Wednesday, January 14, 2009

QBs: Who is Number Three!?

Here is kind of a fun exercise...

With the induction of Rickey Henderson into the HOF, I have been reading again about how Tim Raines is getting jobbed and deserves a spot in the hall. I for one never knew how great Raines was in his hey-day but ESPN's Keith Law does a real nice job explaining it. If you are doing a double-take on the Tim Raines as HOFer stance, just read Law's piece and let me know.

One of the main things that Tim Raines has going against him is the fact that he happened to be only the second best leadoff man of his time. The problem being that the best of all time was ahead of him on that list, Rickey Henderson. Anyway, that got me thinking on other guys who may have gotten over-shadowed by playing in an era behind all time greats. Finding exact comparisons for this was tough so my mind shifted to another thought.

If we can all agree that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the indisputable 1 and 1A all time quarterbacks from the post-Elway Era AKA 1999-present, then who is the next guy in line on that list. To me, there are really only three guys in the discussion:

Brett Favre
Kurt Warner
Donovan McNabb

Because quarterbacks are judged on big game accomplishments almost more than stats, I am only going to look at playoff appearances/record and Super Bowl appearances/record for the three guys listed above. While it may seem dumb to totally ignore stats for a position like QB, I am going under the impression that if they have been talented enough to keep a starting job for the majority of the past 10 years, then they are probably pretty good. Even still though, regular season accomplishments should count some so I will give them points for winning an MVP Award.

I am going into this blind right now, but if I had to guess, I predict the final tally will come out looking like McNabb, Warner, Favre. Let's get at this and see!

First, the scoring. I am going to do it like this:

5 Points for an MVP Award
1 Point for a 9 win season/+.500 record as starter
2 Points for a 10 win season
3 Points for an 11 win season, etc.....
1 Point for a Wild Card Round Win/1st Round Bye
2 Points for a Division Round Win
4 Points for a Championship Game Win
10 Points for a Super Bowl Win
17 Total Points for a Super Bowl Winning Run
10 Total Points for a Super Bowl Losing Run

Now, we have at it:

Brett Favre

24 Points

19 regular season win points

Wins in 2001 Wild Card Round, 2003 Wild Card Round, 2007 Division Round + Bye Week

Kurt Warner

49 Points

9 regular season win points.

MVP in 1999 and 2001, Super Bowl Winner in 1999, Super Bowl loser in 2001, Wild Card and Division win to date in 2008

Donovan McNabb

43 Points

19 regular season win points

Wild Card win in 2000 and 2006, Wild Card and Division win in 2001, Bye Week and Division Win in 2002 and 2003, Super Bowl loser in 2004, Wild Card and Division Win to date in 2008


Right now, if things play out how most people think on Sunday, then Donovan will edge ahead of Warner whether or not he wins or loses the Super Bowl. However, if Warner and the Cardinals win on Sunday then he will be firmly cemented as the "Best of the Rest". If it seems weird that Warner is the current leader then you are forgetting the way in which the Rams teams he anchored dominated that three year window from 1999-2001. Two MVPs and two Super Bowl runs during this time allowed him to get off to a fast start and keep his lead over the other two guys who may have had a steadier and more consistent run of recent success. Still, they come nowhere near that three year high point of Warner's career. Let's face it too, if it weren't for this year's Warner resurgence, the guy would not even be in the conversation.

And what about Favre? Well, the fact of the matter is that he has lead his team to the NFC Championship Game exactly once since 1999 while McNabb has done so five times and Warner three times. Beyond that, he has just three playoff victories over this timeframe. That is not very good, hence the third place finish.

So, do I think the system is fair/turned our correctly? Not to be biased but I say yes. The reason for this is that if Kurt Warner leads a team to the Super Bowl for the third time in this frame - Tom Brady is the only other guy right now who has done it more than once though that could change this weekend - then he absolutely deserves to be number two. At the same time, if Donovan McNabb leads his team to the Super Bowl - also time number two for him - then he deserves it thanks to his longevity/relative consistency.

Does this add some intrigue to the NFC Championship Game for you? Doubtful, but as you can see, the NFC game this Sunday won't only determine who gets to go to the Super Bowl, it will also determine who gets to be known as the "Third QB" behind Brady and Manning for this era.

And if you are wondering, Brady would score 105 points per this system. Yeah, I think he is number one.

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