We Can’t All Be The Packers

Earlier this week I read a fantastic “Fan Post” over at Arrowhead Pride (http://www.arrowheadpride.com/2014/12/5/7342267/alex-smith-shouldnt-need-your-apologies). Essentially, the post argues that the Chiefs are always chasing the MPDQ or Magic Pixie Dream Quarterback. A MDPQ is a quarterback who has had success elsewhere and is now brought in to a new team in the hope that he can lead them to the promised land rather than drafting a quarterback. These quarterbacks were the likes of Steve Bono, Dave Kreig, and Steve DeBerg. It was a great read and I can completely see his point… but he’s wrong (kind of). The piece got me thinking about the struggles the Chiefs have had over the years finding their replacement for Len Dawson. I thought to myself, “Come on Kansas City Chiefs, I mean how hard can it really be to find a good quarterback.” Unless you’re the Green Bay Packers, it turns out that it is very hard.

I went through every NFL team and looked to see what the average gap is from one good quarterback to another. I made up a few caveats along the way. For instance, I refused to include guys like Stan Humphries from the Chargers or Scott Mitchell from the Lions as legit quarterbacks. I tried to offset this a little bit by giving teams like the Rams a guy like Jim Everett who lead the team for a period to make up for the fact that they would have huge gaps. I also left out outliers like the Packers who went straight from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers and teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who went 31 years without a quarterback speaking of (and I was nice and gave them Doug Williams who was only there 5 years). I still left in gaps like 5 and 7 years and gaps as high as 25 and 27 years (there were 8 of these).

The average gap I found from quarterback to quarterback over the last 50 years was 12.98 years (13.06 years if I include the outliers). The reality is that it is just extremely hard to find a Len Dawson or an Aaron Rodgers or even a Donovan McNabb. Are the Chiefs extremely bad at finding a quarterback and do they make it harder on themselves by not drafting another quarterback high? In the last 10 seasons (2004 – 2013) there have been 28 quarterbacks taken in the first round. Of those 28, less than half are still starters (12). Is a 43% success rate worth it? I would argue that it is, but it’s not that cut and dry. Your team has a better chance to end up with a JP Losman than they do a Ben Roethlisberger. At the same time, even looking through some of the quarterbacks I used, some of these guys could easily be called MPDQ’s. Had I not used some of these players, players who didn’t necessarily light up the league, the average would increase quickly. The list:

Mark Rypien (6th round draft pick)
Jim Plunkett (late in his career for the Patriots)
Boomer Esiason (late in his career for the Jets)
Jake Plummer (average quarterback at best for the Cardinals)
Dave Krieg (who was listed as an example of a Chiefs MPDQ in the article)
Jim Everett (used because they couldn’t find anyone else probably)
Rodney Peete (I had to use Rodney Peete for the Lions for crying out loud)
Bernie Kosar (average at best for the Browns)

Every team, including the teams who went straight from a great to a great had large gaps somewhere along the way (the 49ers, who went from Joe Montana to Steve Young, but have also taken 16 years for a replacement for Young). There were only 5 teams who were able to even accomplish this feat (49ers, Packers, Patriots [and I used Drew Bledsoe], Falcons, and the Colts). The Chiefs are spectaculary bad at finding themselves a quarterback, but it really isn’t all that easy. We can’t all be the Green Bay Packers.

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