« Sports

Unfair Criticism

by Nick Vitrano

I am a numbers geek.  Yep, I am one of those nerds of sports that loves to compile and cross-reference statistics to piece together a computer analysis of effectiveness.  It’s one of the reasons that I wasn’t terrifically against the BCS system.  I recognized its flaws, but I will always contend that, aside from the very remote exception, the BCS got it right every year.  But whatever, the BCS isn’t what I wanted to blog about.

So, despite my affinity for the numbers, I recognize that they are just that…computer compilations.  Though they identify patterns, they don’t tell a complete story.  And sometimes, stats flat-out lie. 

Enter a quarterback’s record in the playoffs.

It’s amazing to me how really smart people in the industry can be so dumb in relation to this topic.  The playoffs are win or go home.  There is no tomorrow for the loser.  For the victor, there may be only one more tomorrow.  It is a limited opportunity, single-elimination proposition.  Translation: if you are a perennial postseason player, unless you win the whole shebangy (and thruthfully, multiple Super Bowls), your playoff record will reflect a very pedestrian .500ish.

Go ahead, check out the postseason stats of just about every QB who has ever made the second season.  From spanks to Hall of Famers alike, it’s basically .500.

  • Brett Favre: 13-11
  • Steve Young: 8-6
  • Dan Marino: 8-10
  • Fran Tarkenton: 6-5
  • Bob Griese: 7-5
  • Jim Kelly: 9-8

Okay..etc., etc.

Of course, then there are those like Roger Staubach (12-7), John Elway (14-8), Troy Aikman (11-5), Joe Montana (16-7), Tom Brady (18-7), Terry Bradshaw (18-7), Bart Starr (9-1) 

And that’s precisely the point.

Analysis of a QB’s playoff record is only applicable in extreme cases.  For he who rocks an impressive mark, it’s indicative of his ability to win titles…at the least Conference Titles.  For he who sports a putrid record, the discussion is fair that he buckles on the biggest of stages. 

But for the overwhelming majority of QB’s, yes Hall of Fame QB’s, their postseason records will hover right around the mark of mediocrity.  Keep that in mind as we trash Peyton Manning for his 10-11 postseason mark. 

Tease Image: By Ivan Akira (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons