The position of quarterback is undeniably the most important position on a football team. Between reading defenses, relaying calls from the sideline and being expected to put the ball precisely where it needs to go, quarterbacks have most of the responsibility in making an offense work.
However, from the amount of criticism they receive after a loss, you’d think the quarterbacks were responsible for running the entire franchise.
Why do quarterbacks in the NFL receive so much scrutiny when it comes to a team’s success? Sure they are the “field generals” of an offense, but the last time I checked there are 10 other players lining up along with them.
Look at Matt Cassel. I can’t think of a bigger scapegoat for a team’s failures than the Chiefs’ starting quarterback. After his team’s 1-4 start, half of the Kansas City metropolitan area is ready to march on his home with pitchforks in hand. The hailstorm of criticism sent Cassel’s way needs to be divvied up between everyone else on the field because he isn’t the only cause for the Chiefs’ struggles.
Sure, Cassel has been inconsistent so far this season, but you don’t end up starting for an NFL team without a high level of talent. As shown by the Chiefs 38-10 loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday when Brady Quinn took over for Cassel after his injury, there are many more problems than just the quarterback.
Just having a good QB doesn’t always lead to success; just look at how Peyton Manning is doing in Denver this year. Manning is widely considered a future hall of famer and possibly the best quarterback in the game after his achievements in Indianapolis, yet his Broncos are currently at a very average 2-3 record.
That’s not the kind of start many people expected from a team whose quarterback led the Indianapolis Colts to eight straight playoff appearances from 2002-2010. It’s as if the different players that surround the quarterback have a larger impact on the team’s success. Weird.
Tune in to any ESPN show covering the NFL and you’re going to hear a lot of discussion about the quarterbacks in the league. “Can he lead his team to victory?” “Is he the right guy to lead them to a Super Bowl?” Questions like these give the perception that QBs alone control the destiny of their team.
Quarterbacks don’t receive such lofty expectations and scrutiny in college football. Certainly college QBs are critical components to their teams, but they don’t necessarily need to be otherworldly in order for their program to achieve its goals.
The University of Alabama won the BCS national championship last year with a relatively unheard of quarterback named A.J. McCarron. While not being particularly flashy, McCarron simply facilitated the Crimson Tide’s offense, which operated as a well-oiled machine and was effective enough to win a national title.
I don’t know when it was determined that an NFL quarterback must put the entire team on his back in order for his franchise to be successful, but this is not the case. As seen at the college level, a strong, collective effort in all aspects of the game is a more effective style than hoping a single player can live up to unrealistic expectations.
While a certain level of quality in quarterback play is required for a team to be successful, winning comes primarily from the rest of the players on the field. Football is a team sport, and when dealing with success or failure, fans and media alike need to remember that.
Donald Pepoon is a sophomore in business administration. Please send comments to email@example.com.