Pocket Change – The Weekend in Football


This season is shaping up to be the year of the quarterback.  For weeks now the underlying theme of the NFL has seemed to be “this quarterback is the best thing going…” or “it’s all the quarterback’s fault the team lost…”  It’s not a new thing.  This belief has been around for years.  For some reason this year though, it seems like this idea has been more pronounced than ever.  Maybe it’s due to the statistically incredible seasons that we are witnessing.  Maybe it’s just too much hype over the performance of offensive players in an offensively biased era.  Whatever the reason it’s hard to miss what’s happened so far this year, and this last weekend in particular.

The idea that a single player should take the credit or blame for winning and losing in the ultimate team sport has always seemed a bit strange to me.  The quarterback is the most important position on the field, and probably the most important and difficult position to play in all of team sports.  Most times however, it’s not the quarterback that ultimately wins or loses a game.  Usually it’s not a single play or player but a combination of things that costs a team a game.  A seemingly innocent play in the second quarter could be the thing that changes the course of a game.  Maybe it’s a bad punt.  Maybe it’s a return man letting the ball bounce another 15 yards downfield when he should have fielded the punt and prevented the loss in field position.  It could be any number of things.

This week, the New England Patriots went to Denver and ended the Broncos win streak.  The game certainly lived up to the billing for the first part of the game.  In the second quarter though, the Broncos began turning the ball over and the Patriots took advantage of those mistakes and put up points that even the never-say-die Broncos could not overcome.  It was a team loss, not a quarterback loss.  It won’t be played that way this week though.  It most likely will be looked at by many as Tom Brady “showing” Tim Tebow how the game is played.  It’s an absurd position to take by any standard when team breakdowns lose a game, not one player.

Of course the quarterback will also be getting the credit, whether it’s earned or not.  Now, let me say that I really like Tom Brady as a player.  I always have, and for the record, even the greatest of players know they can’t do it alone.  Playing the position that he does though, he gets the lion’s share of the credit for most of his team’s wins.  For example: winning Super Bowl 36 over the Rams, when he just played OK.  He wasn’t GREAT, and he wasn’t the best player on the field in that game.  He wasn’t even the best player on his own team that night.  It didn’t really matter though.  He was the quarterback.  He still “won” the MVP award.  During that whole playoff run, it was Brady did this or that…people forget because he was much better in the years following that playoff run.  People want to lump the 2001 playoff run into those other years and say he was always great.  He was not.  At least not that year.

Go back and check the stats.  For as “great” as his playoff run was that season, how many touchdown passes do you think he had?  You’d think several, given the stories that are told these days.  He had ONE, in the Super Bowl.  That was it, and like I said before, he wasn’t even the best player on his own team that game.  That would’ve been Patriots cornerback Ty Law, who SHOULD HAVE won the MVP that night.  Brady was rather ordinary that game, and too many people forget it was DREW BLEDSOE that led the team to the win in Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game that year, not Brady.  Unfortunately Tom was knocked out of the game and Bledsoe had to come in and win the game.  Brady still gets the credit for “leading” his team to that Super Bowl, even though Bledsoe had more to do with it than people usually remember.

Quarterbacks will always get more credit and/or blame than they deserve.  It’s unfortunate, but I guess it’s just the nature of the beast.  I think Tim Tebow deserves a ton of the credit for what’s going on in Denver right now, just as John Elway did when he was playing.  The unwavering belief that you are going to get it done can be infectious, especially when it’s happening over and over.  Tebow has brought a different energy to the team, a hope and belief that the team can win no matter what the situation.

Once it starts, momentum can be a tough thing to stop.  The defense feeds off it.  The crowd feeds off it.  They feed off each other.  It’s not ALL Tim, but he has made a TANGIBLE difference in the team since taking over the starting position.  The team’s record since then speaks to that, and at this point the Broncos appear to have found their leader on offense.  Whether the Broncos can get back on another roll remains to be seen.  In any case it will need to be a total team effort.  That much is clear.