Watch Now: Most Impressive 3-0 Team So Far (2:54)

The future of NFL quarterbacking is already here. It's been arriving in short, staccato bursts over the past few seasons, like airplanes landing one-by-one on a single runway, but on Sunday, it arrived in full. And for anyone worried about the future of football once the likes of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Philip Rivers ride off into the sunset, Sunday was your answer: The future is fine. The entire armada has landed.

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Week 3 marked the first time in NFL history that 20 quarterbacks under the age of 27 started in the same week, beating the previous record of 18, which last happened 32 years ago. Despite the youth takeover at the sport's toughest position, one that is supposed to take years and multiple contracts to master, 17 starting quarterbacks submitted performances that generated passer ratings above 92.9, the 2018 season's average passer rating, which set the record for the highest single season passer rating in NFL history. Of those 17 starting quarterbacks, 10 were under 27 years old. 23-year-old Kyle Allen, filling in for Cam Newton, led the way with a 144.4 passer rating. And 26-year-old Dak Prescott just missed the cut with a 91.4 passer rating, slotting in one spot below 26-year-old Carson Wentz.

Below, you can see how all 20 of those young quarterbacks fared in Week 3. It's saying something that Patrick Mahomes tore up the Ravens for 374 yards and three touchdowns, and he only ranked third among his peers. 


Age Result Yards TDs INTs Rating

1. Kyle Allen

23

Win

261

4

0

144.4

2. Deshaun Watson

24

Win

351

3

0

135.8

3. Patrick Mahomes

24

Win

374

3

0

132.0

4. Jacoby Brissett 

26

Win

310

2

0

118.1

5. Mitchell Trubisky 

25

Win

231

3

1

116.5

6. Teddy Bridgewater

26

Win

177

2

0

112.7

7. Daniel Jones 

22

Win

336

2

0

112.7

8. Jameis Winston

25

Loss

380

3

1

112.4

9. Gardner Minshew 

23

Win

204

2

0

108.2

10. Carson Wentz 

26

Loss

259

2

0

94.6

11. Dak Prescott 

26

Win

246

2

1

91.4

12. Marcus Mariota

25

Loss

304

0

0

81.7

13. Mason Rudolph

24

Loss

174

2

1

81.4

14. Josh Allen

23

Win

243

1

1

81.1

15. Jared Goff 

24

Win

269

2

2

79.8

16. Kyler Murray

22

Loss

173

2

2

73.1

17. Lamar Jackson

22

Loss

267

0

0

70.6

18. Baker Mayfield

24

Loss

195

1

1

64.0

19. Josh Rosen

22

Loss

200

0

0

61.9

20. Luke Falk

24

Loss

98

0

1

47.2

(Side note: I turned 27 on Tuesday, so this feels like an especially symbolic article for my editors to have assigned me -- who can no longer deny he has firmly entered his late 20s -- but I digress). 

For a number of years, as we watched Brady and Peyton Manning wage the war to end all wars against each other and Rodgers emerge as arguably the best-ever thrower of the football (until some guy named Mahomes came along) and Brees win his first Super Bowl, and so on, it felt like we were already living in the golden age of quarterbacking -- not that that was a problem. We weren't greedy. We'd enjoy it while we could, take what we can get, and worry about the future later. But a Long Night always loomed ahead. 

Patrick Mahomes is the best of the new era of QBs, but could he be the best ever? Brady Quinn, Ryan Wilson and host Will Brinson break down what makes him so good on the latest episode of the Pick Six Podcast, check it out below and be sure to subscribe here for your daily dose of NFL goodness.

What would happen when those quarterbacks faded away? Would the NFL be able to replace those icons, some of the best quarterbacks in the history of football? Would the league be starved for quarterback success? And if the league did experience a shortage of great quarterback play, would it begin its own decline? The NFL is only as good as its quarterbacks. It's not just the most important position in the sport, but the most important position in all of sports.

So, it was especially concerning when a number of draft classes failed to produce top end quarterbacks. They weren't all as bad as the 2010 and 2013 quarterback classes, but most of them weren't nearly as good as the last few quarterback classes that have generated the likes of Mahomes, Watson, Mayfield, and Jackson.

For your viewing displeasure, the 2010 quarterback class:

And the 2013 quarterback class:

It turns out, there's no reason to worry. As the past couple seasons have demonstrated and as Sunday reinforced, the future will be fine without those legends -- largely because there already appears to be a few quarterbacks in the process of writing their own legends.

Through the first three weeks of the season, four of league's best five quarterbacks by QBR are under the age of 27. Brady -- who might actually be immortal -- is the only quarterback over the age of 26 that made his way into the top five.

I supposed we should begin with Patrick Mahomes, because, well, he's Patrick Mahomes -- the reigning MVP who is on pace to throw for 6,373 passing yards and 53 touchdown passes one year after becoming the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a single season. He's off to the best start to a quarterback career in NFL history.

On Sunday, he took apart the Ravens for 374 yards and three scores. We thought he'd regress, but he might actually still be getting better as he acquires more experience both in Andy Reid's scheme and against NFL defenses. It was only two-and-half years ago that Brady said he felt unstoppable because "I have the answers to the test now." It's a scary thought: If Mahomes did what he did a year ago as a first-year starter, what happens when he gets the answers to the test? The larger point being, there's a very real chance that Mahomes is well on his way to becoming the greatest quarterback in NFL history. 

The quarterback that Mahomes beat on Sunday is in the middle of his own ascent. After taking over for Joe Flacco midway through last season and operating in a run-heavy offense that never required him to complete more than 14 passes in a single game, Lamar Jackson has shown glimpses of greatness in a new offense under offensive coordinator Greg Roman. 

Through three games, Jackson is completing 63% of his passes for 863 yards, seven touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 113.9 passer rating. He wasn't at his best against the Chiefs on Sunday, lacking consistency on a throw-to-throw basis -- most notably with his accuracy, but also in terms of his decision making -- but even in an uneven performance, it's not hard to identify why he's a star in the making. There aren't any other quarterbacks who can do the kind of things that Jackson can do.

It'd be hyperbolic to call that game a remake of the Brady-Manning rivalry, but it almost did feel that way heading into the matchup. It also feels a little like that after, because it feels like these two quarterbacks are set to dominate defenses for the next decade and because they're stuck in the same conference, they're probably going to see plenty of each other in the wars to come. Heck, there's a decent chance they'll meet again in January.

Just ask Ravens safety Earl Thomas.

The Chiefs' win over the Ravens was the highlight of the opening slate of the Sunday games and served as the introduction for what was supposed to be a lackluster late slate that actually morphed into a thrilling afternoon thanks mostly to ... you guessed it ... quarterbacks under the age of 27.

Making his first-ever start after the Giants made the c-c-c-c-c-controversial decision to draft him at No. 6 overall, Daniel Jones did something in start No. 1 that Eli Manning has never done in 232 career starts: overcome an 18-point deficit. Manning went 0-44 in such situations, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The Giants trailed the Buccaneers 28-10 at halftime. They wound up winning 32-31 after Jones scored a game-winning touchdown with 1:21 remaining and Bruce Arians intentionally made his kicker's job more difficult before he missed what would've been a game-winning field goal.

It goes beyond the comeback, although that obviously remains the top story. It's also about what Jones brings to the Giants' offense. Unlike Manning, he can threaten defenses with his legs. In addition to throwing two touchdowns, he also rushed for two -- including the game-winning score. It was a walk-in for Jones, but if that's Manning under center, there's no way it turns into a rushing touchdown. The same goes for his first touchdown run.

Compare those runs to this one, taken from the Giants' Week 1 loss to the Cowboys when they still thought that starting Manning over Jones was the right answer.

It wasn't just his legs. It was also his arm. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Jones went 12 of 16 for 192 yards and a touchdown against pressure -- and he was under pressure on more than half of his dropbacks. According to Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times, Jones' 112.7 passer rating was the ninth-highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback in an NFL debut. 

What helped turn that game into a thriller was the consistently inconsistent Jameis Winston (still only 25, by the way) playing good football against a bad defense. No one -- certainly not me -- will claim Winston has magically turned the corner in his development, but it's a reminder that Winston is still immensely talented. We don't see it often, but every so often the good version of Winston appears.

By far, though, the most shocking performance of the day belonged to Kyle Allen, who led the winless Panthers into Arizona, submitted the best outing of any quarterback in Week 3, and departed the desert with a crucial win. Against the Cardinals, Allen completed 73.1% of his passes for 261 yards, four touchdowns, and a 144.4 passer rating. While it's worth noting that Allen consistently threw to wide open receivers -- only 7.7% of his passes were thrown into tight windows, per NFL Next Gen Stats -- it's also worth noting that he consistently took advantage of those openings. It's not his fault the Cardinals' defense stinks. And it's not his fault that some are wondering if there's a chance Allen could steal Newton's job as Newton battles a serious injury.

I suppose it's worth noting that Allen, who went undrafted last year, outdueled the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, Kyler Murray. But it's also worth noting that Murray continues to look impressive in bursts -- enough so that it's impossible to be pessimistic about his long-term future. Starting immediately for what was the worst team with the worst offense in football a season ago, Murray is averaging 276.7 yards per game. Progress needs to be made, but patience also needs to be exercised. Let's give Murray time to develop because he's already been pretty impressive (for a rookie) in his first three starts.

Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater helped the Saints thump the Seahawks in Seattle -- pay no attention to the final score, because the game was never as close as the final score indicates. Bridgewater wasn't overly impressive, as the Saints did well to make his job as easy as possible, but the beginning to his career (before a devastating injury derailed his career) is enough of a reason to be hopeful of his future as he gets re-acclimated to his role as a starter.

It's fitting that the week ended with a young quarterback submitting the best performance of his season as the oft-maligned Mitchell Trubisky took the openings Matt Nagy created for him against the Redskins, and completed 80.7% of his passes for 231 yards, three touchdowns (one of which was just plain awesome), one (terrible) pick, and a 116.5 passer rating. It's also fitting that on the other side of the field on Monday night, Case Keenum turned the ball over five times, resulting in the Washington crowd chanting for their own young, quarterback savior. It's only a matter of time before the Redskins insert rookie Dwayne Haskins into the fray, adding yet another under 27 quarterback into the mix -- not to mention, Sam Darnold will eventually swap places with Luke Falk once he recovers from mono.

None of this should be considered a suggestion that these young quarterbacks are all already better than their older peers. Aside from Mahomes, who's already the best quarterback in football, they're not. Brady is still Brady. I don't know if there's a person alive who'd take a quarterback (besides Mahomes, of course) over Brady come playoff time. And not every young quarterback is blossoming. Despite his Week 3 performance, plenty of questions about Trubisky's short- and long-term future remain unanswered. After a record-setting rookie season, Mayfield has regressed in Year 2. Allen remains maddeningly inconsistent. Winston and Mariota both appear to be in the midst of their final seasons in Tampa Bay and Tennessee, respectively. Goff hasn't consistently played like an elite quarterback since last November even though he's now paid like one. Even the young quarterbacks who have played well need to improve certain aspects of their game -- Jackson with his accuracy on a throw-to-throw basis, Mayfield with his pocket presence, Mahomes with his ... just kidding, he's perfect as is.

But it's becoming increasingly clear that a new great era of quarterback play is already upon us as the sun begins to set on what we thought was the golden age of quarterbacking.

Ben Roethlisberger, 37, is out of the season and will be attempting to come back from elbow surgery next year. Drew Brees, 40, underwent surgery on his thumb and is attempting to come back later this year. Philip Rivers, 37, is still prolific, but his Chargers have suffered devastating injury after devastating injury, they've already fallen behind Mahomes and the Chiefs, and they're once again stumbling through September. Rodgers, 35, is starting for a 3-0 team, but for the first time in his career, he's being propped up by his defense as he continues to look more and more like an ordinary good quarterback as the years pass by. Newton, 30, is broken and bruised -- again -- which is beyond worrying, especially after factoring in his contract situation. And Tom Brady is ... never mind, he's still Tom Brady. It's fitting that the Patriots tried to give Brady a breather in the fourth quarter of a blowout by replacing him with rookie Jarrett Stidham, but had to reinsert him into the game after Stidham promptly got pick-sixed (and speaking of interceptions returned for touchdowns, you should subscribe to the Pick Six Podcast, our daily NFL show which I appear on three times a week).

He's going to outlast us all.