Scott Lewis basks in Aaron Rodger's defeat at the hands of the 49ers and gives his perspective on the new generation.

Jan 25


“Part of the journey is the end” are the words of the one and only Tony Stark in Marvel’s 2019 blockbuster Avengers: End Game. We’ve watched the careers of the GOAT Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Ben Roethlisberger over the last 2 decades, and over the last few years, we’ve all wondered when would the time be where the torch would be passed to the next generation. Over the last 2 weeks not only has the torch been passed but it has been snatched by a new crop of NFL quarterbacks who are determined to start the new era now.

Coming into this 2021 NFL postseason all of the talk was about can the GOAT Brady get his 8th ring, could Big Ben lead the Steelers on one more magical run and the loudest talk was would Aaron Rodgers win his 2nd ring with the best Packers team he has ever had on paper. Everybody was focused on that and not focused on the new crop of future legends that were about to have a postseason that would put the league on notice. In just two weeks all three of those legendary first-ballot Hall of Famers are now looking up vacation plans and the young bucks remain. 

Patrick Mahomes is the leader of the new school and in just 5 short seasons he has won the MVP, made the Super Bowl twice, won 1 of them, and has now made the AFC Championship game four straight times and for the fourth straight time, he will be hosting the AFC Championship which has never been done before in NFL history. To make this list of accomplishments even more spectacular is with his 8-2 playoff record the only two losses have come at the hands of Tom Brady and that is nothing to be ashamed of. In just 5 short seasons he is only two playoff wins behind Aaron Rodgers who became the Packers starter 9 years before Mahomes was even drafted.

In 1996 the WWE started their now historic “Attitude Era” in response to the tremendous pressure Vince McMahon was getting from his down south rivals Ted Turner, Eric Bischoff, and the WCW. The WCW built their roster on grabbing all the big (and older) talent from the WWE and stole all of the WWE’s fan base which kicked off the Monday Night Wars between WCW’s Nitro and the WWE’s Raw. Vince decided to counter with rebuilding his company with new homegrown stars who would eventually become Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, and a rebranded Undertaker, and the balance of power would eventually switch back to the McMahons. We are seeing a similar transition in the NFL with all of these new quarterbacks.

Patrick Mahomes is the Stone Cold Steve Austin of this new QB era and after the last two playoff matchups between the two, it is very clear that Josh Allen is now The Rock to Pat’s Stone Cold. Two of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL put on an absolute show this past Sunday where they threw for a combined 7 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 4th quarter that might have been the greatest we’ve ever seen. These two also went head to head last season in the AFC championship and we might be seeing this new generation's Brady/Manning.

Just like in the WWE you had other contenders outside of Stone Cold and The Rock with the likes of Triple H, Mankind, The Undertaker, etc and we also have that in this new crop of QBs. Joe Burrow is the anchor behind one of the quickest franchise flips ever by leading the Cincinnati Bengals to their first AFC Championship game since 1988. Burrow is getting ready to get his crack at Stone Cold Patrick Mahomes and he has shown earlier this season he is more than equipped to battle him with a home win against them in Week 17 that won the Bengals the AFC North title. Another contender who we can not forget is Mahomes own division rival, Justin Herbert. Herbert has yet to make his NFL playoff debut but he has already had some great regular season battles with Mahomes and everybody with a brain knows it will just be a matter of time before these two link up in January. 

We can’t sit up here and name all of these young QB’s who are in the new era and lined up to challenge Mahomes without mentioning the only one who has won an MVP in the Mahomes era and that is the one and the only Lamar Jackson. Now it is fair to say that Lamar is not the best passer out of the crop but Lamar has what you can’t evaluate in just stats and that is how to win. The Ravens season got derailed soon as #8 got hurt but you can bet he will be back next season and I can bet good money he will be another playoff challenger to Patrick Mahomes throne. The NFC isn’t as loaded as the AFC as we have yet to see who will be the challengers in that conference but let's look at two guys who I think have a shot at being those other conference foes.

The San Francisco 49ers are getting ready to play in their 2nd NFC championship in three seasons and despite him leading them to this game, there are huge question marks on the future of their quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. All signs point to Jimmy G being traded out of San Fran regardless if that team hoists the Lombardi trophy in 3 weeks or not and the keys of the franchise will be handed to Trey Lance. Lance is a project QB who has tremendous talent and that’s why the Niners traded up to grab him. Trey Lance will be surrounded by a great offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, one of the best WR/RBs in Deebo Samuel, a good offensive line, and one of the best defenses in football. The situation is perfect for a young QB like him to succeed and lines him up as a candidate to join that list of Mahomes foes.

My final NFC pick for who will be a potential challenger to the Patrick Mahomes throne and that QB is my QB, Justin Fields. Justin, unlike Lance, actually played a lot this season and started 12 games for the Bears and had your usual up and down rookie season but showed flashes of the franchise QB that the Bears and Bears fans have been waiting for forever. Also unlike Lance, he doesn’t have the favorable situation that Lance has as the Bears have yet to fill their vacant GM and head coach positions. What Justin doesn’t have in the situation he makes up for in talent and there’s no doubt in my mind that if he is paired with the right GM/HC duo this kid will be well prepared to dominate the NFC. 

Big Ben is expected to officially announce his retirement in the coming months the rumors are just starting on whether or not Rodgers and Brady will join him. While I think it's way more likely that Brady retires over Rodgers I do think we have seen the last of Rodgers not just in a Packers uniform but in the NFC altogether. The Steelers, Titans, Raiders, and Broncos are just a few potential landing spots where we could see Rodgers going. Rodgers will have to deal with all of that AFC young blood if he does decide to leave. No matter what happens to either of these two it is clear that the clear path to Super Bowl glory is now not as easy with these young bloods ready to challenge them. Back in the old days, we couldn’t fathom Brady and Rodgers not being favorites but like Slim Charles once said “the thing about the old days…..they the old days”