Bowl.
However, as time passes and the rules change, it is becoming more and more evident that having a mobile quarterback is becoming a necessity.
I'm not saying that a quarterback has to be as elusive as Michael Vick, but the days of having a statue standing in the pocket are starting to come to a close. As defensive lines become increasingly bigger and faster, having a quarterback that can extend plays and ad-lib will become necessary.
The league's longtime "elite" pocket passers are aging. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are all in their 30s. Unfortunately, we will have to come to the realization that most of these guys will be at the tail end of their career within five years.
The new crop of superstars that are stepping into the spotlight are RGIII, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick. All four are mobile, athletic and can extend plays with their legs.
Having a mobile quarterback simply adds another dimension to the offense, and it allows the coach to open up new possibilities in the offense that aren't available otherwise. It forces defensive coordinators to come up with new game plans and strategies.
One of the reasons Michael Vick is considered one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in football is his athleticism. Defensive coordinators fear having to game-plan against him because his otherworldly athleticism makes it almost impossible. He possesses the potential to completely turn the tide of the game by breaking down the defense for a 40-yard run and then throwing a 30-yard pass.
For his entire career, Vick has had the potential and natural ability to become the best quarterback in football. And by best, I do mean better than Brady, Brees and Manning.
He hasn't because of the lack of work ethic and preparation early in his career, and now he suffers from poor decision-making and a lack of confidence. For that reason, he never realized his potential as the next Fran Tarkenton.
Like Vick, other dual-threat quarterbacks were often victims of their own talent. Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell wasted their talent and completely torpedoed their own careers because of their lack of preparation and dependency on their natural abilities.
More successful mobile QBs like Steve McNair and Donovan McNabb were successful, but were never able to ascend to "elite" status during their time in the league. Daunte Culpepper probably would have, but he suffered a knee injury and was never the same player again.
However, the new crop of quarterbacks is completely different.
RGIII, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have Vick-like potential. But more importantly, they have the work ethic and football IQ to capitalize on that potential.
There's a reason that Jim Harbaugh elected to bench the perfectly efficient Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick. He knew that Kaepernick added a new dimension to the offense and that he had the potential to throw the playbook wide open.
As we all know, he was right. Kaepernick took the league by storm, terrorizing defenses with his combination of speed and arm strength while becoming a household name in a matter of weeks.
These are all traits that are found in Newton, Griffin and Wilson. They each have the ability to change the momentum of a game in just a single play. They don't simply have weapons surrounding them, they are weapons in their own right.
The opportunities they can open up help make the players around them better. That's why they're so valuable.
Depending on who you ask, some of these quarterbacks are already in the top 10 in the league. That's scary, considering that none of these quarterbacks have even entered their third year yet.
Dual-threat quarterbacks have set the league on fire. Don't expect that flame to be extinguished anytime soon.
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