I happen to catch the tail end of an interview with Boomer Esiason on the NFL Network last night. In his remarks about the playoff outlook the rest of the way, he used QB quality as a key indicator. He said, “This is a quarterback’s league.” Obviously, he knows that their value is little without sufficient compliments such as a decent O-line but that as team become very competitive, QBs can be the difference makers.
Specific and sophisticated tests could be envisioned to examine the value of QBs, although there is difficulty in separating out individual productivity in a sport with as many interrelationships between players as football. The relative rise in importance of offense relative to defense since the 1970s would lend some support the idea of the rising value of QBs. [See Defense & Championships]. Within the offensive numbers, the increase in passing yardage relative to running since the 1970s provides further support. Over this time frame, several rule changes as well as offensive strategy and personnel usage have helped elevate the passing game to prominence and sustain it in view of defensive adjustments. More to Boomer’s playoff outlook, all of the Super Bowl winners had QBs who would be rated as very good to great based either on QB ratings or more subjective evaluations with the exception of Trent Dilfer with the Ravens in 2001. This year, all of the team’s remaining with the exception of Chicago, have relatively highly rated QBs (although one could question the value of such ratings after watching Mark Brunnell last Sunday — still, he’s down near the middle of the pack).
In contrast, a genuinely silly article by Yahoo’s Charles Robinson questioned the idea that the loss of Carson Palmer influenced the Bengals-Steelers game much. Oh, I suspect that losing the leauge’s second-rated passer had some substantial effect — but that’s just a guess.
The question of QB value has big draft day implications, but I’ll save that for ldown the road as the draft approaches and Mel Kuiper’s hair expands.