By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
Lets just put this out there before we even begin. The NFC West is one of, if not THE best division in football. In fact, I can’t think of a single division that is as competitive top to bottom as the NFCW.
Yes, I realize that that the Arizona Cardinals have had a bit of a slump as of late, but if we try to peer into the future just a bit, the West could steal the name “Black and Blue Division” from the NFC North. A lot of this success, past, present and probable future, is due to the quarterbacks. Let’s take a look at the four signal-callers, and why they will be leading their teams for years to come.
The San Francisco 49ers grabbed QB Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots midseason in 2017. The quarterback position in San Francisco was a disaster, the 49ers were desperate for help. Help is exactly what they got. Garoppolo went 7-0 in his starts in San Francisco that year, which lead to the 49ers locking him down with a new 5-year contract.
Unfortunately, Garoppolo injured his knee, tearing his ACL, in week 3 of the 2018 season. However, he has been proving his worth every game in 2019. Currently, he has thrown for 3,245 yards, 25 touchdowns, and has a 103 rating. He has thrown 11 interceptions, but that hasn’t slowed the hype surrounding what he has been doing, especially after the last handful of games.
While we know the San Francisco defense has been amazing, ranking at the top of almost all stats, Garoppolo has been elevating the offense to the next level. He received some criticism at the beginning of the season due to inconsistent play, but as he’s gained more experience, you can see his skills grow. Let’s remember, this is the first full season he’s ever played. If players make the biggest jump from year 1 to 2, we are in for a treat.
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is a future Hall of Fame player. That is indisputable. He is also, at 31 years old, the elder statesmen of the NFC West quarterbacks. (Side note: Does that blow anyone else’s mind? I mean, it feels like he was just drafted 2 years ago.) He is having an MVP level season and has the Seahawks, who were supposed to be rebuilding this year, fighting San Francisco for the division.
Wilson holds the records for most wins in the regular season through his first 7 seasons, the first QB to throw for 300+ yards and run for 100+ yards in a game, first and the only quarterback in NFL history to throw 3+ passing touchdowns and no interceptions in five consecutive games, first and the only quarterback to have a passer rating of 128.3 or higher in five consecutive games… that’s just part of the list.
This offseason, the Seahawks made Wilson the highest-paid player in the league. He’s in the prime of his career, looking at at least 7-10 more years in the league, and Seattle has him locked down for the foreseeable future. That’s great news for Seattle fans and the NFL.
When talking about Los Angeles QB Jared Goff, you often get mixed reactions. Fans and media sometimes get frustrated with Goff for his on-again, off-again play. Yet that hasn’t shaken the confidence head coach Sean McVey has in him. McVey believes that this season’s Goff is the same player that took them to the Super Bowl last season.
Let’s not forget what Goff has done over the past two years. 3,804 yards and 28 TDs in 2017. 4,668 yards and 32 TDs in 2018. QB ratings over 100 both years. Currently, he has 3,712 yards…but just 15 touchdowns. This is why there are question marks. Throw in the insane contract the Rams gave him, $134 million, and fans might think they’ve gotten a dud.
Yet…I think they’re wrong. A Super Bowl hangover is real. Especially when the Super Bowl had NO offense at all. That has to hang on the kid’s shoulders heavily. I have a feeling we will see good things from Goff the rest of the season, and in the upcoming years.
That brings us to Kyler Murray, QB for the Arizona Cardinals. The new guy. The rookie. The first pick in the 2019 draft. No pressure, kid.
While this season has been a total bust for Murray and his rookie head coach Kliff Kingsbury, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…Murray himself. He has shown he is learning every game, absorbing what he is being taught, and he’s getting better. In last week’s game against the Pittsburg Steelers, Murray threw 3 horrible interceptions but never lost his composure. He’s mature and somewhat unshakeable.
While I’m not sure his head coach will last more than another year or so, I have a feeling, if he makes the jump next year, we will be seeing Murray for a while. While he has thrown for over 3,000 yards, he has 16 TDs with 9 interceptions. Yet, he constantly being compared to other successful QBs, and most media believe he has what it takes. I do too.
The average age of the NFC West quarterbacks is 26.5 years, but most importantly, they are secure. Unless there is some unknown disaster lurking around the corner, the division won’t be looking for new quarterbacks for a while. And that will stoke the fires of rivalry for years to come.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG