I was having a conversation recently with a friend who is a Broncos fan. He was pretty fired up about Jay Cutler and gave me the old "they are never going to win a Super Bowl with Jake Plummer at quarterback" line.
I have never thought much of that comment, and I told him so. "C'mon, they got to the AFC Championship Game last year. You mean to tell me that Jake Plummer's presence makes it impossible that they could have won two more games?" With rare exceptions --- last year's Denver team not being one of them in my opinion --- any team that got to a conference championship game could have won the Super Bowl had just a few things gone a little differently.
At least that's the way I've always thought about it. But I could be wrong.
In the comments to yesterday's post, the infamous commenter with the handle "monkeytime" posted a set of quarterback rankings generated by a system that differed just a bit from mine:
1t. Terry Bradshaw
1t. Joe Montana
3t. Troy Aikman
3t. Tom Brady
5t. Bart Starr
5t. Roger Staubach
5t. Bob Griese
5t. Jim Plunkett
5t. John Elway
10t. several tied.
In case you somehow missed it, that's a list of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. And his point has some validity. Let's try it from the other end. Who are the worst quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl? In rough order,
1. Trent Dilfer
2. Mark Rypien
3. Jim McMahon
4. Brad Johnson
Then comes who? Plunkett? Warner? Theismann? Simms? The order is debateable, obviously, but it doesn't matter. If you don't agree with my top four, then substitute in the your own as you read along. Now the question is: how many Super Bowl losing quarterbacks are worse than Brad Johnson? How many are worse than Rypien?
Kerry Collins, Neil O'Donnell, Stan Humphries, David Woodley, Vince Ferragamo, Craig Morton, Joe Kapp, Chris Chandler at the very least. And then there's Ron Jaworski, Boomer Esiason, Steve Grogan, Rich Gannon, Drew Bledsoe, Jake Delhomme (probably unfair to include him) and Daryle Lamonica. I think most people would agree that there are eight Super Bowl losing quarterbacks who are worse than the second-worst Super Bowl winning quarterback. So maybe there is something to this "can't win with ________ at quarterback" thinking after all, as long as it's not taken too literally.
Or maybe not. Was Phil Simms really any better than Chris Chandler? Was Joe Theismann any better than Steve Grogan? Was Plunkett better than Esiason? Or do we just think they're better because we (intentionally or unintentionally) judge quarterbacks by how many Super Bowls they've won?
1. [edited for clarity] How many quarterbacks in the NFL right now, were they the starter for the 2006 Denver Broncos, would be "capable of winning the Super Bowl in February of 2007"?
2. Is Jake Plummer one of them?
3. Was Jim McMahon a better quarterback than Neil O'Donnell? How do you know?
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