Posts Tagged ‘Quarterbacks’

Chicago Bears QBs: Sid Luckman, Jim McMahon, Jim Miller, and Jay Cutler

July 10, 2009

I’m a little tired of sports media types and fans not being able to think for themselves and instead just repeating things over and over.  I gave an example the other day when I said that the whole sports media world says universally that Roger Federer was better than Pete Sampras just because he leads him in Grand Slam titles, 15-14.

Here’s another example.  Fans and sports media constantly say that the Chicago Bears haven’t had a great quarterback since Sid Luckman in the 1940s.  What about Jim McMahon?  All he did was win a Super Bowl, go 36-5 for the Bears from 1984-1988 and 67-30 overall for his career.  It’s pretty pathetic that people don’t care about results, about productivity, about winning.  It’s true that the Bears had a great defense then, but they had a pretty bad receiving corps.  He was also known as a good leader.  Remember too that McMahon was a first round pick, No. 5 overall in 1982.

McMahon’s career completion percentage was a very good 58%, and from 1984 to 1987, his TD to interception ratio was 40 to 29.  Pretty good for that era.  McMahon obviously wasn’t as good as Marino, Elway, Montana, Esiason or Moon, but four of them are in the Hall of Fame.  McMahon was great for a few years.

I don’t care about McMahon or the Bears but I do care when people (fans, sports media, news media) don’t think for themselves and just repeat back what others say.

I hate it when people like Jim Miller of Sirius NFL Radio agree with callers who say that the Bears haven’t had any great QBs.  Of course, Miller says a QB should have a ratio of 2 TDs for every interception.  He and others ignore the fact that passing stats were much less prolific 20 years ago than they are today.

In my article a year and a half ago advocating Art Monk to get into the NFL Hall of Fame (http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php), I talked about this (though Monk’s stats are unbelievable for any era):

If we look at the rise in offensive statistics in the Super Bowl era, we see three distinctly different eras. The first 14 years of the Super Bowl were characterized by run-first teams. The middle 14 years (Monk’s Redskins career) were dramatically different with the passing game opening up because of the rules changes in the late 70s. What some of the voters either fail to recognize or acknowledge is that the most recent 14 years have also had significant increases in passing and receiving numbers due to further changes including the west coast offense and other schemes in which passing is used to set up the run. See the table below.

NFL

1966-1979

1980-1993 (Monk’s era with the Redskins)

1994-2007

Number of individual 4,000 – yard passing seasons

2

19

46

Number of individual 100 – catch seasons

0

3

50

Number of 1500 – yard receiving seasons

0

5

15

McMahon played in the 1980s.  It wasn’t that long ago.  Of course, now everyone says that Jay Cutler is the first great quarterback to play for the Bears in 60 years.  What an insult.  Cutler is 17-20 overall for his career and hasn’t made the playoffs.  Cutler does have the stats, though, and that’s what people care about.

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Note to NFL GMs: Winning should Matter

March 15, 2009

Last year, I wrote that Byron Leftwich wasn’t getting a fair chance to be an NFL starting quarterback, and that NFL people were concentrating too much on his deficiencies instead of his winning record (24-20) as a starter.  A lot of NFL owners, general managers and coaches prefer style over substance, and they’d rather have a player who has what they believe to be the necessities to be a good quarterback (height, arm strength, mobility, etc.) than someone who is great at winning football games. 

Another example of this – NFL people putting a higher priority on style than substance – was Doug Flutie, who if he were given a fair chance would have been a very good NFL starting quarterback for 15 years.  Still another example was Trent Dilfer, who was the starting quarterback during the 2000 season for the Baltimore Ravens who won the Super Bowl.  Dilfer was 58-53 for his career, and he didn’t play on many good teams other than the 2000 Ravens.  For that 10-1 record and Super Bowl championship, Dilfer got kicked out of the door in favor of Elvis Grbac and then Kyle Boller, the poster boy for the first round draft choice who doesn’t work out. 

(At least Boller started for a few seasons.  Top 3 overall draft picks Tim Couch, Ryan Leaf, and Akili Smith were all out of the league after a few seasons).  I guess it’s high risk/high reward, like stocks.  A good veteran quarterback (value stock) who can lead you to winning seasons is often passed over for a younger quarterback (more volatile, aggressive stock) who fits the mold but ultimately may not become a winner, but at least seems to have more potential. 

I was reminded of this oddity – how NFL teams don’t always like winners – when Denver Broncos QB Jay Cutler was in the news lately.  Not because of Cutler’s anger at almost being traded, but because it made me remember that Cutler’s predecessor, Jake Plummer, went 40-18 with three playoff appearances with Denver.  Plummer was 7-4 in 2006 when he was replaced by Cutler, who lost 3 of the final 5 games of the season for the Broncos.  Denver failed to make the playoffs that year.  Ok, so you say the Broncos had to sacrifice a year for the future. 

But Cutler’s record as a starter is 17-20 with no playoff appearances.  Denver coach Mike Shanahan replaced Plummer with Cutler at the time because Plummer hadn’t played well in the playoffs, but he missed the point.  First you have to get there, and once you get there, you have an excellent chance to win it all.  The point is putting yourself in a position to win, which Plummer did.  Look at the Cardinals this year, the Giants last year, and the Steelers three years ago.  Each team barely made the playoffs but won or made it to the Super Bowl.  You have to get to the playoffs – after that, there is some luck involved.

There are two sides to every story, and Plummer did make too many mistakes, while Cutler has a very strong arm and will probably have success one day.  But at some point, production – wins – should matter.  Substance should matter over style.  Unfortunately, too often in the NFL, it doesn’t.