Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lessons from the Bad Super Bowl Quarterbacks

I don't know how I managed to write a post about the worst seasons by Super Bowl quarterbacks in the modern era without writing about how they fared in the playoffs. I mean, I even mentioned Eli Manning transforming into Joe Montana after the worst regular season of any quarterback to lead their team to the Super Bowl.

It was an egregious error (Not really, but I like the word "egregious" and I like the alliteration there), and now I'm going to rectify it, and see if there's anything the Vikings can learn from it.

Worst Super Bowl Quarterbacks by QB Rating+ Since 1998

1. Eli Manning, 2007--91 QB Rating+
Eli had a QB Rating of 73.9 in the regular season. In the post season, his rating was 95.7. It helps when you go from a 23:20 TD to INT ratio to a 6:1 TD to INT ratio. The crazy thing? His QB Rating would have been higher if he hadn't had a 72.0 rating for the game at Lambeau, when it was freezing cold, which obviously effected the passing games.

2.Rex Grossman, 2006--94 QB Rating+
Grossman didn't play any better in the postseason than he did in the regular season--his 73.2 QB rating in the postseason was only .7 points lower than his regular season mark of 73.9. His yards per game were about the same, and his TD:INT ratio was only a little lower. I'm pretty sure that anybody could have quarterbacked that Bears team to the Super Bowl, and I'd bet that Lovie Smith would agree with me.

3. Trent Dilfer, 2000--100 QB Rating+
Dilfer was better in the playoffs, but not by a whole lot. He had an 83.9 QB Rating in the playoffs, and a 76.6 rating in the regular season, but that had a lot more to do with the fact that he only threw one interception and three touchdowns. And if you thought Grossman was a non factor in da Bears run, you need to look at Dilfer's stats--he only had about 18 passing attempts a game in the playoffs, only completed 48% of them, and averaged under 150 yards passing a game. If you're looking for proof that any quarterback can win the Super Bowl, here he is.

4. Steve McNair, 1999--104 QB Rating+
McNair's the only Super Bowl quarterback with a QB Rating+ under 110 that was significantly worse in the playoffs--he had an abysmal QB Rating of 65.7 in the Titans four playoff games, way down from his slightly above average rating of 78.6 in the regular season. That 65.7 included a rating of 43.1 in the Music City Miracle game (a big reason why they needed the Miracle). To put that into a context we can all understand, that's worse than the 44.2 QB rating Tarvaris Jackson had against Dallas last year. Also, I have no idea how the Titans made the Super Bowl that year (aside from riding the momentum of the Music City Miracle). Their offense was good, but not great (7th in the NFL in points), but their quarterback was awful in the playoffs. Their running game was below average (17th in the NFL in yards per attempt) and their defense was league average (15th in the NFL in points allowed). And yet, they came within a yard of going to overtime against a very, very, very good Rams team in the Super Bowl. Just goes to show that anyone can win the Super Bowl, if they can get in the playoffs.

5. Jake Delholmme, 2003--105 QB Rating+

Delholmme's the best example of a quarterback stepping his game up in the playoffs and leading his team to the Super Bowl. He had a 25+ point increase in his QB rating from the regular season to the post season (80.6 to 106.1), increased his yards per game by almost 50 yards, and had a 6:1 TD to INT ratio when it counted, a huge increase from his 19:16 TD to INT ratio in the regular season. Basically, Delholmme was Eli before Eli was, only his team didn't quite pull out the Super Bowl.

So what did we learn? Well, Dilfer and Grossman show us that a great defense, running game and special teams can carry a team to the Super Bowl, even if they have a mediocre quarterback (this is a good thing). Delholmme and Eli show us that a quarterback can get hot when it matters (Honestly, if Delholmme and Eli can do it, why can't Tarvaris?). And Steve McNair and the 1999 Titans show us that if you pull of a crazy fluke win, it can propel you within a few feet of the trophy, even if your quarterback plays like crap and you aren't really good at any one thing.

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