Step aside, Tom Brady.
After commandeering the NFL playoff highlight for twenty years, weathering challenges by veterans and kids alike, Brady isn’t the fundamental attraction this season. Partly because his Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t look long for this postseason, even when the skidding Dallas Cowboys allow them to stall for every week.
Mostly, though, it’s because the subsequent generation, the one rumored to be coming for Brady’s place for oh, the last decade or so, has finally arrived in force. Brock Purdy, Trevor Lawrence and Daniel Jones all won their playoff debuts this weekend, while Joe Burrow advanced.
Jalen Hurts, meanwhile, had the weekend off after leading the Philadelphia Eagles to the No. 1 seed – and a wild-card weekend bye – within the NFC.
That’s five quarterbacks who’ve been drafted since 2019. And it doesn’t include Tua Tagovailoa, who may need orchestrated a unique ending to that Miami Dolphins-Buffalo Bills game if he wasn’t still within the concussion protocol.
PROVE THEIR WORTH: Giants moving on in NFL playoffs because of Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley
“We’ll keep going,” Jones said after the Recent York Giants held off the Minnesota Vikings 31-24 on Sunday night. “We’ve got so much ahead of us, but we’ll keep going. It’s been fun to date.”
Jones was talking concerning the Giants, who got their first playoff win since Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw rallied to beat that Brady guy and the Recent England Patriots within the Super Bowl following the 2011 season. But Jones could even have been talking about this long overdue changing of the guard.
There have, obviously, been loads of talented young QBs over the past 20 years. Patrick Mahomes involves mind, a Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP in his first two seasons as a starter. Lamar Jackson was an MVP in his second NFL season.
But a group of young talent that has gone beyond the hype stage to measurable success in the shape of playoff wins? Not all together. Not like this.
Purdy’s distinction was presupposed to be as Mr. Irrelevant, the last pick of last spring’s draft. As an alternative, he salvaged San Francisco’s season after first Trey Lance after which Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, and he’s unbeaten in six games as a starter. That features Saturday’s win over the Seattle Seahawks, through which he threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns and ran for one more rating.
Since becoming the starter, he’s thrown just two interceptions. Lawrence threw twice as many just in the primary half against the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday!
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence celebrates after defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 31-30 during a wild-card game at TIAA Bank Field.
Lawrence’s miscues seemingly doomed the Jacksonville Jaguars as they fell right into a 27-0 hole within the second quarter. But the general No. 1 pick within the 2021 draft is unflappable, and he rallied the Jaguars – with considerable help from Brandon Staley and the Chargers – for an improbable 31-30 win that was the third-largest comeback in NFL postseason history.
Starting with their final possession before halftime, Lawrence and the Jaguars went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, game-winning field goal. Lawrence was 23 of 29 for 253 yards in those drives.
With the sport tied at 24, Jones directed the Giants on a 12-play, 75-yard drive capped by Saquon Barkley’s 2-yard scoring run. Jones threw for 58 yards on the drive and ran for one more seven, including two on a fourth-and-1.
He finished with 301 yards passing and likewise led the Giants with 78 yards rushing, joining Jackson and Steve Young because the only quarterbacks in postseason history to throw for 300 yards and run for 75. And Jones did Jackson and Young one higher, doing it in a win.
“Daniel – I’ve said all of it yr, he’s been good for us, continues to be good for us and he played a great game,” Giants coach Brian Daboll said. “I believe there’s quite a lot of other those who played good games, too, to assist him play a great game, and he’ll be the primary to confess it. But because the leader of our football team, I’m happy with him.”
Daboll isn’t mistaken that other Giants had a hand on this win. But rightly or wrongly, quarterbacks get the credit when things go well and the blame once they don’t. That Jones – and Purdy and Lawrence – had the composure to win their first playoff games bodes well for his or her futures.
And the longer term of the league.
Brady can’t play without end, even when he does seem hellbent on trying. If this wasn’t Aaron Rodgers’ last season, it’s getting close. Matthew Stafford and Russell Wilson are nearer to the top of their careers than the start.
There shall be a void once they’re gone, and it’s reassuring to see there are players able to filling it.
Mahomes and Jackson had already injected recent energy into the league, and Burrow and Josh Allen have built on that. Now come Hurts, Purdy, Lawrence and Jones.
It is a recent era within the NFL, and it looks as if it has been well worth the wait.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.
This text originally appeared on USA TODAY: As Tom Brady makes his long goodbye, young QBs able to fill the void