I'm gonna throw out some names here: Ben Roethlisburger, Peyton Manning, Mark Sanchez, and Eli Manning. What do all of these players have in common? Not much. Roethlisburger is not a huge statistical player, but he just finds ways to win games and championships. Sanchez is "game manager" QB who happen to be on a good, playoff team. Peyton Manning is a stat monster and the heart and soul of his entire team, and Eli Manning should be diagnosed with split personality disorder for going from super bowl MVP to leading the league in total turnovers last year. So what do they all have in common? Not much, except that all of them are considered the "Franchise Quarterbacks" for their respective teams.
When I first had this thought a few days ago, I was confused. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that made a guy a team's "franchise" QB, so I gave the question some thought.
That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. He doesn't have to be an elite player or even a first rounder, just good enough to convince his city that he should be the guy. When you look around the league, you begin to see that that is what teams are striving for at QB. A (usually younger) player who can provide stability at the QB position and inspire confidence. Now, do I believe in David Garrard as a player? Yes, personally I think he is vastly underrated, even among Jaguars fans. Do I believe Garrard is a "Franchise" QB? Well, he was after 2007, but now he's shown too much inconsistency for me to feel like he has the confidence of the city of Jacksonville, so I would no longer consider him a franchise QB. That's why the Jaguars, and us as fans, are looking so closely at QB prospects for next month's draft.
Plenty of people will argue that a team can't truly succeed in the NFL without an "Elite" QB. Personally, I don't buy that. I do believe, however, that a successful team should have a "Franchise" QB. Think of last year's playoff teams and their respective QBs. Of the twelve teams, the Colts, Patriots, Steelers, Packers and possibly the Saints had true "elite" QBs, but none of the other teams had bad QBs. The Jets, Ravens, Falcons, Eagles, Bears, and Chiefs are all pretty happy with their QB situations. The only aberration is the Seahawks, but honestly, they were straight up just not a good team, and I'm sure there are a decent amount of Jaguars fans who would be happy with Matt Hassleback at QB anyway.
So what does that tell me? It tells me that you don't need an "elite" QB to succeed and make the playoffs, you just need a consistent, reliable option at QB; a "Franchise" QB. Why do I bring this up? Because there is a lot of discussion about the Jaguars, and where they will decide to draft a QB. There is a lot of talk circulating about the Jaguars drafting their "Franchise" QB in the first round next year, and there are those who question why you would draft a QB to be the future of a franchise outside of the first round because odds are he won't turn out to be an "elite" QB.
The Jaguars are not a QB-centric team. We don't air it out, we simply pair an effective passing game with a strong, consistent running game and then try to play good, solid defense. I'll agree that most "elite" QB's are found in the first round. However, that assumes that the Jaguars need an elite QB. I don't think the Jaguars need an elite player at QB, just a "Franchise" player, someone to lead the team into the future. Now there might not be any elite QB's in this draft, but there are about six or seven talented QBs who could become consistent performers and team leaders, and while they may not all last until pick 49, I predict that four QBs will be taken in the second round.
Some team, maybe even a few will find a "franchise quarterback" waiting for them in the second round. If the Jaguars decide that their board fits better with a non-QB prospect at pick 16, and choose instead to wait until the second round or even later, that does not categorically rule out the Jaguars finding a "Franchise" QB. After all, all a franchise QB has to do is convince me that the team can succeed with him. That's not so hard, is it?