Resolved: Only “Gunslingers” Win Super Bowls

Once upon a time, so-called "gunslingers" like Dan Fouts and Dan Marino never won Super Bowls (Fouts never even got to one).

But thanks to the steady diet of sissifying rules changes that the NFL has fed everyone, from the coaches to the players to (most of all) the fans over the last 40+ years, a quarterback pretty much has to be a "gunslinger" to win a Super Bowl.

When the Chiefs beat the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, the recent trend continued, as Kansas City had finished the regular season ranked 20th in the NFL in rushing while leading the league in passing. Before that, the Rams were 25th in rushing and fifth in passing; Super Bowl LV went to Tampa Bay, tied for 28th on the ground and second through the air; and the Super Bowl LIV winners, also the Chiefs, were 23rd in rushing and fifth in passing.

Do we detect a pattern here?

This should be a warning to any team tempted to pay big money for one of these so-called "dual threat" quarterbacks, or select such a quarterback in the early rounds of the draft.

If a team wants to get on the ESPN highlight reel a lot, then by all means, they should spring for a dual-threat quarterback. But if a team would rather have things like Lombardi Trophies and parades, then these quarterbacks should be avoided like the proverbial plague.

The weather in which many if not most playoff games is contested may or may not be the key issue (warm-weather and indoor teams have won only 29% of the time when playing postseason games at northern, outdoor venues dating all the way back to when the first such game was played in 1950) — but regardless, football is played differently in the postseason from the way it is played during the regular season.

Cold (no pun intended) hard facts bear this out: Jalen Hurts is 2-2 in the postseason (congratulations, Jalen — you're at the top of the dual-threat pledge class), Lamar Jackson is 1-3, Cam Newton was 3-4, Michael Vick was 2-3, and Randall Cunningham was 3-6.

By contrast, Tom Brady is/was (still not sure which) 35-13 in the playoffs, including winning seven Super Bowl rings.

And not for nothing, but what was so wrong with the game before the owners started making it virtually impossible for teams to play defense — a fact to which James Bradberry will readily attest?

In 1977 — the last year before the owners started taking a hatchet to the rule book — the average NFL team scored 17.2 points per game, and actually averaged more yards rushing (144) than passing (142).

By 2020, teams had averaged 24.8 points per game — and passing yardage (240 yards per team per game) more than doubled rushing yardage (119).

And the decline in the size of NFL running backs that has closely tracked the battery of rules changes has surely had more than a casual something to do with the corresponding decline in rushing yardage, in that now running backs are expected to catch passes out of the backfield a lot more than they used to be (compare, for example, Christian McCaffrey's stats with those of John Riggins).

While older observers love to say, usually annoyingly, that "things were better in my day," in this case they're right.

Instead of obsessing about competitive balance, maybe it's time to focus on run-pass balance — and offense-defense balance.

Make Football Great Again by turning back its clock 50 years — or very close to it.

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March 31, 2023


This article needs to be read by all those on the, Pay Lamar What He’s Asking Bandwagon.

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