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Necessary Roughness: The myth behind tanking for a quarterback

As the Denver Broncos and New York Jets square off on Thursday Night Football, there is a wide consensus that these two teams may be fighting for the number one pick in next year’s draft. Drafting Trevor Lawrence or any other stud quarterback at this position would be foolish.

The Jets and the Broncos currently have young quarterbacks on their roster, but they don’t have a lot of pieces around them. Injuries have been the downfall in Denver, while the Jets are just not very talented. Coaching is also an issue. Adam Gase may be out the door after this game and no one is really sold on Vic Fangio. Neither team can put much or any of the blame on their respective young quarterbacks, so why would they replace them?

I get it. The hype around Trevor Lawrence is that he is a sure-fire home run selection. A can’t-miss. Colin Cowherd claimed that Lawrence is the best college quarterback since Andrew Luck.

He went on to say that he is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

That’s where we need to pump the breaks because if a team like the Jets get him, he’ll be no better than Sam Darnold. Now I do not think that the Broncos would pull the plug on Drew Lock just yet, but I have seen crazier things, and drafting Lawrence would be crazy.

Look at Andrew Luck. He was brought into a team that had a horrible season, just like the Jets and Broncos are having. The difference is that the Colts were a playoff team the year before. The only reason they were bad in 2011 was that Peyton Manning missed the entire year to neck surgery. The Colts did bring in a new coach and GM before drafting Luck, but a lot of the same pieces that Manning had were still there. They still had Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and they drafted T.Y. Hilton. They also had a stellar offensive line. It was a perfect situation for Andrew Luck to succeed.

So, what should a team do that doesn’t have a quarterback but also needs other pieces to be successful? This was the case for the Chiefs in 2012. The team was awful and so was the quarterback, coach, and GM. The whole thing had to be blown up.

Clark Hunt pulled out all the stops to land Andy Reid, Scott Pioli was fired and replaced with John Dorsey, and they took a left tackle with the first overall pick. Granted, there wasn’t a standout quarterback to take in the draft that year, but I think what they did instead was the best decision.

They went out and traded for a veteran quarterback to man the ship while the other pieces were being built. Andy Reid, along with Alex Smith, was able to transform a 2-14 team into a playoff team.

Instead of drafting a rookie quarterback, the Chiefs brought in an experienced guy and gave him enough pieces to work with. Once all of those pieces were in place, then the Chiefs traded up 17 spots and drafted Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was even given the opportunity to sit and learn behind Alex Smith for a year.

The moral of this story is that a rookie quarterback will not save a failing franchise. For example, look at every quarterback that the Browns have drafted. It is very unlikely that every one of those quarterbacks was bad. It is more likely that the organization is a cesspool for failure and no matter who they put in under center, they will fail.

Every successful franchise has a great coach and a great quarterback, but that coach and quarterback only become great if the right pieces are in place. Andy Reid would not have been as successful in Kansas City if he would’ve drafted Geno Smith and not taken a solid left tackle.

He wouldn’t have had the veteran presence and leadership of Alex Smith to get him back to the playoffs. The Chiefs franchise could’ve looked entirely different from what it is today. The Chiefs got the coach, the GM, and the right pieces in place first and then they got their quarterback and gave him the best opportunity to succeed. And succeed he did.

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