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From Bronze to Bust - Why System QBs Fail in the NFL

Will Johnny Football be the next Heisman QB to fall flat on his face in the NFL?


Here is a bar bet for you fans. Who was the last Heisman winning Quarterback to win a Super Bowl? Now unless you are hanging out with Old Man Stan at Welch Ave on a Tuesday night, hustling money for another Super Dog, most of you aren't going to get this.

John Elway? Nope. How about, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw or Troy Aikman? Nada. We are talking like the Mount Rushmore of QBs right now, and none of those guys ever won a Heisman?

The answer, (for all you Trivial Pursuit junkies out there), is Jim Plunkett. That's right, before John Madden was playing with crayons on the TV screen, he led the Raiders to a few Super Bowls. And the guy handing the ball off to his best player Marcus Allen in 1983 - was none other than 1970 Heisman winner Jim Plunkett.

Since then, the Raiders have fallen off the Victory Train harder than Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse combined, and can now write the introduction for how NOT TO run a Franchise. From the words of the late Al Davis - Just Win, Baby!

In fact, the only Super Bowl winning QBs to carry home the Heisman are Jim Plunkett and Roger Staubach. That's it. Kind of crazy that the best player on Saturday doesn't always correlate to wins on Sunday.

Funny thing is, those Heisman winners won a lot for their Alma Maters. In fact, since 1999 (BCS era), teams with Heisman winning QBs partook in 7 BCS Championship games. And I didn't even count Leinart's USC squad that "supposedly" won in 2004.

So why can't these Rocket Arm, Wonderlic Wondered, Big Men On Campus lead their NFL squads to victory?

They are System Quarterbacks. That's why

They have been a part of the Run and Shoot, Vertical Passing Attack, No-Huddle Spread Offenses, and are victims of their coaching staffs.

Mike Leach had Graham "I Throw For 600 Yds Per Game" Harrell and Kliff "Your Mom has a Crush on Me And You Know It" Kingsbury. Dana Holgorsen had Geno Smith. Bobby Stoops had the White Boys Can Throw Trio of Josh Heupel, Jason White and Sam Bradford. Heupel won a sparkling glass football and White and Bradford each a Heisman.

Chip Kelly has turned every QB he has into Pure GOLD. Mike Gundy had 46-year old Brandon Weeden, Steve Spurrier had Sexy Rex Grossman and Danny "I Stole Troy Davis's Heisman" Wuerffel. Urban Meyer had God's Second Son Tim Tebow.

Art Briles had RG III and is still slinging it with Bryce Petty. Before Rich Rod ruined his life and went to Michigan, he had Pat White. June Jones had two of the most prolific passers in NCAA history - Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan.

Guz Malzahan had Scam Newton and Kevin Sumlin had - that's right - Johnny Football!

From that list of record-breaking, stat-stuffing, hardware-winning QBs we have TWO of them starting in the NFL today.

And Yes, all of you Cleveland Brown fans who wasted money on another $125 QB jersey should be getting weak knees. Kevin Sumlin just threw his next QB in, and all he did was pass for more yards than Johnny Football ever did in any game at College Station. And this guy named Kenny Hill did it in his first start! Hill's 511 yards was also against a consistent top-ten team from the SEC in South Carolina. On the Road.

12 of our previous 14 Heisman Winners have been Quarterbacks. Why for the life of me Mark Ingram won in 2009 is beyond me, but that argument is for a different day.

26-year old Chris Weinke started the trend in 2000 at Florida State; went on to be drafted in the fourth round, and spent his time as backup QB for seven seasons. He was about as much of a factor in the NFL as the team's long snapper.

Eric Crouch won the Heisman in 2001 for leading his N-is-for-Knowledge Huskers to a backdoor seat in the championship game, only to be throttled by Miami. By the way, Nebraska lost their last two games of the season by a combined score of 50-99. Wowza. As you remember, Crouch got drafted by The Greatest Show On Turf (Rams) as a wideout, cried his first day at camp, and quit. Now he is a used trailer salesman in North Omaha, and President and CEO of the Eric Crouch Hotline, where he takes calls from Nuh-Braask-uhnns to talk about the Frank Solich days for $20 an hour. And the answer to your question is yes, he does accept food stamps.

Carson Palmer won the Heisman in 2002 at USC. He went on to be the #1 draft pick by the Bengals, led the NFL in TDs one year, then got traded to some God awful franchise in Oakland. Palmer is legitimately the only Heisman winning QB of this era to have a decent NFL career; and he is average at best. He lives out his days in sunny Arizona playing 500 with Larry Fitzgerald, and is always All-Time Quarterback.

Jason White threw for 40 TDs in 2003 for Oklahoma and won his own Heisman. He had knees as bad as Benjamin Button, and collapsed against LSU in the Championship game. White went on to become an undrafted free agent, and never made it in the NFL.

In 2004, Matt Leinart successfully played the entire season without washing his jersey. He simply didn't have to - he never got any grass stains. After taking ballroom dancing and wine tasting as part of the Van Wilder Program at USC, Leinart became the 10th overall pick of the Cardinals, and quickly realized he didn't have his coach to call all the plays for him. Whenever he is short on cash, he calls up Dish Network to do another lame commercial where he talks about the college days.

Troy Smith won the Heisman in 2005 while throwing the ball to Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn AND Anthony Gonzalez. As is typical for the Big Ten, Smith laid a goose egg and lost to mighty Florida 41-14 in the Championship game. He went on to be a fifth Round Draft choice, spent four years on the bench, and is now going the Doug Flutie route by playing in the CFL. Good luck with that one Troy!

The year was 1987. A star rose in Bethlehem, and Urban Meyer (while on his sabbatical) luckily stumbled upon a young earthling named Timothy Richard Tebow. He grew up to become a model citizen, the second man to have never sinned, and a pretty good Quarterback. So good that he led Florida to two National Championships, one Heisman and a brick off the campanile as a virgin. Tebow went on to become a first round draft choice, played on the same roster as a team that went to the playoffs, and nearly shut down Twitter when he threw a game winning playoff TD pass. He now spends his time smiling on camera for the SEC Network and Good Morning America. And is still a virgin.

In 2008, Sam Bradford led Oklahoma and their 51 points per game to a title game and, you guessed it, a Heisman Trophy. He lost out in the Championship to the Grace of God (Tebow), and was later drafted as number one overall in 2009, with a ridiculous $50 Million Guarantee. Thank God he got the guarantee, because Bradford has torn his knee THREE times since 2011; and has never been more than an average QB, even when he was healthy.

2010 was the year of Scam Cam Newton. After stealing a laptop and selling his soul for money, Newton went to Auburn, and had a year to remember. Led by Gene Chizik & Guz Malzahan , the Tigers won a Championship, Newton the Heisman, and was selected number one overall in the NFL Draft. The true Triple Crown. So far Newton may have debunked the myth of the System Quarterback, but only time will tell. So far he has produced one winning season, and been talked about as a locker room cancer. Uh oh

In 2011, RG III put Waco, Texas on the map. Yet nobody knows where it is. He went from a 400 Meter Hurdler to a Heisman Trophy winner. The Redskins mortgaged their future for the second overall pick and took Griffin in the 2011 NFL Draft. He went on to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Guess what, so did Vince Young. After injuring himself in years one and two, RG3 dislocated his ankle in year three, and is now supplanted by a better and more NFL-caliber QB in Kirk Cousins. I think you all know where this story ends.

And that leads us to Johnny Football. While spoiled little Johnny was living up his Animal House lifestyle in College Station, he also played some pretty good football. In 2012, he became the first ever freshman to play every game over the alcohol legal limit. And oh yeah, he won a Heisman too. He has had made millions on his trademark last name and finger flicking lifestyle, but has yet to prove himself in the NFL. The laughable Cleveland Browns own Johnny Football and his playboy charisma. The only player to make that work was Joe Namath, and he turned into a raging alcoholic.

The verdict is still out on Jameis Winston. Literally, and figuratively.

Marcus Mariota headlines this year's draft class, and is projected to win the Heisman. Little do NFL scouts know, but he is part of the one of the greatest coups in all of college sports. Everything that comes out of Oregon is gold, but quickly turns to dust. Just ask Joey Harrington.

From Hard-On in College to a Wet Dream in the NFL.

Almost all of these quarterbacks were weaned in a college pass-happy system offense where their coach made the reads and calls for them. Once they got to the Big Boy League they had to make their own calls under pressure. The NFL requires an intelligent quarterback that can read defenses BEFORE the play, and without the tutelage of a coach. It requires a natural born leader, with a work ethic that fits into the 1%. That's right Occupy Wall Street!

One of my favorite writers, Bill Simmons once explained that a successful NFL Quarterback should be made up of 50 percent charisma/personality/leadership/intelligence/coolness-under-pressure, 25 percent hard work and 25 percent talent.

It takes a lot to become a successful quarterback, but even more to be a winning quarterback in the NFL. At the end of the day, it's more mental than physical.

Bonus Trivia question for you all - Where did Jim Plunkett play his college ball?


Answer: Stanford, home to one of the most prestigious academic schools in all the country