Steinberg: Barkley earns praise

December 24, 2011|By Leigh Steinberg
(ally Skalij / Los…)

Kosher Claus wants to wish all of his readers a very Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

My father wanted us to feel comfortable in a primarily Christian country and we were the luckiest kids in the neighborhood. We received presents for eight nights of Chanukah and then found stockings and more gifts on Christmas morning. I figured out later that my Dad really liked dressing up as Santa Claus and loved to give gifts.

Remember the spirit of the holidays — love, family, faith as well as food and presents.

One Christmas gift that came early to Southern California sports fans — except for Bruins — was the announcement that Newport Beach resident Matt Barkley had made the decision to return for his final year of college football at USC.

It is a testimony to the quality of his character and love for his school that he returned. This should be heartwarming news. But already the media is filled with critical commentary, questioning the judgment of a young man passing up untold certain riches as he embarks on a final year filled with risk.


With the advent of modern pass-oriented NFL offenses, the position of quarterback has become the most critical role in all team sports. History has shown that Super Bowl-bound teams with few exceptions, are successful with "franchise" quarterbacks at the helm.

A franchise quarterback is a player a team wins "because of," rather than "with." He is someone who a team can build around for 10 to 15 years. Think John Elway, Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. They made multiple Super Bowl appearances.

It is the hardest position in football to fill. It requires astute talent assessment and luck in the draft to secure. The developmental process in the first few years is crucial.

In 1999, Tim Couch was the first pick in the first round, Donovan McNabb was second, Akili Smith third, Dante Culpepper and Cade McNown were picked soon after — those players should be playing at a high level right now. None of them are on an NFL roster.

There is pressure to start a highly drafted quarterback in the rookie year because of salary cap limitations among other reasons. It takes time to develop field command and read defenses.

If a young quarterback doesn't have a good running game and defense and is forced to handle a complex offense he can commit multiple mistakes and have his confidence ruined. The media takes all of a month to judge a rookie a bust when it takes a number of years to develop.

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