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fordfixer
10-04-2009, 01:17 AM
Quarterback class of 2004 chasing '83 picks
The Quarterback Class of '83 has long since graduated onto NFL Olympus, but the Class of '04 -- which includes tonight's starting QBs -- may be making its own case for valedictory rights
Sunday, October 04, 2009
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09277/1002924-66.stm

Like finding three diamonds in a riverbed, the Quarterback Class of 1983 has already been ensconced in National Football League lore as perhaps the greatest a draft can ever produce. Three players -- John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino -- who rewrote record books, appeared in 10 Super Bowls and were first-ballot inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Elway, the No. 1 overall pick in 1983, set club records for attempts, completions and passing yards in only his second season in Denver and led the Broncos to five Super Bowls, finally winning back-to-back Vince Lombardi trophies in the final two seasons of his marvelous 16-year career.

Kelly, the 14th overall pick, played three seasons with the Houston Gamblers of the United States Football League before joining the Buffalo Bills in 1986 and eventually becoming the first quarterback to play in -- and also lose -- four consecutive Super Bowls.

Marino, a surprising 27th overall pick who played at Central Catholic and Pitt, led the Miami Dolphins to the Super Bowl in his second season and never made it back. When he retired after the 1999 season, he held or shared 26 NFL passing records, 15 of which still stand.

Statistically, and perhaps even conceivably, it is unlikely any draft class will produce three quarterbacks who set standards as lofty as Elway, Kelly and Marino in their combined 64 years of playing. But one might have a chance:

The 2004 class that produced Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger.

They might not come close to matching the career passing statistics of Elway, Kelly and Marino, who combined to pass for 148,303 yards -- that's 84.2 miles -- and 957 touchdowns. But they already have them beat in one other important category:

Super Bowl victories.

Roethlisberger (2) and Manning (1) have combined to win three Vince Lombardi trophies in three tries. Elway, Kelly and Marino only won two in 10 appearances, both by Elway.

And Roethlisberger and Manning did that in their first five years in the league. Elway did not win any Super Bowl titles in his first five years, though he led the Broncos to two (1986, 1987).

"People said that there would never be a better golfer than Jack Nicklaus, but there is now," said former Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, the man who traded for Manning and brought him to New York. "This class is in its infancy and only time will tell if the three make the Hall of Fame. But they have already won more Super Bowls and I'd be surprised if they don't win more."

Indeed, Rivers is the only quarterback from the '04 class not to win a Super Bowl, but he has led the Chargers to three consecutive playoff appearances after replacing Drew Brees as the starter. He will be back at Heinz Field for today's 8:20 p.m. game against the Steelers, eight months after he and the Chargers were beaten there, 35-24, in an AFC divisional playoff game.

Rivers leads the AFC with 991 passing yards and some people have picked the Chargers to get to Super Bowl XLIV.

"The great thing is they're so young," said Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert. "Most great quarterbacks have their best years in their later years."
Road to Fame

The 1983 class didn't just include Elway, Kelly and Marino. Three other quarterbacks were also drafted in the first round -- Todd Blackledge of Penn State (No. 7 overall), Tony Eason (15th) and Ken O'Brien (24th) -- though none had the success approaching the more famous trio.
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Old school vs. New school

Eason, though, led the New England Patriots to the Super Bowl in his second season, only to be crushed by the Chicago Bears in one of the most lopsided Super Bowl losses ever, 46-10. That same year, O'Brien was the highest rated passer in the league and would eventually appear in two Pro Bowls with the New York Jets.

Despite being drafted higher than any quarterback other than Elway that year, Blackledge turned out to be the biggest disappointment. He played five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and two more with the Steelers.

"I have said many times, the NFL quarterback, in my opinion, is the most important player in sports," Accorsi said. "If you write down the winning quarterback in all world championship games, even before the Super Bowl, you essentially have all Hall of Famers, with rare exceptions."

That's why every team tries to get one. And why the Steelers are glad they have one in Roethlisberger, the second-youngest quarterback in NFL history to win two Super Bowls.

"If you don't have one, you aren't winning," said Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who once was the quarterbacks coach for Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. "There are some defenses that can carry you, like Baltimore, the one year they were so dominant [2000]. But that doesn't happen too much. When you're facing one and you don't have one, it's hard to score enough points."

And when you do?

"It's fun," Arians said. "It's fun to get into that scoring battle. You know you always have a chance. No matter what's happening, you got a chance to win the game."

And that's what could happen at Heinz Field when Rivers and Roethlisberger meet for the fourth time since Rivers was drafted fourth overall and Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004.

Roethlisberger leads his draft class with 52 victories and 101 touchdowns, not to mention a pair of Super Bowl rings. Rivers, who was drafted by the Giants and traded to the Chargers on draft day, sat for two seasons behind Brees but has compiled a 35-16 record since. Neither Manning nor Roethlisberger has led their team to three consecutive playoff appearances, like Rivers.

"You look at the best teams, year in and year out, and you look at the top teams contending and usually they have the top quarterbacks," Chargers coach Norv Turner said. "Having Philip and having him progress the way he has, it has mattered a great deal to this organization and this team. Under the circumstances, with the guys on the offensive line and [LaDainian Tomlinson being hurt] and not getting the production out of the run, it has been that much more critical."
A good year

The Steelers and Chargers are among six NFL teams that haven't had a losing season in the past four years. The others are the Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots.

Not surprisingly, the common thread with each is a franchise quarterback, that player who can lift the team to victory all by himself.

Four of those six quarterbacks -- Roethlisberger (2), Manning (1), Peyton Manning (1) and Tom Brady (3) -- have combined to win seven Super Bowl titles, including the past six.

"I don't know if you can put a specific number of games on it where one player is responsible for the victory," Colbert said. "But, that being said, we all know a franchise quarterback is huge in maintaining a winning franchise. If you look at any great franchise, they have a great franchise quarterback.

"When you have a franchise quarterback, you're always going to have a chance. You have to surround him with a lot of talent, and health and all those other things have to fall into place. But, without a franchise quarterback, it's a lot more difficult to win a championship."

It is too early to proclaim the Class of '04 to be as good, or even better, than the '83 class of Elway, Kelly and Marino. But Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger are off to a fast start, especially in the most important statistic of all -- Super Bowl victories.

"I'm not surprised at the early success of this class at all," Accorsi said. "It was a good year to be drafting high because you couldn't go wrong with any of the three."

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09277/10 ... z0SwQVdMHD (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09277/1002924-66.stm#ixzz0SwQVdMHD)

Scarletfire1970
10-04-2009, 08:02 AM
Good article. I think it is funny how they mention that Rivers led his team to 4 consecutive playoff appearances and Ben and Eli haven't done that. I don't think that is a huge feat considering the division the Chargers play in. Didn't they have an 8-8 record last year?

Chachi
10-04-2009, 10:43 AM
from a month ago....

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/w ... index.html (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/don_banks/08/28/qbs/index.html)


For years now, it has been accepted gospel within the NFL that the celebrated 1983 first-round quarterback draft class is the best in league history, and with the three Hall of Fame careers of John Elway, Dan Marino and Jim Kelly, how can anyone argue?

But this much is also now just as apparent: No crop of first-round quarterbacks has ever matched the start to the careers of the top three quarterbacks from the 2004 class: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger, who were selected first, fourth and 11th that year.

JTP53609
10-05-2009, 03:20 PM
Good article. I think it is funny how they mention that Rivers led his team to 4 consecutive playoff appearances and Ben and Eli haven't done that. I don't think that is a huge feat considering the division the Chargers play in. Didn't they have an 8-8 record last year?


i too found that hillarious, any division with the raiders, and chiefs (although i dont want to knock the chiefs) should result in 4 wins, i guess they are just trying to blow him up....remember if eli did not have a succesful year in 07 than he was looking to be shipped out of there, everyone wanted him gone, now he is God there....

steelblood
10-05-2009, 03:44 PM
I have much respect for Rivers. He hasn't won a Super Bowl yet, but it hasn't really been his fault. He usually plays very well.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
10-05-2009, 09:51 PM
I have much respect for Rivers. He hasn't won a Super Bowl yet, but it hasn't really been his fault. He usually plays very well.

He usually puts up huge numbers, but has any QB in the league received as many YAC yards since '05 when Rivers became a starter?

JTP53609
10-06-2009, 08:39 AM
I have much respect for Rivers. He hasn't won a Super Bowl yet, but it hasn't really been his fault. He usually plays very well.


if florence goes down in the divisional playoff game against new england in 2006 they win that game, and i think they win the super bowl too....

MeetJoeGreene
10-06-2009, 11:27 AM
I have much respect for Rivers. He hasn't won a Super Bowl yet, but it hasn't really been his fault. He usually plays very well.

He usually puts up huge numbers, but has any QB in the league received as many YAC yards since '05 when Rivers became a starter?

But he is also handicapped with having Norv Turner as a coach