STOP with the QB versus QB stat | Bonehead Picks

STOP with the quarterback versus quarterback stat

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Arguably the marquee “matchup” between quarterbacks of the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs was New England’s Tom Brady and the Patriots hosting Los Angeles’ Philip Rivers and the Chargers. The Patriots won a decisive playoff game in which virtually every avenue of New England offense looked sharp from Brady to wide receiver Julian Edelman to running backs James White and Sony Michel while the Patriots’ defense bottled up the Chargers’ running game. During the NFL playoffs, the win-loss playoff records of quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are often mentioned as an example of their all-time greatness. But it is very flawed to continue to bring up win-loss record in regular season or playoffs in discussing quarterbacks and it is really flawed to discuss win-loss records regarding “head-to-head” “matchups” of starting quarterbacks.

Perhaps the most glamorous position in professional sports in America is that of NFL quarterback, which is one reason why Oklahoma dual-threat athlete Kyler Murray had such a tough decision regarding entering the NFL Draft and starting his professional baseball career. “Franchise” NFL quarterbacks have as much and in some cases more power than most NFL head coaches. Like NFL head coaches, it is the win-loss record of a quarterback that serves as the main barometer of what constitutes a quality quarterback.  Even though sports media and sports fans have more advanced information about quarterbacks and NFL players in general than ever before, there remains a reliance on the old win-loss record to judge quarterbacks.

Although sports has become more analytical than ever, there were plenty of articles prior the start of the Patriots versus Chargers playoff game that referred to Philip Rivers’ “0-7” record against Tom Brady in the regular season and the playoffs. Rivers is now “0-8” after the most recent playoff loss according to some but the record against “Tom Brady” is flawed to begin with. Clearly, Rivers and Brady never actively played against each other with Rivers on offense and Brady on defense and vice versa. Rivers was playing against a Bill Belichick/Brian Flores orchestrated defense and schemes. During the actual game, there were plenty of other factors other than Brady’s quality quarterback play that affected the game including 129 rushing yards and three touchdowns by Sony Michel and the fumble by Chargers return specialist Desmond King. Neither Philip Rivers nor Tom Brady deserve much credit for those factors yet it factors into their “head-to-head” records.

Football is not tennis or golf. People are aware that football is the “ultimate team game” but still fall into the flawed and dated ideas of “head-to-head” quarterback records like Brady versus Rivers or how Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning was the headline for many AFC playoff games of the past. There are several ways to evaluate quarterback play and using win-loss record is one of the worst and sports fans are better than that now in today’s sports information age.


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