Columnists, Sports

First and Goal: Tale of Two QBs

After a turbulent offseason, we are finally on the cusp of the National Football League season. Although multiple stadiums will be muted this year with no fans allowed to attend, the action on the field should be as electric as ever with the NFL’s new guard leading an offensive revolution.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who just signed the richest contract in sports history, will be looking to prove his worth this season. 

The Chiefs are coming off their Super Bowl win over San Francisco in February and are poised to win it again. 

Kansas City has also kept most of their offensive starters from last year’s title season and the development of Mahomes makes this team twice as scary.

At just 24 years old, Mahomes has won a Super Bowl and had a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown season while also earning an NFL Most Valuable Player award, which already makes him one of the more accomplished quarterbacks in league history. 

Mahomes missed two and a half games last season and still threw for 4,000 yards. Even when he’s not throwing touchdowns, he’s not turning the ball over either. Mahomes has only thrown 18 interceptions in the 31 games he’s played and only threw five all of last season. 

As the years have gone on, quarterbacks have been able to extend their careers far beyond their early 30s, which makes the thought of Mahomes five years down the road terrifying — barring any catastrophic injuries of course. 

If he’s tearing up defenses and setting records only three years into his career, then what is he going to do in year 10?

On the other end of the age spectrum is the guy Mahomes is chasing, Tom Brady.

Brady broke Patriots fans’ hearts — including this one’s — when he left New England in the spring. As time has gone on, the feeling has become bittersweet as it’s become a “don’t cry that it’s over, smile because it happened” situation.

Brady is 43 years old and despite what fans and pundits blinded by jealousy say, he can still play at a top level. Brady threw for 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns last season with an anemic offense. 

A stellar Patriots defense certainly helped Brady out, but if you looked beyond the stat sheet and saw the way he was throwing the ball, you’d know there’s still some youth left in the old man.

Instead of retiring and moving to Florida like most old people, Brady decided he’d find a job down there as the leader of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offense. 

The weapons present on this offense make last year’s Patriots look like high school players in comparison. Wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin far outshine any of the Patriots receivers beside Julian Edelman. 

This tandem also gives Brady something he hasn’t had in a few years either: a deep ball receiver. Brady has always been criticized for dinking and dunking on short yet efficient passes, but this season we can see if he truly still has it.

Brady might miss running back James White in the backfield, but having LeSean McCoy and Leonard Fournette certainly doesn’t hurt. 

McCoy has slowed down a bit over the past few seasons but has shown he can still be the elusive back he once was. 

Fournette hasn’t really struggled in his three seasons in the league, but hasn’t really lived up to that fourth-overall pick status since his rookie year. Perhaps a change of scenery and playing with the greatest quarterback of all time can help him.

The return of Rob Gronkowski is probably the biggest factor in whether or not Brady succeeds in Tampa. 

After winning the Super Bowl with Brady and the Patriots two seasons ago, Gronk hung up his cleats after a historic but injury-riddled career. His return is shocking and if he starts to look like his old superstar self, then the Bucs might be the team to beat in the National Football Conference.

This season is full of quarterback-related intrigue, including the return of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton’s chance at redemption with New England and Lamar Jackson’s quest for a Super Bowl. But the duel between a man battling Father Time and a kid who isn’t even close to peaking will dominate the headlines.

 

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