Hey BBIers! I definitely planned on posting more than once last year…but life got busy. Still have a huge appreciation for this site and everyone who helps make it happen. Thanks for the great resource! As with my first post, *warning* this one is a bit long.
I wanted to post about something I’ve been thinking about a lot this season: the relationship between QB ability and Super Bowl success. Now of course everyone knows that QB is the most important position. However, my brother and I came to a bit of an epiphany this year in the middle of the season. Take a look at the Super Bowl winners since 2000 (sort of an arbitrary cut-off for the “modern NFL”): pro-football-reference.com/super-bowl/
16 of the 22 Super Bowl winners since 2000 were quarterbacked by clear cut Hall of Famers (8 different guys including likely HOFers Mahomes, Wilson, Roethlisberger, Rodgers, etc.). Not borderline HOF guys, but QBs who are among the best ever and were perpetually in the top 6-10 QBs every year. Of the 6 Super Bowl winners who didn’t have an elite QB, 2 had defenses that are consensus top 10 all-time (2001 Ravens & 2003 Buccs) and, during the Giants’ SB year in 2012, they were quarterbacked by a borderline HOF QB that was having the best season of his career and was a top 5-6 QB that year. The only true outliers are the Giants in 2008, Ravens in 2013, and the Eagles in 2018 (gross).
It appears that, unless you have a QB who is capable of being a perpetual top 6-10 QB in the league, you do not have a real chance to win the SB. Perhaps if you have a top 3 defense you have a small chance to win with a serviceable QB, but the odds are NOT in your favor. Even then, elite defenses are incredibly hard to maintain so you’d probably only have a 1-2 year window to achieve this. If you don’t have a QB with top 6-10 potential or an elite defense, your only chance is hoping to be one of those 2-3 teams every 20 years that makes an historic run (2008 Giants / 2013 Ravens).
In my opinion the following 7 QBs are the only truly elite quarterbacks:
1. Patrick Mahomes
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Deshaun Watson
4. Tom Brady
5. Russell Wilson
6. Josh Allen
7. Lamar Jackson (I still have some questions about Jackson as an elite passer)
There are another 3 guys who I believe are capable of being elite: 1) Kyler Murray, 2) Justin Herbert, & 3) Joe Burrow. Big Ben clearly used to be elite, but he’s on his last legs and is not nearly as good as he used to be. Guys like Ryan and Prescott are probably good enough to pull out a 2012 Eli sort of year once or twice, but their teams just aren’t good enough right now. Yes, you can be competitive and even field a great 11-5/12-4 team with good QBs like Tannehill, Mayfield, etc. when they’re put in ideal situations. But if the goal is to win a Super Bowl, you need a guy good enough to get you through the playoffs. To get through 3+ straight playoff teams with great QBs, good defenses, etc. you need an ELITE QB. Not just a good one. It’s odd to think that over 50% of the league doesn’t actually have a real chance of winning the Super Bowl next year, but that seems to be the case.
I personally believe all of the top 4 QB draft prospects this year have the intangibles and physical tools to be elite. So if you’re one of the 20 or so teams that doesn’t have an elite potential QB, you should be doing everything in your power to grab one of those 4 or make a play at Watson. I believe the Giants are one of those teams. I do not believe that Jones is good enough to win a Super Bowl with. I’m not saying he’s terrible, in fact he has performed better than I expected when we drafted him. But I just don’t think he is good enough to win a Super Bowl. Yes, I’m sure he’d improve with a better o-line and a true #1 receiver and, in that situation, could probably take us to a playoff berth. But even at his ceiling, I don’t think he has top 10 potential even for 1-2 years of his career. I think if the situation was ideal around him, his ceiling is probably a year or two at the Kirk Cousins level of play. That is still not good enough. If I was the Giants GM, I’d be pushing hard for Watson or moving up for one of the QB prospects. I think our 1st and 2nd round picks this year along with Barkley and maybe a 2nd next year would be enough to move up to #3.
Curious to see what you all think.