Somehow Tim Tebow was denied the MVP Award this past Saturday despite being mostly horrible at throwing a forward pass all season long.
The mere thought of Tebow being awarded the NFL’s highest regular-season honor was ludicrous. But when he didn’t receive a single vote, that was the first event that made us think a little more deeply about the championship potential of the mobile, option quarterback whose primary purpose is to run, and his place in a league where two quarterbacks broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing yards record this year, and two more came close.
The other event was the Super Bowl, a game in which both quarterbacks combined for -1 rushing yards.
This isn’t solely about Tebow either. He’s just the most prominent name
that we’re blatantly using to get page views who’s currently associated with mobility under center, and a run-first mentality. Michael Vick has gradually become more of a pocket passer, but his allure still lies in his athleticism. The same can be said for Cam Newton, the Panthers’ rookie who was much more of a pocket presence in his rookie year than we all anticipated, but he still finished with 706 rushing yards.
A running quarterback is a luxury, whether they’re the centerpiece of a unique offense that’s rarely seen daylight in the NFL (Tebow), or their mobility leads to elusiveness, and a weapon that can be utilized in special situations (Vick and Newton).
But when we look back over the past decade as the gradual shift to a passing league has taken place before peaking this year, the future of the mobile quarterback in the playoffs and especially on the league’s brightest stage looks bleak.
Combined and including the playoffs, Vick, Newton, and Tebow rushed for 1,955 yards this year for an average 57.5 per game over 34 appearances. When they’re successful, the league’s three most prominent rushing quarterbacks achieve their success by disregarding long-held football conventions. They’re unconventional, and it works, especially for Tebow.
But the Super Bowl–and therefore the mold for a championship team–still requires a conventional quarterback. Including the Giants’ win Sunday, over the last decade quarterbacks have combined for just 108 rushing yards in the Super Bowl. The average then is an incredibly meager 10.8 per game, and even that number is skewed by outliers posted in 2006 (Matt Hasselbeck had 35 yards, and Ben Roethlisberger had 25), and Roethlisberger again in 2011 with 31.
Individually, the average for the 20 Super Bowl quarterbacks over the last 10 years is 5.4 yards. Here’s the full breakdown:
|Year||Winning QB||Losing QB||Total rushing yards||Total yards for rushing leader|
|2012||Eli Manning||Tom Brady||-1||N/A|
|2011||Aaron Rodgers||Ben Roethlisberger||29||31|
|2010||Drew Brees||Peyton Manning||-1||N/A|
|2009||Ben Roethlisberger||Kurt Warner||2||2|
|2008||Eli Manning||Tom Brady||4||4|
|2007||Peyton Manning||Rex Grossman||0||N/A|
|2006||Ben Roethlisberger||Matt Hasselbeck||60||35|
|2005||Tom Brady||Donovan McNabb||-1||N/A|
|2004||Tom Brady||Jake Delhomme||12||12|
|2003||Brad Johnson||Rich Gannon||13||10|
That’s not a typo in 2011. Rodgers rushed for a career-high 356 yards last year, but he had -2 during Green Bay’s Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh, while Roethlisberger had 31.
There are three instances where the overall rushing total is in red figures, and a QB had zero rushing yards on seven occasions. McNabb is easily the most mobile of all the quarterbacks who’ve played in a Super Bowl since 2003, and the McNabb we saw in 2005 was McNabb in his prime. By that point he had started to stay in the pocket much more, but he still had elite running ability for a quarterback, and during his second season he ran for 629 yards. But against the Patriots he posted a goose egg.
Looking down that list, the championship game has been largely populated by pocket statues like Brady, Gannon, Johnson, Warner, Brees, and both Mannings since 2003. Newton and Vick have shown the ability to be comfortable in the pocket, while Tebow still treats it like grandma’s old couch with the plastic cover and rusty springs.
Recent history says there’s little room for Tebows in the Super Bowl.