The Divisional Round of the 2014 NFL Playoffs is done. The Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have all advanced to the Conference Championship games next week, for a right to go to the Super Bowl. Over the next couple days FoS will look at these 4 teams on what the Cleveland Browns can learn from the best teams in the game. We start today with the quarterback position.
Everyone is well aware of the need at QB for the Browns. Whether it is the picture of the Browns jersey with a ton of names crossed out or the picture of the Browns war room stating that getting a franchise QB is of highest priority, the point has been driven home. Looking at the 4 teams still in the playoffs we could define these teams as The Peyton Mannings, Tom Bradys, Russell Wilsons and Colin Kaepernicks. While the teams have other positive attributes of their team, which we will get to, having a solid QB to steady the ship gives the team direction. Here are their statistics for the Divisional Round game, some are higher then others:
Peyton Manning – 25/36, 230 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. 91.1 QBR, 93.5 rating
Tom Brady – 13/25, 198 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INT. 75.1 QBR, 78.4 rating
Russell Wilson – 9/18, 103 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INT. 25.9 QBR, 67.5 rating
Colin Kaepernick – 15/28, 196 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. 71.9 QBR, 87.8 rating
So none of these QBs threw for over 230 yards. None threw for more then 2 touchdowns. 3 out of the 4 had low completion percentages. Yet their teams won very important games against quality opponents. How was this possible?
One stat that has to stick out is the number of interceptions: Between the four only 1 INT. That INT was thrown by Manning, the QB who threw for the most TDs on the most attempts for the most yards. For these tightly contested games these 4 QBs were able to not force issues and therefore be the reason their team lost the game. Instead they kept their team in the games throwing balls only their man could catch, throwing the ball out of bounds or taking a sack if they had to.
Compare that to the other QBs in those games, all high caliber QBs in their own right. Philip Rivers and Drew Brees also did not throw an INTs in their games that ended within 1 score (and a 2 point conversion in the Saints case). While in the two games decided by more then a score Cam Netwon threw 2 INTs and Andrew Luck threw 4. They both had higher yardage days then any of the 4 winning quarterbacks, yet their turnovers were deciding factors.
For the Browns
While other factors played a role in these games, and we will get to them and not minimize them, its important to note the qualities that the winning QBs exhibited this weekend. They controlled the ball, made smart decisions and won the games. For the Browns seeking an accurate, smart, pocket aware quarterback has to be priority #1. Exciting running QBs like Newton, Russell and Kaepernick are nice but 2 out of those 3 threw for less then 200 yards and ran for less then 20 and won their games. The player who threw for over 300 yards and ran for over 50 lost his game.
Does that mean the Browns shouldn’t draft Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles, both who have big play/big mistake potential? Not necessarily but it does point to a player like Teddy Bridgewater, who can manage a game when needed and take over as needed, as maybe a higher likelihood of succeeding in the brown and orange.
When you watched these entertaining games this weekend what did you take away from the QB battles? How did it impact your thoughts on who the Browns should draft? Leave comments below and look for our next piece on these games, a look at the running backs.