Quarterbacks easily get the most attention, in the national football league, and it’s understandable why. The camera is mostly on them, they touch the ball the most out of all players, and they make offensive plays happen. Almost every year they win MVP, even though a quarterback has more time and knowledge, in comparison to defense, in the aspects of strategy, time, and execution. Even though quarterbacks make the most plays with their relationship with the football, they have the easiest, and most prepared job on the field.
With so much value, stats, and versatility from defensive stars, voters still gravitate towards quarterbacks every year. Even though defensive stars are much more valuable in many factors, it is easy to see why quarterbacks get so much recognition. Former quarterback Steve Young, now an NFL Analyst, shares the same opinion with a lot a fans and those who have the opinion on why quarterbacks are the most valuable. Young states, “The great quarterbacks get everyone together, when it’s third and 10 in the fourth quarter, down by four on the road in the drizzling rain in 33 degrees. You have to be a guy that people will respond to.” While it is true that the quarterback is unquestionably the leader of the offense, the defensive captain does the same as well. A defensive captain is more of a team leader than a quarterback as their play has more of an impact to both sides of the ball. Young also states, “I’ve gone to law school, and the intellectual challenge of honing all of the data in a way that you can have immediate, you can have reflexive recall — not taking a couple seconds to think about it. But that’s five, 10, 30 times more time than you get in football. And you have to do it from the time you step on the field until you step off of it.” Once again, Young’s argument on quarterbacks having to make decisions in a extremely small amount of time isn’t wrong and is certainly difficult, however, quarterbacks get the whole play clock to diagnose the field ahead of them, while defensive players get mere micro-seconds. Many great quarterbacks such as Brady, Brees, and Manning are great because of their pre-snap diagnosis of the defense and are able to find the weak spots in the defense. Defensive players do not get the same ability to study what their opponent is doing pre-play, and mostly have to react to what happens before their eyes. Every play the defense is at an immediate disadvantage in comparison to the offense, because their diagnosis is more of an educated guess. Quarterbacks are also given designated reads as well, as the NFL is more coach driven than ever. Before every pass play the quarterback has his “go to read” as his main option, designed by the coaching and system the quarterback has in place for him. If the quarterback doesn’t like his first read, there’s always his second or third, and if the pass play doesn’t seem like the best option, he can always switch it to the run. In addition, quarterbacks in the league are more system driven than ever before. The NFL is filled with plenty of young, strategic, and brilliant offensive minds in the league right now, and it is undeniable what their impact is on young quarterbacks in the league right now. A great example of how much a new offensive system can benefit a quarterback is two of the better young quarterbacks in the league in Jared Goff, and Mitchell Trubisky. Trubisky and Goff were number two, and number one picks respectively, had different coaches their rookie seasons, and are now much more successful after struggling their rookie seasons. Jared Goff came in the league with the now unemployed Jeff Fisher as his head coach, and struggled mightily in his rookie season, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. Ever since Sean McVay was hired in 2017, Goff has performed as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, as he is now a MVP candidate with his team having one of the best records in the league. The same could be said for Mitchell Trubisky, as the hiring of now head coach Matt Nagy has kick-started his career after the bad struggles with former head coach John Fox. Trubisky has performed like one of the better quarterbacks in the league, since the hiring of Coach Nagy, and his career is for sure on the upswing. In contrast, defensive players do not have this same luxury as quarterbacks, mainly because their performance is much more predicated on their talent. Defensive systems do not nearly affect defensive stars in comparison to offensive systems, as great defensive players stay great on different teams. Deion Sanders played at a high level for three different teams, and is arguably the greatest all time at his position. There’s a reason most franchise quarterbacks stay with teams and coaches for most their career, as the offensive systems the quarterbacks are given is a major reason for their success. Plenty of defensive players have switched teams and have remained just as great.
Lastly, quarterbacks by far touch the ball the most out of any position on the field, as unless it is a direct snap to a different position, the whole offense runs through the quarterback. With the league becoming more pass heavy by the season, quarterbacks now throw the ball more than ever, leading to an inflation in stats and attention. If you compare the pass attempts per game for every team in the NFL in 2018 to 2008, there are a few teams that pass 40+ times a game, and rarely any that pass under thirty. In 2008, no team passed over 40 times a game, and the average pass attempts per game for every team was about 32.35 attempts per game. In 2018, that average has increased to 34.89, and could become higher as the season progresses. With the increase of screen passes and check downs, in recent years, quarterbacks get rewarded more than ever with a pass that barely travels five yards. In comparison to defenses, there are no easy plays to be made, and require the fast thinking and talent of making an interception or forcing a fumble. Quarterbacks have to have some semblance of knowledge and ability, but with constantly evolving offensive systems, and more time than any other position, they receive much more credit than they really do deserve.
“Jared Goff Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/GoffJa00.htm.
“Mitchell Trubisky Stats.” Pro-Football-Reference.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/T/TrubMi00.htm.
28, January. “Steve Young: Quarterback Is the Most Important Position in Football.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2012, articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/28/sports/la-sp-steve-young-20120129.
“NFL Team Pass Attempts per Game.” NFL Football Stats – NFL Team Points per Game on TeamRankings.com, http://www.teamrankings.com/nfl/stat/pass-attempts-per-game?date=2018-12-06.