It took me sometime to fully come up with this concept of the “Bridge Quarterback.” An important step in building a Super Bowl team. This quarterback won’t get any of the love or credit for being the piece that the team was molded around, but he will be an intricate part to the success of the future QB and the Super Bowl team to come. Is this route to a championship a guarantee….No! Nothing in the NFL is guaranteed, but somethings repeat themselves.
I believe that in order for a NFL franchise that has not won in a long time to put themselves into a position to win again and potentially a Super Bowl, they will need to find themselves a “Bridge Quarterback.” The term Bridge Quarterback or QB means – A quarterback that a NFL Franchise builds a team around or gathers pieces that will help the team succeed long-term. This player is typically a solid NFL veteran that has developed traits that the team wants in a QB, but is not the guy to get the team over the hump to a Super Bowl. He is the place holder for the future franchise quarterback.
Alex Smith was a “Bridge QB” for the 49ers. He got the Niners to the NFC Championship, but Colin Kaepernick was the guy to get them to the Super Bowl. The team was built to win just not with Alex Smith. Did the 49ers win the Super Bowl…..No! But in a short amount of time, the 49ers had played in one and almost won that game.
The next franchise that had used the concept but rushed the process was the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yea, I said the damn Jaguars. The team had built a fierce defense with a lot of young talent, as well as some amazing offensive weapons to go along with it. The team was built around their “Bridge QB” Chad Henne. Chad is a solid NFL vet who could steer the ship in Jacksonville until they found themselves a true franchise quarterback.
The Jaguars in 2014 drafted Blake Bortles out of University of Central Florida. He had come off a year where he led the Knight to a Fiesta Bowl victory, so the hype was real. The issue with hype is that you can forget about the process and that patience will be worth it long-term. Jacksonville was expected to hold off on starting Blake so soon. He was expected to sit and watch for Chad Henne for a year, and then take over the starting job. Well after just 3 games the Jaguars benched Chad Henne for Blake. Blake was 11 TD for 17 Ints in the first year, and thought that was a good sign. Blake would go on to improve in the next few years to come except for the interceptions. That continued to be an issue for the former first round pick. The reason was because he was rattled since his first year in the league. The Jaguars offensive line was horrible, and it showed the entire time Blake was the starter.
Although he was rushed into action, the Jaguars made it to the AFC Championship in 2017 to only lose to the New England Patriots. The blue print to the top was there for the Jaguars, but since that 2017 team the Jaguars have traded almost every player from that team. It is crazy how quickly a bad franchise will give up on a good roster. Remember patience is key to building and sustaining a great team.
Now, the Kansas City Chiefs are the most recent to use the “Bridge QB” to set themselves up for a Super Bowl run. The Chiefs used Alex Smith as their mold to build around. Once the base of the team was set, which is a solid defense with a young receiving core, the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech. A big arm QB that fit the system NFL great and future Hall Of Fame head coach Andy Reed. Alex ran the system well, but by the time the season came to a close, Mahomes was taking the lead. He had the ability to run the offense the way Andy had wanted it and at a high level. Colin and Mahomes benefited from having Alex Smith as their mentor in their first year in the league, but it is important to note that having a good Bridge QB makes the transition a lot easier when the transition happens.
Is there other ways for a team to position themselves to make a run at a Super Bowl…..Yes, but this has been the only method I have seen that has helped teams who haven’t won in a while get back into the championship race. It is also important to note that the front office of the franchise is just as important as the Bridge QB. The entire franchise need to have patience during the entire process, because one move too fast or too slow and you could end up like the Jaguars……. a complete mess.
(Feature Photo Credit : USA Today)