Patrick Mahomes vs. Jimmy Garoppolo among youngest Super Bowl QB matchups
The Super Bowl quarterback matchup is Patrick Mahomes vs. Jimmy Garoppolo, and for as long as these guys have been in the spotlight, you’d think it was Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady.
Jimmy G., we knew for years as the Patriots’ crown prince, even if Garoppolo backed up Brady for only 2-1/2 seasons before being traded to San Francisco in a Robert Kraft/Bill Belichick/Brady power struggle in which Belichick lost.
Mahomes, we’ve known for years, at least in this part of the country, as the Texas Tech wizard. The Chiefs traded up to 10th in the 2017 NFL Draft to take Mahomes, a move that needed no talent-scout eyeballs to justify. Football fans all over the American Southwest could attest to Mahomes’ quarterbacking acumen.
So this 49er-Chief Super Bowl doesn’t feel like a Super Bowl of novice quarterbacks.
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But it is. In many ways, Mahomes vs. Garoppolo is historic.
Only 11 of the 54 Super Bowls have matched quarterbacks still in their 20s. Mahomes is 24; Garoppolo is 28. That makes them collectively the third-youngest tandem of Super Bowl quarterbacks.
The youngest ever? Super Bowl 19. 49ers vs. Dolphins. Couple of guys named Montana and Marino. Wonder whatever became of them? Joe Montana was 28 in Super Bowl 19 and about to quarterback San Francisco to its second championship, out of four he led. Dan Marino was 23 in Super Bowl 19, lost to the 49ers 38-16 and no one felt too sorry for Miami’s second-year QB. He would have many more chances.
Marino quarterbacked Miami another 15 seasons; he never made it back to the Super Bowl. Pro football can be a gut-punch game.
The second-youngest tandem of Super Bowl starting quarterbacks came in the game’s 31st rendition: Green Bay-New England. Brett Favre, 27, vs. Drew Bledsoe, 24. Favre’s Packers won 35-21. Two bright stars.
Again, pro football can be a cruel game. Favre had a glorious career – but never won another Super Bowl. Bledsoe had a great career but was injured in the 2001 season, his backup took over and the rest is Tom Brady history.
Joining Mahomes-Jimmy G. as quarterbacks a combined 52 years old in the Super Bowl were Jim McMahon vs. Tony Eason, in Super Bowl 20. McMahon’s Bears routed Eason’s Patriots 46-10.
Eason had only one more year as a starter. McMahon soon became a journeyman.
So you never know. But it sure seems like we know about Garoppolo, and we absolutely know about Mahomes. Only death or dismemberment could stop Mahomes from all-time greatness.
Still, this Super Bowl matches quarterbacks of uncommon inexperience. Mahomes is 27-8 as an NFL starter, counting playoff games. Garoppolo is 23-5. Those are small numbers.
No Super Bowl has matched quarterbacks each with 35 or fewer NFL starts. The closest? Super Bowl 34, when Kurt Warner, albeit already 28 years old, was just 15-3 as a starter for the Rams and 26-year-old Steve McNair was 22-21 for the Oilers/Titans. Those Rams beat Tennessee 24-17 in one of the great Super Bowls ever – and both went on to excellent NFL careers.
Which Super Bowl quarterbacks have entered the big game with the least starting experience? Here’s the list.
1. Jeff Hostetler, 6-0 heading into Super Bowl 25, where the Giants upset Buffalo 20-19. Hostetler, then 29, took over for the injured Phil Simms.
2. Vince Ferragamo, 6-1 heading into Super Bowl 14, where the Rams lost to Pittsburgh 31-19. Talk about your quarterback mismatches. Ferragamo had only three more NFL wins than Terry Bradshaw had Super Bowl wins.
3. Colin Kaepernick, 7-2. Kaepernick was 25 at Super Bowl 47, where his 49ers lost to Baltimore 34-31.
4. Roger Staubach, 15-1 heading into Super Bowl 6. Staubach was 29 then; he spent five years with the U.S. Navy after graduating from Annapolis, then two years backing up Craig Morton with the Cowboys before finally winning a quarterback derby that does not historically treat Tom Landry well. Dallas won Super Bowl 6, beating Bob Griese and the Dolphins 24-3.
4. Tom Brady, 13-3 heading into Super Bowl 36, where the Patriots upset the Rams 20-17.
6. Jake Delhomme, 11-6 heading into Super 38, where his Panthers lost to New England 32-29.
7. Daryle Lamonica, 17-1 going into Super Bowl 2. The Raiders traded for Lamonica, a backup in Buffalo, and landed themselves one of the most underrated quarterbacks in NFL history. Oakland lost to Green Bay 33-14. But Lamonica’s career record as a starter was 70-21-6.
7. Warner, 15-3.
9. Joe Montana, 17-9 heading into Super Bowl 16, where the 49ers beat the Bengals 26-21.
9. Rex Grossman, 19-7 going into Super Bowl 41, where his Bears lost to Indianapolis 29-17.
11. Marino, 23-5 heading into Super Bowl 19. Funny. Exact record as Garoppolo takes into Super Bowl 54.
11. Garoppolo, 23-5.
13. Ben Roethlisberger, 26-4 going into Super Bowl 40, where his Steelers beat Seattle 21-10.
13. Eason, 18-12.
15. Craig Morton, 23-8-1 heading into Super Bowl 5, where the Cowboys lost 16-13 to the Colts. Morton was a good quarterback. But Dallas should have been playing Staubach.
16. Mahomes, 27-8.
So that’s a mix of quarterbacks. Future Hall of Famers with glorious careers – Staubach, Brady, Montana, Marino, Big Ben. One-hit wonders like Ferragamo and Kaepernick and Eason. And others who were somewhere in between.