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 Post subject: Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:01 pm 
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Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
By Len Pasquarelli
Special to BearReport.com
Posted Jul 30, 2012

Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco and Tony Romo are among the so-called second tier of NFL quarterbacks soon to be in line for new NFL contracts. Their stats will help define the parameters of those big-money deals, but can they be defined as elite until they’ve produced under playoff pressure.

At some point in the not too distant future, probably before the beginning of the 2012 regular season, the Baltimore Ravens will reward Joe Flacco with a contract extension that makes him one of the league's highest paid quarterbacks.

Then this debate, already fairly vocal among Ravens' fans, will really heat up: Is Flacco, who last season came within a dropped Lee Evans pass of taking the club to Super Bowl XLVI, really an "elite" quarterback?

It has been a hot button issue in Baltimore the last several years, a favorite topic of sports-talk radio regulars. And the discussion is hardly limited to just Baltimore or Flacco, either. Subtract Flacco's name and fill in the blank with, say, Philip Rivers, or Matt Ryan, or Mark Sanchez. Or certainly Tony Romo, a lightning rod in Dallas over the offseason.

It's not good enough anymore to throw for 4,000 yards -- the new norm in the league -- lead a franchise to the playoffs, or be considered among the best players at a position that might be the most difficult in all of sports.

Nope, Super Bowl victories, at least one of them, seemingly have become the standard by which quarterbacks are assessed.

Which apparently means that there are only five so-called "elite" quarterbacks -- Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger -- currently in the league. Those are the five quarterbacks whose resumes include Super Bowl wins. Ten championships total among the five, with three multiple titles in the quintet.

That piddling sample size, suggest players and coaches familiar with many of the quarterbacks not considered in the "elite" class, is too limited. And criticisms of the quarterbacks who most rate among the best in the NFL, but who are ring-less, is pretty much ridiculous.

"Probably until we win a (championship) with Tony, it's going to continue, but it's pretty absurd," said Dallas tight end Jason Witten. "There aren't a whole lot of guys who have done what he's done. Sure, everybody focuses on the quarterback, but at times, it isn't fair. In our minds, he's a winner. He's 'elite,' whatever that means."

Since we're still short of our professorship in NFL-ology, and not quite qualified to adjudge the "elite" quarterbacks, we won't try. By definition, the term means "the best" or "of the highest class." And in that regard, there is something to be said for the Super Bowl qualification on one's resume to rank among the best players at the quarterback position. But people a lot smarter than us, and with knowledge of the game superior to what we've gleaned in 34 seasons, take umbrage.

And so do we.

"Matt knows that he's going to be judged in part by what he accomplishes in the postseason," said Atlanta coach Mike Smith in discussing Falcons' quarterback Matt Ryan. "That's the next step for him, and important step, but it is for the entire team, not just him. To say he's not in that top group ... isn't right."

Players coach coaches in San Diego -- where Rivers owns a passing title and has been one of the NFL's premier players the past several seasons, but doesn't yet have a ring -- echo those sentiments about their quarterback. And there certainly are other precincts where the quarterbacks have been similarly defended.

Ryan, of course, is 0-3 in the playoffs and the Falcons have flopped miserably in their three postseason appearances of his four-year tenure. Like Flacco, he figures to land a big-money contract, although probably not until next year. And like Flacco, while acutely aware of the hole in his resume, Ryan isn't overly concerned by any of the critiques that emanate outside his own locker room.

Nor are his teammates.

Said chatty wide receiver Roddy White in the offseason: "He's the man. Anyone who says otherwise is crazy. Not everyone can win the Super Bowl. That doesn't stop them from being 'elite,' does it?"

Only, apparently, in the estimation of some fans.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:35 am 
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I happen to feel that there is too much emphasis on winning a Super Bowl. There has only been 29 qb's ever to do it! And of those does Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler, Brad Johnson, Jim McMahon or Doug Williams really qualify as elite? Do they even really qualify as better than average QB's? No, they just played for really good teams with really good defenses.

Matt Ryan may never win a Super Bowl, but rest assured, he will win us some playoff games. He's already the second best QB we've ever had and if he keeps going at hjs current pace, he will soon transplant one Mr. Steve Bartkowski.

Can Matt Ryan win a Super Bowl? Absolutely. But if you go back and view the past Super Bowl winning teams, most all of them were much deeper and better coached than our current Falcon roster.


Last edited by AngryJohnny51 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:15 am 
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I agree AJ51. I think people often tend to use Super Bowls as the only indicator of how good a QB is, which as you state it is really an indicator of the overall quality of your team, not the individual QB.

For example, Peyton Manning struggled with playoff success early in his career. And he got billed as unable to win the big game. But anybody that looks back at Manning's career in Indianapolis with an objective eye knows that overall the Colts weren't that good of a team. THey had some really good players such as Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Jeff Saturday, Tarik Glenn, etc. But once you got past those guys, what was the remainder of their roster filled with? Freddy Keiaho, Idrees Bashir, Mike Pollak, Tony Ugoh, Ed Johnson, Ben Utecht, etc.

And I think you could make a lot of comparisons between those Colts teams and the current Falcon teams that have struggled. In a couple of years, Matt Ryan is going to be one of the most winning QBs in NFL history in terms of his # of regular season wins. And it hasn't translated to the playoffs. Part of it has been because Ryan hasn't played particularly well in the playoffs (which was the same for Peyton), but another part of it is that he doesn't have a great supporting cast incluidng both players and coaches.

The good thing for Tony Dungy and Manning was that they did win a Super Bowl, and went to another thus cementing their legacy in the eyes of most. It really didn't matter that most years they "choked" in the playoffs, because that single Super Bowl win trumps/overshadows all of those years of disappointment.

I hope the same happens for Smith and Ryan. But if it does, I personally see it happening several years in the future. Because I think currently they are built only to try and win it this year or next (and I don't think they will), and then they'll likely have to spend another 3 or so years rebuilding the team to get back to the level that they are now. So I think it might be another 5 years of disappointing playoff finishes for the fanbase. :down:

And for the record, I think what is an "elite" QB is a player that you can make a legit argument is the best player at his position. Thus why there are 3.5 elite QBs: Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Peyton Manning representing the half (if he returns to his previous form). It's what makes Eli Manning not an elite QB in my mind. And only a crazy person would make that argument (thus not making it legit), and if they did it would entirely depend on the fact that he has 2 Super Bowl rings which is the point made earlier which is that you're substituting his team's ability as his own ability.

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:13 pm 
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Pudge wrote:
And for the record, I think what is an "elite" QB is a player that you can make a legit argument is the best player at his position. Thus why there are 3.5 elite QBs: Rodgers, Brees, Brady, and Peyton Manning representing the half (if he returns to his previous form). It's what makes Eli Manning not an elite QB in my mind. And only a crazy person would make that argument (thus not making it legit), and if they did it would entirely depend on the fact that he has 2 Super Bowl rings which is the point made earlier which is that you're substituting his team's ability as his own ability.


That's what has always been my definition. It eliminates the next tiers. Sure Manning has won 2 bowls, but no one would put him with Brees, Rodger, Brady.

I think they either need to have a valid argument at number 1 or that they're a "hall of famer" for the few instances when there really are 6 good RBs in the league at once.


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 Post subject: Re: Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:48 pm 
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- Note whose getting quoted here fwiw...

Quote:
Stationed at Falcons camp, NFL Network's Albert Breer notes that Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith view Julio Jones as a "composite" receiver, boasting a "blend of the capabilities that other elite playmakers bring to the table."
Smith describes Jones -- a faster version of Terrell Owens -- as "unique" among NFL receivers in a physical sense. The No. 1 receiver during the fantasy playoffs as a rookie, Jones' dominant production over the final five games projects to 77 catches, 1,475 yards and 19 touchdowns over a 16-game season. "If you extrapolate his numbers out, it's a monster year," Smith told ESPN.com. "We know he’s going to impact the game."

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 Post subject: Re: Playoff success, not stats, defines elite
PostPosted: Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Jones has elite potential because he has an almost identical skillset as Andre Johnson, although his first step may be a half or full-step quicker.

He puts up monster numbers, but those numbers have to translate to wins and helping this team win, which they didn't do most games last year. A lot

I think a lot of it has to do with being more creative and willing to get him the ball. I'm hopeful Koetter will be better at that than Mularkey. The problem with Mularkey was that he would do good things, but only 2 or 3 times a game. Rather than being something that we do a handful of times per game, I want to see that being a regular part of the offense, i.e. something we may do up to 10-15 times a game.

The offense should center around Matt Ryan getting the ball to Roddy White and Julio Jones 20-30 times per game. We'll see if Koetter can succeed at doing that when he has to placate Michael Turner and Mike Smith's need to be balanced.

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