You've all heard the phrase "In today's NFL the quarterback position is more important than ever."
In 2012, 14 quarterbacks in the league threw for 3800+ yards. In the new NFL, a large portion of the league puts up huge passing numbers, but you already knew that. To put this in perspective, only 4 quarterbacks managed to put up those kind of numbers in 1985. To further understand the important of having one of these big passers, let's look at the history of the NFL and its yardage leaders when it comes to winning the superbowl.
When looking at the top 10 quarterbacks with the most career yards of all time, they have only eight superbowl victories. While eight superbowls is nothing to sneeze at consider this: Five of those victories came from Tom Brady and John Elway. Let it sink in that the remaining eight quarterbacks who lead in career yardage only have three superbowl victories between them (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Brett Favre)*. This leaves out elite passers Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon and Dan Marino as hall of famers that never won the big game.
*Drew Bledsoe won (10th in career yards) but as Brady's backup
So you can see that the big passing quarterbacks in terms of numbers don't always win championships but look what happens when we take a further look down the list: in the top 30 quarterbacks who have the most career yards, only 11 of them have actually won a superbowl (20 victories).
In the history of all 47 superbowls, 30 different men have won as a starting QB with 11 of them winning multiple times.
Most superbowl wins:
Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw (4)
These men are both in the HOF, but have very different careers. Let's further examine the circumstances that each quarterback won in: (Pro-Football-Reference.com was used for rankings and stats)
Montana - Deemed as one of the best players ever, Montana was an elite passer throughout his career but how much help did he get?
In 1981 San Francisco went 13-3 on their way to the superbowl. Montana was the 8th ranked quarterback in the league throwing for 3565 yards, 19 TDs, 12 ints, 88.4 rating, 7 yards/attempt. A solid season no doubt, but who was behind him? Oh, the 2nd ranked defense that year which generated the third most turnovers (48). Montana's superbowl winning stat line? 157 yards, 1 TD, 0 ints.--- Montana followed this up by being the 2nd ranked quarterback in league in 1982, but the defense fell from 2nd to 23rd and the Niners missed the postseason. (Rushing pretty much a non-factor both years)
Years where Montana shredded the superbowl:
1984: Montana was the 10th ranked QB with the 1st ranked defense, 5th best rusher. (15-1)
1988: Montana was the 13th ranked QB with the 8th ranked defense, 3rd best rusher. (10-6)
1989: Montana was in the top 5 QBs (ranking skewed due to missing 3 games), 3rd ranked defense, 10th best rusher (14-2)
So except for 1980 and 1982, Montana was blessed with an elite defense his entire career, and had a very solid run game in 3 of his 4 superbowl victories (4 appearances). You may have heard of Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott (among others), they helped too.
Bradshaw - Now, Bradshaw was definitely not an elite quarterback even though he did win 4 superbowls. His career numbers were awful: 212 TDS - 210 ints, 27 989 yards, and a career qb rating of 70.9 with a completion percentage of 51.9. Still hating Christian Ponder? Jokes aside, let's look at the teams that helped/carried Bradshaw to the promise land.
Bradshaw's first superbowl came in the 1974 season where he was the 30th ranked quarterback, Steelers had the 2nd ranked defense and had the 8th best running back in the league. (10-3-1) In case you didn't know: Bradshaw's 96 yards and 1 TD were enough to defeat Bud Grant's Vikings led by the great Fran Tarkenton. Franco Harris killed them with 158 yards on the ground. Ouch.
1975: Bradshaw improved to be the 16th ranked QB with the 2nd ranked defense, 5th best rusher. (12-2)
1978: 13th ranked QB, 1st ranked defense, 2nd ranked rusher (14-2)
1979: 7th ranked QB, 5th ranked defense, 6th ranked rusher (12-4)
Throughout Bradshaw's career he was aided by the Steel Curtain and HOFers Mean Joe Greene and Franco Harris. He was never a dominant quarterback and threw a ton of interceptions including 3 in his 1979 superbowl win and 2 in the 1978 win.
My conclusion: as important as it is to have a capable quarterback, finding an elite one is almost an impossible task and it is not necessary to win. Championships are (usually) won by defenses, and and not just a good one, an elite defense complimented by a solid run game. It's with a combination of all components of a team that a championship is won. It is and always will be a team game no matter what any "expert" analyst says.
If you need any reassurance, look to last year's superbowl where two of the best defenses in the league squared off in a game that featured good running games and quarterbacks who are good but not great.
What the Vikings should do next:
1) Do NOT draft a qb in the first/second/third round next year IF Josh Freeman shows any capability of making plays and leading a team that goes through AP first. Look, he hasn't been elite and has turned over the ball a lot in the past. He has however, had a some okay seasons where he showed promise including one really good year under the Buc's old coaching staff. He was also one of the 12 QBs who were 4000 yard passers last season. He has all the tools and has been in the league for 5 years so he is no longer a developmental QB like Ponder still (unfortunately) is. I personally believe that he can be the quarterback for the Vikings that gives them a chance to win.. But time will tell.
The Vikings will not win until they build an elite defense
2) Draft a NT to play with Floyd.
3) Draft a linebacker who can make splash plays
4) For the love of god get a slot corner that is not Josh Robinson
On offense? They have the weapons
5) Find a guard in free agency preferably that has proven he can block consistently unlike Johnson/Fusco
6) Get a creative co-ordinator. There is no excuse not to put up points if we have AP, all our stout receiving core and a QB like Freeman who has a
gun cannon for an arm.
A lot of this has been glaringly obvious for Vikings fans thus far on this debacle of a 1-4 start, just don't get tied up in the hype that even an elite QB can come in and fix all their problems, especially when our defense is in the bottom 3 of the league in just about every stat imaginable.
Let me know what you think. Should they look for an elite QB in the draft and wait for him to develop while AP ages? Or should they stick to finding a capable QB already in the league (Freeman or whoever becomes available) and focus on building a stronger all around team?