Thursday, December 27, 2007

There Are Plenty of Good Quarterbacks

Count me among the multitudes that were convinced by the anti- modern quarterback campaign. I'm a little embarassed. I pride myself on seeing through these baseless lines of bullshit, but this time they got me.

It's omnipresent. After the Patriots quest for perfection, it's the biggest story in the NFL this year. "The quarterback play is horrendous."

Does anyone realize that with one week left, 8 QBs are on a pace to throw for 4,000 yards this season? Brady, Romo, Brees, and Favre are already there. Manning, Kitna, Hasselbeck, and Palmer are all 185 yards or fewer away.

What is the record for most QBs with 4,000 passing yards in a single season? Five; in 2004 and 2006. So this season we will see 3 more 4,000 yard passer than have ever been seen before. But there are no good QBs?!

Thinking that perhaps there was more depth in the past, I checked how many 3,000 yard passers there are this year. There will almost certainly be 15 in 2007. Only four seasons in history have featured more 3,000 yard passers. All were in the new millenium.

Granted passing yards isn't a perfect statistic for determining the quality of quarterback play, but it's as good as any other statistic that I'm hip to. I'm sure the football sabermetricians have developed a superior metric, but I don't follow the sport as religiously as I do baseball. I'm too lazy to do any more legwork on this one, but my limited research suggests that there is no empirical evidence that quarterback play is down in the NFL.

So, once again, we are left to rely on the anecdotes of our elders. The same ones who will try to tell you that Oscar Robertson would have mopped the floor with Michael Jordan. The ones that tell us Pedro Martinez couldn't sniff Sandy Koufax's jock. And Rocky Marciano would have knocked out Lenox Lewis in the first round.

"There are no good quarterbacks" is the new "There is no good pitching." A fallacy to be ignored.

1 comment:

Adeel said...

I agree fully. The only thing that could be said is that passing has become more important in recent years and, as a result, a lot more is expected from quarterbacks.

Joe Montana, for example, never had a 4,000-yard season and John Elway threw more than 20 touchdown passes just once in his first ten seasons. If JaMarcus Russell throws for 22 touchdowns against 23 interceptions in his third season, he might not be around for a fourth with the Raiders. John Elway did that and played another 13 with the Broncos.

Quarterbacks who would've serviceable twenty years ago just won't do today, and that's why there's a supposed shortage of good quarterbacks: the standards are just higher. Twenty years ago, Neil Lomax's 3387 yards led the league, but even Jay Cutler will beat that this year (10th with 3251). I have no idea how Lomax's league-leading 463 attempts would rank: maybe as low as 14th after this weekend.