If the decade of 2010 was the decade of veteran quarterbacks, the 2020 promises to be the era of the next generation.
Ten years ago, Peyton Manning met Drew Brees in the Super Bowl, Matt Schaub led the league in aerial yards and Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning were in the top 10.
Seven of the top 10 remain in teams in 2019, but only two, Rivers and Brady, are among the leaders in that category this season.
Brees, Brady and others are used to completing passes, only this time it is the baton that changes hands.
We take a look at why the future is now when it comes to the most important position in the NFL.
QBs of 27 or less combined for a record 288 start in 2019
Forty-odd Brady and Brees may remain somewhere near the top of their powers, but behind them is a youth movement that takes over.
Lamar Jackson of the @Ravens He is the second QB in NFL history to win 10 consecutive starts at age 22 or less.
He joins Ben Roethlisberger, who won all 13 starts when he was 22 in 2004.#RavensFlock
– Statistics by STATS (@StatsBySTATS) December 13, 2019
In the 2019 season, the QB of 27 years or less combined for 288 starts, by far the most since the merger of the NFL-AFL in 1970. Those young slingers combined for 145 wins also, again, another record broken by A wide margin.
In week 3, a record of 20 of the 32 initial quarterbacks were 27 or less. It is possible that the draft classes after Brady, Brees and Rivers have not produced players capable of emulating the achievements of their teammates, but the QB Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, who came to the playoffs, have provided a great boost early.
Nine QB rookies started a game in 2019; four did it in 2009
Do you remember the days when coaches wanted rookies to sit down, learn the system and throw them when they were ready?
Whether from injuries (Gardner Minshew, Devlin Hodges, David Blough) or simply out of curiosity (Will Grier, Ryan Finley), the teams turned to freshmen in 2019 in a way they never did a decade ago.
Only four rookies started the games in the 2009 season, and three of them were first-round (Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman).
The QB with the most yards on land in 2009 had … 323
A decade ago, CJ2K became a thing when Tennessee Titans runner Chris Johnson walked more than 2,000 yards on the ground.
The leading QB in that category also came from AFC South, Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard, accumulating 323 yards on the ground.
He was one of only four QBs, along with Rodgers, Vince Young and Jason Campbell, to accumulate more than 200 this season. Two hundred yards on land? That's practically an eight-day span for the current Baltimore QB Jackson, who broke an NFL record with 1,206 on the ground.
The MVP on hold Jackson was one of 13 quarterbacks to run for more than 200 yards in 2019. Six of them exceeded Garrard's total in 2009 and all Russell Wilson bars are 24 years old or younger.
For years, double-threat quarterbacks were seen as a quick fad that would be consumed by having to win out of pocket. However, mobility in the QB position has proven to be a vital weapon in today's NFL.
75 percent of head coaching hires come from offensive environments in 2019
Eleven new head coach vacancies were filled before the 2009 season. Seven of them came from defensive settings.
Eight new head coach vacancies were filled before the 2019 season. Six of them came from offensive backgrounds.
Call it the Sean McVay effect: NFL franchises want bright, young minds to teach their promising but green QBs how to thrive on the next level.
Goodbye, golden generation?
On the list of most touchdown passes of all time, a category in which Brees recently placed on top, six of the top 10 players are still active.
Apart from Rodgers, who should have a few years left in Green Bay, it is conceivable that the rest of that group – Brees, Brady, Rivers, Eli Manning and Roethlisberger – can go out at sunset for the next two seasons.
Add Peyton Manning, who retired in 2016, and it is obvious that we are seeing the last days of the golden generation that led the happy revolution.
Fortunately, there are a lot of players ready to take over and take over the mantle in the 2020s.