With the recent posting of a great article by our own Josh Sunderbruch (Click Here) concerning the real controversy surrounding the Bears and their relationship with #6; and the comments that followed; I found myself contemplating the factors that go into finding your QB1.
Every team is looking for that next great field general that can lead their team to glory for the next decade. Every GM is looking for the piece-of-mind that comes with finding that golden armed generational talent, knowing the most difficult position in all of sports is settled for foreseeable future.
But how difficult is it to find the next Peyton Manning while avoiding Ryan Leaf? Why do some teams seem to find multiple Jim Kelly’s while others are stuck with a laundry list of Todd Blackledge’s? Is it a matter of luck as many have suggested? Or is it a matter of going through a series of Todd Marinovich’s en route to your Brett Favre, as others have shouted?
We all know the QB position has changed over the years, and much more is required of today’s NFL QB than in previous era’s. The modern NFL is widely defined as beginning in 1967 following the merger. Coincidentally, 1967 brought us our first 4000-yard passer in "Broadway" Joe Namath. But I’m sure we can all agree that times have changed since then.
In looking at the top 25 QB’s by passing yards in history, only 2 passers started and finished their careers prior to 1980; #8 Fran Tarkenton and #18 Johnny Unitas. Furthermore, 20 of the top 25 played at least half of their careers after 1990. Trying to find a benchmark of great modern QB play really comes down to subjective opinion as sometime between 1980-1990. So in true Jay Cutler fashion, let’s use stats that put us right in the middle and start with the 1985 NFL draft.
Since the 1985 draft, 356 QB’s have been selected. Lots of Giovanni Carmazzis and Matt Blundins have been selected and forgotten over that time. And along with a few we’d like to forget (Moses Moreno) there are a few who will be remembered (Steve McNair) for making, not only themselves good, but their franchise successful and their fans satiated with some modicum of success.
Basing the success of a franchise is fairly simple, wins. A perpetually playoff bound team keeps the fan base happy, the season tickets sold, and the financials in the black. So let’s take a look over the last 30 years of NFL history. From the 1986 season through today, the NFL win column looks like this:
Denver Broncos - 295
New England Patriots - 295
Pittsburgh Steelers - 289
San Francisco 49ers - 284
Green Bay Packers - 281
Philadelphia Eagles - 269
Indianapolis Colts - 266
Minnesota Vikings - 264
New York Giants - 264
Dallas Cowboys - 253
Kansas City Chiefs - 253
New Orleans Saints - 251
Seattle Seahawks - 251
Miami Dolphins - 249
Houston Oilers, Tennessee Oilers, Tennessee Titans - 249
Chicago Bears - 247
Buffalo Bills - 244
San Diego Chargers - 232
Washington Redskins - 230
Atlanta Falcons - 224
New York Jets - 223
Cincinnati Bengals - 213
Los Angeles Raiders, Oakland Raiders - 212
Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Rams - 205
St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals - 198
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 198
Detroit Lions - 190
Baltimore Ravens – 176 (261 as Browns/Ravens from 1985-current)
Carolina Panthers - 168
Cleveland Browns - 167
Jacksonville Jaguars - 154
Houston Texans - 102
On a special note of frustration, you find our Beloved right in the middle at #16; this appears to be a growing trend.
In the last 30 years, the Broncos have only selected 13 QB’s for a 43.3% selection rate. Of the 13, 3 of their picks were in the 1st round, 1 in the second, and 1 in the 3rd. This puts them at selecting a QB in the top tier of their picks (first 3 rounds) in 16.67% of all drafts. Following this trend, the Patriots have a 46.67% selection rate with a top tier draft rate of 16.67%. If we continue to follow this metric, the remaining top-5/bottom-5 franchises that have been in existence since 1985 are as follows, along with where our Bears rank:
Pittsburgh Steelers – 36.67%, 13.3%
San Francisco 49ers – 40%, 13.3%
Green Bay Packers – 56.67%, 10%
Chicago Bears – 40%, 13.3%
Los Angeles Raiders, Oakland Raiders – 36.67%, 20%
Los Angeles Rams, St. Louis Rams – 40%, 13.3%
St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals – 43.3%, 20%
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 46.67%, 23.3%
Detroit Lions – 30%, 20%
In looking at the final numbers, they didn’t offer up the original conclusion I thought to have reached. It appears as though the teams with the most success develop key personnel around their field general and take what they can in the QB department.
Perhaps it’s the number of bad misses the Bears have had; or perhaps it’s sheer jealousy of our hated rivals stumbling into 2 great signal callers in a row; but the bitterness that comes from this relationship with Chicago Bears quarterback play doesn’t stem from a lack of effort from the organization. In fact, finding that one great QB1 seems to come down to good surrounding personnel, and sheer dumb luck – neither of which our current QB seems to have been afforded.