The NFL’s Quarterback Middle Class Is Dying

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Drew Magary’s Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season. Email Drew here. Buy his book here.

Eli Manning was benched this week and while the timing of his demotion was met with cries of outrage, especially from New York sports types to still love to pull the CLASSY card any time John Mara farts in their general direction, the truth is that I can think of no better ending for Eli Manning in New York than what transpired on Tuesday. I mean really, it’s the most Eli Manning thing to have his boob of a coach—who styles his hair like a seventh grader who just discovered the country club Brylcreem jar—bench him in the middle of an excruciating 2-9 season in favor of a proposed QB platoon of Geno Smith and Davis Webb (exciting!). And it’s also fitting to watch Giants fans, who have bitched about Eli for YEARS, express shock and horror now that the team has finally decided to try someone else at QB. YOU CALL THIS LOYALTY?!


Because Eli Manning has spent the bulk of his career as a slack-jawed sphinx who could be overrated or underappreciated depending upon whoever beheld him. The Giants cannot run, catch, or block. They are not 2-9 because of Eli Manning. And yet, Eli Manning doesn’t possess the kind of skills necessary to get them OUT of that muck. His QB rating this season (84.1) is basically within a hair of his career QB rating (83.8). When the Giants are good enough, Eli is good enough. And when they aren’t, he isn’t. So it stands to reason that the Giants would select the most random possible Tuesday to end his tenure and start all over again. They could have done this four years ago after Eli threw 18 TDs and 27 (!!!) picks, and it wouldn’t have been all that different.


It also stands to reason that people might find themselves oddly bereft over the downfall of a quarterback many of them probably never liked all that much. I know I’ll miss Eli when he’s gone. I won’t miss him as, like, a person. He’s a big dumb country bumpkin. But I’ll miss making diaper jokes about him. I’ll miss the way he compelled his wideouts to make astonishing leaping catches on passes that he floated a good 10 feet over them. And I’ll miss seeing him on Sunday Night Football, instinctively KNOWING that he would close out the game by throwing either a ridiculous touchdown or a ridiculous interception somewhere in the final two minutes and inspire a bigass flapjack stack of Eli takes the next morning.

If you’ve watched any NFL action this year you know that we’re in a terrible quarterback drought. A lot of good QBs (Luck, Rodgers, Watson) are hurt and a lot of seemingly promising young QBs (Winston, Mariota) are struggling. In their stead, we’ve been subjected to appalling dreck like Tom Savage, Brock Osweiler, Nathan Peterman, and a dozen other puds. But the real damage is coming in between those strata. The talent dropoff is now staggering because there aren’t enough average QBs out there like Eli to provide a kind of foundational bed of quality control to gameplay. His compatriots in bare adequacy, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton, are now probably closer to the end of their respective tenures than the beginning. And emergent just-good-enough journeymen like Case Keenum are few and far in between.


There is no middle class in NFL quarterbacking anymore. It is in that gaping void that I crave the steady mediocrity of someone like Eli Manning. Eli sucks, but he sucks PROFESSIONALLY. I know his suckiness like I know my own children. It is far more fun to watch him suck than to watch Geno Smith suck. I know the terroir of Eli’s thoroughly unimposing style of gameplay. It is a comfort to me.

Because the truth is that people ask too much of quarterbacks. Coaches ask them to learn byzantine playbooks. The media wants them to be charismatic leaders of men. And the fans want them to win 10 Super Bowls. The demands and pay of the position mean that the search for a quarterback needs to answer the question, “Is this man ELITE enough take us to a Super Bowl?” when such QBs are few and far in between. That’s why Kirk Cousins, who has played capably if not sometimes spectacularly for Washington over the span of three years, is STILL getting dicked around by team officials who are still struggling to decide if he’s THAT guy. And that’s why the Buffalo Bills have such a public antipathy toward their own starting QB, the pleasantly inoffensive Tyrod Taylor, who has only put them in position to earn their first playoff berth this millennium.


Aaron Rodgers is the benchmark, and there just aren’t many quarterbacks like that in the universe. And what happens when a team has a QB and decides he is NOT ever going to be Aaron Rodgers? I’ll you what happens: they often discard him, and quickly. These lower-tier QBs are getting shuffled between teams and coordinators and systems and becoming actively BAD nobodies in the process instead of potentially serviceable team lifers. It is exceedingly rare now for a relatively pedestrian QB like Eli Manning or Joe Flacco to stick with a team for 10-plus years, and they usually need the unassailable credential of a streaky title run somewhere in there to justify it.

Otherwise, neither teams nor fanbases have the patience to stick with an Eli and hope building a stud roster around him is enough. And I get why. But the end result of this churn is a dearth of depth past the tippy top of the QB class, and that’s part of why the league is suffering. Eli will probably make the Hall of Fame one day, but you and I both know that fame and chumminess will play no small part in his canonization (I’m dying to see if he makes it and Marmalard doesn’t). In reality, he was perhaps the greatest B-list QB in NFL history, and that itself is in own kind of accomplishment. It serves as a lesson that perhaps we need to broaden the idea of what being a franchise QB means. The Giants were more patient with Eli than anyone else, and the end result was a couple of titles with a control-group QB. That ain’t bad. We need more B-listers. We need more Elis. Because not every QB can be special, perhaps not every QB has to be.


The Games

All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms.


Five Throwgasms

Eagles at Seahawks: Are you ready for an absolutely baseless and stupid take? Here it is: the legalization of group celebrations has helped foster CHEMISTRY among certain NFL teams. Obviously, winning breeds chemistry more than anything, but look at the Eagles. They get EVERYBODY involved in those end zone dances. Meanwhile, look at Kyle Long getting all BUTTHURT about it:

“I could give two shits about their celebration. If they want to go on Dancing with the Stars, that’s great for them. We’re trying to win football games.”


Yeah well, you’re failing. Maybe get together and practice some electric slide and you’ll get somewhere. Dancing is winning, folks.

Panthers at Saints: The Greg Schiano fiasco is perhaps my favorite sports story of the year because everyone involved in it is operating in bad faith. Schiano is a shitty, unremarkable coach whose aggro bullshit got him run out of two other jobs. Tennessee is a crooked school run by yahoos with fans who almost certainly deliberately weaponized the PSU scandal against Schiano mostly because they think (rightly) he would have lost a lot of football games. And there were the media hand-wringers who came out en masse to cry out THIS IS UNFAIR when UT backed out.


Again, we’re talking about Greg Schiano here, a proven failure as a head coach who let fucking Iowa hang a fiftyburger on his defense this season. Imagine dying on a hill for THAT guy. More than a few people have pointed out that Schiano is repped by powerful agent Jimmy Sexton. Would you surprised if all this concern-trolling was just a fucking favor to Sexton from a bunch of access-merchants? Of course not. The whole thing is sordid and gross from top to bottom. I hope Tennessee tries to hire him AGAIN.


Vikings at Falcons


Four Throwgasms

Patriots at Bills: One thing that’s killing me about the Jerry Jones/Roger Goodell feud is the fact that NFL owners apparently think replacing him would be a difficult task:

As one source explained it to PFT, no one currently in the league office is regarded as a capable, immediate replacement for Goodell. Tod Leiweke and Brian Rolapp are possibilities, in time. For now, though, there’s no one who could easily and seamlessly take over.


Okay, so two things. One: if there really isn’t anyone else in that office capable enough to replace Goodell, then why the fuck do they even work there? Two: It’s Roger Goodell, man. He’s EMINENTLY replaceable. Replace him with a fucking bronze bust of Lincoln at the negotiating table. I love these owners being like, “Oh man, how are we gonna find ANYONE to replace the sadistic dolt who loses every single legal case and PR battle and gets paid a mint for it? THOSE FELLAS DON’T GROW ON TREES!” Put me in charge of the executive search, NFL. I’ll find you a guy. There’s probably a FedEx branch manager in Lubbock who could do as lousy a job for half the price.


Three Throwgasms

Steelers at Bengals: I was in New York this week and one of the very few things I miss about living in New York is the staggering number of large midtown delis where you can grab shit from a hot buffet or go right to the counter and have them make a sandwich to order. These joints are always staffed by surly dudes who act personally offended that you decided to patronize their establishment. I got an Italian sub yesterday and the guy behind the counter was so annoyed that he had to fire up the griddle that I could hear him literally huffing as he made my sub. He threw the toppings on like he was littering. It was an amazing display of giving absolutely no fucks.


The sandwich was fucking unreal, by the way. My jaw ached for an hour after I finished it.

Chiefs at Jets

Lions at Ravens

Rams at Cardinals


Two Throwgasms

Skins at Cowboys: Wanna see something depressing? Go peruse Dez Bryant’s game log from this season. He hasn’t cracked 100 yards. He’s only scored 4 TDs. And you can’t blame that all on Dak Prescott, or on the suspension of Zeke Elliott. My friends, Dez… [lightning bolts shoot out from the heat of the take]… is OVERRATED. There. I said it. Dez sucks. He’s out there plodding through games like the Eddie Lacy of wideouts. He’s gotta juggle every catch because he can’t shake defenders. HE IS SLOW AND USELESS. I’m sure this take won’t come back to haunt me at all.


Bucs at Packers: Every time these two play I still have Berman crying out BAY OF PIGS in my head even though that reference never made any sense. It’s actually kind of inappropriate! “Hey, these two teams have BAY in their name. Remember when Jack Kennedy approved a covert CIA plan to overthrow the Cuban government that ended with hundreds dead? That was fun!”

Niners at Bears: Ben McAdoo could learn a thing or two from John Fox about how to handle a lost season. Foxy clearly gives no fucks and probably already has his office packed. Meanwhile, McAdoo is still out here acting like he’s still gonna be here next year. What a rube. Stop trying so hard, dummy. Take advantage of everyone mailing it in while you can. Have a drink.


Texans at Titans


 One Throwgasm

Broncos at Dolphins: While I am thoroughly enjoying #ChainSnatchGhazi the way a good football fan should, my old man take is that they should probably just tell players not to wear jewelry on the field. I remember LT would play every game with a dangling earring and I just kept waiting for his fucking earlobe to get ripped off. It made me uneasy. And chains aren’t cheap, man. I’d feel like a real dummy if I kept mine on during a game and a known chain-snatcher was playing opposite me. Leave that shit in the locker, man.


Giants at Raiders: A couple of Thanksgiving leftovers. First of all, the great Niki Achitoff-Gray over at Serious Eats recommends adding a bit of baking powder in when you salt turkey skin, and it worked like magic for me. That shit was like glass. Best skin ever.

Next up, people who listened to the Turkey Day Deadcast were asking about my wife’s mom’s bacon stuffing (based off the German semmelknödel), so here that is:


1 pack herbed stuffing cubes
1 pack bacon, fried up and chopped
Chopped parsley
4 eggs
2 cups warm milk
1 onion, chopped

Combine the eggs and milk, then add the other ingredients and then put it all in a loaf pan and bake it at 350 until golden brown. VOILA! Bacon stuffing loaf. Very healthy for you.


Browns at Chargers

Colts at Jaguars

Pregame Song That Makes Me Want To Run Through A Goddamn Brick Wall 

“A Million Fireflies,” by Greenleaf! Please don’t confuse this with that Owl City song. That song is for LOSERS. Reader David is here to set you straight:

With all due respect to Truckfighters (who are great, and admittedly have the best band name ever), for my money the title of Sweden’s premier stoner rock band goes to Greenleaf.


Indeed it does. I predict a bright future for Swedish stoner rock in general.

 Gregg Easterbrook Memorial Haughty Dipshit Of The Week


I was hoping for some quality Eli takes this week and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post did NOT let me down:

Once the classiest of franchises, the Giants have become the most clueless of franchises. Loyalty used to be their calling card. No more.

C ya, Eli.

Perfect. That is EXACTLY the kind of crowning pun I want from my tabloid postmortem. This team that used to employ Lawrence Taylor, who sent hookers to the opponent the night before games? CLASSY NO MORE. And then there was this fan missive from Jaclyn Hendricks:

The Giants took what was left of my fandom and crushed it Tuesday with a Big Blue hammer when they decided to callously bench Eli Manning.


Okay. All right. I am with Jaclyn on the fact that benching Eli was both clumsy and pointless, but come on, now. This is what breaks you? You’d last two weeks as a Browns fan if you’re this easily put out. OOOOH MY TEAM WASN’T CLASSY ENOUGH WHEN THEY DEMOTED THE REDNECK CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION, SIRS. C ya! Fuck off.

Manning deserved better. We deserved a proper goodbye at MetLife Stadium.

I’ve met you Giants fans. This trainwreck is very much what you deserve. You deserve this AND to have someone shit in your salad.



Rex Ryan’s Lock Of The Week: Seahawks +4


“Men. MEN. I was shopping for hardware today to build a custom sex wedge and as I approached the checkout line I let out a fart that could have brought down MOUNTAINS. We’re talking a real fucking call of the wild here, gentlemen! And the smell! HOLY SHIT IT SMELLED LIKE OCEAN DEATH! That checkout line cleared out for me like I was a sitting president passing through!

“And so, men, I want you to be like that fart. I want you to play DIRTY, and SMELLY, and GRIMY! Let the other man know you aren’t afraid to smear shit on your eyes and piss yourself in ANGER! Not everyone is willing to do that to win but YOU ARE! SHIT PISS KILL! SHIT PISS KILL! SHIT PISS KILL!


[another fart]

“Oh my Jesus! Now I gotta get out of my OWN way!”

Ryan 2017 record: 7-5

Fantasy Player Who Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death

Last week Robby Anderson had a monster game and I thought I had started him in DFS and was SO happy about it. But then I double-checked my lineup and, to my horror, I hadn’t started him at all. I had only CONSIDERED it, and that was enough to trick my brain into believing that I had actually drafted him. But no, I started Demaryius Thomas instead. That’s always the worst fantasy moment, when you think you’ve started a guy you didn’t start and they have a monster game. For that, I blame Demaryius Thomas. Shame on you, sir. HAVE YOU NO DECENCY?


Fire This Asshole!

Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we’ll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year’s end or sooner. And now, your potential 2017 chopping block:


Chuck Pagano***

Hue Jackson

Sean McDermott

Jason Garrett

Bruce Arians

Todd Bowles

Adam Gase

Vance Joseph

Dirk Koetter*

John Fox*

Ben McAdoo******

Mike McCarthy

(*-potential midseason firing)

I’m still processing the news that Herm Edwards is going to Arizona State. I cannot even imagine the amount of eye-rolling those kids are gonna do when Herm storms into a meeting room in early August and is like ARE YOU BOYS READY TO WORK BECAUSE IT TAKES WORK TO BECOME A TRUE CHAMPION! and the whole room is dead silent for a good minute afterward.


Great Moments In Poop History 

Reader Austin sends in this story I call POOPHANGER:

Back in college I took some summer classes in northwest Montana, the best of which was an ecology class that consisted of hiking in some of the most beautiful wilderness in America. On a particularly spectacular hike, our professor pointed out a small, yellow flower called a Glacier Lily that happens to be edible and quite delicious. I proceeded to eat those sweet little devils the entire hike up to the summit because I’m a stupid man glutton.

While taking in all of nature’s glory on top of that mountain, my stomach was devolving into a hell-on-Earth cauldron. On the descent, I casually started to slink to the back of the pack, anticipating a normal albeit emergency shit in the woods. Unfortunately, there was heavy undergrowth on either side of the trail, and with nowhere else to go and time running out, I dropped trou and evacuated right in the middle of the path.

It was fast, heavy, and upon inspection, the largest pile of bright yellow shit that is humanly possible to discharge. You know that pile of Triceratops crap in Jurassic Park? Mine was a similar shape and size. But the reason I remember this poop so vividly is the certain confusion caused to whatever poor creature next hiked up that trail. A deer certainly would run off quickly, sensing a tumeric-obsessed bear must be nearby. A scavenging coyote probably would eat it thinking it was some discarded custard from a hiker. And a human? I don’t think the best naturalist in the world could identify that poo tower. I’ve always hoped it was some yuppie California family just from a pure shock and awe perspective. Lesson - consume Glacier Lilies in moderation.


I’ll be honest. I kinda wanna try some of those flowers now. And see my poop from them too!


Gametime Snack Of The Week


Little toasted coconut cookie thins! These things like dainty and stupid, right? The kind of shit you put out at high tea for old ladies too polite to eat anything? My friend, you are WRONG. These things are pure evil. I can down both sleeves in half a second. It’s the thinness that makes them so consumable. I remain deluded that if the food is skinny, I shall remain so. This is untrue.


Gametime Cheap Beer Of The Week 


CAYBREW! From John:

I wanted to nominate Caybrew Light for cheap beer of the week. It’s basically the Bud Light of the Cayman Islands, which for tax purposes, I’m sure is literally Bud Light served in different packaging. There is literally nothing remarkable about this drink. It is the Alex Smith of beers.


Well if that’s true, then the first sips are really good before it turns to piss. HEY-OOOOOOOOO!!!!

Jim Tomsula’s Lifehack Of The Week!


“You don’t need to lock your office if you got a good mutt by your side, okay? I found one of my guard mutts, Casey, under a pile of discarded mufflers. She’ll bite right through steel, all right, but you give her half a dead squirrel and she’s loyal for LIFE. I mean, she still nips off a toe of mine here and there, but otherwise she’s Team Tomsula. Anyone steps to me and tries to take my bindle, or my knife, or my prized collection of jars, or my flint, or my 1988 copy of Velvet, or my shavin’ rock, and they’re gonna have to deal with HER. Casey’s better than any lock or alarm, believe that. One time she bit a tweaker’s head clean off. Served him right for trying to grab my tarp.”

Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Browns Fans

Wonder Woman, which is a good movie in part because it features one hero and one supervillain, and that’s it. There should be a fucking law, man. There should be a law preventing every superhero movie from being a confusing gangbang of heroes and villains. They can’t even keep the spinoff standalone superhero movies free of ancillary heroes. It’s fucking annoying. “Hey, we know you love this one superhero, BUT… what if we added in a cameo from DeathGuard as a way of teasing some other movie in the works?” Just tell me a goddamn story. It’s like if they forced every TV show to cross over with every other TV show. My fucking kingdom for a movie that only has Batman and the Joker.


Gratuitous Simpsons Quote

“Aw, if they hire a woman we won’t be able to spit on the floor!”


Enjoy the games, everyone.