Thursday, September 11, 2008

So Much Qb Talk

Everywhere I look these days I can't stop hearing about quarterbacks. Everyone is just fascinated with them right now.

There's people talking about Tom Brady, his injured knee, and his replacement, Matt Cassel. Let's not forget the talk about Brady's supposed replacement on top of the AFC East mountain, Brett Favre. There's the whole "Vince Young may have gone off the deep end so quickly that we have to take a look at Chris Simms" thing. And I'm in DC and all I hear about is what a bad mismatch Jason Campbell is for this Jim Zorn west coast offense.

But you know when you really know the shit has hit the fan in the NFL? When writers start heaping ridiculous praise on people like Kurt Warner:

Warner is one of the best passers in pro football history and, even though it's later in his career, one of the best in the game today. He's better than Matt Hasselbeck or Jeff Garcia, and probably better than Donovan McNabb, or even Tom Brady — which is to say that given the same blockers and receivers, his career numbers would be better than theirs. That's a pretty safe bet, since Warner has been playing with bad-to-mediocre talent for much of his career, and his numbers are still better than theirs.

So this guy is overlooking Warner's penchant for holding onto the ball too long and therefore becoming a turnover machine in favor of the he had no talent around him card. Ummm...what? What do you call Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce (in his prime), Marshall Faulk (in his prime), and Mike Martz as an offensive coordinator (in his prime). Or what about his one-season stint with the Giants playing with a young Jeremy Shockey, Tiki Barber, and Amani Toomer (in his prime). And it's obvious he's devoid of talent now that he plays for the Cardinals alongside Edgerrin James, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin.

Oh. but of course this writer has other reasons for making such outlandish claims:

As he starts the 2008 season, Warner is the third-highest-rated quarterback ever at 93.2, behind Steve Young and Peyton Manning, but you could watch him play all season without hearing anyone mention it. Brady, who has played behind the league's best offensive line, is fourth at 92.9. It's no stretch to imagine that if Warner and Brady switched teams, Warner would have at least three Super Bowl rings.

This brings me to my next point. How meaningless Qb rating is in the grand scheme of football things. It may be the most overused individual stat in the game today. If anything, the QB rating is a judgement of team performance more so than accurately analyzing quarterback play. I'll let a commenter to this story explain:

There is no more meaningless stat than the quarterback rating. Milt Plum has a higher quarterback rating that Johnny Unitas. The quarterback rating measures four things- completion percentage, yards gained, interceptions, and touchdown passes- in a formula.If the quarterback throws a screen pass, in the air for two yards, to a running back who breaks six tackles and goes 60 yards for a touchdown, the QB gets credit for a completion, 60 yards passing, and a TD pass, even though he threw the ball two yards in the air. Conversely, the QB can drop back, make the correct read and a perfect pass 50 yards downfield, where the receiver drops it. This will go as an incompletion and against his quarterback rating. The QB rating is almost meaningless.

Which brings me back to my point. Why so much focus on the quarterbacks all of a sudden. Vince Young's heart might be as fragile as a 14-year old girl after getting dumped in a middle school hallway, but let's not forget his team beat the Jags. He couldn't have been that bad of a quarterback. Same goes for Cassel. His team' talent is absurd to the point that a backup who hadn't played a meaningful minute of football in 12 years could go out and go 13-for-17.

And Campbell, well, I think he can be a successful quarterback in this system. But when a scheme relies extensively on a young quarterback making lightning quick reads in front of an aging offensive line in order to complete passes to a group of overrated wide receivers (yes, I am officially calling out Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle-El), I wouldn't necessarily affix the attention exclusively on Jason Campbell.

Are the two men on the left are worth a combined $62 million. The Skins think so. I tend to disagree.

So please people, let's keep in mind that there is life beyond the super awesome-o quarterback. Remember, just two years ago Sexy Rexy led (or more like dragged) the Bears into a Super Bowl. Guys like Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, Doug Williams (bless his heart) and Jim McMahon have won Super Bowls. Hell, the "most underrated quarterback of all time", Kurt Warner won one, too.

And seriously, let's not glorify him any more than we actually need to.

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