The present and future of quarterback play in the NFL were recognized Thursday, as New England Patriots veteran Tom Brady and Tennessee Titans signal-caller Marcus Mariota were named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month and NFL Rookie of the Month, respectively, for September.
Brady was honored after a truly dominant opening month, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, while Mariota's impressive start to his NFL career simply couldn't be ignored, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com.
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While Brady entered the season amid controversy due to the Deflategate scandal, he has somehow managed to ignore all of the outside noise. He has led the Pats to a 3-0 record, and he is tops in the league with 1,112 passing yards and no interceptions. Also, his nine touchdown passes are second only to Green Bay Packers superstar Aaron Rodgers.
According to NFL Director of AFC Football Communications Jon Zimmer, Brady is off to a historically good start with a league-record 96 completions through Week 3.
Per Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Brady made even more history by winning the AFC Offensive Player of the Month award:
Mariota has a long way to go before he can rival Brady's status, but he has certainly exceeded expectations thus far. With 833 passing yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner was an easy choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month.
According to SportsCenter, only one other player in NFL history has thrown as many touchdown passes as Mariota through his first three NFL games:
Many figured the former Oregon standout would use his mobility as a crutch, but ESPN's Adam Schefter pointed out that he has relied primarily on his arm:
That led NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah to praise Mariota's pocket presence:
Every indication is that Mariota is the real deal, and teammates like guard Byron Bell certainly seem to agree with that notion, per Wyatt.
"That young man has a lot of character," Bell said. "He is going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league one day and he continues to prove it."
Brady is still a dominant force at 38 years of age, but he can't keep up his current level of play forever. At some point, he will have to pass the torch to the next generation of great quarterbacks.
Although Mariota has played only three games, he certainly looks like the leader in the clubhouse in terms of being the next big thing at the quarterback position.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.