Defense wins championships. That is the NFL bumper sticker that has survived so many cold winters, an ode to
But what truly keeps NFL owners and general managers up at night is not the search for the next great defensive tackle or cover corner.
This is still the league of the quarterback, perhaps now more than ever.
As Sunday's meeting between the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys draws nearer, it is instructive to see what the five teams with the highest winning percentage in the league have in common.
The Patriots (5-0) have
There is a bagful of wins and Super Bowl trophies between them, not to mention the less tangible qualities of leadership and toughness. Find a franchise quarterback and, more often than not, you have a winning formula.
It is why
Having the right quarterback allows a coach and general manager to worry about other things, like stopping the run and creating a pass rush and building an offensive line.
With no need to worry about Brady,
And Peyton Manning?
With Manning the ultimate student and self-starter, Dungy, like Belichick, can tinker elsewhere, instructing a Colts team that is already plus-7 in takeaways/giveaways.
The difference between a team with superior quarterback play and a team with quarterback struggles may never have been more pronounced than in the early 1990s in the NFC West. From 1990 to 1998, as the Rams leaned on the inconsistent
The Colts just aren't the Colts without Manning, New England isn't New England without Brady and the 49ers wouldn't have been nearly as successful without Montana and Young adding color to Walsh's Xs and Os.
While there are exceptions to every rule (poor
Manning and Brady are the league's top dogs now, and general managers and coaches are surely dreaming about the next great quarterbacks. There is a reason teams in the NFL draft have selected a quarterback with the first pick in six of the last seven years and eight of the last 10. As