Netflix’s latest sports docuseries, Quarterback, argues that playing the QB position in team sports is the most challenging. While the filmmakers might be onto something, the intricacies and complexities of the position are not fully captured in the first season of the TV show. Quarterback follows the 2022 NFL season journey of three QBs— Patrick Mahomes from the Kansas City Chiefs, Kirk Cousins from the Minnesota Vikings, and Marcus Mariota from the Atlanta Falcons. However, unlike Netflix’s popular sports series, Formula 1: Drive to Survive, Quarterback struggles to humanize these elite athletes. We catch glimpses of their family lives, but little insight is provided into how these aspects impact their on-field performance.
Fortunately, there are several ways to improve Quarterback and elevate it from just being okay to truly great.
Pick More Fascinating Players
In order to win games, teams must field their best players. Unfortunately, Quarterback season 1 fails to achieve this. While the inclusion of Mahomes, the talented 27-year-old Chiefs quarterback, is a major coup for the show, the rest of the cast falls short in comparison. Cousins, who is solid but unremarkable, and Mariota, who lost his starting position in the previous season, inevitably pale in Mahomes’ shadow. A second season of Quarterback would benefit from a more captivating and successful lineup of QBs. Furthermore, featuring a larger group of players would provide more opportunities for intertwined storylines and dynamic editing. For instance, adding Josh Allen from the Buffalo Bills to the show alongside Mahomes would allow viewers to witness their ongoing AFC shootout and rivalry. Alternatively, following an exciting yet volatile rookie like Anthony Richardson from the Colts would offer a compelling narrative from his first day on the field.
Let the In-Game Footage Tell the Story
The NFL tightly controls access to game footage, making it exciting that Quarterback can utilize footage from the previous season. However, the show often relies on these clips as a crutch for constructing its episodic narratives. Rather than building natural tension through the games, unrelated footage is condensed into montages. A great example of what can be achieved with access to footage is the docuseries The Last Dance. Instead of simply showing a game-winning touchdown drive with field audio, Quarterback should allow Cousins or his coach to meticulously walk the audience through the process of orchestrating a comeback, pointing out the intricacies of plays that may have been missed. By doing so, the show can provide deeper insight and analysis.
Let the QBs Share Their Expertise
One of the strongest aspects of Quarterback is when the production team encourages the QBs to delve deep into one game, play, or decision. While quarterbacks may not always be the most charismatic storytellers, they possess an unparalleled understanding of football. Captivating moments arise when these players discuss the nitty-gritty of the game. Comparing how Cousins and Mahomes approach comebacks, or witnessing Mariota pull himself out of a rut during a game, provides valuable insight that sets the show apart from mere fan content. By combining these interview segments with actual NFL game footage, Quarterback can deliver sports analysis that surpasses traditional panel shows like those on ESPN.
By delving into Mahomes’ observations about opponents’ tendencies while studying film and how that knowledge translates into scoring touchdowns or securing victories, the show can offer unique insights that only players can provide. Despite the lackluster QB lineup in the first season, all the featured individuals are personable and ready to deliver on what Quarterback does best. Rather than focusing excessively on their personal lives, which can become repetitive over time, the show should prioritize showcasing the players’ expertise and analysis.
Let the Teammates Shine
Quarterback surprisingly includes the QB stars praising and acknowledging the contributions of their teammates. However, it is puzzling why these vital team members receive little screen time. Hearing players like Justin Jefferson or Travis Kelce discuss their roles in helping their respective QBs, or how their relationships contribute to game-winning moments, enriches the understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in a successful team. Quarterback is currently at a crossroads. Despite its flaws, it remains an entertaining show that appeals to fans with a surface-level understanding of the 2022 season. The moments in which Mahomes breaks down a game-winning drive or Cousins perseveres through injuries are captivating when they narrate their experiences. However, these moments are currently the exception rather than the norm. The good news is that Quarterback has the potential to follow the trajectory of a promising NFL prospect: early success despite mistakes, with ample room for growth.