You Are What You Drive
I live in California and we love our cars. Lots of Californians like to say, “You are what you drive.” To that point, I have to say I’m guilty as charged. When I see a nice ride on the road I make an assumption about the driver. I guess it’s a matter of style points.
Yes, I admit the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, but that doesn’t mean you can’t win without an elite QB. Good news, if you’re a fan of one of those teams without one. Now let’s put a number on how many “elite” QBs are out there. I’m going with six. Yes, six. Why so few? Well, because you came here looking for my opinion and you’re getting it. In no specific order: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton (not Eli) Manning, yes to Big Ben, on the cusp Philip Rivers. Those are guys you can count on to win games for you. It’s not that there aren’t several others who can get you victories here and there, but these are the bona fide difference makers. Younger guys don’t have the track records, while others need a strong defense or great special teams to help them get the job done. But there is nothing wrong with being a notch below the elite level – 12 teams will make the playoffs this year and with Peyton likely done for the season that means a minimum of seven of them will be squads with “below-elite” QBs. And they’re all going to be in the dance with a chance to be playing for a ring in Peyton’s backyard; they’ll probably just need some help to get there.
When we project who’s going to be the next great, we jump on the bandwagon way too early and off again way too quickly. Maybe one of the Matts (Ryan, Schaub, Stafford) will make a big leap this year, but until they or someone like them do, my eye is on the teams where you know exactly what’s under the hood. You can soup up a minivan and make it go fast, but I’m going to make you prove it to me. I know a Formula 1 racecar when I see one, and I know it’s going to win you football games. Remember, you are what your team drives.
James Lofton is the analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of Sunday Night Football. This weekend he’ll see if either Matt Ryan or Michael Vick looks like an elite quarterback in person, as the Falcons host the Eagles. Coverage begins at 7:30pm ET on Westwood One. Find a station near you.