Mahomes and Other Black Quarterbacks Continue to Shatter Old Stereotypes

Mahomes and Jackson

Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are not only changing the game but elevating it to a higher level because of their arm strength and mobility.

If nothing else, the way that Patrick Mahomes’ managed to win Super Bowl LIV should keep Black quarterbacks of the future from being forced into different positions in the NFL. 

By Chris Murray 

For the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report 

Throughout a lifetime of watching football-which dates back to the late 1960s, I wa

s always hoping for a time when African-Americans playing quarterback in the NFL would be seen as something so routine that we don’t really notice it.

My hope is that the way Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led his team to victory in Super Bowl LIV finally gets us closer to that reality.

Mahomes, who was also named the game’s Most Valuable Player, brought his team all the way back from a 10-point deficit against a San Francisco 49ers defense that was first in the league against the pass and second overall in total yards allowed. For the game, Mahomes threw two touchdown passes and passed for 286 yards.

But that’s the way Mahomes had done it throughout the playoffs. The league’s MVP in 2018, brought the Chiefs back from double-digit deficits in all three of Kansas City’s postseason wins.

Mahomes becomes only the third Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl and the second to be named the game’s MVP.

But being named the MVP for the game for all of the NFL Marbles hasn’t kept past winners, like for example, former Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, from having to justify their existence despite having one the greatest performances in Super Bowl history.

Being one of the most prolific passers in the game didn’t keep Warren Moon, a with a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, from having to fight through doubts about his ability. It also didn’t keep former Philadelphia Eagle Randall Cunningham, the original mobile quarterback, from having to fight them either.

When guys like Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Cam Newton,  Colin Kaepernick, and Vince Young came along, there were more than a few observers of the game who would devalue the ability of these guys by saying that they were more “athletic”, implying a lack of the intelligence necessary to stand in the pocket and read pro-level defenses.

I’m hoping that the success of African-American quarterbacks during the 2019 NFL season will lay waste to this mindset once and for all. This season, African-American quarterbacks have had an unprecedented run of success, not only in statistical categories but also in league honors.

For example, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, whose mother, Felicia Jones looks like a genius for not allowing anyone to make her son change positions in college or the NFL, elevated the quarterback position to another level.  Bigger and faster than Michael Vick, Jackson wowed fans with his legs and his arm. He set an NFL rushing record for quarterbacks gaining 1,206 yards. He passed for 3,127 yards and threw a league-leading 36 touchdown passes, and won this year’s MVP award unanimously.

Even in a shocking loss to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, Jackson accumulated 508 yards of total offense-365 passing and 143 yards rushing.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was the best player on a losing team. He passed for 3, 722 and tossed 20 touchdown passes. He completed 64 percent of his passes. He also gained 544 yards on the ground with four touchdowns.  For his efforts, Murray was 2019’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

The common thread between Mahomes, Jackson, and Murray is that they are duel-threat quarterbacks who can run and pass. More than a few football experts are saying that the mobile dual-threat quarterback is the wave of future and that the standard drop-back passer is a thing of the past mainly because defensive players are just as fast as the players on offense.

Mahomes, Murray, and Jackson have proven that they can pass from the pocket, but they can use their legs to buy time and to make plays downfield in the passing game.

Outside of the aforementioned superstars, four Black quarterbacks, Jackson, Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston, Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Dallas’s Dak Prescott were among the top quarterbacks in touchdown passes. Winston and Prescott led the NFL in passing yards.

By the way, Wilson, Mahomes, Jackson, and Houston Texans quarterback Dashaun Watson led their teams into the playoffs.

The common denominator in the success of this current crew of Black quarterbacks is that you have coaches like the Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh who have figured out that you have to gear your offensive scheme to what your player does best instead of trying to shoehorn into an offensive scheme that doesn’t fit your quarterback’s skill set.

With all the success of this current generation of Black quarterbacks and the success, I don’t want to hear any of you so-called draft experts or pundits overusing the term “athleticism” or telling him to switch positions.

It’s a bad stereotype, intellectually lazy and an insult.

Now that 2019 has proven that, do better!

A Tale of Two Successful Rookies: Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott

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Carson Wentz shares a few words with Jordan Matthews during the Eagles win over the Minnesota Vikings. Photo by Webster Riddick

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Carson Wentz in the first round and the Dallas Cowboys selected Dak Prescott in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, most pro football observers thought that both rookies would have to spend time holding their team’s clipboards.

dak

Rookie Dak Prescott has led the Dallas Cowboys to a 5-1 record and first place in the NFC East.

But a funny thing happened on their way to their apprenticeships.

Both Wentz and Prescott became starters. Granted, the circumstances that put them there were kind of strange, but hey.

The Cowboys not only lost starting quarterback Tony Romo in the third game of the preseason, but also backup Kellen Moore. Prescott, who had a solid preseason, was thrust into the starting quarterback role.

Meanwhile. Wentz was thrown to the wolves eight days prior to the start of the regular season when the Eagles traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings who had lost their starter Teddy Bridgewater to a broken leg.

Usually, rookies struggle under such conditions.

But Wentz and Prescott haven’t played like rookies.

Because of this, the two rookies will take the field for NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast to fight for control of the NFC East. The Cowboys are in first place at 5-1 with the Eagles nipping at their heels at 4-2.

Prescott has completed 68 percent of his passes and has seven touchdown passes against one interception. He has thrown for 1,486 yards and has quarterback rating of 103.9.  Wentz has eight touchdown passes with three interceptions and has completed 63.8 percent of his passes and has a 92.7 quarterback rating. He has 1,324 passing yards.

“They know how to win. They know how to lead their teams. Nothing seems to be too big for either one of them,” said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. “They take it in stride. The ability to protect the football through these first six, seven games has been crucial.”

One of the things that both Wentz and Prescott have in common is that they are both athletic, mobile quarterbacks that can make plays with their legs.  The work that both players have put in has paid off to the point that Prescott and Wentz have looked like poised NFL veterans.

“I think in our case, how well he [Wentz] prepares himself during the week, his leadership ability,” Pederson said.  “And all that is just taught at an early age and you kind of just have it, and some guys have it, some guys don’t. Both of these guys have it.”

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett coached Wentz during the Senior Bowl and was high on him because of his work ethic and his football IQ. Even though he was the third-string quarterback, Prescott prepared for his moment on the stage.

“It’s starts with his preparation. He always ready,” Garrett said. “Always was able to handle the offense, call plays and handle himself at the line of scrimmage. You can tell he was prepared.”

At one point during this season, Wentz and Prescott were trying to break the NFL-record for the most passing attempts without an interception. Wentz went 135 pass attempts without tossing interception. Meanwhile, Prescott did eventually break Tom Brady’s NFL record, making 155 pass attempts without an interception.

Prescott and Wentz met during last year’s Senior Bowl and again during the Scouting Combine. Both players praised each other for the success they’ve had so far.

“It’s exciting to see that he’s having been have some successes as well,” Wentz said. “It’s going to be fun to go see him play.”

Prescott said he’s not surprised at how well Wentz is performing as the Eagles starting quarterback because of his intelligence and his work ethic.

“He’s a smart guy, great player, a great athlete,” Prescott said. “He’s doing exactly what I thought he would do. I figured he’d be a good player in this league. He’s been doing well.”

In an age of trash talk and obnoxious self-promotion, both Prescott and Wentz are a breath of fresh air and are humble in their approach to Sunday’s game.  When a reporter asked Prescott about going up against Wentz, he quickly deflected the question to emphasize team.

“It’s Cowboys versus Eagles.” Prescott said.