The NFL’s 4 New Football Cinderella Stories
Nobody saw them coming, but Austin Davis, Colt McCoy, Colin Kaepernick and Peyton Manning taught everyone a lesson: don’t jump to conclusions. What all of these new and seasoned star quarterbacks have in common is that nobody expected a lot out of them after a certain point, but they all came back with vengeance.
#1 St. Louis Rams Quarterback Austin Davis
Looking only at his stats, no on can really be blamed for ignoring him. He was not drafted in the 2012 NFL Draft and signed with the Rams as a free agent, which gives no guarantees. That means that the team can cut him at any time they wish and that was exactly what happened. He never played an official game and was cut in August 2013. Davis went to the Miami Dolphins but was only signed to the practice squad: he didn’t impress the coaches there either.
Luckily for Davis, The Rams’ quarterback Sam Bradford got injured, leaving management frantically looking for someone who is in good physical shape and knows the team’s game plan. That person was Davis. When the Rams’ other starting quarterback Shaun Hill got injured in the first game of the 2014 season, Davis, who is now 25, made his NFL debut in the second half.
The Rams lost to the Minnesota Vikings but that was literally Davis’ worst game. Even though he is 2-6, he is making headlines for improving every game: fewer sacks, almost no interceptions, and a steady number of touchdowns. He has impressed so many football analysts, legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre told ESPN that Austin could be “the next Tom Brady.”
“Not to sound off my rocker, but [Davis] — in my mind — can be the next Tom Brady or Kurt Warner. [Brian] Hoyer as well. Austin, like those mentioned, just needed a legit opportunity.”
So far Davis’ biggest achievement is beating Super Bowl 2014 Champions Seattle Seahawks: even Peyton Manning can’t say that.
#2 Washington Redskins Quarterback Colt McCoy
McCoy is the guy who hasn’t played in three years, but beats NFL star Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys in his first game as a starting quarterback. Now, Romo did get hurt in the middle of the game, but that wasn’t a big factor in McCoy’s performance. The dramatic 20-17 win in overtime actually showed the skeptics that the third-string quarterback can be trusted in critical situations.
McCoy calmly led the Redskins into field goal position, where the kicker did his job to win the game. And the QB can only get better, especially since he is now practicing with the first team. He tends to start shaky, but if the offensive line does what it’s supposed to, protect him, McCoy has a real chance to maintain the starting job.
“I felt more and more comfortable, and I started seeing the defense right. We made some plays down the stretch that good teams have to make to win games,” McCoy said. … “I just tried to stay composed. I don’t know if it was nerves or not. I called a play wrong in the huddle one time. But we found a way to win and found a way to play well in the second half.”
But lets see what happens from week to week, as a lot of money is invested into the future of Robert Griffin III: how short of a leash is McCoy on, before they give the job back to RGIII?
#3 San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick
The Niners’ now franchise leader was a backup quarterback in his rookie season in 2011. He played only 11 games. In the following season, Kaepernick got his chance when starting quarterback Alex Smith got hurt: and to everyone’s surprise he got the team to the Super Bowl, losing to the Baltimore Ravens in a dramatic and very close 28-24 game. And during that Super Bowl run, it is quite amazing that Jim Harbaugh decided to stick with the inexperienced Kaepernick over the seasoned Smith.
So the following season, Harbaugh and the front office made the decision to stick with Kaepernick: trading away Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs. Perhaps expectations for Kap were low, but he kept exceeding them, performing at a top level ever since.
#4 Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning
You may wonder why the heck is Manning in this category. Generally, you may have a point, but he was cut by the only team he had ever played for — the Indianapolis Colts. The team Manning built and led to a Super Bowl win had abandoned him.
But who could really blame the organization; the neck surgeries, which caused him to miss an entire season, left the Colts’ front office uncertain about the superstars’ future. And more importantly, they had the first overall pick and could get Andrew Luck, who many believed to be the next big thing. So, as he started scouting for a new team, and plenty wanted him, we were already seeing one of the greatest career comebacks in history.
First record down: Peyton Manning finished the 2013 season with 55 TDs, shattering Tom Brady’s record of 50 set in 2007. Second record down: Manning threw for 5,477 yards, one yard more than Drew Brees’ record in 2011. Third record down: nine four-touchdown passing games that season. Also lets not forget, the 15 two-touchdown passing games (tied with Dan Marino’s 1984 milestone); and finally, he again tied Marino for the most 400-yard passing games.
Just this season, Manning finally beat the all-time record for the most touchdowns — 511. And from what he has shown that number will only get bigger.