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Quarterbacks are playing at a younger age—and better at a younger age—than ever before. In the crucible of today’s NFL, traditional practices are crumbling away, and the weight of carrying teams is increasingly falling on younger and younger quarterbacks. But instead of succumbing to pressure—or the doomsaying prophecies of old-timers—the new generation is thriving. This issue examines why that is, what it means to be a QB in Years 1 through 5, and what’s in store for the future of the position.
QB Issue Features and Highlights
How to Raise a QB
Are teams smart or, well, just plain mean to start this many young QBs? By Peter Keating
Year 1: Class Begins
Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston were forced to be the faces of their franchises the minute they stepped onto the field—and they’ve suffered plenty of growing pains. Insider Matt Bowen breaks down the tape, highlighting their many rookie mistakes, and shows what they’ve learned from them—and what they haven’t.
Year 2: Second Reads
For starters, four starters. We poll scouts, GMs and fellow ESPN experts to size up the four most high-profile members of the 2014 QB class—Bortles, Bridgewater, Carr and Manziel—and assess how they’re faring in Year 2. By Mike Sando
Year 3: Pass … Fail
Not a single quarterback drafted in 2013, including Geno Smith and EJ Manuel, is starting for an NFL team. Using analytics, we determine whether this was in fact the worst QB class of the past decade. By Ben Arledge
Year 4: Step Up in the Pocket
Part 1: http://es.pn/1Mm8uqU
Entering 2015, Andrew Luck was considered one of the top young QBs in the league. But at the season’s midway point, questions are swirling about whether Luck, who missed two games with a shoulder injury, will regain his Pro Bowl form surrounded by a mediocre supporting cast—and whether team management is prepared to build around its rising star as he approaches free agency. By Elizabeth Merrill
Part 2: http://es.pn/1PzU0br
Why Russell Wilson is perfect for the Seahawks: Wilson’s greatness can’t be captured by stats alone. Enter ESPN Insider and analyst Brock Huard, who breaks down the history-making quarterback.
Year 5: The Study Haul
When you look at the top-performing QBs in the NFL right now, they’re all over 30—they all have the experience and knowledge to read and react to NFL defenses. Here, we look at Year 5 in the QB development cycle, when QBs either start to make the leap into that elite tier … or don’t. In three acts, we examine the three Year 5 QBs—Andy Dalton, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. All have emerged from the QB crucible as vastly different men. By Seth Wickersham
Also in this issue:
- NCAA: In her latest column, Mina Kimes explores how the NCAA, much like every other business in America, is going global. More schools than ever are sending their teams overseas, and Washington and Texas will play a season opener in China on Nov. 14 (the first-ever regular-season game in China). The column asks whether such travel is good for students—a leaked Pac-12 survey revealed that athletes are exhausted from traveling and spending an average of 50 hours a week on their sport—and considers the schools’ motivations. But the main focus is on how conferences are less interested in developing fans in other countries (which the major leagues continue to struggle with) and more keen on cultivating business partnerships and luring international students, who pay full tuition.
- CBB: The Mag’s Jordan Brenner and ESPN analyst Jay Bilas dive in deep with Maryland, this season’s No. 1 college hoops team, and what the Terps need to do to stay there come March. They also look at the rest of the Top 25 and what will go right or wrong for them to make it to Houston. In our look at the top 10 teams in women’s hoops, espnW’s Mechelle Voepel writes that this year (as every year) there’s UConn—and everyone else.
- Football: In September, a high school football player named Tyrell Cameron died on the field after being blocked on a punt return. The player who hit him, Cody Seward, struggled mightily in the aftermath. Seward subsequently developed a friendship with Brad Gaines, a former college football player who paralyzed an opponent 26 years ago. This piece, by Eli Saslow, examines that friendship and the ways their incidents changed the relationship the two men had with the sport.
- MLB: In Howard Bryant’s latest, he examines how young Ivy Leaguers are taking over MLB front offices and pushing former players out of the game. Bryant explores the idea that familiarity and the rise of analytics equal exclusion, evidenced by the dearth of minorities in the dugout and upstairs.
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Carrie Kreiswirth – (646) 547-4686 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Jen Cingari – (646) 547-5840 or email@example.com