Eli is better than Peyton. Trent Dilfer? He’s better than Dan Marino.
Every year the media fuels the foolish fire claiming wining a Super Bowl makes a quarterback elite. Once a quarterback wins, BOOM! He goes from a good quarterback to magically this amazing elite quarterback. One game, whether the Super Bowl or not does not define a quarterback’s eliteness.
I would take Peyton over Eli in a heartbeat. Eli may have more rings, but Peyton is by far a better quarterback than his younger brother. As for Marino? I would take him over every quarterback that has ever won the big game not named Montana, Elway or Brady.
Where are the elite quarterbacks in the NFL this year? Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees, Roethlisberger are all watching the Super Bowl at home. I guess one of them will lose their elite status because every year the same discussion appears, “Is QB X elite now that he has made it/won the big game?” The answer is no. Super Bowls aren’t a reflection of great quarterbacks; they are a reflection of great teams.
Joe Flacco and Colin Kapernick are not elite quarterbacks. Don’t get me wrong, they are both very good quarterbacks, but not elite. Even if Flacco wins the Super Bowl, it doesn’t change the fact that he is a good, but not great quarterback. Yes, he has more playoff road wins than any other quarterback in NFL history and he out dueled Manning and Brady to earn his first Super Bowl berth. How accurate is that though?
I guess none of Flacco’s success had to do with the Ravens’ defense. I guess Flacco held the highest scoring offense in the NFL to 13 points a week ago. I guess Flacco forced a key interception in overtime to set up the game winning field goal against Denver. Flacco did make huge plays in key situations for his team. Flacco has played the best football over his career during these playoffs, but does three games really determine whether a quarterback is elite or not? I understand that the playoffs are where everything matters, but a string of four games doesn’t define one’s greatness.
Let’s say the Ravens win the Super Bowl. Name your top five quarterbacks in the NFL. Brady, Manning, Manning, Brees, Rodgers. That’s funny; I thought if Flacco won, he’d be elite. Flacco isn’t even the best quarterback in his division, but four great games determine how great he is?
Why isn’t the Ravens defense getting any credit? They played lights out against the Colts and Patriots. They made huge plays against the Broncos. Two huge interceptions, one was returned for a touchdown, yet all the focus is on is Flacco elite? What about Ray Rice? The guy can play. Watch him protect Flacco on blitz protection. Every game, he has made a huge momentum shifting play, but per usual it’s Flacco who gets the headlines because we are obsessed with quarterbacks.
I don’t dislike Flacco. I think he is a very good quarterback. He throws a great deep ball and keeps his team in every game. I just think he gets too much credit. I think he’s skills are blown out of proportion because people get caught in the hype of the Super Bowl. Heck, even our American culture has taught us that the quarterback is always the hero, but it’s not true.
Let’s expand on this. If elite quarterbacks are made off of Super Bowl wins, I’d argue that Tom Brady isn’t an elite quarterback. Since the New England Patriots switched from their run first play calling to their pass happy attack they have struggled in the playoffs. The Patriots are 3-5 in their last 8 playoff games. Brady couldn’t score more than two touchdowns in his last two Super Bowl performances. He only mustered a measly 13 points, none after half-time against the Ravens in the AFC Championship. Peyton Manning put up 28 points vs. the same team two weeks ago. And if winning Super Bowls makes you elite well Brady hasn’t been elite since 2004.
Peyton Manning holds a 9-11 playoff record, yet is arguably the best quarterback to ever play the game. Dan Marino, who shattered every passing record before NFL rules changes allowed for the current pass happy league, never won the big game. The list goes on and on of elite quarterbacks who struggle in the postseason.
Here’s what people need to understand. Quarterbacks get too much credit for a win and too much blame for a loss. Football is the ultimate team game. A quarterback isn’t successful if his offensive line can’t block, if he’s receivers can’t get open or if his running back is a non-factor (passing, rushing or blitz pick up). A quarterback can’t succeed if his defense allows touchdown after touchdown. An opposing defense can blitz and disrupt a quarterback when he knows they have to pass to catch up.
Still not convinced? A quarterback can’t succeed if his coaching staff doesn’t develop a system to enhance his skill set. An example of this is Kurt Warner. Warner was amazing in St. Louis and Arizona. What about New York? Warner was terrible, not because he is a bad quarterback, but because the coaching staff didn’t develop a system to match his skills. Coaching is the biggest factor in who wins the Super Bowl. The most important people leading up to the game are the coaches. How do they attack the other team’s offense and defense? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How many mediocre coaches have won Super Bowls? Who makes the half-time adjustments? The quarterback? No. Maybe one or two (Barry Switzer comes to mind). How many mediocre quarterbacks have won Super Bowls? At least a dozen. Case closed.
All week people will discuss whether Flacco is elite or a big game quarterback now that he has reached the Super Bowl. I am asking you to realize football is more than just a one person show. It’s the ultimate team game. No other sport can compare. Let’s take the game for what it is, two well-coached talented teams competing to be the best in the NFL. Let’s just stop that discussion and take it for what it is. Flacco is a talented quarterback on the best team in the AFC. Elite quarterbacks help you get to Super Bowls, but in the end it takes everyone, the players and coaches to win the Super Bowl. Here’s the point, elite quarterbacks don’t win Super Bowls. Elite teams do.