QJ Sports: Critiquing QBs

Championship Sunday is an annual tradition for many NFL fans.

Just four teams remain and two games are played back-to-back, with the winners of each conference advancing to the Super Bowl. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.

Quarterback, as always, is the most crucial position on the field — so it makes sense that the four remaining teams typically feature some of the league’s best. This year proves the trend right.

This Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck will face off against Tom Brady of the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game. Over in the NFC, Russell Wilson and his defending champion Seattle Seahawks will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Among the four, Luck has the most to prove — he’s the only one yet to win a Super Bowl championship.

Inevitably, once the two semi-final matchups and Super Bowl finish, the media, fans, coaches and followers of the game will all be quick to point to the results and proclaim the victor as the best quarterback in the NFL.

But the issue is, judging a player solely by that criteria doesn’t tell the whole story.

The trickle-down effects are massive. Does that mean the second-best quarterback is the one who loses in the Super Bowl? Are the top four quarterbacks the four who make the conference championship?

What about the quarterbacks who don’t even make the playoffs? Typically, a few very talented and accomplished pivots miss the post-season each year. The New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers are just two examples from this season.

The one-game elimination format of the NFL playoffs fosters an environment that allows people to make such rash judgements. Joe Flacco of the 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens is a glaring example of this, where he was proclaimed by many fans and pundits to be an “elite” quarterback.

Since winning the Super Bowl just two years ago, Flacco ranks 15th in the league in passing touchdowns over the past two seasons and 11th in passing yards. They’re certainly not horrible numbers, but they’re not elite by any stretch of the word.

There’s always more to look at, but the isolation of wins alone blinds many into believing.

No quarterback plays with the same teammates or the same coach, and few play the playoff games in the same weather conditions.

Of course, the objective of the game is to win, and for many fans, individual players will be valued higher based solely on whoever is able to achieve victory.

But by valuing playoff wins above all else as a measure to evaluate a quarterback — or any player, in any position, in any sport — you’re really missing the point.

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