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Sunday, July 11, 2004 

More on Quarterbacks

I've spent the last few weeks following the discussion on Football Outsiders about the article "The Best Quarterbacks of Each Half Decade" by Michael David Smith. Most of the discussion has centered on whether a QB who wins Super Bowls is automatically "better" than QBs who do not. Before this year's draft, I wrote that bargain QBs seldom win the Super Bowl unless extraordinary circumstances (great defense, career year, etc) occur. But great QBs can fail to win the Super Bowl for many reasons. The key for a successful franchise is to build a team that plays hard, and fits the system the coaches are designing (or vice versa) to take advantage of the players' strengths and minimize their weaknesses. For example, both Dan Marino and John Elway suffered from the lack of a running game and poor defense at times.

I'll stay out of the Brady vs. Manning discussion (folks, they're both very good at what their teams ask them to do) and focus on another comment from a Patriots fan named Paulette:

"As far as homerism, I root hard for the Pats and always have through the worst of times, but have never been small minded toward great players on other teams and never will be. It never crossed my mind to think Tony Eason was better than Dan Marino, lol."

She's right, but what's funny is that both went to exactly one Super Bowl and lost, and New England beat Miami in the 1985 AFC Championship game. Don't get me wrong, Dan Marino is one of the all-time greats, but declaring Tony Eason a complete bust would be a little too strong.

One reply post included the following stats from 1985-89:

Marino: 1639/2790 (58.7%), 20559 yd, 152/102 TD/Int
Elway: 1328/2431 (54.6), 16934 yd, 95/85
Montana: 1269/1982 (64.0), 15445 yd, 110/53
Simms: 1188/2129 (55.8), 15966 yd, 95/76
I did some quick math to calculate their "average" season during that period:

Marino: 328/558 (58.7%), 4112 yd, 30/20 TD/Int
Elway: 266/486 (54.6%), 3387 yd, 19/17 TD/Int
Montana: 254/396 (64.0%), 3089 yd, 22/11 TD/Int
Simms: 238/426 (55.8%), 3199 yd, 19/15 TD/Int
It's interesting to note that Tony Eason's 3 full, yet injury-plagued, seasons as the starting QB for the Patriots (1984-1986) stack up fairly well, especially when you consider that the Patriots in this era ran the ball much more than the Marino/Elway teams did:

Eason: 234/392 (59.7%), 2904 yd, 18/12 TD/Int (average season 84-86)
Playoffs: 42/ 72 (58.3%), 561 yd, 7/ 0 TD/Int (totals 85+86; QB Rating 115.6)

Unfortunately, Eason's injury problems basically ended his career after that.

It should also be noted that this is an example where stats CAN lie. Eason's QB rating in this three year stretch is better than Elway's, though I doubt anyone would have preferred to have Eason during this period...

1984 1985 1986
Eason 93.4 67.5 89.2
Elway 76.8 70.2 79.0

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