Super Bowl Teams Need An Elite QB

One of the things that makes the NFL such a popular sport is, in part, at the beginning fans of essentially every team believes their team has a chance to at least make the playoffs.  And with good reason. In the past 10 years the only team that hasn't made the playoffs is the Buffalo Bills and about two-thirds of the league have made the playoffs at least 3 times.

This makes rooting for a team not seem like a hopeless exercise. With some good management, hard work and a break or two, most teams have a legitimate shot at the post season. Winning a Super Bowl, however requires more than a little luck.  It requires an elite Quarterback. 

Consider this; Of the last 20 super bowl winners, only the Baltimore Ravens (2001) and Tampa Bay Bucs (2003) won the Super Bowl without an elite level quarterback. Really punches holes in the whole defense wins championships mantra. No, solid defense and elite QB play wins championships.

So knowing that, does every NFL fanbase have a reason to think their team should win the Super Bowl? The answer is a resounding now.  In fact, there aren't very many teams that have an elite level QB capable of leading their team to a Super Bowl.  Below, I break down the teams that legitimately have reason to believe, and those that will still be outside looking in when the season ends:

Teams with a Super Bowl Winning QB: Denver (Peyton Manning), New England (Tom Brady), New York Giants (Eli Manning), Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger), Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rogers), New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees), Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco)

Teams with Elite Level QB's Ready To Take the Step: Atlanta Falcons (Matt Ryan) , Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo)

Teams With (Supposed) Elite QB's on Really Good Teams: Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler), Houston Texans (Matt Schaub), Tampa Bay (Josh Freeman), Philadelphia Eagles (Michael Vick)

 Teams with Young Gun QBs: Washington Redskins (RGIII), San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick), Indy Colts (Andrew Luck), Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson), Cincinatti Bengals (Andy Dalton), Carolina Panthers (Cam Newton)

Teams with QB's I don't know what to Make of: Kansas City Chiefs (Alex Smith), San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers), Arizona Cardinals (Carson Palmer), Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford), St. Louis Rams (Sam Bradford).

This leaves 8 Teams: Buffalo Bills, NY Jets, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. Based on the QB situation alone, I don't think the Super Bowl is legitimately in play for these teams. That leaves 75% of the teams in the league that have at least an outside hope of making the Super Bowl.

 Outside of the Vikings and Dolphins, these teams will also be very bad. So, kick back fans of these teams.  It's gonna be a long season for you. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel for these teams. And that light's name is Jadeveon Clowney.

 

Overpaying Quarterbacks

Talk to 2 Guys for long enough and either of them are bound to bring up a player that is overpaid, or our patented design for building a team (this isn't brain surgery):  Draft well, don't reach, don't overpay, and don't get desperate.  That's really it.   

In the NBA, we preach letting guys walk who aren't going to take your team to another level, especially at an advanced age (cough... Josh Smith... cough).  We preach accumulating draft picks and developing talent while not putting yourself in a horrible cap situation.  We preach value  as a perfect approach to building a team.

So it may seem a little counterintuitive when I defend overpaying quarterbacks.   

Quarterback is the most valuable position in football.  Period.  It doesn't matter how good the rest of your team is (Arizona), if you don't have a guy taking snaps who can take your team to that next level, you're chances of winning a Super Bowl are slim.  Joe Flacco played like an elite quarterback in the playoffs this year, but even he is one of the least accomplished signal calling Super Bowl winners of the past two decades (Aikman, Young, Favre, Elway, Warner, Dilfer, Brady, Brad Johnson, Manning, Other Manning, Big Ben, Rodgers, and Brees, in case you're keeping count).  If you're calling Eli Manning and Kurt Warner elite, which I am, then that makes two non-elite quarterbacks outside of Flacco in the last 20 years to win the Super Bowl.  If there's one position to overpay, it's quarterback.  

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So Matthew Stafford signed a big deal.  So did Flacco, so did Romo, and so have a slew of other high level quarterbacks who have signed big deals over the past few years.  The question in my opinion is not whether Stafford is worth over 40 million dollars in guaranteed money.  Rather, the question is, what is the market rate for not starting over at QB?

You can argue about whether or not these guys are players that can win you a Super Bowl (other than Flacco now I guess), but you can't argue that these are top level, high producing players that give their teams a chance to win every week.  And the market level price for that position is, simply put, really fucking high.   

Take this for example.  The Lions had a breakout season in 2011, before crumbling back to Earth last season.  They have a young, emerging defense, the best WR in football, and they're slowly improving the offensive line and running game.  Now is not the time to start another rebuilding effort at the QB spot.  Give Stafford his money, and see if he can make you a playoff team. 

Is he consistent?  No.  But has he shown enough to make you think that some other guy won't be able to step in as easily?  Absolutely.  Romo has been in the same boat, despite his struggles.   You're not paying what you think they are worth.  You're paying for stability at the one position in football that you can't afford to not be stable.

Of course I think it's gotten out of hand, and we should try to drive that market value down a bit, but I'm not going to kill the Lions for paying their inconsistent, formerly injury prone starter who looks like a goofy frat boy a ton of money.  Stafford has the ability to be an elite player in this league, and he's been improving each year (last year's win/loss total aside). 

So congrats to the Lions for sticking with their guy, and congrats to Sam Bradford, who could be the next to be very overpaid if he has a breakout season in his second year under Jeff Fisher. 

 

Quarterback Carousel

Please buckle your safety belt and get ready for a wild ride of signal callers changing colors!  In the last couple of weeks, an astonishing number of quarterbacks have changed teams.

Let's start in Arizona, who had four quarterbacks that equaled roughly -2 quarterbacks in actual value. In comes Drew Stanton (now on his fourth roster in a little over a year).  Stanton was going to be "The Guy" in AZ with coach Bruce Arians bringing him over with him from Indy. To make sure of it, Kevin Kolb was cut (no big shock) and John Skelton was released. Then today, the Cardinals traded for Carson Palmer. Palmer hasn't been good for a while now, but the Cardinals haven't been either, and Larry Fitzgerald has to be happy to have someone new to watch get sacked before they can throw him the ball. Too bad Palmer can't block. Still, he's a serious upgrade over the Kolb-Skelton-Brian Hoyer trio from last season.  

Atlanta lost their backup, Luke McCown, who signed with the Saints. This might sound like a yawn move, but McCown knew the Falcons offense and Atlanta will now need to draft a replacement.

Meanwhile, Buffalo decided to sign Kevin Kolb, who may actually benefit from a change of scenery, though (and I can't believe I'm writing this) he may have to beat out Tarvaris Jackson for the job. I still have them going after Matt Barkley in the second round of the draft this year.

Speaking of backups, Chicago lost Jason Campbell (arguably the best backup in the league if you don't count Alex Smith) to Cleveland, where he'll battle second year player Brandon Weeden, and probably someone they draft in the second round (cough... Ryan Nassib... cough) for the starting job. Cleveland then shipped backup QB Colt McCoy to the 49ers, who shipped Alex Smith to the Chiefs, who cut Matt Cassel, who is now the backup in Minnesota. Whew!

Cincinnati lost their backup, Bruce Gradkowski as well, who signed with Pittsburgh after Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich proved last year to be incapable of stepping in for the Tower of Big Ben.

Tennessee let Matt Hasselbeck go, who signed with the Colts, who lost Stanton to Arizona.

Oddly enough, Jacksonville hasn't made a move. Hello Geno Smith?

The Jets signed David Garrard, who will fight with Mark Sanchez to see who gets to lead the Jets to a 4-12 record this year.

Finally, Oakland traded for Seattle Seahawks backup Matt Flynn, intending to make him their starter, which prompted the trade of Carson Palmer to Arizona.

So all in all, after this mess, we have at least five new starting QB's and 11 new backups. And this is all before the draft throws everything out the window!  

Who says the NFL isn't a year round sport?