John Fox, ‘sometimes it comes down to playing the quarterback who gives your team the best chance to win...'
Who could disagree with such logic? On the lips of every analyst at ESPN or 104.3 The Fan is this sentiment - and 99% of the time, in reference to Kyle Orton being the anointed starter of the Denver Broncos. First and foremost - I completely agree - play ‘that guy.' That guy who ‘gives our team the best chance to win.' BUT...
How do we ‘determine' who gives us the best chance to win? What ‘things' must a QB do to earn the title of ‘gives us the best chance to win?'Analysts would have us believe that the QB position can be summarized by ‘completion %, experience, mechanics and pocket passing.' But is that really what gives a team the best chance to win? Are these the characteristics that bind all the great QBs of our time? Did Joe Montana do it just like Tom Brady? Does Peyton Manning do it just like Drew Brees? Did Ben Roethlesberger ‘win it from the pocket?' What about those ‘average' QBs that still won Superbowls, or those ‘great QBs' that never won a Superbowl?
I'd like to offer a more simplistic view of the QB position and what binds all the greats that we recognize, and perhaps, a better way to evaluate ‘which QB gives us the best chance to win.'
Production and Capitalizing.
1. Production. Never in the history of the NFL has a ‘great QB' done this exactly the same way. Too much is made of physical tangibles and intangibles. Mechanics, throwing motion, style of play, ability in and out of the pocket - each of these varies across the board when you look at what we consider a ‘great QB.' Guys have come and gone that have varying degrees of expertise in each of these - so what binds them together?
Production! In particular, the QB's ability to account for touch downs, score and win. Does it really matter if a QB does it 30% with his arm and 70% with his legs if he maximizes touchdowns, 1st down conversions and minimizes turn-overs? Perhaps he does it 100% with his arm, so what? What matters is putting points on the board and limiting your turnovers. In the game of Football, the winner is the guy who finds a way to score more than his opponent when time runs out. Winning a game, from an offensive perspective, requires scoring touchdowns and limiting turnovers.
2. Capitalize. Here's the item most often missed by analysts everywhere. They would rather talk about mechanics, accuracy percentages and passing yards - but what all those things don't account for is a QB's ability to CAPITALIZE on the opportunities presented to him. A QB can have an average passer rating, average completion percentage, average this or that - but if he capitalizes on his opportunities, he ‘gives his team the best chance to win.' Likewise, a quarterback with GREAT passer ratings, mechanics, completion percentages etc might NOT give his team the best chance to win because he chokes, he has untimely interceptions, incompletions, fumbles and turnovers. Often what separates winners from losers is the ability to convert opportunities.
What good is a QB that finishes in the top 10 of the league in ‘statistics' but fails to convert opportunities into scores which translates into wins?
Boil it down: Winning requires scoring, scoring requires production, production requires capitalizing on opportunities. Unconventional, or conventional - John Fox and John Elway need to figure out who puts points on the board and who capitalizes on the opportunities given him during the game to score and convert.
Do we have that guy as our starter right now?