Is Being an NFL Quarterback Too Easy These Days?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 11: Matt Barkley #5 of the Buffalo Bills attempts a pass against Brandon Copeland #51 of the New York Jets during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium on November 11, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Matt Barkley was nearly flawless against the New York Jets.
Michael Owens/Getty Images

Modern NFL quarterbacks appear to be playing a different sport than their predecessors from decades past. League brass has been determined to promote offensive production, and the guys under center have profited the most from these efforts. Rule changes protect quarterbacks, and restrictions on defensive contact have opened up the middle of the field for receivers to run rampant. The results are often record-breaking.

Offenses don’t just look more potent. The numbers back this up, and each week features a string of near flawless games from both celebrated stars and young and unproven quarterbacks. Check out some of the statistics from Sunday’s top performers.

Mitchell Trubisky: 355 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown, and 0 interceptions.

Drew Brees: 265 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. (Didn’t play entire game.)

Baker Mayfield: 216 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. (Is a rookie.)

Blake Bortles: 320 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. (Is Blake Bortles.)

Matt Barkley: 232 yards and 2 touchdowns, including this toss to a large fan who ran on the field.

Barkley’s performance was especially eye-popping. He wasn’t even on an NFL roster until Halloween, when the Buffalo Bills signed him as a precaution should Nathan Peterman continue to be Nathan Peterman. That a rusty journeyman can put 41 points up against a professional NFL defense is remarkable, even if said defense belongs to the New York Jets.

Credit should still go to the players, as being an NFL quarterback remains the most complex job in professional sports. Rules may change to make things easier, but the game moves faster now than ever before, and this increased speed is a challenge to overcome in its own right. Just because Matt Barkley is spreading the ball around doesn’t mean that any old schmo can can throw on the pads and become an ace gunslinger. To wit, look the statistics of a quarterback who had some trouble on Sunday.

Tom Brady: 21-for-41, 0 touchdowns, 3 sacks suffered, and 1 stumble as a receiver in the open field.

Being a quarterback isn’t for everyone.