Even in my limited Wisdom, I can see the evolution in what it takes to win in today’s NFL.
Gone are the days when you could win a championship with only a strong running game and a dominant defense. As a former NFL defensive back, even I have to admit that without a top-notch, steely nerved quarterback, you cannot expect to win consistently in the league today. It’s not going to happen.
Even traditional run-first teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers have converted to become primarily a passing team. With QB Ben Roethlisberger completing more than 70 percent of his passes, I can hardly blame them. The Steelers’ play selection in 2009 has called for Roethlisberger to throw the ball 224 times with only 166 running plays. Yes, the Steelers are throwing the ball 57 percent of the time. But even that pass/run ratio pales in comparison to the Arizona Cardinals, who lead the league in throwing the ball a whopping 69 percent of the time. So why the increase in passing?
Without argument, this is the deepest talent pool of quarterbacks in the 90-year history of the league.
Houston’s Matt Schaub has a league-leading 14 TD passes to set the pace for others, like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Joe Flacco, Kurt Warner and Big Ben, who have all seen their teams call substantially more pass plays than run plays. My last count totaled at least 20 starting quarterbacks who have either Pro Bowls or playoffs on their resumes. Of those 20, only Schaub and Kyle Orton of the Broncos could not make the previous claim, but are clearly entitled to be listed among the really good starting quarterbacks. At least 14 quarterbacks having a passer rating at 90.0 or better, serving as evidence that the level of quarterback play in our league has drastically improved.
It has become even more clear that more passing means more wins for some NFL teams. Through Week 6, we already have 49 300-yard performances by quarterbacks this season. Last Sunday we saw eight quarterback pass for more than 300 yards, with six of those winning their games. Only Flacco and Jay Cutler passed for more than 300 yards last week and still lost.
So far this season, when quarterbacks have eclipsed 300 yard passing, they’ve won 78 percent of the time.
As we head into Week 7, get ready for even more of what you saw from Brady and his six-touchdown performance against the Tennessee Titans last week.
With rules tailored to insure the quarterback’s health, and game plans designed to promote the talents of teams’ greatest financial investment, quarterbacks are now given the green light to win games doing what they do best. Throw the ball. So get ready for more passing, more points, more record-setting performances, and most of all, more fun.