Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stability - in terms of Coaches & QBs, as filtered thru the Redskins and 49ers (since 1981)

Got to thinking pretty hard about the whole concept of "stability" in regards to a football team, with thoughts of fired Son Shanahans swirling around my head, and the goofball weirdness of there being an actual "quarterback battle" between Rex Grossman and John Beck. Chris Cooley's comments about remaining patient had me thinking about stability in a nerd ass context, so rather than work on editing a short story for a book deadline I've got at the end of the month, I dorked out with the internet, cross-compiling head coaches and starting QBs, to see how many games they worked together (thus showing stability), and how they did in the playoffs, when applicable. And being the Redskins are hosting the San Francisco 49ers - another storied franchise - I decided to do it for both teams, starting in 1981, when Bill Walsh won his first Super Bowl with Joe Montana, and Joe Gibbs coached his first year in the NFL.
So first, let's look at head coach/starting QB combos that won Super Bowls...

10349ersBill Walsh/Joe Montana'81-'88, 3 Super Bowls won
8549ersGeorge Seifert/Steve Young'89-96, 1 Super Bowl won
68RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Joe Theisman'81-'85, 1 Super Bowl won
62RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Mark Rypien'88-'92, 1 Super Bowl won
2849ersGeorge Seifert/Joe Montana'89-'90, 1 Super Bowl won
14RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Doug Williams'87-'89, 1 Super Bowl won

First off - and perhaps I'm a homer for this - but you have to give Gibbs some daps for what a feat it is to win the Super Bowl with all different QBs. Actually, the further we go through this nerded out statfest of mine, the more apparent that'll be. But even with only 14 games together for Gibbs/Williams, you have to remember that's almost a full NFL season, as I'm only counting regular season games in that first column. And actually, the further we go through this, you'll see how rare THAT actually is. But let's then go through head coach/starting QB combos that made the playoffs since 1981 for these two teams (not counting the Super Bowl winners above)...

49ersSteve Mariucci/Jeff Garcia'99-'02, 1-2 in playoffs
33RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Mark Brunell '04-'06, 1-1 in playoffs
3349ersSteve Mariucci/Steve Young'97-'99, 2-2 in playoffs
31RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Jay Schroeder '85-'87, 2-1 in playoffs
27RedskinsNorv Turner/Brad Johnson '99-'00, 1-1 in playoffs
649ersBill Walsh/Steve Young '87-'88, 0-1 in playoffs
3RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Todd Collins '07, 0-1 in playoffs

Two very interesting lines from these that prove the stability factor... First off, a pair of Hall of Famers in Bill Walsh and Steve Young, when together, did not even win a playoff game, though they did make it. And a pair of career mediocrities in Norv Turner and Brad Johnson, when given enough time together, actually won a fucking playoff game. I don't even remember that one. I must've been passed out drunk in glee or something. But now let's look at head coach/starting QB combos that worked together for 10 games or more that never made the playoffs...

46RedskinsNorv Turner/Gus Frerotte'94-'98
32RedskinsJim Zorn/Jason Campbell '08-'09
3049ersMike Nolan/Alex Smith'05-'07
20RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Jason Campbell '06-'07
2049ersMike Singletary/Alex Smith '09-'10
16RedskinsSteve Spurrier/Patrick Ramsey '02-'03
14RedskinsNorv Turner/Trent Green '98
14RedskinsMarty Schottenheimer/Tony Banks'01
1449ersMike Singletary/Shaun Hill '08-'09
13RedskinsNorv Turner/Heath Shuler'94-'95
1349ersDennis Erickson/Jeff Garcia'03
13RedskinsMike Shanahan/Donovan McNabb'10
1249ersDennis Erickson/Tim Rattay'03-'04
10RedskinsRichie Petitbon/Mark Rypien '93

First thing that jumps out at me from this list is out of ten coach/QB combos that have combined for 10 games or more for San Francisco since 1981, half of those combos went to the playoffs at least twice, and three of them won the Super Bowl. For the Redskins, you get over 10 games together, and that combos gone to the playoffs about 40% of the time, winning the Super Bowl 20% of the time. However, you get above 20 games together, since 1993, and that's happened for the Skins five times, resulting in a whopping two playoff appearances. Zorn/Campbell had two full years together, and I have no idea why the fuck Norv Turner/Gus Frerotte got so much opportunity and never amounted in even a playoff game. Not even a token wild card berth one year along the way. But there are four combos for the Redskins since 1994 that were together for a full regular season (at least 16 games) that never made the playoffs. And actually, just with those four combos it's 114 total games (just over 7 full seasons) dedicated to coaching/quarterbacking tandems that never even made the playoffs. Seven whole fucking seasons, lost.
(Also, it is shocking how resilient Alex Smith has been, and equally shocking that the 49ers have not been able to get into the playoffs since the early 2000s. The NFC West is a terrible division.)
But now let's take a stroll down the memory lane of the damned, through coaching/QB combos for these two teams that never amounted to shit, not even 10 games together. And be forewarned, this is a terrible list full of the failures of the past decade, for both franchises...

949ersGeorge Seifert/Elvis Grbac
8RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Patrick Ramsey
849ersMike Nolan/J.T. O'Sullivan
8RedskinsMike Shanahan/Rex Grossman
7RedskinsSteve Spurrier/Shane Matthews
749ersDennis Erickson/Ken Dorsey
749ersJim Harbaugh/Alex Smith
649ersBill Walsh/Jeff Kemp
649ersGeorge Seifert/Steve Bono
649ersMike Nolan/Trent Dilfer
649ersMike Singletary/Troy Smith
5RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Stan Humphries
5RedskinsSteve Spurrier/Tim Hasselbeck
4RedskinsRichie Petitbon/Rich Gannon
4RedskinsNorv Turner/John Friesz
4RedskinsSteve Spurrier/Danny Wuerffel
449ersMike Nolan/Tim Rattay
3RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Ed Rubbert
3RedskinsNorv Turner/Jeff Hostetler
349ersSteve Mariucci/Steve Stentstrom
3RedskinsTerry Robiskie/Jeff George
349ersMike Nolan/Ken Dorsey
249ersBill Walsh/Matt Cavanaugh
249ersBill Walsh/Mike Moroski
2RedskinsRichie Petitbon/Cary Conklin
2RedskinsNorv Turner/Jeff George
2RedskinsMarty Schottenheimer/Jeff George
249ersMike Nolan/Cody Pickett
249ersMike Nolan/Shaun Hill
2RedskinsMike Shanahan/John Beck
149ersBill Walsh/Bob Gagliano
1RedskinsJoe Gibbs/Jeff Rutledge
149ersSteve Mariucci/Jim Druckenmiller
149ersSteve Mariucci/Ty Detmer
149ersMike Nolan/Chris Weinke

Really, there's a lot to make me want to put a pistol in my mouth off this list, but the two (or three) to highlight are Shanahan/Grossman (which has been deemed a failure at 8 games), Shanahan/Beck (way down the list at 2 games, so yes perhaps more patience is needed), and Harbaugh/Smith at 7 games, but will most likely be at 16 by the end of the year, and jumping up to the combos that have made the playoffs. In one season. Which goes against the argument for patience, as all these lists make it pretty clear that even if you remain patient, it's pretty evident pretty early on whether we're onto something that's going to work or not. But when you look back up at those 7 whole seasons of total games wasted on combos in D.C. that never made the playoffs, it's easy to see why maybe Redskins fans have lost their patience. We're not talking a one week reaction here - we're talking a long and painful history of either terrible combinations of talent/brain trusts, or allowing ones that never achieve any on-field successes to go on and on and on.
But wait, while I'm wilding the fuck out with the calculator, let's take every current head coach/starting QB combo going into this weekend, and break them down by games together, into the categories of Have Won Super Bowl, made the playoffs, and just trying to find a way...

150PatriotsBill Belichick/Tom Brady
'01-'11, 3 Super Bowls
110GiantsTom Coughlin/Eli Manning
'04-'11, 1 Super Bowl
87SaintsSean Payton/Drew Brees
'07-'11, 1 Super Bowl
66SteelersMike Tomlin/Ben Roethlisberger
'07-'11, 1 Super Bowl
54PackersMike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers
'08-'11, 1 Super Bowl

71ChargersNorv Turner/Phillip Rivers
'06-'11, 2-4 in playoffs
55RavensJohn Harbaugh/Joe Flacco
'08-'11, 3-3 in playoffs
53FalconsMike Smith/Matt Ryan
'08-'11, 0-2 in playoffs
38JetsRex Ryan/Mark Sanchez
'09-'11, 4-2 in playoffs
38BearsLovie Smith/Jay Cutler
'09-'11, 0-1 in playoffs
18EaglesAndy Reid/Michael Vick
'10-'11, 0-1 in playoffs

62TexansGary Kubiak/Matt Schaub
32BuccaneersRaheem Morris/Josh Freeman
21LionsJim Schwartz/Matthew Stafford
20BillsChan Gailey/Ryan Fitzpatrick
8PanthersRon Rivera/Cam Newton
749ersJim Harbaugh/Alex Smith
7BengalsMarvin Lewis/Andy Dalton
7TitansMike Munchak/Matt Hasselbeck
7CowboysJason Garrett/Tony Romo
7CardinalsKen Whisenhunt/Kevin Kolb
7BrownsPat Shurmur/Colt McCoy
6JaguarsJack Del Rio/Blaine Gabbert
5ColtsJim Caldwell/Curtis Painter
3DolphinsTony Sparano/Matt Moore
2VikingsLeslie Frazier/Christian Ponder
2RedskinsMike Shanahan/John Beck
2BroncosJohn Fox/Tim Tebow
1SeahawksPete Carroll/Charlie Whitehurst
0RaidersHue Jackson/Carson Palmer

Super Bowl winners are pretty apparent, but also of note is Aaron Rodgers had not even won a playoff game until last year. But there was already a long history between he and Mike McCarthy.
Playoff teams are interesting in a couple points. Firstly, you can see why Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez, who sometimes catch shit for not being elite, are able to rest on their laurels, because both have sustained success in the playoffs. Much like his stint in Washington, I really have to wonder how the fuck Norv Turner still has a job in San Diego, being they've had that nucleus together for a long time with really nothing to show for it. But even when you get lower on the playoff teams list, with the Bears, Chiefs, and Eagles, it seems that persistence at QB and coach does equal eventual success, even if it's only a wild card berth into the playoffs.
Then you look at the combos that have not made it. The four that have more than a full season together are all contenders this year. (But how the fuck has Kubiak/Schaub kept their job, when you look at comparable combos?) But a lot of the young combos (Panthers this year, Jets, Chiefs, Ravens, Falcons, Lions in recent years) have a coach and QB come in together, to sort of philosophically usher in a new era. I guess that's what Donovan McNabb was supposed to be last year for the Redskins. Somebody must have forgot to kick the tires on that dude though. Was it Bruce Allen or the Shanahans? Or was Snyder still involved? I don't know. But it set us back.
Other seemingly successful combos, such as the 49ers or Bengals, have either had a stable head coach or stable QB (somewhat I guess in regards to Alex Smith). Mike Shanahan, at this point, can't be considered a stable coach in D.C. So maybe you give him more time. But the model you're emulating by drafting a new QB, after time spent already on a new coaching regime, is the Bengals, who are a contender for the playoffs, sure, but nobody sees them as an actual championship team. But at this point, that's what we're hoping to philosophically emulate by letting the Shanahans stay on next year and get a new QB and start over.
I think the ultimate point of what has ultimately been a waste of two hours of my life is, yes, you are right noble counterpoint, that stability and patience is necessary to building a good team. But in the case of the Redskins, they don't necessarily have a good track record of showing they've acquired a good brain trust nor quarterback to have patience in. And Shanahan/Beck/Grossman - regardless of what a dumbass Dan Snyder is - has not really done anything to earn that respect. If Beck gets some games in and starts to tighten up towards the end of the season, sure, go get 'em next year bro. But even if John Beck doesn't suck, I have a hard time believing Mike Shanahan is going to stick with that guy as his QB for this team going into next year. Which means after two years here in D.C., basically Mike Shanahan will just be the latest guy to waste my fucking time as a Redskins fan, because he's going to be looking for a new QB, and the past two years ultimately have meant very little towards building stability or an actual playoff caliber team. That is highly frustrating, and that's why Redskins fans are pissed. It ain't gonna get fixed in a week, or two weeks, or even by next spring. And from all this statistical hoo-ha I've just thrown out at you, it's easy to see why we don't really believe it's going to get any better any time soon. History supports our anger.


Miguelito said...

Holy balls, dude. My brain just exploded. Now I'm going to have to make up my own science shit.

Raven Mack said...

Too many people don't realize science is a creative process.

Neil said...

On the one hand, I am sad that the Redskins have fried your brain, Raven. On the other hand, it seems to be inspiring an epic run of madness, which let's face it, is what lies at the heart of every epic Armchair Linebacker post.

Also, everyone who says we aren't men of science can get fucked because this proves that we are men of deep learning. Fuck, we're damn near doctors and not lame ones but the cool kind like Dr. Gonzo or Dr. Death.

Raven Mack said...

Oddly enough, the Mickey Rourke video from deadspin has now convinced me the only true path for this team moving forward is the Cannon of Sex. We may go 5-11, but one of those wins will be like against the Patriots or something stupid like that.

Miguelito said...