In the NFL there is no getting around the importance of good quarterback play. In the year 2000 a Trent Dilfer quarterbacked team won a Super Bowl behind an all time great defense. Tampa Bay won two years later with Brad Johnson under center and an all time great defense. Since then the league has changed drastically. The rules have continued to grow in the favor of offense. Ever since the Ravens and Bucs won with journeymen quarterbacks the Super Bowl winners have had 1 thing in common: a franchise QB.
The closest a team has come to the Ravens/Bucs model is the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks. Russell Wilson is a good young quarterback, but is far from what makes that team click. Without Russell Wilson however the Seahawks would struggle to remain a relevant power. The only reason they edged out the 49ers in the NFC Championship was that Russell Wilson was better than Colin Kaepernick.
Since 2003 the AFC has only been represented by these quarterbacks: Brady, Roethlisberger, Manning and Flacco. Brady has won 3 out of 5 Super Bowl appearances. Roethlisberger gave Pittsburgh 3 chances winning in two of them. Peyton Manning has won one Super Bowl in three appearances. Joe Flacco had been on the cusp of a Super Bowl for 4 seasons before finally breaking through, lifting Baltimore to glory in 2012. Forget about winning the Super Bowl, you can’t even get through the AFC without a great quarterback.
If you ever wondered how truly important quarterback play is, look no further than the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals went from nobody to a Super Bowl runner up just by obtaining Kurt Warner as their quarterback. Warner hid the fact that the offensive line could not block and the defense was solid but not great. When Kurt Warner left Arizona had to start from scratch.
Football is the ultimate team sport. The QB however is the ultimate separator from good to championship caliber teams. Look at the NFL today. The Houston Texans are probably the most talented team to ever have the league’s worst record. When Matt Schuab announced to the world that he was shot- by throwing pick sixes left and right- Houston was no longer a power in the AFC. The Texans still don’t have what I would call a legitimate quarterback on their roster.
Houston is not the only good team that gets knocked down for their quarterback play. The Saint Louis Rams are a prime example. With maybe best defensive line in football and a solid all around defense they are a tough matchup. With Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey the Rams have explosive playmakers on the offense. The offensive line is good and just got better with the addition of Gregg Robinson. Much like Tampa Bay, they have every hole filled except for the quarterback. Now you can call Sam Bradford a franchise quarterback if you wish but Im still waiting for the production.
Without a franchise quarterback in the NFL you are essentially up a creek without a paddle. Football is a team game but no team is complete without a franchise quarterback. The quarterback position is the great separator in professional football.