Quarterbacks - Just Great? Products of Their Systems? A Study In Grey Area

But in all seriousness, as I’ve beaten this point into the ground a zillion times, you know who would do well in Chip’s offense? Aaron Rodgers. Tom Brady. Drew Brees. You know, good quarterbacks.

I saw the above quote by a user this morning and it really got me to thinking. (Note: I don't want to call out a name and I am not "picking" on this person for their opinion...just found it interesting.)

To analyze the quote, you have to do more than just assume that these players (And other good quarterbacks, by extension) would be successful. And while I admit that I suspect those Quarterbacks would do well in other systems, we don't have proof of that so the argument is one that is purely speculative, at best.

Aaron Rodgers has never been in another offense or for another team. Though I take nothing from him, he is in one of the most quarterback friendly systems in the NFL and has been for the entirety of his career. With TD rates of 7.1% and 9% over the last two years, he is putting up numbers that one could argue are the best ever put up. He's thrown over 500 passes 4 times in his career yet in three of those seasons, did not throw double-digit interceptions. Aaron Rodgers will take a sack...but he won't turn the ball over.

But Aaron Rodgers hasn't played for another coach in another system in another city on another home field behind another offensive line or even with another offensive superstar. So do we really KNOW he would be this great somewhere else?

Tom Brady is more polarizing a figure at the QB position than you would ever have expected out of a 6th round draft choice. And though he has played in a few different types of systems, he has only played for one team and one head coach. Also, he has only achieved statistical dominance in on type of offense. And, believe it or not, that is the vertical passing game. When paired with huge vertical mismatches in players such as Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, Brady has posted QB ratings over 96 every year (5 seasons). Before he was paired with those players, he posted QB ratings under 93 every year (6 seasons). And four of those six seasons saw QB ratings under 88! Doesn't sound like a great quarterback to me.

Now, maybe if Tom Terrific played for another franchise or head coach, he would excel. However, I think just looking at the results for his own team, an argument to the contrary could be easily made. Especially considering that Matt Cassel posted a 90 QB rating when Brady went down, completing 63% of his passes! (Good for 7% higher than he ever posted again.) So do we really KNOW he would be this great somewhere else?

And then there is Drew Brees. Finally we get to a QB that was named that HAS played for another team. Sorry to burst your bubble here, but before Drew Brees got to New Orleans, he was an AVERAGE QB statistically. In two of the four seasons in San Diego, Brees posted QB Ratings under 77! In a third season, you could have labeled him as good, with a QB Rating of 89 (only +9 TD's to INTs). And in one of the four, he was excellent, posting a 104.8 QB Rating. Doesn't this lead you to wonder how the only Quarterback in NFL history to post three 5,000 yard seasons couldn't even surpass 3,600 yards in a Norv Turner coached, quarterback friendly offense in San Diego? And when you compare his numbers in San Diego to his in New Orleans, the difference is staggering. In New Orleans, Drew Brees had:

  • 100 more passing yards per game.
  • 5% HIGHER completion percentage.
  • 14-Point Higher QB Rating
  • 1.2% HIGHER TD rate
  • .3% lower INT rate

Meanwhile, his replacement in San Diego (Phillip Rivers) goes on and posts 4 4,000-yard seasons, three of which tallied a QB Rating over 100. So do we really KNOW he would be this great somewhere else?

Looking a little bit more, you run into examples of quarterbacks who failed in one (or more systems) and then had tremendous success in other ones. Many of the following QBs were written off before they went onto statistical dominance in different systems:

Add into that QBs that have had tremendous success in one system, to go somewhere else and have their numbers fall off faster than Nnamdi's coverage skills. Some of those include:

  • Donovan McNabb
  • Joe Montana
  • Brett Favre (yes, I realize he is on both lists...look it up!)
  • Boomer Esiason
  • Kurt Warner
  • Dante Culpepper

In conclusion, I think that it is plainly obvious that it can go either way. What is also clear is that sometimes, though it's easy to just assume that it was the QB that was great or so bad, there are so many other factors involved in their successes AND their failures.

To tie this into the Eagles, this is why this quarterback competition is so important. Because contrary to popular belief, we DON'T REALLY KNOW if Mike Vick will be horrible, bad, good, or great in this offense. That statement is even more true for Nick Foles and Matt Barkley because they lack ANY kind of true body of work. (Sorry can't judge a quarterback by half a season).

So get on board with this true quarterback competition. And rally behind WHOMEVER is named the starter. That what true fans do. (Yes, true friends also complain along the way!)

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