Monday, September 08, 2008

The Great Big Quarterback Question

Brady's injury and Brett Favre's presence on the Jets has the NFL faithful excited that maybe, just maybe, someone can end the Patriots five year reign as kings of the AFC East. (Some people also want to throw the Bills in the discussion, mainly because of their pounding of a receiver less Seahawk team that tends to struggle when coming east, but I'll believe it when I see it. The Bills have lost 9 straight to the Patriots and 13 of their last 14. In those last 9, the Pats have outscored the Bills 288-86, indicating to me that even without Brady, the Bills have to prove they can put double digit points on the board against the Pats before they can be considered a legitimate contender.)

The real interesting question is, just how much do quarterbacks actually mean in this league- for all the credit and blame quarterbacks get for winning and losing, how much of it actually should fall on their shoulder. Obviously, the 12 game difference between the Patriots 16-0 and the Jets 4-12 from last year is a bit misleading. Even with Brady and without Favre, people had the Patriots winning a more reasonable 12 or 13 games and the Jets probably somewhere closer to .500. For this experiment to be meaningful, Matt Cassel has to be a quality NFL starter for the rest of the season. He can't be too bad where the Patriots decide to bring in someone else and he can't be too good where he'll end up getting a big contract to start somewhere else next season.

If quarterback's really mean everything to a team, really mean the difference between winning and losing, we should see that as the Jets should be able to pass the Patriots. If quarterback's mean little and wins and losses reflect more on the play and talent of the rest of the team, than the Patriots should win their 6th consecutive divisional title.

Now obviously, this isn't an exact science, and perhaps the Patriots beating out the Jets for the division doesn't really alter the assumption that good quarterbacks win and bad quarterbacks don't. It's such a strongly ingrained position, that I'm not sure this one instance of an ultra-talented Patriot team holding on to the division actually disproves the notion. However, should Favre and the Jets take the division ... well, that's a hell of a strong piece of evidence of the difference quarterbacks do make.


Post a Comment

<< Home