(Those quarterbacks, if you care, are Tom Brady, Russell Wilson and Alex Smith. Fourth on the list is Cam Newton. Sixth is Andy Dalton. They are both, presumably, more accomplished than Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, who rank seventh and ninth on the list of wins. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.)
“And so for you, are wins and losses the most important statistic when it comes to the quarterback position?” NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay asked Allen.
“Wins and losses is the most important statistic when it comes to an equipment manager, a team president, a quarterback, a running back, a guard or a coach,” Allen responded. “Yes.”
(Drew Stanton and Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler all have far better winning percentages than Philip Rivers over the last five years. Joe Flacco, in that span, has won more games than Andrew Luck. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist, etc. etc.)
Look, we all sort of know — because we are wise, modern and progressive sports fans — that this quarterback wins thing is basically silly, unless you’re a fan ranting to a sports radio station. Similarly, we know that Alex Smith is not a bad quarterback because he started his career 19-31, or because he has a 2-5 record in the playoffs, or because he probably wouldn’t have 50 wins over the last five seasons if he had been starting for, say, the Browns.
Maybe we could agree that the most important statistic for a quarterback or a running back or a guard or an equipment manager is not really wins. Maybe it’s adjusted yards-per-passing attempt for a quarterback, or yards-per-touch for a running back, or quarterback pressures for a guard, or cleats-taped-per-60-seconds for an equipment manager. And yes of course, the quarterback has more to do with the final result than the guard, or the equipment manager. But attempting to judge individual players primarily by the final score of something as chaotic and complicated as a football game is, at best, a gross oversimplification, and at worst, a bit of bad-faith nonsense.
(Blake Bortles has won 10 of his last 16 regular season starts, better than quarterbacks such as Matthew Stafford, Rivers, or Luck. Brees has a losing record in four of his past six seasons. Matt Ryan has a losing record over his past five seasons, and Tyrod Taylor does not. Get the rocket scientist another shot of Fireball.)
I know some fans think D.C. media members reflexively defend Kirk Cousins and criticize the front office, and maybe so. You’d expect a team’s decision-makers to be happy with their new quarterback, and you’d expect them to express that happiness as a form of public validation. It isn’t just Allen. Coach Jay Gruden made the same argument Tuesday. He said the Redskins are “without a doubt” better at quarterback now that they have Smith, citing “his record the last five years.”
But maybe a head coach and team president with worse records here than their former quarterback might show a bit of self-awareness when talking about won-loss records. And so just for the, ahem, record:
• Cousins’s career won-loss “record” is 26-30-1, for a winning percentage of .465.
• Gruden — whom I like, and who I think has done a good job — has a won-loss record of 28-35-1, for a winning percentage of .445.
• Daniel Snyder has a won-loss record of 132-171-1, for a winning percentage of .436.
• Allen — called by Snyder “the personification of an NFL winner” on his official team bio — has a 52-75-1 record in Washington, and a winning percentage of .410.
The least meaningful of those records, I’d suggest, is the first. If there’s someone in an organization who really needs to own an eight-year track record, it ain’t the equipment manager, or even the quarterback.
The worst sports radio callers, and also children, believe deeply in quarterback won-loss records. There’s really no need to treat an entire fan base like the worst sports radio callers, or like children. Tell us that Alex Smith had the NFL’s best adjusted yards-per-attempt in the NFL last season, which is true. Tell us that he had the best quarterback rating in the league, which is also true. Tell us he seems to be improving with age, which is also true. Tell us that you took a tenuous quarterbacking situation and turned it into something solid, and hopeful, and stable, which is also true.
But don’t tell us that everything is about wins and losses for quarterbacks and equipment managers and team presidents. Because that might make us think there is still at least one personnel upgrade to be made. After all, only six teams have worse winning percentages than the Redskins since Allen arrived. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.