If you'd predicted a Colin Kaepernick vs. Joe Flacco match-up for Super Bowl 47 in Week 10 of the NFL season, you might have been ridiculed as being ignorant or crazy. Or both.
At the time it was virtually unthinkable.
Colin Kaepernick was an inexperienced second-year backup to veteran Alex Smith who was sporting a lofty 104 quarterback rating.
This coming on the heels of last year's drive to the NFC Championship game.
On the other hand, Joe Flacco was so underachieving that a month later Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was dismissed and replaced by quarterback coach Jim Caldwell.
Oh what a difference a day, or a few weeks, can make in today's NFL. On the eve of the world's greatest sporting event, further review of the 2012 season brings to light some stunning revelations:
- First Super Bowl in a decade that won't be won by a quarterback named Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees or Roethlisberger.
- Three rookie quarterbacks led their respective teams to the playoffs.
- Two second-year quarterbacks did the same.
Superbowl 37 in 2003 was the last in which one of the aforementioned super elite did not participate. That contest was won by the Brad Johnson led Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Rich Gannon's Oakland Raiders.
Johnson and Gannon had a lot in common. Both were seasoned veterans who bounced around the league before making their one and only Super Bowl appearance. Each will be primarily remembered as long-time journeyman quarterbacks. It doesn't seem like Brad Johnson's name is mentioned very often when Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks are being discussed.
In the decade since that contest until now it is well within the realm of possibility, if not probability, that each Super Bowl will have been represented by a future Hall of Famer. This point is introduced in part to illustrate what we hear almost as a mantra - today's NFL is a quarterback-driven league.
Johnson, as well as Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer of the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, seem to be viewed in history as having been carried by their defenses; both recognized amongst the greatest in NFL history. We may never see that again due to rule changes and player movement.
Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970 only 11 rookie quarterbacks had ever led their team to the playoffs, an average of one every four years. That is, until this season.
This year there were three. Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Besides displaying incredible poise, talent and leadership qualities they have something else in common. All are very mobile and fleet of foot.
So are Colin Kaepernick and Joe Flacco, although Flacco seems to have slowed some this season.
This point too is made in reference to the game's changing landscape, as well as the extraordinary athleticism of today's new breed of quarterback.
Which raises the question, does this game represent a changing of the old guard?