The Armchair Quarterback Take Of The Week
It May Be A Quarterback Driven League, But Coaching Isn’t Far Behind
It’s been common knowledge for a while now that the NFL has become a quarterback driven league. Take a look around the NFL through five weeks this season. It used to be that throwing for 300 yards in a game was a big deal. There are currently nine starting QBs in the NFL that are averaging at least 300 yards per game. That’s 28% of the starting QBs in the entire league. Along the same lines, it used to be that throwing for 5000 yards in a season meant you had one of the great passing seasons of all time. There are currently five QBs on pace to throw for 5000 yards this season. That’s over 15% of the starting quarterbacks. Peyton Manning is obviously at the top of the list. Through five games he is actually on pace to break 6000 yards passing as well as 64 TDs.
If it’s a quarterback’s league, the logic follows that the best teams would always be the ones with the best QBs. To an extent, this is true. Right now the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints are considered to be the two best teams and they posses arguably two of the best QBs in the NFL in Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. On the opposite side of the spectrum there is the Jacksonville Jaguars who are universally considered the worst team in the NFL, and also have arguably the worst QB situation. So at the risk of sounding like captain obvious, it’s clear that if your team has a really good QB they are likely going to win a lot more games than if they didn’t.
However, over the past couple of seasons it is becoming clearer and clearer that a great QB can’t do it alone. I’m not talking about a strong supporting cast on the field. That is obviously important, but what I’m referring to is the importance of a good head coach. The aforementioned Saints and their QB Drew Brees is the perfect case study to back up this claim. In the three seasons prior to Sean Payton’s one year suspension from “Bounty Gate” the Saints went 13-3, 11-5, and 13-3 (37-11) with a Super Bowl championship. The Saints then went 7-9 without Payton around despite Brees still putting up Pro Bowl caliber numbers. Now with Payton back on the sideline the Saints are 5-0 and looked at as one of the best teams in the NFL again.
This drastic difference in win/loss record can be seen in a few other teams as well. The San Francisco 49ers were 6-10 in 2010 and hadn’t had a winning season in 9 years when they hired Jim Harbaugh. That next season they were 13-3 and playing in the NFC championship game without having a major roster overhaul. This season’s Kansas City Chiefs are another interesting example. They were the worst team in football last season with a pitiful 2-14 record. They replaced both their head coach and quarterback and now are one of only three undefeated teams in the NFL. There is no question that Alex Smith has helped stabilize the QB position for KC and filled a giant void that was there last season. However, I think everyone would agree that Smith’s numbers don’t belong beside the elite QBs in the league. The entire Chiefs team is playing 1000 times better than last season and Andy Reid is clearly a big reason why.
So while teams continue to spend countless hours and dollars trying to figure out who is going to be the next Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson that hopefully turn their struggling franchise around, perhaps they would be just as well served looking for the next great coach to come available. Perhaps owners would be better served using some of the millions of dollars they spend on free agent players every offseason to pay whatever it takes to get THE best coach on the market.
It makes you wonder about previous first round quarterbacks that are considered busts. Would the David Carrs and Joey Harringtons of the world have turned out different if they had worked with coaches like Pete Carroll or Jim Harbaugh instead of Dom Capers and Marty Mornhinweg? Or would Dom Capers have looked like a better coach if he had drafted Andrew Luck instead of David Carr?
The answer is probably a little of both.
Now on to this week’s game predictions……..
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