First of all, allow me to express my disdain for my own headline. I’ve berated the quarterback wins and losses stat at every conceivable opportunity, and will continue to do so as long as there are narrative spewing former players and coaches on my TV whose talents for creating discourse are usually restricted to yelling “TUNNELLLLSSSS!!!!”. But this is a subject matter that must be dealt with this week.
It’s Thursday morning now, meaning we’ve been through three full days of hearing how great the Falcons have been during the Matt Ryan and Mike Smith era during the regular season, and how awful they’ve been during the playoffs. By now all work-related paperwork has been instinctively plastered with “0-3″ in some kind of Freudian reaction, which has caused more than a few accounting nightmares. And sure, the playoffs are the time when wins matter the most, and cliché cliché, blah blah. But in a league where merely making the playoffs is still considered a significant accomplishment, having a 56-24 record over five years and advancing to the post-season in four of those years (winning the NFC South twice) is sort of a big deal.
But for a brief moment let’s pretend that the quarterback wins stat matters at all, and it isn’t completely useless and a product of sports talk radio guy. And let’s also fast forward, and imagine a world where Ryan and the Falcons are upset again this Sunday, losing to the Seahawks. That’s a very likely and possible outcome, and in this world I speak of, we will begin eating ourselves while burning effigies of Ryan.
As you do that, know this: by the standards of the wins metric, Ryan in the playoffs isn’t that much different from a lot of quarterbacks. A lot.
Ryan is 27 years old, and he’s still waiting for his first playoff win. That’s the age when rock stars usually die, which has absolutely nothing to do with any of this.
Chase Stuart from Football Perspective took a look back at his own list of the top 50 quarterbacks of all-time to see how old each QB was when they recorded their first playoff win. Like any list of that nature, it’s inherently biased, but it has names like Unitas and Fouts and Namath and Staubach on it. Yeah, those guys were pretty good.
What he found is that with a few glaring outliers (Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Dan Marino), Ryan isn’t special. Peyton Manning infamously waited a long time for his first win, as he was 27 years and eight months old. Fouts? 29 years and six months. John Elway? 26 years and five months. Troy Aikman? 26 years and one month. Bob Griese? 26 years and nine months.
As Stuart also notes, most of the legendary names on his list played during a time when wild card playoff berths didn’t exist, and now modern-day teams have more opportunities to make the playoffs. Fair enough, but even when we factor in that disclaimer, mere participation in the playoffs for four out of five years is still a worthy accomplishment.
Which brings us back to the irrelevance of the playoff quarterback wins stat. We’re aware that only a year ago, T.J. Yates won a playoff game, right? And we’re aware that Mark Sanchez has won multiple playoff games, yes?
And now the links part of the links post…
- What was widely suspected last spring when Junior Seau committed suicide has now been confirmed. He had a degenerative brain disease. [The Associated Press]
- So hey, Brian Kelly to Philly? Maybe. [Mort and Scheft]
- So hey, Brian Kelly to Chicago? Nope, not happening. [Sean Jensen on Twitter]
- Some more fun Seahawks/Falcons QB stats. [Mike Sando]
- Will Miles Austin return to Dallas next year? [Cowboys.com]
- Elsewhere in Dallas, DeMarcus Ware will have shoulder surgery, and he “hopes” to be ready for training camp. [ESPN Dallas]