QB purgatory has been described as a no man’s land, where a team’s quarterback is not good enough to win a championship, but not bad enough to be replaced.
This year, Twitter believes that the Dallas Cowboys have entered QB purgatory.
Romo is a classic case of QB purgatory. Too good to walk away from but not good enough to win a championship. — Harry Callahan (@dirty__harry_) December 10, 2013
For the last few years, Twitter has contended that the New York Jets are also in QB purgatory.
However, the competence of its starting quarterback alone does not doom a team to QB no man’s land. QB purgatory is merely code for “we don’t have a better option.” Despite having a Pro Bowl quarterback in his prime, if the Cowboys had a better option than Tony Romo, they would play him. If the Jets had a better option than Geno Smith, they would play him.
The Cowboys’ and Jets’ real mistake has been the continued neglect of the back-up quarterback position. While the Philadelphia Eagles were investing in the future by drafting Nick Foles and the New England Patriots were investing in rocket-armed Ryan Mallett, the Jets and Cowboys were signing Mark Brunell and Jon Kitna.
The Eagles, in particular, have successfully dismissed any notion of QB purgatory. In 2011, the team signed Michael Vick to a six-year, $100 million contract. Then, before the start of the 2012 season, the Eagles followed up that blockbuster signing by selecting Foles in the third round of the NFL Draft. They were not content with a single solution at quarterback.
When Foles was selected, some NFL analysts questioned whether the pick would have been better used on defensive player or offensive lineman. If you already have a productive QB, why invest a valuable third or fourth-round pick on a “filled” position? Because you don’t want to be the Jets. The Green Bay Packers will likely miss the playoffs, because they lost Aaron Rodgers for a portion of the season. On the other hand, with Nick Foles waiting in the wings, the Eagles never had to worry about Michael Vick getting injured, or simply not playing well.
In the years ahead, more NFL teams will likely follow the Eagles’ successful quarterback talent acquisition and development model. Regardless of their current quarterback’s recent performance, GMs will more frequently invest high round draft picks on promising young quarterbacks to ensure ongoing competent play from that critical position.