Great Quarterbacks Are Helped By Great Defenses

You can tell by reading just a smattering of the comments below this article that Seahawks fans aren’t going to take too kindly to the implied message.  The undercurrent of anti-Seahawks sentiment is so rich and frothy, I expected it to have been written by Jeffri Chadiha, until I noticed it used stats and facts to make some legitimate points.

What everyone will see when they read it is:  Russell Wilson isn’t a great quarterback.  They’ll see:  Russell Wilson isn’t even that good, and that the Seahawks are winning in spite of his Dalton-esque bungling.

Something even REMOTELY negative is mentioned, and the claws are out, ready to attack.

I will say this:  I’m not a big fan of QBR.  I feel like it should be a good statistic – and I do think there’s probably something better out there than straight passer rating – but at least passer rating is something I can understand.  It’s something I can sit here and calculate if I so desire.  QBR feels like a lot of mumbo jumbo masquerading as a be-all, end-all in football stat-hood.

Riddle me this when you talk about Wilson’s 13.6 QBR in last week’s game against Green Bay:  does it take into account two passes that hit Jermaine Kearse right in the hands before bouncing off and into the outstretched arms of a defender?  I will gladly point out that two of those picks were clearly Russell Wilson’s fault.  They were poorly thrown balls that appeared to be desperate attempts to get back into a game when we had plenty of time to do so.  But, I feel like the tipped passes were solid.  They weren’t PERFECT, obviously, but at an NFL level, they should have been caught.  Yet, seemingly, those two interceptions are weighed the same as the duck he threw into double-coverage and the duck he under-threw down the left sideline.

And, I like the idea of a quarterback stat that measures his ability to run with the football as well as pass, but how in the holy Hell do you approach perfection in the QBR system?  In passer rating, the best you can get is 158.3.  I’ve seen LOTS of guys have perfect passer ratings.  But, how do you get 100 in QBR?  It seems like an impossible achievement that requires no incompletions, 500 yards, more than 5 passing touchdowns, and probably 150 yards rushing with another 2 rushing touchdowns.  I mean, there’s just no way!

But, I digress.  Anecdotally, if you watched the game, you could safely say Russell Wilson had a bad game until the final three minutes and overtime.  How much of that was due to the weather (not easy to catch a wet ball, I’m told) and how much of that was due to our offensive line getting manhandled early in the game, I guess QBR doesn’t give two shits about that.

Getting back to the article, though.  Most Seahawks fans will read it as ESPN picking on our poor superstar quarterback.  But, if you will take a moment to calm down, I think the point they’re really making is one of the most obvious arguments you can make:  great quarterbacks are helped by great defenses.

Isn’t that a shocker???  Oh, you mean one guy can’t go out there and beat an entire team by himself?  I’m blown away!

Look back, throughout history, and you’ll find this is a truism of practically every single NFL champion since the dawn of time.  Even take a gander at the very best quarterbacks in recent history.  Tom Brady, for instance.  He won his three championships back when the Patriots had a dominating and underrated defense.  He lost his other two championships – in spite of putting up some of the best offensive numbers in league history – because his defenses were weak, and couldn’t get the job done when it mattered most.

Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl.  Their regular season defense was pretty awful, but when they got Bob Sanders back for the playoff run, a switch flipped and they were dominant in the post-season.  The year Drew Brees won it all happened to coincide with one of the best Saints defenses we’d seen in decades.  The Steelers with Roethlisberger, the Ravens with Flacco, the Packers with Rodgers, the Giants with Eli, even the Rams with the Greatest Show On Turf had an underrated and solid defense!

Now, factor in all the times these great quarterbacks – Brady, Manning, Roethlisberger, Brees, Rodgers – DIDN’T go all the way.  Many of them have even struggled to just get into the playoffs!  Why, if these are some of the greatest quarterbacks of our time, would they struggle to maintain success year-in and year-out (either making the playoffs, or in the case of Brady and Manning – who always seem to make it – win championships)?  Could it POSSIBLY be due to the fact that their defenses aren’t always so hot?

Imagine that.  The Steelers have a crummy defense and Ben Roethlisberger can’t somehow magically lift the entire team on his back and carry them into the Super Bowl.  WEIRD!

It’s a symbiotic relationship.  Great quarterbacks still need at least competent defenses to achieve their goals.  Just as great defenses need at least competent quarterbacks.  If you’ve got one, but not the other, you’re not going to win a ton of games.  Just ask the Houston Texans.

Russell Wilson is going to forever get dinged – as far as his legacy is concerned – because this Seahawks defense is an all-time great.  The fact of the matter is, we DON’T know how great Russell Wilson truly is, and we never will, until he’s confronted with a situation where our defense stinks and he needs to carry more of the burden.  Until that happens, expect to see more articles like the one written above.  There’s no point in fighting it, because it’s an argument you can never win.  It’s like trying to change someone’s political or religious beliefs; you can’t do it!

To quote Homer Simpson:  “You tried your best, and you failed miserably.  The lesson is:  never try.”

And, for the record, I honestly hope we never do find out how great Russell Wilson is.  I want this defense to be elite for the rest of my life.

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