A quarterback can’t solely be judged by the success of his team. The argument that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all-time simply because he’s won five titles, is nonsense. Same for the idea he’s automatically better than Peyton Manning for that reason.
Football is a team sport. A quarterback’s influence over the game is relatively small. After all, we just saw Brady set the postseason record for yards in a game, and lose regardless.
Meanwhile, Manning won Super Bowl 50, throwing for only 141 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Nevertheless, Brady is criticized for his loss, while Manning is lauded for his win. This alone proves that the championship metric used to judge quarterbacks is completely asinine.
Photo: The Ringer
A quarterback is at the mercy of his circumstances, like all positions in football. A quarterback needs quality protection, worthwhile receivers, and a solid offensive game plan. Stud cornerbacks need a decent pass rush. Great running backs need an offensive line. And so on.
There are no LeBron James-types in football. LeBron plays offense and defense. He’s one of five players on the court and can play nearly 45 of 48-minutes. However, in football, all positions are niche skills, reliant on other each other like cogs in a machine.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the curious case of Nick Foles.
After opening the year on the bench, Foles led the Eagles to their first professional football championship since 1960.
He wasn’t like Manning in Super Bowl 50. Not merely a potted plant, handing the ball to a talented running back, while being supported by a nearly impenetrable defense.
Instead, Foles was the Eagles’ catalyst. In the NFC Championship and Super Bowl, the two most important games of the year, he combined for 725 yards and seven total-touchdowns. He proved he could make any-and-all throws. At the same time, he showcased high-level poise under immense pressure.
Foles, a “liability”, heading into the postseason, had arguably the greatest two-game playoff stretch of any quarterback in NFL history.
As a result, he should be a hot commodity for teams in search of a quarterback this offseason.
Well, according the “experts” that’s not the case. It’s been said, over-and-over, that Foles is only worth a second-rounder. Anything else is “overpaying”.
The argument is made that Foles only worked out because of his talented supporting cast. But that’s true for all quarterbacks. Tom Brady has Bill Belichick. Joe Montana had Bill Walsh and an elite defense. Terry Bradshaw had Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and a legendary defense.
As I said earlier, all successful quarterbacks are at the mercy of their surrounding pieces.
The argument should instead be: “Wow. With the right pieces around him, Foles has virtually no limitations. If we get him, and surround him with talent, we can win the title.”
Let’s put this to a test:
Say we could somehow prove Baker Mayfield, under the right circumstances, had the ability to throw for 300+ yards, win the Super Bowl and get the game’s MVP.
Wouldn’t that make him the sure-fire first-overall pick?
After all, if you lose, you’ll know it’s because the rest of the team is lacking, not the quarterback.
The second argument made is that this was a fluke-stretch. It’s too small a sample-size to generate an accurate opinion on Foles.
However, he’s not a one-hit wonder. In 2013, he had one of the best seasons ever for a quarterback statistically. He threw for 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
That doesn’t happen by accident. Much like throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns in the Super Bowl isn’t an accident.
How can we interpret this then? Well, it means if you surround Foles with the right pieces, he can not only put up historic regular-season totals, but win Super Bowl MVP as well.
Why draft Sam Darnold, hoping he can do that, when you can trade the first-overall pick knowing Foles can?
When drafting in the top five, the hope is to find a player with the potential to lead your team to playoff success. Sometimes you hit the jackpot. Guys like Peyton Manning, John Elway and Troy Aikman, absolutely lived up to their top-five selection.
But more often than not, teams swing-and-miss. Jeff George, Jamarcus Russell, Rick Mirer, Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Sam Bradford, and RG3, were all taken in the top five as well.
Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield might look tantalizing now. And may even become superstars. We don’t know for sure. But statistically speaking, it’s more likely they’ll wind-up like Tim Couch than John Elway.
So, if you’re in desperate need for a quarterback, such as the Jets, Browns, or Broncos – Consider your options:
Should you take a chance on Darnold, Rosen, or Mayfield? And hope one day they have the ability to throw for 300+ yards in the Super Bowl?
Or, should you trade that top five pick, and acquire a guy who’s proven he can?
Nick Foles Featured Photo: si.com