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31 Jul 2008

Walkthrough: Field Generals

by Mike Tanier

The Matriculation of the Black Quarterback

He is an athlete. A natural. A playmaker. He is a black quarterback.

Thirty years ago, he was a rarity, an oddity. Now he is commonplace, an accepted part of the football landscape. There will be as many as 20 black quarterbacks on NFL rosters in September, including six likely starters. Black quarterbacks are common in Canada, Arena Football, Division I colleges, and at lower levels of competition. Whereas each achievement by a black quarterback was a milestone just a few decades ago, the skin color of the man calling the signals is no longer noteworthy, at least to his teammates, coaches, and most fans.

Still, we have not yet achieved true color blindness in sports, let alone at the most visible on-field leadership position in the sports universe. It's still easy to find isolated examples of prejudice. Sometimes it's overt: Rush Limbaugh defining Donovan McNabb according to racial stereotypes, bleacher fans chanting "put the white guy in" the moment a black starter throws an incompletion, blogs with racial attitudes that run from immature to reprehensible. Sometimes, the bias is more subtle, like in the loaded language that sportscasters use almost subconsciously. We all recognize the words I used, ironically, as a lead. The black quarterback is an "athlete" (as opposed to a leader or a thinker). He's a "natural" (as opposed to a hard worker). In the 1970s, those perceptions were so strong that most black college quarterbacks had to change positions if they wanted to play in the NFL.

Despite the occasional talk-radio diatribe or backhanded complement, Lloyd Vance has seen admirable recent progress. "In the last 20 years, I believe that African-American quarterbacks have received the opportunity needed to succeed at all levels in football. No longer do you see the quick conversions (to other positions) that were so prevalent from the '40s to the '80s."

Vance is the editor of BQB-Site.com, a blog that chronicles the history of black quarterbacks at all levels of competition. Vance is a historian and researcher who has contributed to ESPN and NFL Films documentaries and appears on numerous radio shows across the nation, among other ventures. Vance's blog covers both history and current events. His work helps keep the memories of players like Willie Thrower (the Michigan State star who briefly quarterbacked the Bears in the 1950s) alive. He also tracks the progress of high school and college stars and reports on major issues like the Michael Vick case.

According to Vance, it's easy to see how the perceptions of coaches and scouts have changed. "Look at Warren Moon. He was a record-setting quarterback, but he wasn't even drafted at a time when the draft had 12 rounds. A few years ago, the Jaguars drafted Matt Jones, a white quarterback, and converted him to wide receiver, while all three of their quarterbacks are African-Americans."

There have even been changes in the last decade. Vance feels that the McNabb/Aaron Brooks generation of quarterbacks dealt with more stereotyping than players just entering the league. "I've talked to some young players, and they tell me, 'Hey, I am just a quarterback, I am not treated any different from anybody else.'"

NFL coaches and executives have certainly become more color-blind in recent years. At lower levels of competition, prejudices may be more ingrained. "You still do hear sporadic stories," Vance said. "Towns splitting over black-vs.-white quarterbacks, comments on the bottom of piles on the field, ugly words in the stands. I had someone tell me a story that they heard a coach tell a high school player that 'He didn't look like a quarterback to him' and the kid was moved to wide receiver."

Still, the numbers of black quarterbacks in youth and high school football are growing, and times are changing everywhere. Vance sites national prep player of the year Terrelle Pryor as an example of progress at the lower levels. He calls Pryor "VY2," the second coming of Vince Young, and notes that Pryor is as much a runner as a passer, as well as a defensive back, punter, and whatever else he puts his mind to. Pryor is the type of player who typically moved to running back or wide receiver in the past. But thanks to more modern attitudes (and the proliferation of spread-option offenses), Pryor was recruited nationally as a quarterback. He chose Ohio State, where Jim Tressel plans to groom him in the Troy Smith mold. "Here's Ohio State, known for those Craig Krenzel-type quarterbacks, all I-formations, handoffs, and play-action. Now they are recruiting guys like Pryor as quarterbacks. The number of opportunities keep growing."

Vance, along with some NFL legends, wants to help young African-American quarterbacks make the most of those opportunities. The Field Generals program was founded by Warren Moon, Doug Williams, James Harris, and Marlin Briscoe; Vance promotes their work and writes for their site. The Field Generals mission (in the words of their literature) is to "acknowledge the legendary, celebrate the current and promote future professional quarterbacks through a schedule of comprehensive leadership training, personal development and skills exhibitions." The Field Generals hold camps and workshops where young players at all levels of competition can meet greats of the past and learn more about the pioneers who helped shatter some long-held racial myths. Vance feels that it's important for young players to learn what pioneers like Williams and Briscoe faced. "It is wonderful that Chris Leak and Troy Smith can face each other for the National Championship and they are both 'quarterbacks' first, but there is a journey and a matriculation of the black quarterback that must be told. The great thing is many young black quarterbacks have taken an interest in greats like Doug Williams, but there can never be enough education."

Prejudice may be receding from the practice field, but it hasn't gone away. "There are still some fans on message boards, and media figures like Rush Limbaugh, whose bias shines through," Vance said. Their negativity ultimately has a greater effect on younger players than on the pros. "Kids have it tough because they may not understand where possible bias is coming from. A lot of times kids idealize sports and life, so it is deflating when politics come into play." Still, Vance sees media- and fan-based racial bias on the decline. "Hopefully there will be a day where a quarterback is a quarterback," Vance said.

He's an athlete. A playmaker. A natural. A leader. A professional. A field general. He's a quarterback, and his race, ultimately, is irrelevant.

Self Promotion

Aaron starts the Pro Football Prospectus 2008 book tour next week, and I will be along for two stops. Catch me at the Barnes & Noble on the Johns Hopkins campus in Baltimore on August 5. (I can't speak for Aaron, but I will be heading to the Charles Village Bar across the street for a little postgame show.) On August 7, we'll be in the East Village of New York at Varsity Letters with a fellow named Stephan Fastis, who is apparently a better Scrabble player than Jake Plummer and a better kicker than most Scrabble champions. Some other FO folks may be there as well, and there may be some postgame activities, although I am not sure if there will be any night life in New York on a Thursday night.

I was interviewed for the September issue of GQ, which should be on newsstands in a few weeks. The topic is men's fashion, my second passion, and I spend a lot of time explaining what Italian designers have planned for next spring's line of silk suits. I think I also diagram a few screen passes.

Don't forget to watch NFL's Top 10, where you can see me in the sartorial splendor that put me on the GQ speed dial.

All Your A11 Offense Are Belong to Us, and Other Internet Fads

Special thanks to reader Dan Babbitt, who was the first of several people to point me toward the A11 offense, which has been featured on Pro Football Talk, Rivals.com, and many other sites.

You can click this link for a full breakdown of this innovative offense. Here's the short version: California prep coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries concocted a scheme in which, theoretically, any one of the 11 offensive players could be an eligible receiver. The offense lines up in an extreme spread formation with three traditional offensive linemen, two quarterbacks (you read that right) in shotgun, and six players split wide, four on the line and two off it. Once the offense sets, the five "interior linemen" (two of whom are actually split) are ineligible. That leaves six eligible receivers; because the quarterbacks are in shotgun, either could catch a pass. But until the offense sets, it is hard to tell who is a receiver and who is a blocker, and with some creative scheming, even the center could be eligible.

The pictures on the A11 site over-simplify the way the offense looks; Figure 1 shows a sample formation taken from some game film of the offense in action. To wrap your head around this offense, you must think in terms of a prep program: There are lots of 180- to 210-pound kids, the difference between a wide receiver and a guard is little more than a growth spurt, and there are no 320-pound interior linemen or untouchable millionaire quarterbacks. The A11 site specifies that everyone on the field wears an "eligible receiver" uniform number and outlines the restrictions that must be placed on shifts and presnap motion. You can picture a 16-year-old cornerback lining up against three or four split ends and racking his brain to figure out who can and cannot go out for a pass. You can also imagine all manner of jet screens from this formation, plus lots of fancy options and quarterback sweeps. If you want to make your imagination run wild, name the quarterbacks Vince Young and Tim Tebow, then start drawing plays where they pitch to each other, block for each other, or throw.

The formation shown in Figure 1 would be legal in the NCAA and the NFL. Steve Spurrier has a few trick plays built from a similar formation, and the Titans attempted one ill-fated gadget play last season from a formation that was just about as wacky. But while this is all street legal, there is zero chance that the A11 will catch on in the NFL or be more than a nutty wrinkle at the major college level.

Figure 1: A11 Offense

I am often asked why the option never caught on in the NFL, or why the spread-option isn't a viable pro offense. The blanket answer is this: Any scheme that is built on the principle of leaving a defensive lineman unblocked cannot work in the NFL. In a basic option, a defensive end is unblocked, and the quarterback runs or pitches the ball based on whether or not he can elude that free defender. Spread-option plays use similar principles and have other problems. Old-fashioned, run-heavy strategies like the T-formation generally assume that defenders on the far side of a running play are out of the action: If you are running a sweep left, the defensive end and linebacker on the (offensive) right won't be fast enough to have an impact on the play.

You cannot make those assumptions in the NFL. Dwight Freeney or Jared Allen will blow up your option at the snap and kill your quarterback. Julian Peterson or DeMarcus Ware will crash into the backfield, pursue a play from the backside, and stuff your running back if they are left unblocked on a far-side sweep. The size and speed of NFL defenders essentially makes the playing field smaller, so it is much harder to use distance as a de facto blocker.

In Figure 1, I whip up a sample defense to attack the basic A11 formation. Again, this is loosely based on what I saw on film. The defense is in a 3-2-6 personnel grouping. The three deep safeties are showing Cover-3, though it wouldn't be hard to bring two of them up as man defenders. In this example, I am blitzing one linebacker and one cornerback off the edge. The "edge" here, of course, is much closer to the quarterbacks. The blitzing defenders come unblocked. I want them to contain the quarterbacks. They should take a slightly wide approach so they are in position to make a tackle on a quarterback sweep. They must be ready to put their hands up to disrupt jet screens. But really, they should be ready to make a sack. If Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie are blitzing, guess what? Cromartie might beat the snap to the quarterback, for goodness sake.

One thing I noticed on the A11 highlight reels is that the competition was somewhat ready for the scheme. Piedmont High ripped off plenty of big plays (it was a highlight reel, after all) but I didn't see a lot of defenders pointing or running around in confusion presnap. After some game film sessions, opposing high school coaches adapted to the A11 and came up with some feasible counterattacks. Imagine what pro or big-time college coaches would do. The higher you climb on the competition ladder, the more the shortcomings of such a scheme outweigh the advantages.

Figure 2: A11 "NFL Version"

Still, I would love to see a little bit more formation creativity in the NFL, and the A11 could work as a twice-a-month wrinkle. Figure 2 shows a little creation of my own. Let's imagine the 49ers running this play. We'll make Alex Smith and Michael Robinson the quarterbacks: Both can run and throw, and both are strong guys who can block. Put Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, and Vernon Davis in a four-man bunch formation on the right side; it doesn't matter who is who, though Davis or Battle should do the blocking. The snap goes to Smith, and Robinson steps up to block, offering some extra pass protection. Smith rolls right, and the ineligible receiver hooks to his left to provide a fifth blocker. One receiver runs a post-and-corner, one a scat route over the middle, and one a comeback along the sidelines. The progression of reads is marked on the diagram. For a play like this, there's a good chance that Smith would break containment and be able to run for 15 yards if he doesn't like what he sees downfield. This route combination is pretty standard for a rollout pass. The only unique elements here are the covered, ineligible tight end, and the second quarterback, who would just be a running back on a typical rollout (and actually is a running back in our little fantasy).

A wrinkle like the play in Figure 2 would definitely get defenders thinking. We don't see this kind of chicanery much because NFL coaches are extremely conservative. Plays like this appear once per decade, and they often fail miserably because the offense is as unprepared as the defense. If they happened once per month, if they were part of a package that gets some preseason reps, they might be as effective as the basic double-reverse or halfback pass.

So don't look for the A11 in the NFL anytime soon, but look for it at a high school near you. And if you coach Pop Warner, what are you waiting for? Start diagramming! Two starting quarterbacks equals twice the number of happy parents in your community.

Bonus Hall of Fame Coverage

While I had Lloyd Vance on the line, I decided to pick his brain a little about the Hall of Fame. Vance is a member of the Pro Football Researchers Association and has worked closely with Ray Didinger and William C. Rhoden, among others. He often blogs about historic matters on Taking it to the House and other sites. He'll be in Canton covering the induction ceremonies this year. He recently posted his top 10 centers and guards of all time, which started our little Five Questions discussion.

FO: You list longtime Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff as the fifth best center of all time. Has he been snubbed by voters?

Vance: I think he has been overlooked. Most of these older guys need some local writer to carry the flag for them. I guess that the writers from Minneapolis-St. Paul looked at his situation and decided it just wasn't going to happen. Tingelhoff was really a great player, a smart player who kept Fran Tarkenton clean. But centers just seem to have a hard time. Dwight Stephenson got in after much consideration. Of course, we don't have stats for them. And for older guys like Tingelhoff, we barely have film.

FO: Give me three should-be Hall of Famers.

Vance: Ray Guy really just defined that punter position, was by far the best of his time. Bullet Bob Hayes changed the game, he had such pure speed that defenses couldn't cover him the way they covered other receivers. Randall Cunningham, he might be a homer pick, but you look at the 30,000 yards, the MVP seasons for different franchises, and he really dominated the game for a few years.

FO: Have you even noticed that there are almost no Broncos in the Hall of Fame?

Vance: Maybe their writers don't try hard enough! Seriously, the Broncos always preached the team concept. They always had the nondescript running back, the offensive line that stressed that they were a unit, not individuals. People start to think of them that way. Randy Gradishar -- he could be in my top three, too -- was a lunchpail guy, quiet contributor, then you looked at the end of the game and he made 10 or 15 solid tackles. Steve Atwater was another guy who was great for a number of years. Gary Zimmerman just got in, and I think you'll see some more Broncos.

FO: What's the best thing about going to Canton for the induction ceremony?

Vance: Definitely the fans. They come from all over, they wear their jerseys, they just show so much respect for these older players. Also, as media, we get a private tour of the Hall of Fame. We really get to have a close look at all the artifacts. Football has about a hundred years of history, from Jim Thorpe to today's guys, and it's great to see it from beginning to end. I remember seeing Norm Van Brocklin's jersey from when he won the championship with the 1960 Eagles. I saw how heavy it was and realized, "It looks hot. He really must have been sweating." Little things like that really strike you.

FO: What's the worst thing about going to Canton for the induction ceremony?

Vance: It's always hot. They put us on a field with no shade, there's never any cloud cover, and the sun's just beating on us. Other than that, it's a great experience.

Wlkthru Txt Msg Bl00z

Kids these days, with their cell phones and text messengers! It seems like nobody uses old-fashioned e-mail anymore. NFL players, coaches, and agents are getting into the act. Stephen Jackson has kept in touch with Rams coaches via text messages during his holdout. Agents communicate contract offers to general managers and clients via text messages. Brett Favre ... heck, that guy doesn't even care whose phone he uses.

The idea that $50 million contracts are negotiated using the same technology that teenagers use to bully the fat kid is funny enough without all of the crazy codes and acronyms. Teenagers are masters of abbreviated, fast-type codes: CD9 means Code Nine (parents are watching), CTPH means "Can't talk, petting heavily" and so on. Football insiders have adopted and adapted these abbreviations and acronyms for their own use.

So here it is, a Walkthough exclusive: the first ever dictionary of football-related text message codes.

BFF: Brett Favre Forever!

BRB-FGB: A common text sent by Tom Brady. The first part is clearly "be right back." We are still decoding the second part.

CSCS: Child support coming soon.

CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS: Same code, Travis Henry edition.

CT-POS: Can't talk, Parcells over Shoulder.

GLUB: I am a rookie being held upside-down in the ice bath. While I respect the male-bonding and initiation rituals of camp and truly appreciate my chance to play in the NFL, I think some blood vessels in my ears just burst, and I am worried that this may have lingering health consequences.

J/K: Just kut. Please don't spend any more money, dear.

PAL-BS: Party at Leinart's. Bring stirrups.

PK143: A common sign-off on messages to Brett Favre.

PLAXICO: Injury not really serious. Just want a new contract.

N00BZ: Newbies, or rookies. Not to be confused with M00BZ, a description of Hank Fraley's chest.

ROTFCSAH: Rolling on the field getting curb-stomped by Albert Haynesworth.

TTFN: The commissioned just handed down punishment for my little peyote-stripper escapade. See everyone in four weeks, minimum.

UPTWTGUPTWTG: You play to win the game. You PLAY. To WIN. The GAME.

In two weeks: Walkthrough goes weekly and becomes a more conventional weekly preview column. Don't worry: I said "more conventional," not "conventional." Until then, come see me on the book tour!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 31 Jul 2008

98 comments, Last at 12 Aug 2008, 4:24pm by martial


by Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabbadu (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 2:50pm

Ahh, the unholy offspring of Antonio Cromartie and Dominique Rogers-Cromartie... I bet he WOULD be that fast.

by Eric G (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 2:57pm

The extreme spread punt formation has worked for 2 or 3 years in college. I think the A11 offense could work in college.

by Show (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 2:58pm

I agree that the A-11 would never work past low level high school. Just have one nitpick; you called Antonio Cromartie Antonio Rogers-Cromartie.

by BOOM!ImChrishHanshen (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 3:11pm

"BRB-FGB" for Brady--um, is it "Be Right Back, ForGot Baby?"

Wait a minute . .

by PD (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 3:15pm

Tanier hits the nail on the head on why the option couldn't work in the NFL. Speed, superior talent, etc. Nobody wants to get their precious, expensive quarterbacks killed (except for maybe Mike Martz).

I always thought if you really wanted to run the option in the NFL, the only shot at getting it to work would be to build your team completely around the option. Instead of going with one traditional starting QB on your roster, load up on four or five successful college option QBs. In all, they'll still be cheaper than a normal stud QB. Many of them would be undrafted, or lower-round picks, and if one guy gets hurt, the other guy comes in. They all do the same thing.

It may not be successful, but it sure would be fun to watch.

by Joe Pisarcik Magnate (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 3:27pm

I dig reading about stuff like the A11. Thanks, guys.

by Vincent Verhei :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 3:57pm

Cromartie has been de-Rogersed.

by Bright Blue Shorts (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 4:04pm

"A few years ago, the Jaguars drafted Matt Jones, a white quarterback, and converted him to wide receiver, while all three of their quarterbacks are African-Americans."

That brings up a less-oft campaigned point about stacking. Where are the white CBs and WRs? Where are the white RBs who aren't fullbacks? Come to that where are the hispanics?

It would be interesting to know what the race of players is by position these days. My guess is that the lines will be least skewed because you can't be too fussy about what colour talented 300lb athletes are.

For the record, what I find on the US Census bureau about 66% of the US is white, 14% Hispanic, 13% black, 5% Asian, 1% Native and the remaining 1% report mixed race.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 4:23pm

#8 - SD drafted Jacob Hester (RB) out of LSU, but thats the only one I can think of in today's game.

And concerning the lines, I've noticed a lot of players of Pacific Island extraction these days.

Honestly though, I get tired of hearing about race in sports. No matter what your position is on the issues, you're going to irritate somebody...

I'd be more interested in regional trends in players. Have you ever noticed (it seems) that linemen and fullbacks are disproportionately from either the Southeast or Midwest? Did you know that Pittsburgh PA is a QB-factory?

by MilkmanDanimal (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 4:31pm

"CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS-CSCS: Same code, Travis Henry edition."

OK, anybody got a new spleen? I think I just ruptured mine laughing.

by Scarhead (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 4:41pm

I would just like to point out that Rush Limbaugh did not "define Donovan McNabb according to racial stereotypes". Rush gave the opinion that the media overrated him because he was black and the media wanted a black quarterback to be successful. His comment was more on the media than on Donovan himself.

Saying that the "bias shines through" makes me think that people aren't remember exactly what happened, they just remember there was conroversy involving Rush Limabaugh and a black quarterback, so it must have been that Rush is racist and got caught. That's not the way it was.

by daddymag (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 4:44pm


by Paging Roger Cossack (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 4:56pm


by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 5:38pm

I'd like to point out that the A-11 is illegal past high school. It even says so on the A-11 website. Why do people keep missing this?

Yeah, you can line up in similar looking formations, but it wouldn't be an A-11 play. The whole point of an A-11 play is that until right before the snap, the defense has no idea who they need to cover downfield. Anyone could end up a downfield receiver. You can't do this in the NFL or NCAA - not on 'every play' at least.

The reason is that the trick they use to get around the "must have ineligible numbers" requirement is that they line up in a scrimmage-kick formation. In the NCAA, it must be "obvious that a kick will be attempted." That doesn't prevent trick plays, but it does prevent a regular offense. You can quibble about what "obvious that a kick may be attempted" means, but I guarantee that if someone tried it, that rule would be enforced (and then probably clarified later).

In the NFL, it's worse - read here for the rules differences between NFL and high school football rules. Most importantly, read here:

Additionally, of the seven players required to be on team As line, five must be numbered 50-79. An exception for scrimmage kick formations allows less than five players on the line to be numbered 50-79; however, once such a player assumes that initial position as an interior lineman, he is an ineligible receiver. If a subsequent shift leaves the excepted player in the position of an eligible receiver, he remains an ineligible receiver.

In other words, game over for any A-11 tricks. It just doesn't work past high school. Period. (It's actually even worse in the NFL - during scrimmage kicks, only the ends can go downfield before the kick. Which means you have only two downfield receivers since you're not kicking.)

I also think that if it were up to me, I'd change it to be illegal in high school, too. It's clearly not what the scrimmage kick rules were intended for, it's not allowed in any higher level of play, and it basically removes a facet of play that rules exist to keep around (namely, the line battle centered around the ball), so it's clearly moving in the direction of a different sport.

Main proponents of it say that it allows smaller schools who don't have the size to be able to compete with larger schools, but that's silly. The smaller schools have a fundamental disadvantage in having a smaller pool of athletes available. Nothing, whatsoever, can fix that. The only reason it helped Piedmont is because it was new. If it became prevalent, the bigger schools would adapt to beat it, and they would.

I've read a fair bit of websites asking "could this work in the NFL?" and I'm amazed that no one gives the correct answer. Some people say "no, because they have to wear an ineligible number," or "no, because they have to report to the official to be eligible" which is wrong, because the A-11 gets out of that by being in scrimmage-kick formations.

The correct answer, as far as I can tell, is "no, because in the NFL, only the ends can go downfield from a scrimmage kick formation, and the instant someone lines up as an interior lineman, they're ineligible, period, game over."

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 5:53pm

His comment was more on the media than on Donovan himself.

What? How is that not on Donovan? He's saying "Donovan's not as good as the media thinks he is, and the reason I think the media thinks this is because they want a black quarterback to succeed."

There's two logical statements there. One pertains to the media, one pertains to McNabb.

1) McNabb is overrated.
2) He is overrated because the media wants a black quarterback to succeed.

Statement 1 is clearly about McNabb. Given that #2 is purely racial (and stupid), it's not a huge leap to say that statement 1 might be arise from a similar racial bias. Ask yourself "why did Limbaugh think McNabb was overrated?" He's not a football expert, and this was in 2003, after McNabb had been to three consecutive Pro Bowls. Is it possible that Limbaugh thought that McNabb was overrated because he was black? Probably likely.

You're right in that his moron racial statement was directed at the media and not McNabb. That doesn't mean that Limbaugh didn't define McNabb via racial stereotypes in order to make that statement. That's the nasty thing about biases nowadays: they're usually unintentional, because they're usually not overt.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 6:08pm

#11 - Can of worms my friend. I agree with you, but its fruitless to even speculate about considering thinking possibly resolving to bring the issue up.

This A11 is interesting. But watching the highlight film, the defense has already adjusted by dropping an equal number of defenders into coverage.

We've experimented with a double-QB in my no-blocking flag league in hopes of confusing the defensive tackle(s). Never tried it in a game but I suspect it would work every now and then. A double-QB would only work in the NFL if a team could find QBs who are competent backfield blockers, which ain't gonna happen.

by Alex (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 6:34pm

To #16 -

Just wait until Tebow hits the NFL. I imagine he could block pretty well if he wanted to. He'll probably play RB or FB anyways - I'd love to see him get some direct snaps out of shotgun, or run a couple HB passes per game.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 7:06pm

I'm surprised you didn't hear about this before, Mike, as it was discussed last year at least in FO IRC and maybe even mentioned on the site. As Pat pointed out in #14, the true "A-11" is illegal in the NFL and in college, and as pointed out last fall on the A-11 site, most high school rules as well. It's just that the local CIF or whatever the organizing body is screwed up the rules in these coaches' conference.

As you point out, though, it does provide a possible interesting way to think about how NFL formations should differ. Given that we've seen things like the Titans start this past year's playoff game with a swinging-gate type formation, or get a long TD pass out of Emory-and-Henry punt formation like they did a couple years ago, this really isn't anything new.

by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 7:06pm

#15: The reasom Limbaugh said Statement #1 was that McNabb was 0-2 with a QB rating in the forties or fifties at the time. He had just had two uttterly miserable weeks. It was still a ridiculous overextrapolation, and Statement #2 was clear racial bias, but Statement #1 dumb as it was emerged out of objective bad play.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 7:48pm

#19: That sounds good, and I'm sure that Limbaugh would try to defend his statements with that. The problem is that it doesn't work with what Limbaugh actually said. He said "I don't think he's been that good from the get-go." Thus implying that he wasn't good in previous years, either, when he was voted to multiple Pro Bowls, and did not have a horrendous passer rating and his team was constantly winning. Thus implying he was overrated in those years, too, which is ridiculous to believe.

The fact that he said it the way he did implies that he did think McNabb was overrated at the time. And again, considering he's no football expert, and most of the football experts in the world disagreed with him, it's likely to consider that instead of the media having a racial bias, it's him that has one.

I mean, it's bad enough that he made the comment in the first place - implying that there's a secret racial agenda in the media when there's a far, far more obvious answer (quarterbacks always get too much credit for when a team wins) just implies that you're seeing 'race' everywhere, which usually hints that you might have a bias.

But when he pulls out a crazy conspiracy theory explanation for why McNabb is overrated, you do have to wonder why he actually thought McNabb was overrated in the first place. I don't think the two bad games did that. I think those just gave him the idea that he could say it and not look like an idiot.

Didn't work out that way, though.

by Dave O\'Connell (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 7:53pm

Rush got it right...but with the wrong quarterback. Michael Vick would've been a far better target. I was rewatching the St. Louis-Atlanta playoff game from 2005 a few weeks ago and the fawning over Vick by the announcers was just embarrassing. Vick overthrows a receiver and all they can talk about is his arm strength. Or Vick throws the ball away to avoid a sack and we're supposed to be wowed because Vick was able to fling it 40 yards while backpedaling. When a player is five seasons into his career with the flaws that Vick had in his game and the media largely isn't picking up on it, you've got to seek out other explanations. And given the media's love of racial milestone stories (remember the first all-black head coach hype of the Super Bowl a couple years back?), Rush's explanation seems plausible.

-Dave O'Connell

by masoch (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 7:56pm

Funny, PK143 tells me that he frequently gets text messages from Brett Favre reading "BRB-FGB" as well. I'll leave you to decipher it.

by Gerry (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 8:09pm

"Ask yourself “why did Limbaugh think McNabb was overrated?” He’s not a football expert, and this was in 2003, after McNabb had been to three consecutive Pro Bowls. Is it possible that Limbaugh thought that McNabb was overrated because he was black? Probably likely."

Knowing Limbaugh, he thought McNabb was overrated because the media loved him.

However, it quickly showed the folly of having Limbaugh on the football telecasts, because it was downright stupid at that time to be arguing that McNabb wasn't as good as people thought. He was.

by Dave O'Connell (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 8:15pm

Here's Allen Barra on the Limbaugh-McNabb subject on Slate.com at the time:

"If Limbaugh had been an astute analyst, what he would've said is 'Donovan McNabb has never been more than a mediocre quarterback.' Other than that, Limbaugh pretty much spoke the truth, saying in public what many football fans have been saying privately for the last couple of seasons."

Then he quotes Limbaugh: McNabb is "overrated...what we have here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback can do well -- black quarterbacks and black coaches doing well. There's a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of the team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

Barra then goes on to compare McNabb unfavorably to the decidedly unheralded Brad Johnson, trotting out various statistics and Johnson's Super Bowl ring. He then says: "Limbaugh is being excoriated for making race an issue in the NFL. This is blatant hypocrisy. I don't know of a football writer who didn't regard the dearth of black quarterbacks in the NFL as one of the important issues of the late eighties and early nineties."

Barra finishes: "Rush Limbaugh didn't say McNabb was a bad quarterback because he's black. He said that the media has overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limabugh is right. He didn't say anything he shouldn't have said, and in fact said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now. I admit I should have said it myself."

-Dave O'Connell

by db (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 8:48pm

When I say that Vince Young is dumb I am not being racist. I think that Orton and Grossman are also mental midgets. Vince is just dumb regardless of race.

by Steelers Fan (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 9:37pm

Joe Gilliam -- maybe more talent than Bradshaw for the 1970s Steelers. Check out his 1975? game against Denver.

by Pat (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:32pm

Rush got it right…but with the wrong quarterback. Michael Vick would’ve been a far better target.

I disagree, strongly, on both counts. The media fawned over Vick because he was an above-average QB in his first full year starting. He posted a 7.3% DVOA, and 513 DYAR passing, and a 19.5% DVOA and 172 DYAR rushing.

Keep in mind, this is his first complete year. Those are very, very promising numbers. When you see numbers like that from someone who dominated in college football (remember, in his final year, he posted the NCAA's top passing efficiency mark), you're naturally going to think "okay, he's on his way." See Vince Young, see Reggie Bush, but Vick's first full year starting was better than either of them.

The next year, he was injured, so media opinion on him stood still, which you'd expect.

In 2004, Vick was probably the most productive rushing QB the NFL had seen for years. He had about more DYAR rushing than anyone else from 1995-2004, by a decent margin. His passing sucked, really bad.

But keep in mind - two years previous, he was an above-average passer. Now he was one of the best rushing QBs the league had seen. Combine above-average passer and top rushing QB, and you get a top QB. Add in the fact that the Falcons had one of the luckier seasons ever, and ended up in the NFC Championship game ("QBs always get too much credit for teams winning"), and he still ends up with a strong resume.

I don't think that Rush's statement would've worked in the least bit with Vick, either. You couldn't've said Vick was overrated in 2004. He struggled passing, but he was dominating as a rusher - and he had previously done an above-average job as a passer. You chalk the passing up to a sophomore slump, or something, and move on. Now we know it was 2002 that was the aberration, but in 2004, you couldn't know that.

So no, I don't think the media overrated him for his race. I think they overrated him because they put together Vick of 2002 with Vick of 2004 and made Mega-Vick.

All the statements you're making ("Vick overthrows his receivers, and they're talking about arm strength") can be made about Brett Favre, as well. Favre rushed forward, and threw a pass waaay beyond the line of scrimmage, and the announcers say "Oh, he's just having fun out there, look at him laugh." They can also be made about Peyton Manning, as well. Peyton false started while trying to do the "walk off the field" trick play, and people started to say "how much of a student of the game" he was.

Announcers always make excuses for players that are "supposed to be great," because, well, they're supposed to be great, and it's not like the announcers know why it happened.

Here’s Allen Barra on the Limbaugh-McNabb subject on Slate.com at the time:

I wrote about this article elsewhere a long time ago. It's tripe. It's logical nonsense.

Here's his argument:
1) Limbaugh said McNabb is overrated because he's black.
2) Here's some evidence that McNabb is overrated.
3) "To pretend that many of us didn't want McNabb to be the best quarterback in the NFL because he's black is absurd." (plus a bunch more statements which are essentially the same thing).
4) Therefore, Limbaugh is right.

I hope I don't have to point out why this is insane. Point 2 might as well be "collect underpants," and Point 4 might as well be "Profit!" It's a nice combination of a false dilemma (proving McNabb is overrated without proving the media overrates him because he's black) and an appeal to ridicule (you can't just say "duh" to prove that McNabb is overrated because he's black).

I won't even bother pointing out why the Brad Johnson comparison is stupid, other than to note that he claims that McNabb's rushing yardage, which is 1600 yards for his career more than Johnson's at the time of the article, is "mostly negated" by the extra sack per game. Why, you might ask, did he use rates for everything else, but not for the rushing yardage? Because Johnson had been in the league longer - and using total rushing yardage allowed Johnson to not look so bad. In truth, McNabb was averaging 30 yards/game at the time, and Johnson was averaging about 4. To suggest that one sack makes up that entire difference is ludicrous (especially since excluding McNabb's rookie year, which even by then was obviously an outlier, it wasn't 'one sack a game'. It was more like half a sack per game.).

I don't think there's any evidence that the media overrates black quarterbacks at all, and Barra's assertion that because we would like to see racial equity at the quarterback position, we therefore must overrate black quarterbacks just generates a giant "Huh?" from me.

by Aaron M. (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 11:10pm

Why does it always have to be about race?

I think it is East Coast media bias.

For example, Trent Green is #5 on "Top 10 Quarterbacks in Total DYAR,
1995-2007" yet the most time the Chiefs or him got on national television or ESPN were the obligatory game recaps. Rush Limbaugh just called it the wrong thing. The media collectively overrates all East Coast players, or at least the ones they like.

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 11:23pm

Re #8- Keith Elias 4 Life!

by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Thu, 07/31/2008 - 11:25pm

seriously though... I'm not proud to admit it, but it took me a couple of minutes to crack the BRB-FGB code. And I live in the East Village, so I'll def swing by the Varsity Letters reading.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:01am

I’d be more interested in regional trends in players. Have you ever noticed (it seems) that linemen and fullbacks are disproportionately from either the Southeast or Midwest? Did you know that Pittsburgh PA is a QB-factory?

I'd really like to know how much of the clustering that's seen is artificial - namely, due to the fact that a whole ton of the players in the NFL are related.

I'm actually kindof curious exactly how many of the players in the NFL are related to each other, and how that compares to any random group of 53*32 people in the US.

by rashreflection (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:11am

First off, Allen Barra represents damn near everything wrong with pre-FO statistical analysis. I've commented on here before about his attempt to argue for Bart Starr as the greatest QB of all time, but suffice it to say that it is the single most ridiculous piece of football writing I have ever read. He's a total homer in general, too - a subtle version of Simmons.

And the media constantly pushed Vick not because he was black, but because he was "marketable". Think Reggie Bush's rookie year. This phenomenon doesn't have any strong racial connection, either - remember those "Eli Manning is unstoppable" watch commercials? And his brother should need no further explanation in this context.

I think you can blame Michael Jordan for this. Before his rise to fame, I don't recall any real discussion of marketability WRT pro athletes, but now the media picks charismatic youngsters with potential and hypes them to the moon from the very beginning.


by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:11am


1. I never said Limbaugh wasn't racially biased. Only that the "McNabb=not as good as he's cracked up to be" part (much as I disagree with it) is sufficiently explained without resorting to it.

2. Recency bias. McNabb's recent trouble looms large, and past success looms smaller. "He's doing badly now" becomes "He was never quite as good as the hype."

3. Keep im mind that I don't agree with the overrated bit *or* the media conspiracy bit. I'm just saying that only one of them is bigoted and the other is merely unintelligent.

by Pat (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 4:39am

#33: I don't disagree that you can explain Limbaugh thinking McNabb is overrated without resorting to bias. Sure. I'm just trying to say it's not unreasonable to believe that his opinion on that is also due to bias.

Yeah, it could easily be recency bias, but two games isn't a lot. Jumping from "three-time Pro Bowl quarterback" to "isn't all that good" in two games very likely indicates a predisposition against him.

Put another way, if his belief that McNabb wasn't that good wasn't bigoted, you're right, it means he's an idiot and a bigot. Whereas if it's from bias, he just needs to be a bigot. :)

by kaetab (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 6:47am

The really telling part of the Limbaugh/McNabb issue is the following year Michael Smith made the exact same argument on Around the Horn, and he didn't even get an eyebrow raise.

Also, Limbaugh's follow-up during the outfall stated that he sat off to the side during pre-production of the show. He got the idea for his comments by watching the way the Bristol guys were creating their McNabb coverage for the day's program.

Pro Bowl = popular, not best in the league.


by Dave O'Connell (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 7:00am

re: #27

Still, why the late '80s/early 90s clamoring for more black quarterbacks by the media? It reminds me a bit of the Lawrence Summers controversy. Summers, the president of Harvard, opined a few years back that maybe the reason why women were underrepresented in the sciences was because of genetic differences. For this, he lost his job. Flash-forward to a week ago (July 25). The New York Times runs a piece on a new study that says that boys and girls have about the same average scores when tested in those subjects, complete with a dig at Summers in the lede. Case closed, right?

Well, not really. True, the averages were similar, but average doesn't get you into Harvard. Really good grades do, and the boys were well ahead of the girls by that measure (it was feast or famine -- either the boys did really great or really terrible, while the girls chugged along respectably).

The media does this stuff all the time. They adopt an identity-politics stance and view what is an achievement-oriented field through that prism. It's not simply McNabb or Vick. Note all the dopey questions Tiger Woods gets about being a black role model, even though Woods is about four different races and has shown no interest in going down that road. Or the overhyping of Annika Sorenstam's results when she played against men in the Bank of America Colonial, as if a 96th-place finish really boosts the argument that women can hold their own against men in golf in general. Rush called them out on it, and while McNabb might not have been the ideal example to use, he was right to point out that the media isn't dispassionate and objective about matters involving race.

-Dave O'Connell

by Dave O\'Connell (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 7:39am

Re #32

Yes, Eli Manning had his watch commercials. And Dan Marino had his Isotoner glove spots. Commercials are what keep TV media in business; they're not really the media itself. Take away the story peg of being Peyton's brother and I think we'd be closer to Alex Smith levels of hype.

As for Barra, I always thought of him as the forerunner of FO-style analysis, in that he devised stats that tried to measure efficiency, rather than rely on raw yardage totals like the NFL too often does (see his "Football By The Numbers" books from the '80s). I should also note that he has a piece in FO's sister website Baseball Prospectus' "It Ain't Over 'Til Its Over" book, so he's not exactly persona non grata in these circles. (Though he did receive some fallout after Limbaugh read his column on his show: "My liberal friends wouldn't speak to me for weeks." Some friends.)

As for that oither poster's statistical breakdown: So the hype is understandable because Vick went from above-average rookie passer to injured to good runner/bad passer? Again, that's enough of a stretch that I think you have to seek out other explanations for the hype.

-Dave O'Connell

by mawbrew (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 7:55am

Re: 35

Just want to echo one part of your post, that is, Pro Bowls seem like an inherantly poor way to demonstrate that someone isn't overated. For example, I would reference John Lynch's four Pro Bowls while playing for Denver as evidence that he is overated. And while reasonable people may disagree with me on this, I hope none of them would classify me as a racist (even if I had the nerve to suggest that Lynch's race may be partially responsible for the elevated perception of his play).

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 10:26am

How about


Can't talk, BB has me hidden in dumpster, taping opponent's practice.

by Matt Weiner (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 10:40am

#36: why the late ’80s/early 90s clamoring for more black quarterbacks by the media?

Because there were very few black quarterbacks at the time? And because there was reason to suspect that it was because of stereotyping, as Mike's article points out -- since there are more black QBs now, there probably could've been more then.

It's like coaches; there used to be very few black coaches, now after a concerted effort to fix the problem there are more black coaches and it's hard to say that coaching quality has gone down as a result. That means that there was probably an untapped reservoir of black coaches who were being held back before.

I think pretty much everything you say about Lawrence Summers is wrong, but that's a political discussion.

by Dean (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:27am

So what DOES "BRB-FGB" mean?

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:34am

SI had a great article in the early 90's on why teams don't use the option in the NFL. Why would you want your QB and highest paid player to take 10-15 extra hits per game?

Defensive ends in the NFL can run 4.5's and linebackers are even faster. 9 athletic guys on defense and the potential for injury aren't worth the extra rushing yards.

Mike Vick is the most overrated playerin NFL history by a long shot. Forget his attitude, STDs, and off field antics, He was a WR playing QB and never progressed his career. Even in his 5th year he would drop back and look at the DE's rushing him instead of looking downfield. The only QB that had as terrible of pocket awareness was the oft sacked David Carr.

People talked about him like the was the greatest player of all-time but he was a gimic average at best player and was spoonfed to us by the media.

The only career passing records Mike Vick will ever set will be in the Virginia penal leagues.

by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:42am

Re #41
Ahem, consider who his current female bed partner is.

Re McNabb
1. Yes, he was overrated.
2. There are good and valid reasons to believe he was overrated other than because the media wants a black quarterback to succeed.
3. Can we stop talking about this stupid topic already? It was beaten to death at the time, and there's been no new evidence as to whether or not McNabb was overrated at the time the comments were made or, AFAIK, any evidence as to a media-wide conspiracy to see Donovan McNabb succeed because of his race.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:04pm

I'd have to say that at this point Mcnabb is heavily underrated. He is no worse than a top 5 QB and yet nobody talks about him anymore. It is like he retired or something. Mcnabb has run that WCO for years and is one of the SMARTEST QB's too.

Very early on Mcnabb was overrated though and Vick spent his entire career as a do no wrong super star. Everything was his receivers fault, his defenses fault, his coaches fault, the fans fault and the medias fault.

by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:29pm

Hmmm, I guess the very lead topic of this Walkthrough voids posting rule 1, since any discussion focusing on race is by definition political?

It's certainly true that the color barrier is much less pronounced than years back. I grew up in New Hampshire, where we really don't HAVE black people, and so I never really gave racial issues much of a thought. Consequently, unless a player appears in a lot of ads or plays for the Patriots (and hence I see on TV a lot), I generally don't even know whether a player is white or black. For instance, I honestly couldn't say with certainty whether Adrian Peterson, or D'Brickashaw Ferguson, or Joe Thomas, are white or black (I'm guessing that Peterson is black, because I think I remembered reading that 95% or so of NFL starting RB's are black, but that's a guess). For that matter, I'm not even sure I could tell you the race of some of the Patriots...Ben Watson and James Sanders spring to mind. Yes, I'm kind of naieve, but I think this level of colorblindness would have been absolutely impossible for anyone, even me, in the 1960's or 1970's. I was born in 1978 and didn't really start following football until the very late '80's, and by then there were no rules that said that "QB's must be white".

Still, it is weird that, even without rules, certain positions tend to be certain colors. QB's have become a mixed bag, but RB's seem to be overwhelmingly black, while fullbacks and O-linemen tend to generally be white.

by Peder (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:38pm

Out of curiousity, I looked at FO's QB ratings for 2000-2002 to see if McNabb was overrated or not.

2000 - 15th best QB
2001 - 20th best QB
2002 - 24th best QB

Those don't look like Pro Bowl rankings to me. I'd say that the numbers suggest he was very overrated.

by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:47pm

I find the ressurection of this topic (the Limbaugh thing) fairly topical considering his statements that he would consider purchasing the Rams. What the hell would NFL players (who are predominantly black) think of playing for him? Or getting drafted by a team he owned? I'm a red-headed white guy, he has never said anything to disparage gingers (as far as I know) and I wouldn't play for him (intense dislike fo his politics and the way he goes about it). I could see it having an impact on the draft with some players saying they don't want to play for him.

I am not trying to be political about this, but the guy is (love or loathe him) a VERY polarising character. I suspect the other NFL owners would shoot down any efforts to transfer part or all of the ownership to him. The NFL has been served well for years by remaining as apolitical as possible, I suspect that an ownership candidate like Limbaugh would be an unwelcome addition.

by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 12:49pm

The run-n-shoot Oilers of the late 80's-early 90's ran some option as part of their goal line package. Their 1988 playoff game against the Bills turned on a failed option:

[With the Bills up 7-3 in the 2nd half], the Oilers were at the Buffalo 2, with third and 1.

The Oilers chose the option. Moon may have made a bad read, and he certainly made a bad pitchout. Rozier never touched it, and it rolled over the sideline for a 12-yard loss.

Tony Zendejas then came out to try a 31-yard field goal . . . and duck-hooked it, and the Oilers had nothing to show for the trip.

"It kinda slipped out of my hand and got away from me," Moon said.

"It was a matter of either me taking it into the end zone or Mike. I'm not sure, they said from upstairs that I might have made it myself. I didn't think I could."

Why not run straight ahead?

"Well, I've got 5 TDs running the option this year," Moon said, "and our backs have scored more. We're going to do the things that got us here. We can't throw it out now."

L.A. Times, January 2, 1989.

by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:01pm

While Pat (#14) has pointed out that the formation in Figure 2 is not legal in the NFL, it also has a significant problem. You're asking a QB to block a defensive lineman to protect the other QB. While this might work with a Culpepper/ Lorenzen size QB, I wouldn't try it very often.

by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:02pm

Re 45:

Still, it is weird that, even without rules, certain positions tend to be certain colors. QB’s have become a mixed bag, but RB’s seem to be overwhelmingly black, while fullbacks and O-linemen tend to generally be white.

This is a combination of two things. One is genetic realities. Black people are generally faster than white people. The second thing, is a result of the first, and that is self-selection. A lot of white players don't even try to be running backs or receivers because they assume the black players will be better than them.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:34pm

#50 - I'm not so sure about your first point...but you're a little off-target about your second point. I think a lot of this so-called "self-selection" has more to do with how black and white people emphasize different elements of the game, from Pop Warner up to the NFL.

I don't think its a coincidence that black QBs are overwhelmingly considered to be "scramblers" (even when they often are not) while many white QBs are similarly categorized as "pocket passers." While these labels are probably stereotypes, they are more than likely grounded in reality. And I believe these trends probably are realized in the formative years of young players (the Pop Warner years) where black coaches and players seek to emulate popular black athletes (Randall Cunningham to Vince Young) while white coaches and players seek to emulate popular white athletes (Johnny U to Peyton Manning).

Regarding your idea that some races are genetically superior when it comes to certain physical attributes, keep in mind that white athletes are more widely distributed across all sports, while black athletes (in the US anyway) are confined to only a few professional sports in any great amount. While it might appear that black athletes in football are faster and more numerous compared to white athletes, the fastest white athletes are more spread out among several different sports.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:38pm

#49 - yeah, I mentioned that earlier. We all saw what happened when Trent Green tried to block for the running game last year. And I remember about 3 years ago when Mark Brunell threw a block and messed up his throwing arm. Too dicey.

by bowman (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 1:49pm

BRB-FGB - Should be listed for Favre...

Be right back - *** Green Bay

by Tom D (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 2:18pm

Re 51:

You're right, I left out a lot reasons for self-selection, and it is the main cause. As for black people not being faster, when is the last time a white person has taken an Olympic medal in sprinting?

by Travis (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 2:44pm

Re: 54

Jeremy Wariner, 2004 400 meters.

by Temo (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 4:10pm

Or 2004, Chinese guy takes 110 meter hurdles, which more of a sprint than the 400 meters (400 is a little less muscle, a little more anaerobic requirements than the 100, 200 meter sprints).

by Roscoe (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 10:30pm

Back to football, anyone see Florida try a gimmick play that looked a little bit like this A11 against LSU last year? Florida only had two guys on the line in front of Tebow, and one of them was a step back so he was eligible. The rest of the line was overloaded to the right.

Not sure what they intended to try, as the play got stuffed (link in my name).

by Zack Attack (not verified) :: Fri, 08/01/2008 - 11:50pm

"Out of curiousity, I looked at FO’s QB ratings for 2000-2002 to see if McNabb was overrated or not.

2000 - 15th best QB
2001 - 20th best QB
2002 - 24th best QB

Those don’t look like Pro Bowl rankings to me. I’d say that the numbers suggest he was very overrated."

Pat exits quietly...

by Zack Attack (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 12:06am

I've thought of McNabb as fluctuating between 5-15 in terms of QBs for the better part of his career and he is closer to 5 than 15 at this point in his career.

I feel like the knee injuries that limited his mobility have actually improved him as a QB. He used to be a jittery, inaccurate passer who would take off and run. Now he's able to shuffle instead of scramble, make better decisions and use his strong arm more accurately.

I've always felt that he'd be capable of transitioning into more of a passer like Steve McNair did. Not to say that the MVP trophy is in the cards, but he could be more effective for longer by avoiding broken sternums and such.

by Derrick White (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 9:43am

McNabb is the closest Black to being a top ten in the league QB as a pocket passer that there has been in the NFL - ever.

The only other black that I can think of who was better than average was Warren Moon. And you want to talk about overrated - Moon ran up large numbers, but at no time during his NFL career would he have been considered in the top ten QBs by NFL people. Yet he is in the HoF?!?

That is the best example of the media trying to use the Black QB as a instrument of social change.

And if you want to talk about his draft position and how good he was in Canada, lets include Theisman and Flutie in the conversation.

If there are genetic differences that account for there being no significant white CBs or RBs - how is it unreasonable to think it might go both ways?

All of the really mobile black QBs who have failed in the NFL (isn't that all of them?) have had EXACTLY the same problems: can't pass from the pocket, inconsistent accuracy, bad decision making, too prone to run when not necessary.

Three white QBs with excellent speed and running ability immediately come to mind who did NOT have these problems: Steve Brunnell, Steve Young, and John Elway.

by Red Hedgehog (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 3:10pm

Aw man, August 7? That's the day I leave town. And I live in the East Village.

Major bummer, because I thought this year's edition of PFP was great.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 3:38pm

"If there are genetic differences that account for there being no significant white CBs or RBs - how is it unreasonable to think it might go both ways?"

Because thats racist, duh.

This article has no substance that I can see. it talks about trends and weak antecdotal evidence.

Lets talk objectively:

How would racism affect a player?

The answer to me is simple. All players have a specific skill level (aka-- How well a player will actually preform), and a perceived specific skill level (aka -- how well a player is expected to perform). It is generally accepted that all NFL teams are playing the players they perceive to be the best player (as in, no teams would start a white player over a black player when they believe the black player to be better). Thus for a black player to be racially profiled against, being black would need to reduce their perceived skill level

End conclusion-- this means that black QBs as a whole would be expected to be underrated assuming that racism exists within football.

It can be assumed that the racist aspect would not be massive enough to have a top 10 QB getting benched, thus meaning that the easiest way to note the difference is to see if any black backups should be starting, and if any black starters should be backups.

I dont feel like looking this information up, but off the top of my head, Tavaris Jackson should not be starting, and I know of zero black QBs that should be starting that arent. I also think McNabb and Vick are both overrated. Meaning that if anything, being black improves your chance of being a starting QB. meaning the racism is in fact against white QBs.

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 4:20pm

RE: 60

I would say that both McNabb and Moon are/were overall the best Black QB's from the pocket over a long period of time. I would also add that at various points in their careers both Dantae Culpepper and Randall Cunningham could be effective passers as well. And for a time Jeff Blake was a solid passer early in his career. I have to disagree with you statement that Moon was never a top 10 QB in a season. To be fair, you would have to show me ( during Moon's peak years ) 9 or ten QB's who were far and away better than he was during his best years.

Also to say that mobile, black QB's have been utter failures would be kind of extreme. McNabb, McNair, Cunningham, Culpepper were all mobile QB's and all of them, while not the " best " QB during any one season were good QB's. When I think of QB failures I think of Akili Smith, Andre Ware, David Klingler, Tim Couch, David Carr, Heath Shuler, Ryan Leaf. Those QB's never had even a smidgen of the sucess that McNabb, Cunningham, Culpepper, or McNair had.

And the worst mobile black QB's in the NFL have easily been Mike Vick and to this point Vince Young. And I suspect neither of them were in pro style offenses in college.

by Scott (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 4:20pm

#60 - Warren Moon was indeed a top 10 QB from 1988-92 and again in 95.

And you mean Mark Brunell. Actually that's an interesting point, as most of the white QB's that were good at scrambling were good passers too (Young, Tarkenton, Elway, Brunell, Gannon, Staubach, Anderson, Garcia) while the reverse just hasn't been true for many black QB's.

by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 4:31pm

RE: 62

You going to have to show me in more detail where simply being black gives a QB a decided advantage over white QB's. If that were the case, then wouldn't teams that have bad white QB's be raiding black Qb's from other teams to replace them? I mean here in Chicago, Bear fans are observing a great qb competition between 2 average ( that is being generous ) qb's. If black QB's are " favored " over white ones then why didn't Jerry Angelo get a troy smith or a byron leftwich or a cleo lemon etc. Just not seeing all this racism against the white quarterback.

by McGayTrain (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 6:18pm

As a Bills fan I'll point out that:

(1) Rob Johnson and JP Losman are white.

(2) They were both better than average scramblers.

(3) They both are both bad quarterbacks.

by broncosguy (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 6:34pm

I am stunned by some of the comments I'm reading. What was implicit in Rush's comments was the idea that a specific black quarterback, considered to be a good football player, could only acquire that consideration via media bias in lieu of what any fool could see with his own eyes. It was a classic example of Rush's inability to separate his politics from objective thought. Notably, I also thought at the time that McNabb was somewhat over-rated, but for far different reasons than some paranoid theory of a liberal-minority cabal. To attribute the perception of McNabb solely to race is, of course, simple bigotry.

by Tom D (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 7:00pm

Re 64:

Bobby Douglass. The Micheal Vick of his time.

by Peder (not verified) :: Sat, 08/02/2008 - 10:07pm

I don't think that Limbaugh was saying that a black QB could only gain a good reputation through media help. I think he was saying that in that particular situation that was happening. BTW, I think he was completely wrong in his reasoning too. McNabb wasn't elevated because he was black but because he was charismatic, and maybe very nice to them. Sports reporters love friendly people and McNabb seems to fit that bill. Any Philly natives want to weigh in?

by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 4:35am

#58: More like "Pat has a metric crapton of work piling up and gets to sleep at 2 AM for the past four days." The previous poster didn't add in McNabb's rushing totals, nor consider who his supporting cast was. Primarily the latter.

Virtually every sportswriter on the planet realized that McNabb's receiving corps from 2000-2003 was probably one of the worst in the league. I don't actually think any of McNabb's receivers from 2000-2003 are still in the league.

That's the main reason why the "#1 wide receiver!!!" mentality exists for Philly fans.

by Lou (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 5:29am

mcnabb ranked 14, 16, and 18th in 00, 01, 02 respectively with rushing dyar added to passing dyar. it would appear he was being overrated at the time (at least before considering surrounding talent), each year he was the worst player by that metric to make the pro bowl. however in 01 tom brady ranked 15th and made the pro bowl, steve mcnair ranked 2nd and didnt. i would say being on a winning team, and having a charming personality were much more important factors in mcnabb's being over rated than the color of his skin.

by Lou (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 5:34am

it occurs to me i probably should have used yar instead of dyar, because fans dont tend to adjust for defense when rating players. if the eagles faced easier pass d's from 00-02, that could possibly account for the perception of mcnabb's play being higher than the advanced stats indicate. i'm too tired to re-add the numbers now though

by Kilroy (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 11:55am

I believe that Vick, Mcnabb, and many other young black QB's were overrated by the media because of their skin color. How often do we see an athletic black QB fail only to have his receivers blamed?

I'd also agree that the Brian Urlachers, Jermey Shockeys and Wes Welkers of the world are overrated because they are white and playing ( black) positions.

The media just loves to hype up the unconventional player. If Brian Urlacher was black and named Lance Briggs, he wouldn't receive 1/8th the hype and be on the cover of Madden. If Mike Vick was white and named JP Losman, he wouldn't be the most overrated player ever.

The first four sentences of this article could be deemed racist. The black QB is an athlete and playmaker but not smart and a field general? So does that mean a white receiver is slow, intelligent and skillful?

Racism in the NFL is a two way street.

by BrixtonBear (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 2:26pm


Be Right Back — Four Giants in Backfield

by Daniel (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 8:49pm

Re: 50
"black people are generally faster than white people" Really? What exactly are you basing this on? Just observing athletics is not a large enough sample size to make a broad statement about genetic differences between people with differing skin pigmentation or whose ancestors originated from different parts of the world. I would argue that the reason you see many more elite athletes of African descent is because many of them grow up in working class and lower social classes. They have less options for entertainment/leisure activities based on economic conditions and gravitate to athletics at an early age and therefore have a much more advanced in the skill sets that are valued in the popular sports by the time they reach high school, the first level where lesser athletes are discarded. The NFL is in the business of selling tickets and merchandise. Due to high costs associated with seeing a game, the average fan is lucky to attend one game every couple of years. More likely they spend their money on merchandise and gaining access to things like the Sunday Ticket and NFL network. The media, whether they admit it or not, is a partner of the NFL in this business. They will hype any player, regardless of skin color, who they believe will generate fan interest and help sell their product (newspapers, periodicals, web site access) in conjunction with the NFLs. I'm sure Donavan McNabb being black has helped the Eagles sell jerseys to fans who are influenced by such considerations, but that doesn't mean that Limbaugh was right in saying that the NFL and the 'Media' were hyping him because of that. Any QB on a team that makes it to 4 straight NFC title games has the potential to move product regardless of his skin color or his actual statistics.

by Pat (not verified) :: Sun, 08/03/2008 - 11:24pm

It would appear he was being overrated at the time (at least before considering surrounding talent),

Like I said before, it's almost all about surrounding talent. How many other skill players on the Eagles went to the Pro Bowl from 2000-2003? Answer? One - Chad Lewis, and I have no idea how he got to the Pro Bowl in 2002.

Stats can't tell that a QB has absolutely no receiving talent, but people can.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 1:17am


I havent done any kind of extensive research about it. My evidence is weak, and I know it. But its stronger than this fluff piece that im seeing here.

The reason the bears are choosing between a ton of worthless white QBs is because whats the point in trading for someone else equally as worthless? I agree, Bears have a non starter quality QB, but they know it, and they are trying to replace him. This is in stark contrast to the Vikings and the Titans who both seem dedicated to their bad (and black) quarterbacks.

so on the top end of the spectrum, black QBs are overrated (McNabb, Vick). Near the bottom end of the spectrum, black QBs are overrated (Jackson, Young). The backups are probably even overrated (Leftwitch, etc)

Assuming that you agree with my point that being overrated helps your NFL career, I would say that you would at least have to admit that there is some possibility that being black actually helps your QB career, not hurts it.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 6:27am


1) Jackson and Young are both above-replacement level quarterbacks (but currently below-average). It is hard to replace them with someone better, and they are both still relatively young (especially Jackson). It's difficult to know how they'll develop.

2) Orton and Grossman are below-replacement level quarterbacks. It is easy to replace them with someone better. Grossman is also relatively advanced in his career. It's unlikely that he will suddenly become an above-average player.

3) Last I checked, Chicago is the team that's not interested in getting a better quarterback, and Minnesota is. So, that kinda flushes your entire argument down the drain.

by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 6:38am

How often do we see an athletic black QB fail only to have his receivers blamed?

You're stating this as if it's obvious, with no examples.

The only examples I can think of are true. Philly's receiving corps was, without any doubt, the worst in the league. They fixed it, and McNabb's production went through the roof.

With Vick, by his last years, most people were blaming him, not his receivers.

by fester (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 9:56am

BRB-FGB =Be Right Back -- F*cking Gisele Buchden

by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 10:03am

Vince Young has impressed me passing the ball before. I want to say it was the Titans/Saints game on prime time ( Sun or Mon night) where he looked real good.

You have to understand that VY is still Young and has showed PROMISE. Now I am not ready to call him the next Manning or Brady, the guy could turn into the next Mcnair or Mcnabb and that is ok in my book.

On the other hand, Tavaras Jackson has no business starting the the NFL. He had no business being drafted within the first 5 rounds either. If you couldn't start at QB over Matt Jones ( WR), and were not dominant in DIAA, there is no reason for the Hype.

If Rex Grossman can stay healthy, he can end up playing better than Orton, Young, and Jackson. He has thrown 24 TD passes in a season before and is still a young player based on injury wiping out a few seasons. The odds are stacked against him but stranger things have happened before.

I also find the "Warren Moon had to play in the CFL" argument weak.

Kurt Warner, Doug Flutie, Jake Delhomme etc. etc. etc. had a less than red carpet experience to make it to the NFL.

Brett Favre has had a hall of fame career in the NFL and he didn't go to FSU, OU, UT, USC, or LSU.

by RobM (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 10:58am

Is Robo-Punter black?

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 10:58am


#49 - yeah, I mentioned that earlier. We all saw what happened when Trent Green tried to block for the running game last year. And I remember about 3 years ago when Mark Brunell threw a block and messed up his throwing arm. Too dicey."

If you were playing that sort of offence, you wouldn't be using a traditional QB. You'd be using QB/RB slash hybrids. RBs have no problem blocking D-Lineman, so I don't see any reason a hybrid (of the right size) couldnt.

by Joe T. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 12:02pm

#83 "If you were playing that sort of offence, you wouldn’t be using a traditional QB. You’d be using QB/RB slash hybrids. RBs have no problem blocking D-Lineman, so I don’t see any reason a hybrid (of the right size) couldnt."

But where would you find such players? The problem is, most running backs DO have problems blocking defensive linemen, so much so that we recognized backs who block adequately as "good blocking backs."

The system requires a player with the physical tools to be an average QB/RB/FB/TE hybrid. Teams have a hard enough time finding players who can fulfill one of those roles, let alone two.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 12:56pm

"The system requires a player with the physical tools to be an average QB/RB/FB/TE hybrid. Teams have a hard enough time finding players who can fulfill one of those roles, let alone two."

I don;t think the player would need to be average, merely serviceable. Players like that (Seneca Wallace, etc) seem to be readily available, and don't get drafted because they're not good enough as a pure passer or runner to play a dedicated position at the NFL.

The idea would be that the running ability and playcalling would leave it such that the QB/RB would never have to make the truly tough throws (He'd take off instead), and the ability to throw the ball would keep the defenses from stacking the box. The addition of an additional QB/RB would just add to the confusion and make the defense have to cover more bases.

by Alex51 (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 3:45pm

Any scheme that is built on the principle of leaving a defensive lineman unblocked cannot work in the NFL.

Really? This article seems to imply that the off-tackle stretch play that the Colts base their offense around leaves a defensive end unblocked, and it seems to have worked fairly well for them. In particular, this part describing the play seems to imply the defensive end isn't being blocked: "If all goes well, the defensive end on the side the play is being run will be practically in Manning’s face once James (or, say, Dominic Rhodes) is taking off with the ball."

Maybe I'm just reading the description wrong, but it sounds to me like it's going against your truism about unblocked defensive lineman.

I agree, Bears have a non starter quality QB, but they know it, and they are trying to replace him. This is in stark contrast to the Vikings and the Titans who both seem dedicated to their bad (and black) quarterbacks.

I see. The Bears, who drafted 12 players, none of whom were QBs, in the most recent draft, are trying to replace their starter. And the Vikings, who did draft a QB, and who are reportedly trying to obtain a certain QB from the Packers, aren't trying to get a new QB. Right. Whatever you say.

When I say that Vince Young is dumb I am not being racist. I think that Orton and Grossman are also mental midgets.

Yes, but fortunately, none of them are trying to be rocket scientists. I mean, it helps to be smart, but it's not so absolutely critical that being stupid precludes you from being a good QB. Terry Bradshaw was dumb as a rock, and he still had a HOF career. You can compensate for a relative lack of intelligence by having strengths in other areas.

In Vince Young's case, he's got great mobility and a very quick release. Even Grossman had some redeeming qualities, like his cannon arm. Orton...well...Orton currently leads the NFL in career BAC.

McNabb is the closest Black to being a top ten in the league QB as a pocket passer that there has been in the NFL - ever.

The only other black that I can think of who was better than average was Warren Moon.

So Doug Williams wasn't better than average? Hmmm, that's interesting. I kind of figured that if a guy threw 4 TDs to lead his team to the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, he'd be an above average QB. Guess not.

And apparently Randall Cunningham was below average. Again, seems a little odd to me, given that he did lead the NFL in DVOA and DYAR in 1998.

Oh, and that Steve McNair guy. I hear he was ok.

But yeah, other than those guys, and a few others, no black QBs were above average.

Those don’t look like Pro Bowl rankings to me. I’d say that the numbers suggest he was very overrated.

Except that the receivers were terrible. When they added an elite receiver, his numbers skyrocketed. Same thing happened with Brett Favre last year. His receiving corps was bad for a couple of years, and people started yelling that he was overrated. Then, the team drafted a decent deep threat, and one of their young WRs developed into one in his second year, and suddenly Favre's numbers went through the roof.

And really, if you're wondering why McNabb was in the Pro Bowl so many times, think about this: How many QBs have gotten to multiple Conference Championship games without going to the Pro Bowl?

Also, on an unrelated note, it appears I'm no longer the only person named Alex posting on FO, so I'll add a 51 to the end of my name from now on.

by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 4:19pm

86. Teams don't always block weakside DE's and espescially on a Sweep or quick run to the other side. If Joe Addai is running fast to the right, why not have your lineman block down because that weakside end's only chance is on a cut back and even then he might not ride down the line enough to make the play. The Colts do a lot of zone blocking anyway where the lineman will block a shoulder and then move on to the second level LB's. It is a skill and you don't need a Larry Allen to maul the guy in front of him, you need technique as Denver, Indy, NE, NYG, and Atlanta in limited stints have shown.

People call Vince Young stupid, but he does have football smarts. He was on one of those madden challenge video game shows where they had a madden expert play his favorite player... The wiz kids were destroying Willis Mcghee and other NFL players but VY kept his game competitive. Vince is smarter than you think.

I don't think Doug Williams is a great example. Trent Dilfer won a SB and 19 games in a row, but the example he best serves is that you DO NOT need a stud QB to win.

In general I don't like the " This QB has no talent around him" argument because it is milked too much. For every good QB with bad talent using that excuse, there are 10 poor QB's with adequate talent using that excuse.

by TomG (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 4:44pm

ORLY (Outside Rush Lost Yardage): Common Drew Bledsoe text to his teammates waiting for him at the line of scrimmage.

OMGWTF (Openly Monitor Game, Watch the Field): Probably belongs in irrational Spygate thread.

ROFL (Rain on the F***ing Ladies): Typical text preceding a nightclub shooting.

GTFO (Grossman Touched Football…Oops!): Recurrent Lovie Smith text explaining latest Bears loss.

GTFO (Game Tough For Orton): Soon to be recurrent Lovie Smith text explaining latest Bears loss.

DILLIGAS (Denver Is Looking Like It’s Got a Shot!): Hope springs eternal in the Mile High City

BRB (Beer Raiders Beer): raiderjoe text to Football Outsiders

by mattfwood (not verified) :: Mon, 08/04/2008 - 5:00pm

The stupidity of some of the racist comments above is truly mind-numbing. for instance, saying that there is a bias in favor of black QBs. Let's examine that.

Coaches and GMs get paid to win, and, typically, they quickly lose their jobs when they don't win. So I'm sure that there msut be any number of selfless or downright irrational (in the economic sense of the word) coaches and GMs out there, real bleeding heart types, who say "Screw it! I don't care if we win or if I get fired, just as long as we have a black Quarterback."

Then there are the owners, who arguably care more about making money than winning. And you know how easy it is to make money by selling black QBs to white fans. I mean, setting sarcasm aside just for a second, there may be enough of an affluent African-American fanbase in Atlanta that an owner like Blank might -- might -- be able to safely say "hey, this pre-dog fighting Michael Vick guy will be great for our marketing." But Tarvaris Jackson in Minnesota?! Where 4.5% of the population identified as black according to 2006 census data?

In the end I don't even know what to say about people who think that the Dungy-Smith Super Bowl hype is evidence of pro-black bias. We're only about 40 years removed from a time when black people were BARRED FROM ATTENDING SOME WHITE SCHOOLS, or NOT ALLOWED TO DRINK FROM THE SAME FOUNTAINS as white people. Do you really wonder why it might be okay to celebrate black achievements even if no one was celebrating last year's accomplishment of getting two white head coaches to the Super Bowl for the 41st time in 42 tries?

by old (not verified) :: Tue, 08/05/2008 - 12:30am

I would wager that any quarterback who has started three years in the NFL has been over rated, and under rated in those three years, and it doesn't matter what color the QB. I can't think of one QB that has been rated exactly correct his entire career. Hell, look at the Irrational Brady v. Manning thread and see how many times each are called over rated.

What is interesting to me is the language used. I remember on Ken Burns baseball documentary the section about Jackie Robinison being called a natural because he was black and couldn't be called a smart ball player. I think of it when I hear the word applied to players now.

by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Tue, 08/05/2008 - 11:54am

Ah, sports and racism. Is there anything better?

Let's come up with the all-stereotype team, shall we?

I'm assuming the Fighting Stereotypes are running 1 QB, 1 RB, 5 OL, 3 WRs, and a TE, and a 4-3 Def.

QB - White
RB - Black
OL - White, except for the LT
Outside WRs - Black
Slot WR - White (call it the Brandon Stokely/Wes Welker phenomenon)
TE - If you're using him as a blocker, black. If he's a receiver, he's white.

DEs - One black, one white
DTs - One black, one white
CBs - Black
LBs - Black MLB, White OLBs
Safetys - Black

Special Teams:
K - White
P - White
LS - White

This is just based on perception and me going "When I think of position X, what race do I expect to find there?"
You could also add in the white FB in place of the TE or Slot WR.

It's a pretty good split, IMO.

by TomHat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/06/2008 - 12:18am


I highly doubt Tavaris Jackson is above replacement level. The fact that he could post a positive DPAR with 9 men in the box every play does not make him an above replacement level QB. And i suppose Vince Young is above replacement level, but "replacement level" QBs should be starting for the 49ers, or the Chiefs, or some other team with zero playoff chance. Not the team with the best defense in the NFL. And the reason he is starting is because people think he is pretty good.

And lets get this straight...he isnt going to turn into [a white qb] but me might turn into a [McNair or McNabb???]. So you are saying that he might turn into an injury prone overrated player, or a speed QB who can actually pass the ball who doesnt like running because it steriotypes him? its almost as if you just picked the first two black QBs who popped into your head.

If we want to do a black-black comparison, id go with Michael Vick. Can only run the ball, cant pass worth crap, is completely overrated, and will be out of the league in 5-7 years (although hopefully under slightly more positive circumstances)

And I dont know what the deal with the bears is, but it seems to me like they have made it somewhat of a franchise goal to make the playoffs as much as possible with the worst possible QB. There is no question that those QBs arent overrated. No one in their right mind thinks they should start.


From a marketing perspective, yes, I think that at times, starting a white or black QB might increase your amount of money, however my entire argument was based upon the assumption that all teams attempt to play the best players.

Teams do not always play the best player. There is a reason players like Ozzie Guillen (.287 career OBP) have full careers in the pros. Thus this is why the question of being overrated comes into mind.


Yes, no one is ever perfectly rated, thats impossible, but there are perennially overrated players (Roy Williams) and perennially underrated players (I dont know... Clinton Portis?)

by Alex51 (not verified) :: Wed, 08/06/2008 - 5:23am

And i suppose Vince Young is above replacement level, but “replacement level” QBs should be starting for the 49ers, or the Chiefs, or some other team with zero playoff chance. Not the team with the best defense in the NFL. And the reason he is starting is because people think he is pretty good.

No, the reason he is starting is because he's the best QB on his team, and he's better than any available replacement, so they can't easily change the fact that he's the best QB on the team.

So you are saying that he might turn into an injury prone overrated player, or a speed QB who can actually pass the ball who doesnt like running because it steriotypes him?

All right, first things first: McNair might have been injury prone, and apparently you think he was overrated, but he was a very successful player. Statistically, his DYAR over the DVOA era was 4th among NFL QBs, with only Brady, Manning, and Favre ahead of him. And his team was successful as well, having back to back 13 win seasons, and reaching the AFC Championship Game twice, and the Super Bowl once. So if Vince Young does as well as McNair, I think Titans fans will be very happy with the results.

Now for the part about McNabb's running less lately. That was apparently ripped from the headlines of a Philadelphia news story, and comes with all the notoriously moronic ideas that are the trademark of the Philadelphia media. First, there are plenty of good reasons to cut down your number of scrambles that have nothing to do with stereotypes. One of them is injury. Scrambling more can get you hit more often, leading to more injuries and less effectiveness. For a guy as injury-prone as McNabb, that would probably be a good enough reason on its own. Add in the fact that McNabb is arguably more effective as a passer than as a runner, and there's even more reason to scramble less.

Second, it's not like McNabb has suddenly turned into a pocket passer. He had 50 rushing attempts last season, and that's in spite of the fact that he was coming off an ACL tear, and only played 14 games. His 50 carries and 236 rushing yards were third among NFL QBs, behind Vince Young and Tarvaris Jackson. So he's still one of the most active and prolific scramblers in the NFL. Don't believe everything you read in the paper. Especially the Sports Section of a Philadelphia paper.

And I dont know what the deal with the bears is, but it seems to me like they have made it somewhat of a franchise goal to make the playoffs as much as possible with the worst possible QB. There is no question that those QBs arent overrated. No one in their right mind thinks they should start.

Except the Bears coaching staff/front office. They are going to start one of them, after all. It's not like Grossman or Orton are above replacement. The Bears could take a street free agent (like, say, Byron Leftwich) and likely get better QB production, yet they don't do so. One can only assume that they are overrating Grossman/Orton. Or that they just don't want to win games. But that's a bit of a stretch.

by Scott (not verified) :: Wed, 08/06/2008 - 8:05am

Does anyone have a list of every black QB to play at least one game in the NFL? I want to crunch some numbers...

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/06/2008 - 3:49pm

I highly doubt Tavaris Jackson is above replacement level. The fact that he could post a positive DPAR with 9 men in the box every play does not make him an above replacement level QB.

Feel free to believe whatever you like. It's hard to argue that Jackson is significantly below replacement level, considering Kelly Holcomb put up far worse numbers, and Brooks Bollinger put up about the same.

And, as was pointed out with Vince Young, the point is that you only replace quarterbacks who are below replacement level. Because you can, y'know, replace them.

I don't think there's any evidence out there that Minnesota could easily get a replacement for Jackson who would be clearly better. Other than Favre (who they probably can't get) or Garcia from Minnesota (if he's willing to go there).

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 08/06/2008 - 3:54pm

And I dont know what the deal with the bears is

So let me get this straight.

Minnesota is starting Tarvaris Jackson because they weren't able to obtain a better quarterback. They were still having some discussions with Green Bay, so they had some interest in a better quarterback. Your conclusion is that they're overrating Tarvaris Jackson.

Chicago is starting Kylex Grosston, because they had no interest in obtaining another QB. They have no interest in getting Favre from Green Bay. Your conclusion is that they're crazy, and so apparently they don't count.

And so from this, you conclude more black QBs are overrated. I think you might have a problem with selectively eliminating examples which would disprove your point. Just might.

by hector (not verified) :: Tue, 08/12/2008 - 4:42am

Well, you spelled both names wrong on Stefan Fatsis ("Stephan Fastis"), so let's challenge that off the board. I'm sure he spells your names right when he's promoting FO; give the guy some respect back! ; )

by martial (not verified) :: Tue, 08/12/2008 - 4:24pm

Dead thread, but what the hell since I lived through it:

#36: Larry Summers DID NOT lose his job because of the speech wondering if genetic differences between women and men has led to the underrepresentation of women in science. Sure, that was a major line of the media representation of the story, but it was false. Surprise.

He had to resign for two reasons: 1. a large majority of the faculty refused to have him as President any longer AND 2. the Corporation (what Harvard calls their Board) saw that particular problem as a fundraising liability.

Why did the faculty dislike him? Some ill-advised speech? No.

Summers had in fact committed a cardinal sin against Harvard faculty prerogative by inserting himself - against contemporary tradition and policy - directly into the hiring and tenuring of faculty. More to the point, Summers nixed several appointments at a late stage. This, you can understand, upset faculty who had just spent months trying to hire new colleagues and then were sent back to the drawing board.