Pocketing some great ones

By Peter Bailey-Wells

Watching Sunday Night Football this week was really fun.

My New England Patriots beat down the Indianapolis Colts to go and put themselves in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Now, if you know me, dear reader, you probably expect me to rhapsodize about the Patriots and their inevitable return to the NFL mountaintop. No, I’d rather talk about quarterbacks, specifically pocket passers. Tom Brady and Andrew Luck were the starting quarterbacks Sunday night, and both are poised to lead their teams into the playoffs. Compare those two to mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III , and it seems pretty clear: If you want to have sustained success in the NFL, you better have a pocket passer.

Mobile quarterbacks are so cool and fun and athletic, though, right?

They win Heisman trophies and Rookie of the Year awards — six of the last eight Heismans and two of the last three ROYs. Usually, you can find running QBs in the SportsCenter Top 10.

But they don’t win Super Bowls. With the exception of Russell Wilson, the last 10 Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks have all been pocket passers. Mobile quarterbacks just don’t have a good track record. Griffin and Newton have both had hot seasons, but injuries have sidetracked them both in different points in their career.

You’d rather have a pocket passer. Brady, Manning, Brees and Rodgers have all had long-term success, and,the three best quarterbacks of the last decade, have a pocket presence that is like a sixth sense.

Of course, I’m biased. I’ve watched Brady quarterback the Pats since2000, and Tommy Touchdown is probably the slowest quarterback in the NFL. In that time, he has won everything.

Several quarterbacks with better athletic ability than Brady have just never been as successful. Maybe it’s injuries, maybe it’s coaching or maybe it’s just dumb luck.

Michael Vick is one of the most exciting quarterbacks of the last decade and Brady is head and shoulders above Vick. Despite all of his talent, Vick has never played in the Super Bowl. Neither did Daunte Culpepper. Donovan McNabb made four straight NFC Championships but got outplayed by Brady in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Steve McNair appeared in a Super Bowl, too, but couldn’t get it done against Kurt Warner, an incredibly slow but incredibly efficient pocket passer who led the Greatest Show on Turf. Colin Kaepernick got the 49ers close but couldn’t seal the deal in Super Bowl XLVII against the Ravens.

The one Super Bowl champion exception, Wilson, is an anomaly of sorts — recording 539 rushing yards last season while completing 63.1 percent of his passes.. Steve Young, a top-10 quarterback all-time, is the only QB ever to complete more than 63 percent of his passes and also rush for 500 yards in a single season.

There are so many names that haven’t ever reached the NFL mountaintop. When Jameis Winston declares for the NFL draft in the spring, where will he be taken? All character issues aside, all NFL teams out there should probably pass on Winston. The football gods have made their ruling: If you want to be on SportsCenter, draft a run-and-gun QB, but if you want to win a title, draft a pocket passer.

Peter is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @pbaileywells22.