The Super Bowl marks a turning of the page for NFL fans, from 2012 to 2013.
With the Chiefs on the clock, all eyes go to us, because for any NFL fan, it’s all about next year now. It’s crunch time, and after weeks of reading about sports, I think our draft strategy comes down to an epic, philosophical battle about the quarterback positions: do we go for a one year rental vs. do we go for the rookie starter?
Cogent arguments have been put forth on both sides, by many of you. Alex Smith typifies the ultimate rental. He’s efficient and won’t make a lot of mistakes, but he may not win you games in the fourth quarter. Additionally, and unfairly, he would be an ex-Niner coming to 1 Arrowhead Drive, and we’ve seen that movie twice and might not be game for a third viewing. Or, we could prostrate ourselves before the altars of Geno Smith or Tyler Wilson (or Mike Glennon or Matt Barkley) and hope whomever we choose turns into 2013’s RGIII, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson.
The expectations for either choice are enormous, but the Chiefs must get this one right. I know it’s not fair to John Dorsey and Andy Reid. They are walking straight into a poisoned well, so they have to get this right the first time.
Much smarter people than me will roll out all of the statistics to prove that either an Alex Smith-type or a Geno Smith-type will secure a Super Bowl bid for our team. That level of analysis is beyond me. I want to get to the root of this issue, which really resides in the philosophy of how you win games.
Nate Silver, who is in the business of statistics and forecasting, had an interesting piece last week on the Super Bowl. Silver compared the twenty best defensive teams to play in a Super Bowl, along with the twenty best offensive teams. He found that the twenty best defensive teams had a 14-6 record in the Super Bowl, whereas the twenty best offensive teams managed just a 10-10 record.
If you believe that “defenses win Super Bowls,” then you’re probably a bit more comfortable with the rent-a-QB approach. That means in the draft, let’s build up our defense to be dominant, so that our offense can score when needed but the defense is the unit that will win games. If you think the Chiefs are one star QB away from winning it all, then you probably want Geno Smith right now because in this new day of the NFL, offensive impact is the path to redemption.
Let’s take a closer look at Silver’s research before we make a decision though. Here are the top twenty defensive teams to ever play in a Super Bowl, along with whether they won or lost and who their quarterback was. I’ve also added a column that is my own personal description of each quarterback, using a rating of superstar, game manager or horrible:
|1968||Colts||Lost||Earl Morrall||Game manager|
|2002||Buccaneers||Won||Brad Johnson||Game manager|
|1985||Bears||Won||Jim McMahon||Game manager|
|1977||Broncos||Lost||Craig Morton||Game manager|
|1980||Eagles||Lost||Ron Jaworski||Game manager|
There are some interesting numbers here. Remember, this list represents the top defensive teams to ever play in a Super Bowl. Here’s what we got, in terms of Super Bowl records per type of quarterback:
- 14-6: Top Defensive Teams
- 2-1: Horrible Quarterbacks on the Top Defensive Teams
- 2-3: Game Managers on the Top Defensive Teams
- 10-2: Superstars on the Top Defensive Teams
Clearly, if you have a top defensive team and a superstar quarterback, you will win the Super Bowl. But what’s interesting to me is that you can have a game managing QB or even a horrible QB, and as long as you have a killer D, not only will you improve your chances of getting to the Super Bowl, but you may actually win 50% of them!
Our defense last year was about the 13th best defense in the NFL, depending on who you ask. We know we have talent – perhaps with better coaching, we could have been in the top ten. So here’s the gamble: do we go for the superstar quarterback first, and then use our second and third picks to bolster the defense, or do we go with the rental QB and pick a first rounder who may well vault our defense to number 1 in the league?
For the first time, I’m actually now kind of torn on this question. I’ve been a “draft Geno” guy thus far, but imagine if we go defense and we get Star Lotulelei or Damontre Moore or Barkevious Mingo or Jarvis Jones or Dee Milliner? Last year, I advocated for Luke Kuechly, who just become the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Beefing up our defensive line or adding a killer linebacker or corner may be just what we need to literally have the best defense in the country.
It’s worth thinking about. What do you think, Addicts?!