The Patriots’ Tom Brady is the best of his generation. Soon, the Giants’ Eli Manning may be second to none in his family. And Alex Smith of the 49ers wasn’t a draft bust after all. Granted, Joe Flacco of the Ravens hasn’t had a spotlight moment, but Baltimore is better off at the position than most — and that’s the key. Teams begin a path to the postseason when they make wise choices in drafting quarterbacks, and the blueprint is on display for the Redskins.
Being lucky is the easiest route, though Washington probably shouldn’t count on experiencing good fortune similar to that of New England, which selected Brady in the sixth round (199th overall) of the 2000 draft.
The three-time Super Bowl winner is the biggest draft steal in league history. No one else is even close.
Brady tied an NFL postseason record with six touchdown passes in New England’s AFC divisional rout of Denver. Thing is, it wasn’t surprising. He played with an edge all season. It was almost as if he were angry. Perhaps it was the chatter about New England’s recent playoff flops.
Regardless, Brady’s determination was reflected in the Patriots’ gradual improvement while they closed the regular season with eight consecutive victories.
It’s fair to say no quarterback has played better than Brady did while dismantling the Broncos. He matched Steve Young’s record for touchdowns while performing at a ridiculously high level from the moment he touched the ball.
Like any great quarterback, Brady, even after all these years, is still driven to compete. Grown men follow him as much for his passion for the game as his skill at producing points. The Broncos had no chance.
The buzz was all about Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Brady wasn’t subtle in changing the conversation. No gimmicks. Just greatness.
Really, that’s what Washington — and especially Shanahan — needs. When he has worked with a superstar quarterback, he has been described as a coaching genius. He hasn’t seemed quite as smart without one.
Brady notwithstanding, the low-round approach rarely produces favorable results in drafting quarterbacks. Also, Shanahan has already tried the fading star (Donovan McNabb), the failed starter (Rex Grossman) and the unproven journeyman (John Beck).
We know how those moves turned out.
It’s time for Shanahan to put in all his chips. That’s what the Giants did to get Manning, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft. They drafted quarterback Philip Rivers and traded him to San Diego along with multiple picks (including a first-rounder the Chargers used to select linebacker Shawne Merriman) for Manning.