You want a look at the changing nature of the NFL? Consider the shift in quarterback mentalities across Sunday's two conference championships. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady employed a traditional drop-back pocket-passing technique in the AFC championship — a technique, it must be noted, that has put both at No. 1 and 1A among all-time performances.
Colin Kaepernick sees your pocket passing, and raises you this:
That's Kaepernick tearing off a 58-yard run that would help San Francisco post a lead on Seattle heading into the half. Kaepernick was the first player at any position to post 100 yards rushing in the first half of a conference championship since Thurman Thomas of Buffalo in 1994. Early in the second half, he'd use his feet to get loose of pressure and hit Anquan Boldin for another touchdown to keep San Francisco ahead.
Oh, but Russell Wilson had a trick of his own:
His scramble to shake San Francisco's vaunted defense and finally locate receiver Doug Baldwin will be one of the season's highlights for Seattle.
The styles of the two pairs of conference championship quarterbacks couldn't be more different. Brady and Manning combined to rush for seven yards total — well, Brady did; Manning didn't ever leave the backfield. (Yes, Brady did score a touchdown, and yes, he outgained LeGarrette Blount, but you know that's a statistical oddity.)
Wilson and Kaepernick, on the other hand, are proving to be equally as adept on the ground as in the air, and both will give defensive coordinators fits for the next decade. The "mobile, athletic quarterback" is a tired shorthand in the NFL to describe someone who lacks passing skill or pocket awareness. Wilson and Kaepernick have both, and they're the logical next iteration of NFL quarterbacks. We're going to be seeing the future of the NFL facing off twice a year for a long time to come.