Yeah, I know he's the Sports Guy -- as in a comedic writer who seeks to entertain first and foremost. Yet (and maybe I will lose any possible credibility here) it's interesting how often Bill Simmons is spot-on. For the uninitiated, well, you should be ashamed. Still, he's easily the most popular columnist on ESPN and he's written two best-selling books, including his latest, The Book of Basketball. Anyway, suffice to say, he's popular, but who knows whether it's right to quote him.
Still, I couldn't ignore this from his latest column:
Anyone can contend in the National Football League with two mediocre runners and a half-decent third-down back, as long as they can throw and play defense. But you can't contend in the National Football League if your QB sucks, or even if he's mediocre. The days of Trent Dilfer winning a Super Bowl are long gone.
He sets up that statement quite well -- that the quarterback was already quite important, and that was before the rule changes of the last few years. Now, it's a vital position where the teams that scramble to "try" different options every couple of years remain on the fringes and the core competitors each year are those teams that found their answer at this key position.
The way we're talking about the Chiefs set-up for the 2010 season, it's almost as if we're daring the modern football gods to a duel to see who's right. Earlier today, Joel posted that the Chiefs are banking on their running game and defense to carry them this season. Kent Babb at the Star basically said the same thing. Only time will tell. After all, if you've been around long enough, you've seen pretty much every possible philosophy of winning supported at one time or another in the NFL. The superstar quarterback who throws for 4,000 yards just happens to be the latest.
Still, it's hard to argue that last year's Drew Brees vs. Peyton Manning finale wasn't built on the shoulders of their team's respective signal callers. The Broncos are banking on Tim Tebow. The Raiders are speaking hopefully because of a new acquisition in Jason Campbell. San Diego stays the division favorite each year because Philip Rivers is in the pocket. That's the nature of the NFL.
Given the question marks surrounding Matt Cassel at this point -- at least on the side of analysts and fans -- the Chiefs move forward with the two-headed beast of Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, a slew of young playmakers and hope that the pendulum is swinging a bit toward a new direction. We'll know a lot more in 16 games.