Gunslinger vs System QB: Opening a discussion

     In the post “What does attitude have to do with it” by lovewatchingthegame, broncosmontana raised an intriguing idea:

“I loved the gutsy rocket arm for as long as it worked for us. But I’m not dreading seeing a system guy go to work for us, either. Different strokes, same goal. It would be interesting to break down all of the SuperBowl winning QBs and system and see what history tells us.”

     What follows is not intended to be an in-depth analysis of the question, but rather a discussion starter.  I’ll leave the in-depth analysis to those members who are far better at it than I.  I will not be the least bit offended if anyone tells me I'm in the parking lot rather than the stadium.

For the sake of discussion, I am using the following definitions and data:

“Gunslinger” Quarterback: also referred to as a strong arm, rocket arm, and laser arm.  Throws tight spirals.  Is a self-assured risk-taker.  Has been described as one who is not afraid to “chuck it up there.”  Plays aggressively.  Will throw into tight coverage on occasion, believing he can complete the pass.  Plays on an instinctual and daring basis.  Was viewed as the norm prior to the advent of the West Coast Offense.  Is superb at intermediate to long range passes, but can throw the short pass when needed.

“System” Quarterback: also referred to as a game-manager, dink and dunk specialist, and more recently, as a point-guard.  Emphasizes the touch pass and superb decision-making skills.  Is strong in ability to make last second adjustments at the line of scrimmage.  Came into vogue with the advent of the West Coast Offense.  Focuses more on short to medium range, high completion percentages passes, but is able to throw the long pass when needed.

The data I used was to look at the winning quarterbacks from the last 13 Super Bowls (I was going to use just the last 10, but then decided to include 13 in order to include John Elway and Brett Favre). 

Those quarterbacks are: Ben Roethlisberger (won 2), Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady (3), Brad Johnson,  Trent Dilfer, Kurt Warner, John Elway(2), and Brett Favre.

From what I’ve read and seen, Roethlisberger, Elway and Favre best fit in the category of gunslingers.  E. Manning, Brady, P. Manning, Johnson, Dilfer and Warner better fit in the systems category. (Feel free to disagree with this premise)

Here are some things that could be drawn  from comparing these two groups of quarterbacks.  DISCLAIMER: These are not being advanced as definitive conclusions, but rather a preliminary reading of the data. Alternative points of view are more than welcome.

1)8 of the last 13 Super Bowls were won by systems quarterbacks and 8 of the last 10 Super Bowls were won by systems quarterbacks.

2)Gunslinger QB’s completed 74-129 passes for 1084 yards in 5 games.  This represents a 57.3% completion rate and an average of 216.8 yards per game.

3)Systems QB’s completed 169-284 passes for 2019 yards in 8 games.  This represents a 59.5% completion rate and an average of 252.3 yards per game.

4)Gunslinger QB’s threw for 4 touchdowns in 5 games, or a 0.8 touchdowns/game rate.

5)Systems QB’s threw for 14 touchdowns in 8 games, or a 1.75 touchdowns/game rate.

6)Gunslinger QB’s threw 5 interceptions in 5 games, or a 1.0 interceptions/game rate.

7)Systems QB’s threw 4 interceptions in 8 games, or a 0.5 interceptions/game rate.

There are many more factors which need to be included in any analysis of the effectiveness of gunslingers vs systems qb’s, but in this first look, it would appear that a team would be better off with a systems quarterback than a gunslinger.

So, I throw the question open for discussion:

What other factors/data do we need to address?

What other ways can the data be interpreted?

Do the categories need more and/or better definitions?

Are the quarterbacks in those 13 games placed in the right categories?

Have there been other MHR posts that should be linked & referenced here?


This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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