Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Luke Kuechly, Marcus Peters, Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald! Ladies and gentlemen, we are, and have been for the last 4 years, witnessing the rise of a new era! Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Peanut Tillman? Gone, retired, sipping mojitos on a beach with open toe sandals on. The more the years go by the more we see long time NFL greats leaving the game and opening doors for the infusion of young talent like the names mentioned above. It has been happening right before our very eyes and I just really sat back and thought about it. Pretty soon there will be a time when we could be watching Derek Carr and Blake Bortles duke it out for the AFC Championship. Yup, it won’t be Big Ben vs Tom Brady or Peyton vs Tom Brady, but Bortles and Carr. An older Tom Brady will be at special games being honored right before he takes a seat to watch someone else quarterback his team, maybe even Garappolo.
Last year Blake Bortles threw 35 TDs and 18 INT in just his second season in the NFL. He had plenty help from some more young talent in WR Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Two up and coming pass catchers that have already made for a pretty decent duo. Could they give Jacksonville a modern day Jimmy Smith and Keenan Mccardale type combo? Oh the potential! Jacksonville has been quietly building itself to compete in this new era and they are looking to be a staple in it for a while. I didn’t even mention the young talent on the defensive side of the ball… I’m telling you, a time where the Patriots are 4-12 and Bortles is leading the Jags to constantly contending in the playoffs could be close. I know Pats fans won’t like that last sentence right there.
While I am on the subject of young QB’s and young teams, let’s take a flight out to the west to where there the dawn of another era has possibly begun. Derek Carr also broke the 30 touchdown threshold last season with 32 of his own, against just 13 INT’s. Carr has shown he is the guy for Oakland to build around and they are already headed in that direction. The raiders have youth all around. Young pass catcher Amari Cooper is coming back for his second season, which I believe will be his true breakout year, and you can’t forget about TE Clive Walford. Throw in RB Latavius Murray and the fact they have the best young defender and soon to be best defender in the NFL period, in Khalil Mack, then you can clearly see the Raiders are setup nicely for this new era. You’ve heard of black holes in space? Well the Raiders are setting themselves up to be one here on earth, sucking up any team in its path.
A new era! It’s been unfolding right before us for some time. We saw Russell Wilson win the SB in his second NFL season in 2013 and lead them back there again the next year, resulting in a loss however, but still he got them there back to back. Pretty impressive for your first three years if you ask me. Cam Newton nearly led Carolina to an undefeated championship season. Despite the loss in the super bowl, it was a rather impressive season and I believe he will be back sooner rather than later. Rookie Marcus Peters of the Kansas City chiefs had 8 interceptions in 2015. Good enough to be tied for the league leader alongside Reggie Nelson. There are plenty other names I can throw out here too. In fact, there are too many young players on their way to greatness to name, but the point of all this is to open the eyes of your everyday NFL fanatic to the fact that the NFL that some of us grew up with is quickly changing. Players are more talented than ever now. Before you know it you’re going to be watching “A Football Life” in 2026 about how Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were the best QB’s to play the game. Basically what I am trying to say here is… Open your eyes and don’t blink, because this isn’t your fathers NFL anymore!
By Lawrence Edwards